Cricket: England embarrassed again

NORMAN DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:11 PM ET

TORONTO - England’s ace spin bowler Graeme Swann has made it a habit of putting his foot in his mouth in recent months. On Tuesday he told BBC Sport, “If I was a betting man I would back England heavily as we’re here to make history.”

If any of his friends believed his audacious prediction, he isn’t likely to have any left today as they would have been taken to the cleaners.

England’s chances of winning the first Test versus Sri Lanka in Galle Thursday bordered between slim and none after being set a mammoth 340. England had never previously chased more than 332 in the fourth innings to win a Test since 1928 against Australia. And England wasn’t likely to top that on the road and predictably crashed to a 75-run defeat.

Rangana Herath, who had match figures of 12 wickets for 171 runs limited England to 264. He spun his way into the record book by becoming the first left-arm spinner to claim more than 10 wickets in a match as England’s lost its last six wickets for 31 runs. Off-spinner spinner Suraj Randiv claimed the other four for 74. The only England batsman who played confidently against the spinners was Jonathon Trott who scored 112 in a losing cause.

The world’s No. 1 Test team has now lost four matches on the trot. Pakistan handed England a 3-0 drubbing last month.

“Any Test win is important, but to do it against the best side in the world is a moment to cherish,” said an elated Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene. England captain Andrew Strauss stated the obvious: “If you want to win Test matches you need to get runs on the board and we haven’t done that.” The teams meet in the second and final Test starting at Colombo Tuesday.

WORTH THE TROUBLE?

Does it make any sense to take an overnight nine-hour flight from Mumbai to Johannesburg for a three-hour match, then fly home, and prepare for the Indian Premier League season that opens on Wednesday? Apparently that isn’t a problem according to Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni as India takes on South Africa in a T20 match today. The South African board organized the match as a tribute for all-rounder Jacques Kallis. The South Africans are likely to be as bleary-eyed as their counterparts as they too returned home a couple of days ago after winning their series in New Zealand.

DUTCH TREAT

The Netherlands handed Afghanistan one of its worst one-day defeats in recent years by strolling to a nine-wicket triumph in their World Cricket League match in Sharjah Thursday. After dismissing Afghanistan for a meagre 153, the Dutch reached 156 for one in 26.2 overs. The stars for the Netherlands were pace bowler Peter Borren with four for 32 and Alexie Kervezee who smashed 83 not out for an easy win . . . Two weeks from now Canada will travel to Namibia for two WCL matches at Windhoek.

normandacosta@hotmail.com


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