England trashes an overwhelmed Sri Lanka – Anderson ten leads England’s surge to innings victory

  • England 298 (Bairstow 140, Hales 86) beat Sri Lanka 91 (Anderson 5-16, Broad 4-21) and 119 (Anderson 5-29) by an innings and 88 runs


Trevor Bayliss is not, by nature, a demonstrative man. But when, after a two-and-a-half hour rain delay on the third afternoon at Headingley, England’s coach chose to address the team huddle before the resumption of their afternoon’s work, it was clear from his animated expression that his charges’ standards hadn’t reached the levels he expects in this new full-throttle era.

“He was only doing it for the publicity,” quipped Alastair Cook, England’s captain, during the post-match presentation – a gag that didn’t entirely survive his dead-pan delivery. But whatever it was that Bayliss said, it had the same effect as his last most telling address, at Johannesburg back in January.

After capturing two more Sri Lankan wickets in a slightly off-coloured morning’s work, England rampaged to victory by an innings and 88 runs in the afternoon – the coup de grace coming in a flurry of eight for 40 in 16 overs, including three in the space of nine deliveries in the blink of an eye after tea.

James Anderson, inevitably, was at the heart of the carnage. His newly discovered passion for Headingley’s seam and swing delivered him second-innings figures of 5 for 29 in 12.3 overs. It was the third ten-wicket haul of his 114-Test career, and his first outside of Trent Bridge, as he sealed match figures of 10 for 45 by plucking out Nuwan Pradeep’s middle stump for a duck. Six of those scalps had come ball-in-glove with Jonny Bairstow, who capped his Man-of-the-Match century with nine catches behind the stumps – equalling the record for the most in a Test in England.

Sri Lanka’s frailties in the cold, damp conditions were writ large across an anxious, outclassed performance, and though Kusal Mendis, with a maiden half-century at the age of 21, hinted at better things to come, it is hard to see life getting any easier for them any time soon. Next week they will be heading ever further into the frozen north, to Chester-le-Street for the second Test, another fortress for English seamers, as Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth would happily attest.

James Anderson finished with a match haul of 10 for 45 © Getty Images

The biggest worry for Sri Lanka is that, although they clearly have room for improvement, so too do their hosts. Anderson’s mastery of lateral movement may have proved too much for both of their openers in the course of today’s morning session, but aside from those moments, England’s bowling was off the boil. Steven Finn later revived his happy knack for wicket-taking by cleaning up the tail, but he appeared low on rhythm on a ground whose slope has often caused issues for fast bowlers, while Ben Stokes was forced to leave the field following his knee injury on the second day and has emerged as a doubt for the second Test after playing no further part in the game.

In addition, England let their fielding standards drop, and their catches too. The major beneficiary was Mendis, who was reprieved by Bairstow on 29 – low to his right, a solitary blemish in a brilliant performance – and then again on 47 by James Vince at third slip, from what turned out to be the final ball before the heavens opened.

The hiatus played entirely into England’s hands, however, for as soon as the rain relented, Sri Lanka’s innings began to gurgle down the drain. Moeen Ali, barely involved in the contest since his duck on the second morning, was thrown the ball for his first over of the series – ostensibly to allow Anderson and Stuart Broad to switch ends – but responded with the bonus extraction of Dinesh Chandimal for 8, a horrible cramped cut that he chopped onto his own stumps after four balls of the resumption.

It was an irresponsible dismissal from one of Sri Lanka’s senior men (not to mention the second time in as many days that he had been removed from the fray in the first over after lunch) and it left too much riding on the shoulders of Mendis and Angelo Mathews, whose brilliant series-seizing 160 in his last appearance at Headingley two years ago couldn’t have felt much further from the agenda.

Sure enough, Mathews had no heroics up his sleeve this time out. With 5 from 13 balls to his name, including an edged four through gully, he was suckered by Broad’s trademark angle, into the off stump from wide on the crease, and grazed an edge through to Bairstow that he’ll know he could have left well alone.

Mendis, by now, had brought up his maiden Test fifty with his eighth and final boundary, a spanking full-faced drill through midwicket as Anderson over-pitched on middle stump. It was an innings of skill and application from a player held in high esteem by Kumar Sangakkara, among other fine judges of the game, and – his let-offs aside – had showcased the talent that could yet augur well for a brittle Sri Lanka line-up in desperate need of a new generation of heroes.

But on 53, Mendis’ luck finally ran out, as Anderson extracted some extra lift outside off stump, and the batsman chopped onto his own stumps as he failed to ride the bounce.

Dasun Shanaka avoided his king pair, and even got off the mark in Test cricket with a stab through point in Anderson’s next over. But with Jimmy’s outswinger now purring out of his hand, he was soon trapped on the back foot with nowhere for the ball to go but straight into Bairstow’s gloves for the ninth time in the innings.

Rangana Herath showed no great desire to hang around. His solitary scoring shot was a squirt for four through the cordon, and he soon became Finn’s first victim of the match – caught at short cover by Broad, one delivery after being clanged a painful blow on the elbow.

By tea, Lahiru Thirimanne was still loitering on 15 not out, with Dushmantha Chameera yet to score, but the end was very much nigh. Chameera fell for a golden duck on the resumption, caught at short leg off Finn, who then added Thirimanne two balls later, via a sharp edge to Joe Root at second slip. Five balls later, Anderson had sealed the deal to gift his side an extra two days of R&R before the trip to Durham.

They travel there, incidentally, with four points in the bag towards the newly introduced Super Series, after a match that lasted a shade over 160 overs – or little more than one-and-a-half ODIs.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket


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