England win four consecutive away Tests for the first time since the mid-50s and … are they getting good again?
England beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets! They go 1-0 up in the two match series!
Bairstow clatters a sweep to the fence for four – “Yes!” he cries – and that’s very well done by him, Dan Lawrence, and all of the England team!
24th over: England 72-3 (Bairstow 31, Lawrence 21) Target 74 Bairstow bunts two to cover and England are one hit away, but Sri Lanka still appeal as they do when Embuldeniya slings one onto the pad; there looked to be bat involved though. He then takes one into the leg side, Lawrence cuts for two, and this morning has passed with the minimum of fuss. Two runs required.
23rd over: England 67-3 (Bairstow 28, Lawrence 19) Target 74 Perera now comes back at the other end and Lawrence plays his second ball down the ground for one to yield applause from the England dressing room; that’s the fifty partnership, a two and a one to Bairstow then putting England on the cusp.
“it doesn’t do much for career averages in the long run,” tweets Danny Forman, “but I have so much time for batters who stick it out the end and get the job done themselves. Cook and Thorpe from memory were good in these circumstances.”
22nd over: England 63-3 (Bairstow 25, Lawrence 18) Target 74 Embuldeniya comes back at the other end but he’ll know that this is over; ultimately, you can’t get rustled for 135 in your first innings and expect to win a Test match. Another hundred, and this would be extremely nervy. Lawrence drives a single then Bairstow opens the face to dab two more, and England are 11 away.
21st over: England 60-3 (Bairstow 23, Lawrence 17) Target 74 Hasaranga, who didn’t get a twirls last night, comes into the attack and sees three of his first four balls go for singles; Sri Lanka haven’t managed to exert any pressure this morning, and when Lawrence shoves a goggly for one, he enjoys a smile at his own pleasure, and imagine how ludicrously intense that is. I’ve not a clue how he’s keeping it together out there.
20th over: England 56-3 (Bairstow 21, Lawrence 15) Target 74 England are knocking these off with the minimum of fuss! I know! I feel extremely uncomfortable in my own skin and ah, that’s more like it, a false stroke from Lawrence squirting behind square on the on side; they run one. Bairstow immediately retorts with an inside edge for one more, then Lawrence clips to deep square for two and Bairstow nudges behind for another single. This is extremely competent behaviour, and it’s making me slightly uneasy.
19th over: England 50-3 (Bairstow 19, Lawrence 11) Target 74 The ball is doing plenty out there but after Bairstow turns one, Lawrence does a good job of intimating enjoyment before bringing up the fifty with a twizzle to leg.
Meanwhile, Arun kindly sends over the TMS link:
18th over: England 48-3 (Bairstow 18, Lawrence 10) Target 74 Lawrence takes one to midwicket; I wonder how he slept last night. All those years of hard yakka and now he’s here, under pressure he’ll never have grasped until now; well, pressure is a privilege as they say, and be careful what you wish for as they also say. Bairstow eases a single behind square on the off side, then wears another on the pad and there’s a shout but no review; when Chandimal sees a replay, he looks slightly tzemisht that he didn’t review, and two singles follow.
17th over: England 44-3 (Bairstow 16, Lawrence 8) Target 74 Bairstow drives out to deep point, finding the sweeper, and they run one, then again next ball. He too won’t wait to be asked, and to the third ball, he rocks back and it’s cut away, cut away for four! This is very good from him; just as impressively, he allows Embuldeniya’s third ball to go by, very close to his off-peg; my stomach is in turmoil at that one!
17th over: England 38-3 (Bairstow 11, Lawrence 7) Target 74 Maiden to begin. Lawrence looks busy out there; he’s not going to wait for one with his name on it.
REVIEW! NOT OUT!
The ball brushed Lawrence’s glove, but the umpire probably said no because impact was outside the line.
16th over: England 38-3 (Bairstow 11, Lawrence 7) It was 1955-157 that England last won four straight overseas Tests, but that’s the last thing on anyone’s mind when Perera clouts Lawrence on thae pad when he misses with a sweep! Kumar Dhamasena says not out, and they go upstairs! Drama!
Email! “Good morning to you,” says John Starbuck. “I’ve sometimes wondered if the OBO scribes have an internal league going on: who was writing when the match was won/drawn/lost and how many points do you get? Naturally, in normal times the winner each year would have to buy the others a drink or two.”
I’m not sure. Not that I know of, but there’s every chance no one’s told me.
Morning! How are you? I’m dreadful thanks for asking, same as you – and just like you I’d not have it any other way
In theory, this should be simple: England need 36 runs to win, and have seven second-innings wickets intact; easy. Yeah, just. At the wicket is an impetuous headbanger with a point to prove, and a debutant who’s never experienced anything remotely like this; with the ball are various spinners on home territory; and in between them is a pitch doing loads but not too much.
Yet, somehow, enumerating things in that way doesn’t even come close to capturing what’s going on, because what’s going cannot be precisely captured. Where all this is sits in the continuum of English cricket is something we all share, the traipse through history a long and arduous one. But because it’s inextricably linked to our personal history, our experience of it is unique, particular and unintelligible to anyone who isn’t us … and even then.
So when Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence walk out to the middle, some of us will be more moved by the enormity of the former’s redemption narrative, others by the latter contending with pressure of this sort following a lifetime working to contend with pressure of this sort. Real talk, I’m half-gone at the thought of what all that means to them – and I’ve not even started on myself yet.
Play: 9.45am local, 4.15am GMT