Сricket

Sri Lanka v England 2nd Test: James Anderson grabs a treble on England return

James Anderson overcame his first day nerves and used every bit of his 18 years experience to get England up and running against Sri Lanka.

Swapping places with Stuart Broad to return to the side for the first time since August, England's best and most wily fast bowler opened his 2021 account with 3-24 on a punishingly hot day on a flat batsman's paradise.

There was to be no Sri Lankan collapse though as there was last week. Instead Angelo Mathews' 11th ton meant Anderson and England had to put in a shift for their rewards.

Not that the evergreen Anderson minds a bit of hard work, how else do you get to a career tally of 603 and counting?

"I was pretty nervous this morning,” Anderson admitted after reducing the home side to 7-2. “More so than usual. It's a weird situation to be in, I haven't played for a while and Broady had done well in the first game.

“You want to hit the ground running and get into that rhythm early on, and luckily it slotted straight back in today.

“We had to work really hard and I thought we did well to keep them under control. I'm really happy with the way I bowled and I thought we all stuck to our task well.”

Anderson is right about that with speedster Mark Wood catching the eye during a day when he turned in a remarkable eight over spell.

He will get rested from the first two Tests in India after this match, and boy will he deserved it.

Wood has always been a whole hearted fast bowler, but to see him charge in on the most sluggish of pitches with relentless pace and determination in that heat was seriously impressive.

And he got the reward he deserved when Dinesh Chandimal was trapped lbw to one that reverse-swung into his pads.

“My head got redder and redder, I was absolutely knackered,” said Wood. “The wicket meant a lot to me though, a lot of relief.

“I thought it was never going to happen. I bowled decent in the first game but I was joking with the bowling coach that I will be bowling here in 2054 and I'd be 0-3000, so it is nice to get one and it might be 1-3000 now. You just want to do your bit and make a contribution.”

Wood shouldn't be so hard on himself. He offers something that no-one else in this team does and while he attacked the spinners offered Joe Root control.

There was half as much turn on offer in comparison to the first day of the first Test, but Dom Bess and Jack Leach made sure Sri Lanka didn't get away, even if Mathews made batting look pretty easy for the most part.

Wood knows that he will be getting a break soon, but for the spinners their work has only just begun.

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