England 316 and 39 for 1 (Crawley 27*, Anjula 1-14) lead Sri Lanka Cricket XI 245 (Priyanjan 77, Parkinson 4-68) by 110 runs
Matt Parkinson did his best to make a statement to England selectors ahead of the first Test in Sri Lanka by claiming four wickets as the visitors held command of their opening warm-up match at Katunayake.
At stumps on the second day of the three-day tour match between England and a Sri Lanka Cricket XI, England led by 110 runs, having restricted their opposition to 245 in their first innings on the back of 23-year-old legspinner Parkinson’s 4 for 68.
As expected, it was the spinners who came into their own, with Dom Bess adding 3 for 54 with his off-breaks to further dent the Sri Lankans’ reply to England’s first-innings 316.
In England’s second innings, Dom Sibley fell for a duck, caught by Lahiru Udara Igalagamage off the bowling of medium pacer Kavishka Anjula on the second ball he faced.
Parkinson has made his international debut in both limited-overs formats during the English winter, playing two T20Is in New Zealand at the end of last year and, more recently, two ODIs in South Africa. In New Zealand, he drew some praise by taking five wickets across his six overs in the series, but in South Africa he bowled just eight overs and went wicketless, reigniting criticism which has centred on his speed through the air and perceived lack of variation.
He has had limited exposure to red-ball cricket. having played just 20 first-class matches. He went wicketless during a two-day tour match in New Zealand and, on England’s tour of South Africa, he bowled 20 overs in a three-day warm-up match which cost 112 runs before being overlooked in favour of Dom Bess for the second Test.
“Having not played much red-ball cricket I needed to prove I can take wickets and almost get over the nerves of bowling with these lads,” Parkinson told the Press Association.
“There were more nerves in the other two tours. I’m still very raw with the red-ball and I think people sometimes forget that spinners develop later. Being picked on three Test tours, the expectations are raised, but I’ve still only played 20 first-class games so I’m still very new to red-ball cricket.
“I found it difficult to bowl spin in New Zealand and South Africa but hopefully the wickets in Galle and Colombo will be raggers.”
On Sunday, Parkinson’s first two wickets came from successive balls either side of the lunch break when Lahiru Milantha chipped to extra cover and Milinda Siriwardana was caught by Saqib Mahmood on the first delivery of the afternoon session.
Parkinson added two more in the evening, his third held by Sam Curran at mid-wicket and his fourth coming thanks to a sharp catch by Ben Foakes, who split wicketkeeping duties with Test regular Jos Buttler.
“There haven’t been many days yet in a white shirt but to get four wickets after the way the warm-up games went for me in New Zealand and South Africa was very pleasing,” Parkinson said.
“I hope I’m becoming a better bowler and I can use what I’ve learnt. I was in South Africa for two months and a bit, so you’d be wrong not to try to get the most out of the trip. Hopefully I’ve done that.”
Chris Woakes claimed two wickets and saw two catches dropped by Joe Root at slip, while Mahmood found some good speed in claiming one wicket.
Zak Crawley and Joe Denly resume on 27 and 11 respectively with England 39 for 1 going into the last day. The first Test starts in Galle on March 19.