Ton-up Jen­nings Born-again bats­man scores rare Test cen­tury as Eng­land dom­i­nate Sri Lanka

Pa­tience against spin de­liv­ers un­beaten 146 Two of Sri Lanka’s top five bats­men are in­jured

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Scyld Berry CRICKET COR­RE­SPON­DENT in Galle

Galle is so called, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal tra­di­tion, be­cause Por­tuguese ships had been blown off course and heard a cock­erel, or galo, which in­di­cated where they should aim for land. But a cock­erel’s crow­ing will be noth­ing com­pared to that of Eng­land’s crick­eters if they de­feat Sri Lanka in their bas­tion of Galle.

Against al­most ev­ery rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion, Eng­land have been so vastly su­pe­rior to the hosts since the open­ing ses­sion – when their top-or­der bats­men al­most gave the game away – that only rain can save Sri Lanka. It has been lash­ing down with trop­i­cal in­ten­sity dur­ing this Test, but at night, when ev­ery inch of the ground has been cov­ered by tar­pau­lin.

It will take a lot of rain for Eng­land to be de­nied. The ball is turn­ing gen­er­ously, if not bounc­ing alarm­ingly, and two of the home side’s top five bats­men are in­jured: Sri Lanka’s cap­tain Di­nesh Chandi­mal is nurs­ing a groin strain, and Dhanan­jaya de Silva hurt his hand while bowl­ing in try­ing to stop a straight drive. And Eng­land, as a rar­ity, have three de­cent spin­ners.

Af­ter scor­ing an un­beaten 146 off 280 balls, Keaton Jen­nings could crow as loudly as any­one if, or when, Eng­land com­plete their vic­tory – not that he would. A for­mer South Africa Un­der-19 cap­tain, and the head boy of a South African school, would never do any­thing so ill-dis­ci­plined as gloat in pub­lic.

As a rule of thumb, an in­di­vid­ual hun­dred is worth more in the first in­nings of a Test, be­cause it shapes the team’s po­si­tion more than a sec­ond-in­nings cen­tury. The ex­cep­tion to this rule may come in Galle, where the pitch turns more and more as the match pro­gresses

Jen­nings – who since his school­days has played for Durham and Lan­cashire, if not Der­byshire – bat­ted with the self-ab­ne­ga­tion that per­haps only a crick­eter from his back­ground could have mus­tered.

This is the age of big hits and bound­aries: yet Jen­nings, re­sum­ing on 26 on day three, added only four more fours to his overnight three in reach­ing his sec­ond Test cen­tury, never let­ting him­self go in self-in­dul­gence, hav­ing cut out the cut that had been the down­fall of his first in­nings. The virtues of Jen­nings are more tem­per­a­men­tal than tech­ni­cal: against pace, he still props half-for­ward, but it was only in the first hour of day three that he had any more pace to face.

Su­ranga Lak­mal held the cap­taincy as Chandi­mal was off the field all day, and that was such an un­ful­fill­ing job – as Jen­nings blocked and nudged, swept and re­verse-swept but noth­ing else – that Sri Lanka’s one-pace bowl­ing did not even take the sec­ond new ball.

Wear­ing a hair shirt would be un­com­fort­able most days, and this was again gru­ellingly hot, yet so fit is the mod­ern Eng­land crick­eter that Jen­nings was run­ning hard and self­lessly not only un­til he had passed his hun­dred – which con­tained 59 sin­gles – but un­til Joe Root de­clared to leave Sri Lanka seven overs and two days to sur­vive. Eng­land’s Ashes cam­paign will be all the stronger if Jen­nings comes through the next tour of the West Indies against their pace bowlers, but the real test of his tech­nique will surely come from Mitchell Starc, swing­ing the new ball on a full length, and Josh Ha­zle­wood kick­ing from a length on fourth stump.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion did not come from Rory Burns, who was run out as he

In this age of big hits, Jen­nings added only four more fours in reach­ing his cen­tury

did not fac­tor in that a more ag­ile fielder had re­placed Ran­gana Herath at mid-on, or from Moeen Ali, who has been a lit­tle too ca­sual for a No 3; whether he likes it or not, Jonny Bairstow will have to bat there in the sec­ond Test in Kandy. Ac­cel­er­a­tion did not come from Root ei­ther, who had sobered down af­ter his giddy first in­nings, as he was caught be­hind, de­fend­ing, when Herath found his rhythm.

It came in­stead from Ben Stokes, who hit three sixes, Jos But­tler, who hit one, and Ben Foakes, who added three more. Stokes is suc­cess­fully wrestling with the demons who are Asian spin­ners, but he should have kicked away the off-break that bowled him. But­tler was the fi­nal wicket of Herath, who re­tires with 433 Test wick­ets – the most of any left-arm spin­ner – at 28 runs each. Mean­while, Foakes was able to in­dulge him­self as he never could in the first in­nings of his de­but.

An­other record-break­ing bowler, James An­der­son, has been pun- ished for a mis­de­meanour in Sri Lanka’s first in­nings. He ran down the pitch – noth­ing what­so­ever, of course, to do with rough­ing the pitch up for Eng­land’s spin­ners – and showed dis­sent when um­pire Chris Gaf­faney hauled him up, earn­ing him­self one de­merit point from the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil.

“An­der­son showed dis­sent by first com­plain­ing at the um­pire’s de­ci­sion and then throw­ing the ball into the pitch af­ter he had re­ceived a first warn­ing for run­ning on the wicket,” ac­cord­ing to the ICC state­ment. “Af­ter the match, An­der­son ad­mit­ted the of­fence and ac­cepted the sanc­tion pro­posed by match ref­eree Andy Py­croft. As such, there was no need for a for­mal hear­ing,” it added.

Any player who ac­cu­mu­lates four de­merit points in a 24-month pe­riod is sus­pended, and An­der­son now has two. He had bet­ter save up the rest for the Ashes next sum­mer.

Firm foun­da­tion: Keaton Jen­nings drives square on his way to com­pil­ing 146 not out to put Eng­land firmly in charge of the first Test against Sri Lanka

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