CRICKET: It's Shame Old Story Again as Nasser's Flops Are Humiliated; FIRST TEST ENGLAND V SRI LANKA: HUSSAIN'S HEADING FOR DEFEAT.(Sport)

Article excerpt


ENGLAND went back to their sad, bad old kamikaze ways yesterday.

Now they are staring another Lord's humiliation in the face.

Nasser Hussain's men turned back the clock to the last Ashes series - and many times before that - by capitulating so meekly on day three of the First Test.

They were left reeling - all out for 275 - in their first innings, still 81 runs short of the follow-on target and nowhere in sight of Sri Lanka's massive 555-8.

Unknown seamer Ruchira Perera stepped into the wicket-taking shoes of absent injured star Muttiah Muralitharan to give his side a great chance of going 1-0 up in the series.

Perera took the wickets of Michael Vaughan and Graham Thorpe in successive balls, but missed out on becoming one of the few bowlers to grab a Lord's hat-trick when Alec Stewart kept out his next delivery.

Another Sri Lankan new boy, Buddika Fernando, also played a big role in putting the skids under the English batting. Until that moment Michael Vaughan (64) and skipper Hussain (57) appeared to have stopped the tourists' charge for victory.

Thorpe also seemed to have mastered a Sri Lankan bowling attack which without the lethal Murali had a pedestrian look on paper. Yet England's batsmen performed another flimsy batting performance.

Most of the wickets were to poor shots. Mark Butcher, Hussain (below) and Vaughan all played loose shots to get out but worst of all was the run out that ended Alec Stewart's brief stay.

Rain delayed the start by 20 minutes and England had added just 16 runs when they suffered an early setback.

Surrey left-hander Butcher never looked at ease under the grey skies with a strong wind helping the Sri Lankan bowlers.

Butcher lasted 25 balls and made 17 before offering a straightforward catch to Mahela Jayawardene off Fernando. It was the start captain Hussain was hoping to avoid as his side set about chasing Sri Lanka's massive total.

Hussain, as he has done so many times since taking over the captaincy, led England's fightback.

The 34-year-old Essex star went on the attack just as he and his batsmen did against New Zealand back in March. Hussain's philosophy of playing shots and keeping the scoreboard ticking over as the best way out of a hole paid off to some extent.

He and Vaughan suddenly made the Sri Lankan bowlers look very ordinary. Hussain powered boundary after boundary. He accelerated to his 22nd half century in 70 Tests with two successive boundaries and then an off-drive for three from Fernando.

His 50 came with a flick off his pads down to long leg and the skipper raised his bat, accepting the polite and relieved applause from the fans. Hussain was a man in a hurry. He had struck no fewer than 10 boundaries in his half century. Unfortunately, his sprint was to turn into a slow, sad walk back to the dressing room.

After putting on 106 runs from 153 balls with Vaughan, Hussain played a loose defensive stroke to Nuwan Zoysa and wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara took a tumbling catch in front of first slip. It was such an anti-climax for England and for the Lord's crowd who were desperate for Hussain to march to an 11th Test century.

Vaughan, who had accepted the anchor role while his captain was around, came out of his shell to reach 50. …