If yesterday was a day shortened by rain then today was a very, very long one indeed.
Not just in terms of time, in that it went on till 7:30 to try to make up time lost due to yesterday’s weather, but also because it bloody felt like it.
Albeit on a pitch so flat you could slap white lines down the middle of it and call it an Autobahn, Sri Lanka managed to make exactly 400 without meaningful contributions from their two superstars, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene in particular was quietly impressive, playing such a disciplined, unflustered innings that it was almost a shock to look up at the TV and see he was on 99. How the hell did that happen?
It was that kind of day. Maybe it’s the weather, or the underwhelming attendance figures at the SWALEC, but this barely feels like the first Test of the summer should. Even the fielding side could barely seem to muster any enthusiasm, with heads down, boundaries relinquished through sloppy fielding, and half chances going begging in slips and gully. I think my own reaction to the last in particular is telling – instead of shaking my fist at the telly with barely-suppressed rage and yelling something unrepeatable when Alastair Cook dropped a thick outside edge after tea from Perera off Broad, I could only sigh wearily and pine for the days of Collingwood.
It does not help that Cardiff is not really “coming to the party” when it comes to putting forward a case for being a Test venue. It passed its first examination, an Ashes Test in 2009 which gave it the inbuilt safety net that if any operational glitches occurred no one would mind too much as it was the razzmatazz and the on-field action (Monty! Jimmy! Bilal Shafayat and the Fat Physio!) that took centre stage.
This year, with pissing rain, a support act in terms of opposition (India being obviously this year’s main attraction) a flat wicket, a malfunctioning scoreboard and a flapping white cloth in lieu of a sight-screen, well, it’s all been a bit of an anticlimax, hasn’t it?
Tomorrow could very well be more of the same, given the strength of England’s batting (surely Jonathan Trott could ask for no better wicket than this one), though it was a good piece of bowling by Suranga Lakmal that did for Andrew Strauss in the day’s last over. Sri Lanka will be buoyed up by this, as well as with their performance with the bat, when they take the field tomorrow.
But if it’s a classic all-out head-to-head between bat and ball you’re after, the chances of that look exceedingly slim, and I can’t help but feel that this series will only really start once we get to the Big Smoke and Lord’s.
I’m sorry, Wales, but there it is.