80th over: England 275-3 (Root 138, Lawrence 67) And that’s the new ball. I’m sure Sri Lanka will take it.
UMPIRE REVIEW FOR A CATCH
Not out. Root hit the ball into the ground.
80th over: England 275-3 (Root 138, Lawrence 67) Perera into the attack, and Lawrence takes single, then Root knocks a no ball and they amble two. He tries to sweep the next one too, to short leg who catches; there’s no appeal, but the umpire reviews…
“I’m waking up and listening to TMS,” emails Tim Batts-Neale. “When Jonathan Agnew says the name ‘Lawrence’, am I the only one who then imagines Brian Johnson wheezingly say ‘…he… hit a four over the wicket keeper’s head and was out for nine’.”
79th over: England 271-3 (Root 135, Lawrence 66) Embuldeniya returns, and after Lawrence takes one, Root unfurls that sweep again, taking two twos. When he bats like this he looks like an absolute master.
Meanwhile, what a series we’ve got in Australia.
78th over: England 265-3 (Root 131, Lawrence 64) Root uses the break to perform callisthenics – Lizzie Webb will be happy – then shares a laugh with Lawrence while we watch footage of the Sri Lankan holiday we’re not having. In commentary, Sanga says that he’d like to see the quicks come back and also that the spinners are rustling through overs like it’s a T20, when they need to be slowing the play to slow the rate. He’s impressed with England though, who’ve “come prepared”. A single apiece off the over, as Sanga says that when he was chasing a big score, he’s not look at the numbers until he got to about 170, then try and whack a few boundaries to get there quickly. Me too old mate, me too.
77th over: England 263-3 (Root 130, Lawrence 63) Hasaranga sends down a no ball – dearie me – then Lawrence takes a single into the off side and Root stretches down to a full toss, clouting it from outside off through midwicket for four. He’ll be fancying a serious average-booster here, he looks in total control. I wonder if, now the team is quite good – spending less time in the field, with a better top three and giving him less to worry about in general – we’ll see him rediscover the form that had people talking about him in the same group as Kohli, Smith and Williamson, or at least the best that he’s capable of. That’s a pleasant thought, and so is drinks.
76th over: England 257-3 (Root 126, Lawrence 62) Looking at that drop again, it came fast at Mendis, who’s stood close to make sure the ball carries; one fell short early doors last evening, and I’m sure the bowlers would prefer what we’ve seen now to what we saw then. Two singles off the over.
“Lawrence can also be Laurence,” says John Starbuck, “there’s no difference between forename or surname. Just as well you don’t usually let on about it, though, as you’d end up being nicknamed either Lorry or Truck.”
Yup, here’s a Lawrence below. And similarly Laurence can also be surname – just ask everyone’s favourite friar.
75th over: England 255-3 (Root 125, Lawrence 61) Lawrence comes forward and looks to twist to leg but he’s done in the flight and the ball jumps a little, slides across the bat … and at gully, Mendis tips the catch over the bar! He’s had better Tests, Lawrence has not. Three off the over.
“Cricket sunlight through the literal and figurative gloom this morning,” sings Guy Hornsby. “And if this is Root’s batting coming good after some leaner times, alongside another young talent emerging then that’s the good news we can all hold onto. I wish we were all in Galle to see it.”
In my mind I’m trying to pick England’s best XI, and it’s really not at all easy to do. Even if you ro-tate the bowlers, the batting order is hard to fathom in the best possible way; maybe
I should just enjoy the current behaviour.
74th over: England 252-3 (Root 123, Lawrence 60) I’m going to let you into a secret: not only do I share first name with England’s debutant, but my middle name is Lawrence – my parents never quite explained why – nor did they why it’s spelt “Lawrence” as though it’s my surname, which is to say that yes, I’ve just scored a fifty and yes I do plan to get my ton. Thank you, thank you. I look a player don’t I? Anyway, actual Daniel Lawrence pushes uppishly at Shanaka’s fourth ball and they run two, while I wonder about how much difference it makes for a player to come into a favourable environment like this. Steve Waugh and Jacques Kallis started their Test careers very slowly, and were given a lot more time than any England batsman of the 90s – I’m certain Mark Ramprakash would’ve had a far better career had he been 10 or 15 years younger, though a poor team was only half his problem – trigger-happy selectors was the other. Lawrence then adds two more to square leg and looks a picture of serenity.
73rd over: England 248-3 (Root 123, Lawrence 56) Morning everyone and thanks Tim. Ah man it’s good to be back, if a little odd to be back to see England dominating the first Test of a tour. Might it be that … they’re getting good at this? In the 37 years I’ve been watching them I can’t remember a pool of similar talent, that’s for sure – though there’s a lot of work to be done for them to get to where their best sides have. Anyway, Root gets well down the pitch to sweep Hasaranga’s first ball for four, and two singles follow.
72nd over: England 242-3 (Root 118, Lawrence 55) Root nurdles Shanaka for two, then Lawrence late-cuts him for four. That was class. If he can get through the new ball, he could be the next Ben Foakes. That’s my stint done, so I’ll hand over to Daniel Harris, the distinguished presenter of United Rewind. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back on Sunday, if the game goes that far.
71st over: England 235-3 (Root 115, Lawrence 51) It’s a double change as Chandimal summons Hasaranga. The timing is another sign that he doesn’t have much faith in him, but I’d back Hasaranga to prove him wrong in the long run. This over includes a no-ball, showing his inexperience, but also a leg-break that turns a yard. If Shane Warne was on commentary, he’d be raving about him.
