28th over: Sri Lanka 125-3 (K Mendis 45, Mathews 25) Mendis hoicks a legspinner from Rashid just short of the man at cow corner, the highlight of an otherwise quiet over.
“‘Despatched’ is quite an elegant and efficient verb,” says Lee Johnson. “Usually despatching is reserved for parcels and the like, so I hope we don’t have ‘Deliveroo’d to square leg’, or ‘Ubered down to the third man boundary for four more…’ anytime soon.”
27th over: Sri Lanka 119-3 (K Mendis 43, Mathews 23) Sri Lanka will have to blink soon, because they surely need at least 300 if they are to win this match. At the moment, it looks like the extent of their ambition is a respectable defeat.
“I don’t want to play the Blackadder to Stephen Fry’s Dr Johnson,” says Ant Pease, “but I can’t help but notice an omission from his list of words for hitting a ball in cricket. ‘Hit.’”
26th over: Sri Lanka 115-3 (K Mendis 41, Mathews 21) Sri Lanka have gone up a gear since the spinners came on. But that’s a good over from Rashid, with just one from it.
“Everyone, including Mr Fry, has omitted my personal favourite,” says Tom Brain. “‘Belabour.’ I’m pretty sure it was common OBO currency back in the day…”
Ah, but we were so much older then. We’re younger than that now.
25th over: Sri Lanka 114-3 (K Mendis 40, Mathews 21) England are letting the game drift, with spin at both ends, although they would not unreasonably point out that Sri Lanka are well short of a par score. Bairstow saves a couple of boundaries with swooping stops on the square leg boundary.
24th over: Sri Lanka 106-3 (K Mendis 33, Mathews 20) The first big stroke from Mathews, who drags Rashid in the air and wide of mid-on for four. Eight from the over.
“Hi Rob,” says Ellis Hockin-Boyers. “Enjoying the lexicological discussion this morning re: batting. One word I’m surprised not to have seen on any of those lists is ‘cuffed’, which is great for conveying a sort of forceful dismissiveness in a shot.”
23rd over: Sri Lanka 98-3 (K Mendis 31, Mathews 14) We’re into the boring middle overs, with Sri Lanka scoring low-risk singles off most deliveries – or, in that Moeen over, off all of them.
“As a pedant,” boasts Steve Hudson, “I am irked by the way sportswriters regularly use the word ‘eke’ as a kind of a mix of squeeze and squeak. Sample usage: ‘After struggling against the Australian bowlers’ tight lines, Cook finally managed to eke a single to third man’. Eke doesn’t mean that.”
I don’t think I’ve ever read that usage. (I’ve probably written it, mind.)
22nd over: Sri Lanka 92-3 (K Mendis 28, Mathews 11) Adil Rashid replaces Ben Stokes (5-0-16-0). He’s had a disappointing tournament, though there were encouraging signs against Afghanistan on Monday. His first over is milked for five singles.
“Just had to share this quote from CLR James on Arthur Jones’ cut stroke,” says Mark Hooper. “‘When the ball hit down outside off-stump (and now, I think, even when it was straight) Jones lifted himself to his height, up went his bat and he brought it down across the ball as a woodsman puts his axe to a tree.’”
Bit flowery. He could have just said ‘stand and deliver’.
21st over: Sri Lanka 87-3 (K Mendis 26, Mathews 8) Mathews looks in woeful touch, and I’m aware I’ll be forced to dine on five words should he go on to make a matchwinning century. For now, after another quiet over from Moeen, he has 8 from 30 balls.
20th over: Sri Lanka 84-3 (K Mendis 26, Mathews 5) A low full toss from Stokes is driven for four by Kusal Mendis. Blah blah etc.
“For your readership’s ‘pleasure’,” begins Mac Millings, “I present the Brian Withington All-Time Wielding the Willow XI: Upulled Tharanga, David Hooked, Brian Larruped, Inzamarm-ul-ized-Haq, Basil Stand and D’Oliveira, Habibul Bashar, Fluked Ronchi, Ben Stroked, Glanced Cairns, Steven Finnagled, Tino Finessed.”
19th over: Sri Lanka 79-3 (K Mendis 22, Mathews 4) It’s time for the offspin of Moeen Ali, who is playing his 100th ODI. I swear 90 per cent of Moeen’s overs are milked for four singles, and this is no different.
