Danny Byrne’s Laconic Analysis of Day Five in the Second Test at Galle

Danny Byrne, whose title for this review reads thus: “The rain fails to arrive, and the Sri Lankans complete a comfortable victory. Day five in Galle”

It was inevitable that Ireland would end up on the wrong end of some cricket records when Sri Lanka notched up 704–3 declared yesterday. It was only the third time the top four batsmen had scored centuries in the same innings. In 2007 in Mirpur Dinesh Karthik 129, Wasim Jaffer 138, Rahul Dravid 129 and Sachin Tendulkar 122, out of a total of 610–3 declared. In 2019 the Sri Lankans were on the receiving end when Pakistan scored 555 – 3 declared in their second innings in Karachi with Masood making 135, Abid Ali 174, Azhar Ali 118 and Babar Azam 100. It nearly happened at Lords in 1993 when Mark Waugh was out for 99 after Slater, Taylor and Boon had all reached three figures.

Ramesh Mendis dismissed Andy Balbirnie en route to his five-for  •  AFP/Getty Images

The overnight rain failed to delay the start and when the players emerged from the dressing rooms it was quite sunny. Asitha ran in from the Fort End and in his second over Balbirnie was hit on the visor with a bouncer. After treatment on the field, he had to leave to have a proper concussion assessment and Stirling came out to join Tector. Prabath picked up his 50th Test wicket in only his seventh Test when Stirling was deceived by a delivery he hit tamely to Kusal Mendis in the covers ( 61–3). Dilruwan Perera and Ramesh Mendis had previously been the fastest Sri Lankans to reach 50 wickets and they had each required 11 Tests. Prabath became the fastest spinner to 50 wickets since Alf Valentine 71 years ago. Vernon Philander was previously the most recent bowler to get to 50 wickets from only 7 Tests.

Tector was also hit on the helmet from a short delivery from Asitha 35 minutes after Balbirnie left the field. Fortunately for Ireland he was able to continue. Tucker played the ball on to his stumps trying to fend off another bouncer from Asitha (78–4) as hundreds of crows started flying around on the far side of the ground. One of the locals suggested it could be a sign that rain was coming, but I had my doubts as the clouds didn’t look anywhere near dark enough. By 11.10 am the band had failed to start up and I was beginning to think we would be spared on our last day in Galle. Unfortunately, it was only a power cut and the racket started up in earnest fifteen minutes later.

Dhananjaya bowled an over to allow the other two spinners to switch ends and Campher was caught at leg slip sweeping to Ramesh Mendis (103–5). Balbirnie returned to the middle and Asitha was immediately recalled at the Fort End. Lunch arrived with the score 121–5 with 67 runs having been added for the loss of 3 wickets from 30 overs in the 135-minute session.

I went for a walk during the interval to look for some rain. There appeared to be plenty further inland, but none near enough to transport to the ground for at least a couple of hours. Balbirnie started the afternoon by hitting a few delightful cover drives off Prabath, but soon holed out to Mathews at mid-off playing a strange shot to Mendis (143–6). McBrine was caught at slip pushing forward to a delivery that turned away ( 159–7) and Mendis had four wickets in the innings. A decent sized crowd had built up by the time Hume reached the crease in order to enjoy the final stages of the match. They didn’t get to see too much of Hume as he was caught behind for a duck to give Mendis his fifth wicket (161–8).

Harry Tector hit a battling 85 but Ireland couldn’t make Sri Lanka bat againAFP/Getty Images

Tector brought up an excellent patient half century from 159 deliveries and when Prabath replaced Vishwa at the Fort End he thumped a couple of boundaries through the covers. His plan appeared to be to retain the strike as much as possible while trying to hit sixes and fours to bring Ireland closer to the Sri Lankan score and make them have to bat a second time. Mendis was hit for a six over deep mid-wicket. In Prabath’s next over Tector managed to hit a six over extra cover. Frank responded by recalling Asitha and even he received the full treatment as another six landed just in front of the seats below me. The Ireland 200 came up and the deficit was down to 10 with 8 minutes remaining until the Tea interval when I would run off again in search of rain.

Tector was bowled by the next delivery from Asitha as he tried to hit the ball into the Pavilion. He had made a valiant 85 (202–9), but it wasn’t enough to save Ireland from an innings defeat. White was bowled by the next delivery and Sri Lanka had won by an innings and 10 runs. In the end Ireland collected another unwanted record in that 492 is the highest score to be made by a team ending up losing a Test by an innings. Prabath Jayasuriya was named Player of the Match and Kusal Mendis Player of the Series. I’m not sure I follow the logic here as Prabath was Player of the Match in both games yet somehow failed to become the Player of the Series.

The positive points for Ireland from this Series are that Tector and Tucker have shown they can genuinely play at this level. Campher and McBrine are handy batsmen to have coming in at 7 and 8 and of course Balbirnie and Stirling we already know about. The bowling is a problem though. No one can fault the players in terms of effort, but the spinners simply need more experience in first class cricket to be able to adjust to the challenges at this level. Both White and Humphreys were making their first-class debuts in the Test arena. With Adair, McCarthy and Young all out injured, and Josh Little involved in the Indian Premier League it was always going to be difficult for Hume and Campher to lead the attack. But don’t look back, look forward. The boys will be ready for the next Test in June and I’m already counting the days. One thing is for sure. There won’t be a bloody band playing terrible renditions of pop songs in the Member’s area at Lords.

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One response to “Danny Byrne’s Laconic Analysis of Day Five in the Second Test at Galle

  1. An EMAIL COMMENT from an AUSSIE AFICIANADOS in Adelaide, 29 April 2023;

    “Amazing scores!” ….. Ron SLEE

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