England must capitalise on a penetrative start with the ball and build a commanding lead on day two of the second Test against Sri Lanka, says Sir Ian Botham.
Alastair Cook’s side bowled Sri Lanka out for 257 at Headingley as Stuart Broad (3-46) bagged a hat-trick – dismissing Kumar Sangakkara (79) and then Dinesh Chandimal and Shaminda Eranga with the first two balls of his next over - and Liam Plunkett (5-64) claimed his maiden Test five-wicket haul.
Cook then shared an unbroken stand of 36 with fellow opener Sam Robson in the 15 overs of play possible before stumps to put England in the box-seat.
Botham told Sky Sports: “England will be delighted. At one stage it looked as though they’d given Kumar Sangakkara four chances, four lives, and that could have proved very expensive.
“But as it was he got out in the end, the tail collapsed and congratulations to Stuart Broad, who got another hat-trick.
“The thing is he didn’t know he had another hat-trick – he admitted that he didn’t have a clue [because it spanned two overs].
“Sri Lanka will be disappointed with the way they capitulated at the end. England now must bat, bat and bat a bit more. The openers have done the hardest bit tonight. If they settle in on Saturday, they should bat long.”
Plunkett, who returned to the England side in last week’s first Test at Lord’s after a seven-year absence, claimed his first wicket by bowling Dimuth Karunaratne and then bagged the wickets of Mahela Jayawardene and Lahiru Thirimanne in successive balls after lunch.
The tall seamer ruffled Dhammika Prasad, who was caught behind for a duck, before finding the edge of Nuwan Pradeep’s bat, to give Matt Prior another each catch.
Botham said he was thoroughly impressed by the Yorkshire seamer’s form.
“I thought he bowled well – I thought he bowled well at Lord’s on a flat, nothing wicket,” he said. “He came in here and got a bit more help – including a terrific catch by Chris Jordan at slip low to his right.
“He used his height, he used his pace and he got the final wicket to pick up five-for. It was terrific.
“What a helter-skelter is has been for him. Seven years ago he played Test cricket; then he comes back in at Lord’s in a bolt out of the blue for a lot of us and he performed magnificently and he’s gone and done it again here. So good luck to the young man.”
Assessing the pitch, Botham concluded that Cook had done the right thing in putting Sri Lanka into bat – although he admitted that the tourists’ lower-order could have shown a touch more resilience.
“You wouldn’t mind bowling on there – it kept doing it all day,” he said. “Sometimes when the sun comes out it flattens out. But there is quite a lot of grass on the pitch, which is why it kept you interested as a bowler.
“The ball swung a little bit – Jimmy Anderson was still getting it to swing late on in the innings by pitching it up there and the ball went late.
“I think there was plenty of help for England. It was never going to be easy for the Sri Lankans and they battled, but that last half hour to 45 minutes had Russel [Arnold] pulling his hair out.”
England’s openers survived through to stumps although not before Cook – when he had five - edged Eranga to Sangakkara to slip on for the third umpire to rule that the ball had not carried.
Botham felt the decision was rough on the bowling side. “To be honest with you, I still think Sangakkara caught it,” the former England all-rounder reflected.
“He said he felt his fingers squeezed by the ball but because the cameras foreshorten the angle so much it will go upstairs and it will get turned down.”
Watch day two of the second Test between England and Sri Lanka from 10.30am on Sky Sports 2. Before then you can catch Cricket Fever at 9am, followed by Cricket Extra at 10.30am.