If you’ve only been half paying attention to Sri Lanka’s two warm-up matches, you might have got the wrong impression.
In the first, against Middlesex, the first day ended with them having conceded 321-5. Andrew Strauss scored a hundred, but so did Dan Housego.
“They can’t bowl,” said Robert Baby-Bunting Dice-Bat and went outside for a G and T and a game of croquet.
Sri Lanka won that match.
Against England Lions, they conceded 493 and then fell to 157-7 before being bowled out for 266.
“They can’t bowl or bat,” said Nicholas Steven Lacquireau-Crap and went outside for a Pimm’s and a game of badminton.
Sri Lanka won that match too.
They’re sly dogs, Sri Lanka, but to call them underdogs seems a bit rich.
The case against underdoggery
They may not have Murali any more, but they haven’t been a one-man team in years. They’ve also reached the last two World Cup finals, which is no mean achievement.
And don’t give us that ‘it’s May’ shit. It was May last time Sri Lanka were here and they drew the Test series then. They followed on in the first Test but some astonishingly resilient batting, not least from Mahela Jayawardene, made England look toothless and complacent, like a fat old toad.
It’s worth mentioning Jayawardene as well, because England are up against three middle-order batsmen who all average considerably over 50 in Test cricket – Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera being the other two. The latter is the classic Sri Lankan cricketer in many ways, because many of you will be going ‘I didn’t know he averaged 54 – when did that happen?’
That 2006 tour also saw five one-dayers and a Twenty20 international played, all of which Sri Lanka won. We felt moved to promise that England would be in better shape for this 2011 tour because we felt guilty by association.
Don’t make us break a promise, England. We experience a constant feeling of guilt anyway. The last thing we want is for the sensation to be of a greater magnitude.