Strauss savours 'bonus' win despite Anderson absence
England's decision to field just four specialist bowlers against Sri Lanka provoked plenty of comment but they needed only three to pull off a win in what captain Andrew Strauss said was "one of the most extraordinary cricket matches any of us have played in".cricket Updated: May 31, 2011 10:19 IST
England's decision to field just four specialist bowlers against Sri Lanka provoked plenty of comment but they needed only three to pull off a win in what captain Andrew Strauss said was "one of the most extraordinary cricket matches any of us have played in".
Sri Lanka were skittled out for just 82 inside 25 overs on the fifth and final day of the first Test at Sophia Gardens on Monday as England won by an innings and 14 runs.
England's third successive innings Test victory, following their Ashes triumphs in Melbourne and Sydney, was remarkable on two accounts.
Firstly rain, which plagued this match throughout, seemed to have put paid to any chance of a positive result, especially when the whole of Monday's first session was washed out with England still to conclude their first innings.
By that stage England were already without senior paceman James Anderson, who on Saturday was told he could not bowl again in this match because of a side strain.
But neither Anderson's absence nor an understandably sparse crowd failed to dent England's self-belief, with Ashes revelation Chris Tremlett, once considered too 'soft' for Test cricket, troubling Sri Lanka's top-order with his pace and bounce.
The 6ft 7in fast bowler took four for 40 with off-spinner Graeme Swann following up with four for 16 and Stuart Broad, in his return to Test cricket after a side injury in Adelaide, collected the last two wickets to fall.
"I think it will go down as one of the most extraordinary cricket matches any of us have played in," said Strauss, after the opening fixture of this three-match series was turned upside down in under two hours.
"This (Monday) morning I was saying this was one of the drabbest matches I've ever played and suddenly it changes round so quickly.
"That is great credit to the guys."
"There's not a more remarkable finish I can think of.
"We showed quite a lot of ruthlessness in Australia and this was another example of that."
England will head to Lord's, where the second Test starts on Friday, in what their captain said was a "very buoyant" mood.
However, Strauss warned: "We've got sort of a bonus win, but it's all back to square one on Friday morning. We just have to hit the ground running again."
England are due to name their second Test squad later Tuesday and, unusually after such a crushing win, they face a selection poser with Anderson already ruled out.
Strauss's Middlesex team-mate Steven Finn, who played in the first two Ashes Tests, could return to the squad although the captain's talk of a "skiddier bowler" hinted at a call-up for Ajmal Shahzad.
"It was a big loss, Jimmy not being able to bowl because I thought he bowled outstandingly in the first innings," Strauss said. "It's obviously going to be a loss for us that he is not available for the second Test match."
Strauss declared Monday as soon as Ian Bell became the third player in the hosts' innings to score a hundred after Alastair Cook (133) and Jonathan Trott (203) had carried on from where they left off in Australia.
Man-of-the-match Trott's Test average of 66.77 now puts him second only to Australia great Sir Donald Bradman in the all-time standings, not that the England number three was one for dwelling on his place in the game.
"I don't pay attention to my average, I just want to contribute to the team," Trott said.