“Drizzly dull morning here in Izmir, on the west coast of Turkey,” reports Wayne Trotman, hard at work analysing his research data. Ahem! [His words, not mine.] “Many congrats are due to Dan Lawrence on such a fine debut, but could he have wished for a friendlier attack to open his account? I wonder who others on the OBO would least like to face on international debut. Mine would of course be the late, great Malcolm Marshall.” Yes, he might well have messed up your data.
70th over: England 233-3 (Root 114, Lawrence 51) With the new ball not far away, Chandimal decides it’s time to turn to his fifth bowler, the medium-paced allrounder Dasun Shanaka. He shows a bit of intent by (a) bowling a maiden and (b) picking up a straight push from Lawrence and trying to throw down his stumps.
69th over: England 233-3 (Root 114, Lawrence 51) The milestones keep coming: Lawrence clips for another single and that’s the hundred partnership. It has taken 26.2 overs, which is rapid by Sri Lankan standards, and it’s the second hundred stand in a row. England’s all-time partnership record at Galle is under threat, less than a day after it was set by Root and Bairstow.
Fifty on debut for Lawrence
68th over: England 227-3 (Root 109, Lawrence 50) Lawrence reaches fifty in his first Test innings. He went down the track, didn’t get to the bounce, had to settle for a block, then did better next ball, with a straight push past Perera for a single. He’s been so assured: it’s as if he got all the nerves out of the way yesterday by dropping that dolly. Credit to Root, too, for letting Lawrence have most of the strike.
“So pleased for Joe Root,” says Mike Galvin. “He has stood tall under a lot of pressure. This century will, hopefully, relieve that and he will go on to bag more.”
67th over: England 223-3 (Root 107, Lawrence 48) Lawrence is beaten outside off stump by Embuldeniya, but he shows a good temperament again by sweeping the next ball for two.
“Waiting for Leach,” says the subject line from David Reynolds. “I am being distracted in a snowy Prague,” he goes on, “by two Test matches in the early morning – wonderful. But I am not a little frustrated that these two are selfishly denying the people what they really crave: the Taunton Bradman back at the crease in a Test match.”
66th over: England 218-3 (Root 106, Lawrence 44) Several singles off Perera.
“Any chance of link to TMS for overseas listeners?” wonders Richard Turner. “It gets hidden every day.” I’m fairly sure one of our readers will have found it.
65th over: England 214-3 (Root 105, Lawrence 42) And another single to Root off Embuldeniya. England lead by 79.
64th over: England 213-3 (Root 104, Lawrence 42) Just a single to Root off Perera.
63rd over: England 212-3 (Root 103, Lawrence 42) Mickey Arthur is so angry he’s throwing his water bottle to the floor, but I can’t see that he has any grounds for complaint.
The ball went from bat to ground to wrist to hand. And the ground is the crucial bit.
Review! Against Root, for a possible catch at short leg
Root, facing Embuldeniya, reverse-sweeps and misses, or does he? The close fielders reckon he’s nicked or gloved it. I’m not so sure…
62nd over: England 210-3 (Root 102, Lawrence 41) And Root sets off for the next hundred with a sweep for two. I wouldn’t bet against it.
A hundred for Root!
They’re back out there, and second ball after lunch, Root laps a single off Perera to reach an excellent hundred, his first of the 2020s. He takes off his helmet, kisses the badge and smiles even more broadly than usual. “He’s played absolutely beautifully,” says Mike Atherton.
“Good morning Tim,” says Em Jackson, “from a rather icy West Denton, Newcastle. Just logging on for work and to quote Mister Burns when he was managing the Springfield Nuclear Plant Softball Team, in relation to England’s rejuvenation in the early hours, GMT…”
Hit at least 99 Joe Root.
[99 comes up]
I told him to do that.
There’s been something missing from our coverage today – an email from John Starbuck. But here he comes… ”Morning, Tim, from West Yorkshire-under-Snow.” Morning John, glad you could join us. “Mockers alert! Assuming he gets his century, and a big one at that, you’ll have to be hauling the Root-puns suitcase down from the top of the wardrobe. Are you going to have a net for that?” Puns? Us?
Lunch: England on top, Root on 99
61st over: England 206-3 (Root 99, Lawrence 40) Root sweeps Embuldeniya for… three, thanks to a good diving stop at deep square leg. Embuldeniya goes over the wicket into the rough, conjuring memories of Ashley Giles, who is on the ground in his role as England’s boss. But it’s just a ploy for a couple of balls, and when he goes back round, he beats Lawrence outside off. And that is lunch, with Root poised on the brink. He’s gone from Root 66 to Root 99, and more importantly, he’s been big enough to play second fiddle to a debutant. Dan Lawrence has scored a fearless 40 and made up for the early loss of Jonny Bairstow. The morning belongs to England, who are in charge of this Test.
Sri Lanka have one bowler doing a great job – Lasith Embuldeniya, with all three wickets for 80 – while the other three have managed none for 111. Still, they were doing OK themselves this time yesterday. And England, as their faithful supporters know, always have a collapse in them. See you in half an hour.
60th over: England 203-3 (Root 96, Lawrence 40) Root plays a false shot! An inside edge that just eludes short leg’s right hand – but it wouldn’t have been out anyway, as Perera had overstepped. Lawrence shows his legside skills now, going down the track to play a whip for two. He may be Both Sides Billy.
59th over: England 193-3 (Root 94, Lawrence 37) Root sees those sweeps and thinks he’ll play one too, off Embuldeniya, through midwicket, and he’s into the nineties.
58th over: England 188-3 (Root 89, Lawrence 37) Perera takes over from Hasaranga and Lawrence plays a different kind of sweep – later, finer, not far from the man on the 45 but getting past him to go for four. England’s lead is now 53.