Blow for Sri Lanka as captain Rangana Herath is ruled out of Pallekele Test with back pain

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Influential: Captain Herath.

Key bowler Rangana Herath has joined Sri Lanka’s growing injury list ahead of the start of the third and final Test against India starting on Thursday, in a blow to their hopes of a consolation win.

The 39-year-old spinner, Sri Lanka’s number one and the world number three in Tests behind India’s Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, is out with a back injury, chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya said.

“Herath will not be able to play in the third Test,” Jayasuriya said. “He is suffering a stiff back.”

Sri Lanka have already suffered crushing defeats in the first two Tests and losing Herath compounds their problems.

All-rounder Asela Gunaratne and bowler Nuwan Pradeep picked up injuries in the first and second Tests respectively.

Skipper Dinesh Chandimal missed the first Test after being hospitalised for pneumonia, and fast bowler Suranga Lakmal was ruled out before the series.

Herath’s place is likely to be taken by left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara.

India will also be handicapped by the one-match ban slapped on Jadeja by the International Cricket Council for dangerous play.

The left-arm spinner was reprimanded for a dangerous throw in the second Test in Colombo. He was also docked half his match fee and given six demerit points by the ICC over the second incident in a year.

After the final delivery of the 58th over, fielding off his own bowling, Jadeja threw the ball back at batsman Dimuth Karunaratne, who had not left his crease.

The ball narrowly missed him in a manner which the umpires deemed “dangerous”, the ICC said. Jadeja took five wickets to help dismiss Sri Lanka for 386, as India triumphed by an innings and 53 runs to wrap up the series.

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Ageless James Anderson is England’s very own Ryan Giggs as bowler shows no signs of slowing down

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Anderson now has 487 Test wickets.

It takes just 10 minutes to journey from one Old Trafford to the other but there is very little to suggest you are ambling between two cherished theatres of sport.

Manchester is hardly a city for vanity projects, though if it was, a Hollywood boulevard of sorts could pave the way from one ground to the other.

Wasim Akram, Bobby Charlton, Clive Lloyd, Cristiano Ronaldo. Instead there are two unassuming signposts, Brian Statham Way and Sir Matt Busby Way, to remind you of the tales that can be told in an otherwise modest, working-class area.

One such yarn is still being spun as Lancashire’s James Anderson, from the newly christened James Anderson End, produced a first-innings performance that a 35-year-old James Anderson has no right to produce.

Physically there is very little difference between the Anderson of today and the Anderson of seven or eight years ago, and you’ll find even less variation in his line and length, ball after ball.

Some may swing, others may do nothing at all, but you may as well wait for the Burnley Express to retire before spotting a bad ball.

And what of retirement? Every player north of 30 is faced with the question but all the while Anderson’s bowling average has been heading south.

Defying age, however, is not altogether uncommon in those parts. Ryan Giggs would be one of the first stars laid down on that theoretical Walk of Fame and as the years progressed with Manchester United, he became famed for his longevity as much as his left foot.

What a special week @lancsccc. A great series win. Crowd were superb all 4 days 🌹🌹🌹

A post shared by James Anderson (@jimmya9) on

The similarities really are uncanny. A younger Anderson had to remodel his action after a spate of back injuries and for Giggs it was his hamstrings, which saw him turn to yoga and limit his top speed.

Then there is the obsessive nature. Anderson once explained to Sky Sports that, with a fractional late movement of his wrist, he could control which the way the ball would swing.

There is also a story that a right-handed Giggs exclusively used his left hand for a month to rewire his brain and aid his crossing. He played darts, table-tennis and more before he could hit a cross into a gym ball, thrown up into the air, nine times out of 10.

Giggs retired when he was 40 and while fast bowling places greater demands on the body, Anderson can hope to reach the next decade in England whites.

This winter’s Ashes may seem the obvious stop-off point for Anderson but an Australian great in Glenn McGrath did not possess the same box of fast bowling tricks – and roared on until two months shy of his 37th birthday.

McGrath, who was all about vicious pace and bounce, finished his last-ever Test series with a heap of wickets in a 5-0 thrashing over England.

If Anderson’s fitness holds, his subtleties could – whisper it quietly – see him last until 40. It may just be the beginning of the James Anderson End.

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Moeen Ali turns on the magic with the ball - Key talking points as England clinch Test series against South Africa

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Moeen Ali starred with the ball after his excellent batting display

Hosts England captured their first Test series win over South Africa in 19 years as they beat Faf du Plessis’ men by 177 runs in Old Trafford on Monday.

Joe Root’s men were 2-1 up in the four-match series coming into the final Test at Manchester and had set the visitors an improbable fourth innings target of 380 runs to square the series.

On an eventful fourth day of the final Test, we take a look at the three key talking points in England’s charge to victory.

English seamers do the early damage

With an imposing and neigh impossible run chase of 380 runs ahead of them, it was crucial that the South African openers get them off to a good start. It wasn’t to be though, as the duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad were in menacing form from the get go.

After bowling some threatening deliveries, Broad got his man in the fourth over of the South African innings. He had Dean Elgar caught behind with a beautiful delivery on off stump which straightened just a bit to deceive Elgar.

Anderson, still basking in the glory of having one end at Old Trafford named after him, was the next to get in the act, removing Heino Kuhn with a full out-swinging delivery.

Broad sent back Elgar in just the fourth over of South Africa's innings

Broad sent back Elgar in just the fourth over of South Africa’s innings

The Proteas were put in a precarious position just before lunch when the third seamer, Toby Roland Jones, had Temba Bavuma playing away from his body to brandish a faint edge on the way to the wicket-keeper.

After the appeal was turned down by the umpire, Root successfully reviewed the decision to leave South Africa reeling at 43/3 at lunch.

Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis hold down the fort

With three of the top-order back in the pavillion before lunch, the writing was on the wall for the South Africans on a lively Old Trafford pitch. With a big rebuilding job on their hand, veterans Amla and du Plessis weathered down the English storm post lunch.

There were plays and misses aplenty but the two stuck to the task as they gradually built a solid partnership.

Amla and du Plessis put on a 123 runs stand for the fourth wicket

Amla and du Plessis put on a 123 runs stand for the fourth wicket

England have managed to keep Amla fairly quite in the series save for his brilliant knocks in the Nottingham Test. On Monday, the 34-year-old batsman was back to his usual best as he steadily built his innings.

The Proteas skipper was equally solid at one end as the two put on 123 runs between them in 31 overs.

Moeen Ali turns on the magic with the ball this time

After his excellent turn with the bat in England’s second innings where his unbeaten 75 had rescued the hosts from a shaky position, the all-rounder broke the shackles after Amla and du Plessis had frustrated the hosts with a stubborn stand.

With South Africa looking threatening again at 163/3, Ali provided the crucial breakthrough of Amla. The right-handed batsman shuffled across the off stump in customary fashion to flick the ball leg-side but missed making a connection to be trapped on the pads.

England’s appeals were shot down by the umpire but Root decided to review successfully a second time.

Ali is mobbed by his teammates after dismissing Hashim Amla

Ali is mobbed by his teammates after dismissing Hashim Amla

Ali was not done with Amla’s scalp and in the very next over he had the dangerous Quinton de Kock and Theunis de Bruyn edging to the slips as he made full use of the rough on the Old Trafford pitch.

Within the space of three overs, the Birmingham born all-rounder had quelled all South African hopes of any miraculous escape and pointed England to their first home series win over the visitors since 1998.

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