Young Kent cricketers Adam Ball and Daniel Bell-Drummond continue to shine for the England under-19s on their tour of Sri Lanka as another run-laden draw in Colombo meant the two-match youth-Test series ended all level.
The hosts batted first and piled on the runs. A stunning 213 from Yasoda Lanka was well complimented by captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s 129 as Sri Lanka posted a mammoth 542, at a rate of exactly four runs-per-over. Ball was one of the most economical bowlers for England as his 1-58 off 16 overs, after taking the new-ball, kept things tight. He was rewarded for his endeavours – Lasith Abeyratne caught by skipper Lewis Gregory for 19. Jack Parsons, Shiv Thakor and Gurman Randhawa all claimed two wickets apiece for England.
Bell-Drummond got the reply off to a fine start, alongside Sam Wood, putting on 94 for the first wicket before the Kent opener was caught and bowled by Lahiru Jayaratne for 24. Wood went onto dominated as he stroked 130 but the tourists lost wickets at regular intervals and despite Ball showing his superb all-round capabilities – second top-scoring with 81 coming in at number eight – England were bowled out for 373 and were subsequently asked to follow-on.
Again England openers Wood and Bell-Drummond responded well, this time posting 151 for the first-wicket. However, for the second time in the game, Bell-Drummond failed to go on as he fell for 43. Nottinghamshire’s Wood was then taken out in the very next over for 95 to cap a fine game for him. England remained staunch though as their bid to bat out o draw was successful. Contributions from Ateeq Javid (66 not-out) and Thakor (44) meant the Three Lions finished on 324 for seven to seal the series stalemate. Ball made 13 in his second innings.
Commenting on the drawn Test series, Kent’s High Performance Director, Simon Willis, said: “Bowling-wise, Sri Lanka put a big score on the board in the first innings so it was nice to see Adam maintain an economy rate of under four an over in testing conditions. Daniel once again got a start and will be disappointed at not kicking on but he can draw a lot of confidence from the time he spent out in the middle. Adam then showed a great rearguard action, as England lost some key wickets in middle of the innings, and almost helped them past the follow-on. He was the last dismissal of the England innings and showed some great maturity.
“Adam is constantly improving as a cricketer. He is a genuine all-rounder and a very competent batter. I have seen him play some useful innings over the last few years. I remember one second XI one-day game at Tonbridge School. He came in with the team under pressure and showed great maturity in the middle of the innings. He knocked the ball around nicely, took pressure off the batsman at the other end, and played very well for a guy of that age at that stage of his career.
“Overall, I think England will be pretty happy to have recorded the draw. They’ve had two really long days in the field, in both Test matches, but have still come out with a draw and can now look forward to the one-day series.
I expect the Sri Lankans to come at England hard in the limited over’s matches – particularly with the bat. I’m sure that the conditions will play their part and everyone will need to show great flexibility and adaptability, as that will be crucial to England’s success.
The first of five ODIs starts on Friday, in Colombo.