“Morning Rob,” says Simon McMahon. “Despite the top four looking pretty secure, the remaining group fixtures should still be pretty interesting as they jockey for position ahead of the semi-finals, given that we still have Australia v New Zealand and England v India / New Zealand / Australia to come. Who do you think England would prefer to beat in the final?”
STOP IT, NOW.
18th over: Sri Lanka 75-3 (K Mendis 20, Mathews 2) Thanks for all your emails, which I’m trying to sift through between the dot balls. Mendis takes a dodgy single into the leg side, and the bowler Stokes whistles a throw on the turn just past the stumps. It would have been out with a direct hit. Stokes, as ever, is giving everything and already looks absolutely shattered. I bet he wakes up looking knackered.
“I’m loath to pick a fault with Brian Withington (who can’t be far off drawing a salary from Guardian Towers for the amount of content he’s generated),” begins Matt Dony, “but he’s missed out Eoinmorganned from his list of bat-applied-to-ball adjectives.”
17th over: Sri Lanka 74-3 (K Mendis 19, Mathews 2) Wood spears a yorker into Mendis, who does well to stop him defiling his furniture. Sri Lanka are going nowhere at the moment. The precocious Fernando made 49 from 39 balls; the rest have made 24 from 63 between them.
“Hi Rob,” says Ben Evans. “Surely Stephen Fry has the last word (excuse the pun) on terms to be used when bat meets ball… We could use these to play a superior form of Bingo.”
Oh larruped, where are thou?
16th over: Sri Lanka 72-3 (K Mendis 18, Mathews 1) Mendis gets his first boundary with a wristy drive through extra cover off Stokes, and then Mathews gets his first run from his 13th delivery. That’s your lot.
“Nudged and nurdled,” says Lorraine Reese. “Although nurdled seems to have fallen out of favour since Colly retired.”
15th over: Sri Lanka 66-3 (K Mendis 13, Mathews 0) Wood is quietly having a terrific tournament, with 10 wickets at 17.40. He almost gets his 11th with a cracking delivery that beats the groping Mathews. He has 0 from 10 balls.
“Have you seen Slap Shot?” says Dennis Johns. “One of the great, great sports films (because it’s not really about sport etc etc). It accepts the ugly truth about humanity (we love violence and know sport is silly) and is all the better and more entertaining for it.”
I haven’t, but I shall forward this to my Hotmail this instant so that I remember to add it to my longlonglist of films to watch. Thanks.
13th over: Sri Lanka 62-3 (K Mendis 9, Mathews 0) Beans.
WICKET! Sri Lanka 62-3 (Fernando c Rashid b Wood 49)
Avishka Fernando becomes the second man to be caught at third man. He tried to glide a very short ball from Wood for six but could only steer it straight to Adil Rashid. It’s a soft end to a charming, stylish innings: 49 from 39 balls with six fours and two sixes.
12th over: Sri Lanka 59-2 (Fernando 47, K Mendis 8) Ben Stokes replaces Jofra Archer, who was marmalarruped to all parts by Fernando. A quiet over; three from it. This looks a great pitch for batting.
“Hi Rob,” says Bernard Hughes. “Michael Vaughan’s ‘with ball in hand’ definitely didn’t exist before he started using it last year.”
11th over: Sri Lanka 56-2 (Fernando 46, K Mendis 6) Mark Wood replaces Chris Woakes (5-0-22-1), and Fernando edge/glides him for four to bring up the fifty partnership. Mind you, ‘partnership’ is pretty generous to Mendis.
Here’s Richard Mansell. “Brian Withington has missed a word I have only ever seen in a cricket context: marmalised.”
You’ve clearly never inhabited Sittingbourne High Street at the witching hour.
10th over: Sri Lanka 48-2 (Fernando 41, K Mendis 4) Kusal Mendis hasn’t got going, though he doesn’t need to when Fernando is playing like this. He clouts another pull for four off Archer, this time over midwicket, and pings the next ball over backward square leg for a huge six!
There’s a break in play while the umpires pick a new ball, and Archer ends the over with a brilliant full-length delivery that just misses both the outside edge and the off stump. Fernando has scored 40 from his last 21 deliveries, most with high-class strokes. For a 21-year-old playing his first World Cup match, and only his seventh ODI, it’s on the outrageous side of audacious.
8th over: Sri Lanka 31-2 (Fernando 25, K Mendis 3) A maiden from Archer to Mendis. Avishka Fernando has done damage to England before in a World Cup, as Sam Curran and Mason Crane can testify.
