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England feels it has the momentum

England cricket coach Duncan Fletcher said his team has the momentum ahead of the final Test against Sri Lanka starting Thursday.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2003 19:00 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

England cricket coach Duncan Fletcher said Tuesday his team has the momentum ahead of the final Test against Sri Lanka starting Thursday, but his team's tactics were termed negative by opposing coach John Dyson.

England thwarted Sri Lanka's rampant spinners on spin-assisting tracks in the first two Tests at Galle and Kandy to set up the Dec. 18-22 decider at Colombo's Singhalese Sports Club, the same venue where the tourists clinched a 2-1 series triumph two years ago.

"Having drawn two (Tests) now, makes us feel pretty confident. We definitely feel we have the momentum," Fletcher told reporters. Fletcher said his players were "quite bullish" about the team's performance in the series and "they feel this is our series."

But Dyson, a former Australian Test cricketer, said he believed Sri Lankan had called the shots and came close to winning both Tests.

Dyson, who took over as Sri Lanka's coach ahead of this series, said he found England's tactics negative.

He criticized England for killing all interest in the second Test, where the visitors batted out 140 overs to secure a draw after being set a victory target of 368 that it had never achieved in 127 years of Test cricket.

Inspired by a battling century from skipper Michael Vaughan, England finished on 285 for seven.

Failing to bowl out the opposition, Dyson said his team "was frustrated at times, but that was to be expected." Dyson said the batting conditions in Kandy were good and Sri Lanka's declaration a sporting one, but England just wasn't interested in taking up the challenge.

"I find their attitude strange on such a good wicket that they played for a draw," he said. "It's very difficult to get people out when they are not playing shots.

"At no stage did England try and chase the runs on a good wicket with a fast outfield."

Dyson said the pitch "wasn't turning viciously" and he thought England had a chance to rewrite the record books, but showed no interest.

"England settled for a draw, it was a staggering attitude," he said.

First Published: Dec 16, 2003 19:00 IST