Sri Lanka vs England, 1st Test

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Offspinner returned his best Test figures as Sri Lanka collapsed

If Dom Bess‘ bowling analysis on the first day of the Galle Test teaches us anything, it’s probably that individual statistics can be deeply misleading in a team game.

Bess claimed 5 for 30, his best Test figures, as England bowled Sri Lanka out for just 135. It was the lowest first-innings score at Galle in Test history, with Bess taking just 61 deliveries to complete his five-wicket haul. Only the great Muttiah Muralitharan has, among spinners, claimed a quicker first-innings five-for in Test cricket in the last 20 years.

But although Bess was justifiably proud with his second Test five-for, he was quick to accept he hadn’t bowled quite as well as the dramatic figures might suggest. Reasoning he had come into the match a little under-prepared, he confessed to a few nerves and some fortune in achieving those figures.

Instead, however, he pointed to the combined performance of England’s bowlers and admitted he had been the beneficiary of their collective effort.

And it’s true, England’s seamers were impressive. On a pitch offering them no assistance, Stuart Broad claimed three early wickets and won good support from Sam Curran, who was a little unfortunate not to win an early leg-before appeal. And while Mark Wood finished wicketless, he generated pace of up to 93mph/150kph and unsettled a couple of Sri Lanka’s batsmen.

Most of all, Sri Lanka endured a most disappointing day. Grant Flower, their batting coach, suggested they batted “terribly”, and it was hard to disagree.


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