“I’d not thought about it before James Butler’s query, but there are rather a lot of words for wielding the willow,” says Brian Withington. “Not quite as many varieties as Inuit words for snow, but in addition to slapped we’ve got (for starters): smashed, thumped, bashed, crashed, planked, spanked, heaved, thrashed, lumped, stroked, worked, pulled, hooked, scorched, scooped, tucked, drove, ramped, placed, sliced, tickled, glanced, fluked, caressed, finessed and finagled. I’m sure I’ve missed loads of OBO favourites.”
O larruped, where are thou?
7th over: Sri Lanka 31-2 (Fernando 25, K Mendis 3) Fernando edges Woakes through the vacant fifth-slip area at catchable height. Quite why Eoin Morgan doesn’t have 12 slips is beyond me. Fernando plays another gorgeous shot later in the over, driving straight down the ground for four. He looks foppin sensational.
6th over: Sri Lanka 24-2 (Fernando 20, K Mendis 1) Fernando gets the first boundary with a brilliant stroke, standing tall
to thump Archer through the covers. It’s the start of a very entertaining over. Archer beats Fernando twice outside off stump; then Fernando swivel pulls a big six over backward square leg and drives classically through the covers for four. That is beautiful batting.
5th over: Sri Lanka 10-2 (Fernando 6, K Mendis 1) Fernando plays a couple of stylish back-foot drives off Woakes, one through mid-on and one down the ground, with each bringing two runs.
“Hi Rob,” says Alex. “In reference to James Butler’s comment – ‘stand and deliver’ also seems to have crept into the modern cricketing commentator’s arsenal overnight – I don’t know why it irritates me so much (but I’ll try to explain). It says almost nothing about the shot it describes – reminds me of tennis commentating; all emotion without any real insight.”
I’ll get back to you in a moment Alex; I just need to nervously google ‘Rob Smyth’ and ‘stand and deliver’.
4th over: Sri Lanka 4-2 (Fernando 1, K Mendis 0) England now have two right-handers to work with: the experienced Kusal Mendis and the precocious 21-year-old Avishka Fernando. Archer bowls a maiden to Fernando. Sri Lanka are 4-2 after four overs, and England are disconcertingly good.
Meanwhile, I’ve not had chance to read this yet – I’m busy – but it will almost certainly be a great read, because the subject is fascinating and Don McRae is the best interviewer around.England now have two right-handers to work with: the experienced Kusal Mendis and the precocious 21-year-old Avishka Fernando. Archer bowls a maiden to Fernando. Sri Lanka are 4-2 after four overs, and England are disconcertingly good.
Meanwhile, I’ve not had chance to read this yet – I’m busy – but it will almost certainly be a great read, because the subject is fascinating and Don McRae is the best interviewer around.
3rd over: Sri Lanka 4-2 (Fernando 1, K Mendis 0) “I always thought ‘slapped’ was borrowed from ice hockey (Slap Shot), a shot that is all wrists and timing,” says Sean Cunningham.
I thought it was a cross-bat thump to the off side, usually well timed (see here) but not always.
WICKET! Sri Lanka 3-2 (K Perera c Ali b Woakes 2)
This is a spectacular start from England, who have picked up both openers – both in-form batsmen – inside 2.2 overs. Kusal Perera threw the kitchen sink at a wide delivery from Woakes, and the ball flew all the way down to Moeen Ali at third man. He took a simple catch, and that was that.
2nd over: Sri Lanka 3-1 (K Perera 2, Fernando 0) That was a lovely bit of bowling from Archer – the length was perfect, and the line was tight enough that Karunaratne had to play.
“Morning Rob, morning everyone,” says Matt Emerson. “We were at The Oval for the Australia v Sri Lanka game and I’d argue that the highlight of Sri Lanka’s World Cup so far was Karunaratne & Perera’s assault on the Australian opening bowlers – they were 102-0 after 13 overs. If – and it’s a Ranatunga-sized if – they do the same this morning then we may see England revert to their rather stroppy state of mind they inhabited against Pakistan.”
WICKET! Sri Lanka 3-1 (Karunaratne c Buttler b Archer 1)
Here’s Jofra Archer, England’s three-for specialist. He already has four three-wicket hauls in the tournament, and a fifth today would put him level with Mitchell Starc as the leading wicket-taker.
