FAST-BOWLER James Anderson urged England to forget their fielding howlers after an encouraging start to the first Test in Sri Lanka was undermined by a litany of dropped catches.
England had the hosts at 67-4 early yesterday but wasted four chances to remove Mahela Jayawardene before the captain’s 168 not out swept Sri Lanka to 289-8 in Galle.
Spinner Monty Panesar was the worst culprit for the tourists, putting down two simple opportunities to halt Jayawardene in consecutive overs as England looked to build on their success in the opening sessions.
Anderson, who took three wickets but himself missed two tricky catches from Jayawardene, admitted irritation but warned his team-mates not to dwell on what might have been.
“Catches are crucial to taking 20 wickets in a Test match and a few of them maybe weren’t the most difficult, so it’s frustrating for us that they went down,” he said.
“We’re disappointed, especially because we focused on that at the start of the trip, but we have to put it behind us. The more we dwell on it the more we’ll get frustrated.
“Everyone is upset if they drop a catch and I thought it took the shine off what was a brilliant day for Monty. I’m sure he’ll put it behind him.”
Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford said he hoped England’s errors would “affect the side massively”, adding: “Hopefully Mahela can rub it in a bit.”
Two early Anderson wickets, including Kumar Sangakkara first ball, and one for Stuart Broad had Sri Lanka at 15-3, before Jayawardene arrived at the crease. Debutant Samit Patel, preferred to all-rounder Ravi Bopara, whose side strain has left him unable to bowl, justified his selection with two wickets, but could not deny Jayawardene a 30th Test ton.