The feasting on runs continued under blue skies at Lord’s yesterday on the second day of the second Test between England and Sri Lanka.
Prior and Broad upped the scoring rate from a replete 3.89, yesterday, to a Rabelaisian six-an-over with Prior relentless and Broad continuing to drive anything remotely near his reach.
Prior, although helped by Lankan fielding and catching lapses, deservedly reached the landmark of a Lord’s century with an ecstatic roar beneath the helmet and moved on with the tail to post 126 from 131 balls. Broad cruised to 50 before falling LBW to Welegedara.
Scoring at 6 an over,England made 144 in 25 overs, and took their first innings to 486 at 4.3 an over.
But the ‘shape’ or swing that Welegedara (4/122) and Lakmal (3/126) were able to command in these unhelpful conditions and the four LBW dismissals should remind us that if clouds were to appear over St John’s Wood in the three days to come, England’s array of tall young fast bowlers could again make life difficult for the Sri Lankans.
And there is always Swann to bowl in any fourth innings.
But there was not a cloud in the sky or in the minds of Dilshan and Tharanga as they took guard on this flat Lord’s wicket and menacingly adapted their game to it.
Tharanga was the slow and solid Good Cop (kissing his bat compulsively twice before each of his 184 deliveries) and Dilshan the Bad Cop who bats like a law enforcer with a Taser gun, its Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) technology permanently charged through the super-conductivity of his nervous system ever ready to stun the errant and not so errant bowler with its high voltage discharge.
A Saturday crowd at Lord’s always deserves a century to savour for the rest of their lives. As Sam Becket wrote in his little known play Waiting to Bat, “I’m like that. Either I forget an innings right away or I never forget.”
And on this Saturday an allegedly full house were given the chance to remember a second, thanks to Dilshan’s arresting 127 in 166 balls with 12 fours and 2 sixes.
It seems boorish of the ECB to deny a West Indian or two the opportunity of a Saturday ton at Lord’s during their tour next year. It betrays poor prioritization and ignorance of what matters in the game. On cricket’s behalf, Dilshan should be given the job of ‘interviewing’ those decision makers with the aid of his trusty EMD device.
Back in the middle the openers celebrated their 200 partnership with bear hugs. That is how much playing at this unique venue matters to hardened pros.
Swann bowled well, but the Sri Lankans gave a demonstration of batting against spin. Watching and waiting they played as late as humanly possible in a way that must create hope for the bowler that the bat won’t get down in time, but it ever does and with lightening speed. So there were lots of ‘oooohs’ and ‘arrrrrhs’ and arms folded above heads but no bona fide alarms.
And so the Lankans, pursuing England’s 486 all out, are 231/1, 255 runs behind with 9 first innings wickets remaining.
This morning, Third Man is vainly cloud computing in a bid to calculate the shape of the future. “You’re on Earth ” warns Sam. ” There’s no cure for that.”