There’s his first wicket! Karunaratne fiddles outside off stump at a beautiful delivery that seams away just enough to take the edge, and Buttler takes a routine catch.
1st over: Sri Lanka 2-0 (Karunaratne 1, K Perera 1) A lovely start from Woakes, whose first ball nips back to cut Karunaratne in half. The rest of the over is pretty accurate, and both batsmen get off the mark with singles.
“I’m interested in the etymology of ‘slapped’ to describe a particularly aggressive shot,” says James Butler. “I’m pretty sure this didn’t exist a year or so ago but is now commonplace on both OBO and the BBC. Who coined it first? Reminds of when ‘steepling’ reared up from nowhere (ho ho) to describe Steve Harmison’s short ball.”
I couldn’t prove it in a court of law, but it feels like that particular usage of ‘slapped’ has been around for ages. Maybe you’re experiencing the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Either that or I’m talking nonsense. Ah, hang on, here’s proof that it was being used in 2001.
Here come Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera. It’s a beautiful morning in Yorkshire, and this is a good chance for Sri Lanka to post a big total. If they get 300 and James Vince drives his first ball to extra cover, who knows what might happen.
England’s first World Cup meeting with Sri Lanka was at Taunton in 1983, when one of the Guardian’s cricket writers took the first five-for for England at a World Cup. Not that Ali Martin likes to boast about it.
“Morning Rob and a Happy Solstice to OBOers everywhere,” says John Starbuck. “There’s a steady westerly wind pushing clouds towards Headingley but at ground level it’s fairly gusty in places. If this keeps up we ought to miss the rain but local atmospherics could be awkward for bowlers and fielders.”
England are unchanged. Sri Lanka bring in Jeevan Mendis and Avishka Fernando for Lahiru Thirimanne and Milinda Siriwardana.
England Vince, Bairstow, Root, Morgan (c), Stokes, Buttler (wk), Ali, Woakes, Rashid, Archer, Wood.
Sri Lanka Karunaratne (c), K Perera, Fernando, K Mendis, Mathews, J Mendis, T Perera, de Silva, Udana, Malinga, Pradeep.
SRI LANKA HAVE WON THE TOSS AND WILL BAT FIRST
The pitch is literally flatter than a pancake, so they’ll want at least 300. Eoin Morgan says he would have batted first.
“As regards Sri Lanka blaming their meek performances on poor pitches and shoddy hotels goes, it still falls within the acceptable bounds of reason,” says Abhinav Dutta. “If I remember correctly, a previous generation of Sri Lankan cricketers blamed their poor cricket on ill-fitting, body-hugging clothes. Although I haven’t found proof, I do remember this being asked around in a respectable sports quiz. One wonders if they turned up to the ground in straitjackets that morning/afternoon.”
I’ve heard worse.
“Morning Rob,” says Daniela Siekiera. “It seems like a sign that when I read about ‘a complaint about a swimming pool’ in your preamble, I just assumed that was a reference to all the washed-out games instead of, you know, an actual swimming pool. But I guess it works both ways. I hope no such complaints will be made about today’s game.”
Breaking news: today’s match has been switched to New Road, Worcestershire.
Good morning. Tense, nervous headache? Me neither. But trust me, it’s in the post, and I’m not talking about tomorrow’s hangover. For England fans the World Cup is about to get very serious, and today’s match against Sri Lanka at Headingley is the last that can be watched in the reclining position.
Before you start, my dearest trolls, this isn’t to say England are guaranteed to win today. They should, but they might not. All of that is what the point is not. The point is that whether they win, lose or tie, the remaining matches will have a nervous edge to them even before a ball is bowled.
After this, England play Australia (Tuesday), India (a week Sunday) and New Zealand (a week Wednesday), all games which could be dress rehearsals for a semi-final or even – yikes – a final. And then, hopefully,we’ll be into the actual OMG this-is-it I can’t-even knockout stages. It could be the time of our lives; it will almost certainly render us an incoherent mess.
If England lose today, the remaining group matches will take on a different, more desperate context. But it shouldn’t come to that. Sri Lanka are sixth in the table, ahead of West Indies, South Africa and Pakistan, though that owes as much to washouts as their own performances. Thus far, the highlight of their campaign has probably been a complaint about a swimming pool.
The match is scheduled to start at 10.30am local time, and should actually do so: the weather forecast is fine.