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Sri Lanka's first Lord's Test

The Sri Lanka side pose for a team photo at Lord's
The Sri Lanka side pose for a team photo at Lord's

England v Sri Lanka - only Test, 23-28 August 1984 - Match drawn

Sri Lanka 491/7 dec. (Wettimuny 190, Mendis 111*)

England 370 (Lamb 107)

Sri Lanka 294/7 dec. (Silva 102*)

After making their Test bow in 1982, Sri Lanka had to wait another two years before their first Test at Lord’s.

Although they had fought bravely in that maiden match against England in Colombo, the ease of England’s victory, added to an inconsistent start to Test cricket, meant the hosts were heavy favourites for the return match in August 1984.

While England had spent the first part of the summer being whitewashed by West Indies, Sri Lanka had prepared meticulously, arriving in the country a month before the only Test, and playing six county matches.

Despite England having been comprehensively beaten in each of the five Tests against the West Indies, the hosts came in with a degree of arrogance, expecting to wipe the floor with their inexperienced visitors.

England captain David Gower won the toss, and expecting the Sri Lankan batsmen to be overawed by the occasion of playing at Lord’s, elected to field first, hoping to play on the Sri Lankan nerves and take some early wickets.

And so it proved, as Sri Lanka were two down within the first hour, with Amal Silva and Ranjun Madegalle departing for single figure scores.

However, England did not account for the brilliance of Sidath Wettimuny. Despite being hamstrung by cramp as his innings progressed, he toyed with an England attack low on confidence and short of imagination, striking 21 fours in a majestic 190.

Wettimuny’s innings meant he was the first ever Sri Lankan to etch his name onto the Lord’s Honours Board, an achievement that was not lost on him when he celebrated making three figures.

Opener Wettimuny was joined in partnerships by Arjuna Ranatunga (84), and then captain Duleep Mendis - the latter flaying a tired England all around Lord’s, hitting Ian Botham for three sixes as he made a breathtaking 111 to join Wettimuny on the Honours Board.

Mendis brought up his century from just 112 balls, becoming the first Sri Lankan captain to make a Test ton as England’s bowlers continued to wilt.

However, England did not account for the brilliance of Sidath Wettimuny

The tourists batted into the third day before declaring on 491/7 after their two century makers had been removed - Wettimuny’s 190 the highest score by any batsmen on their first appearance at a Test in England, and the seventh highest score by a visiting player at Lord’s.

England, well behind in the game and seemingly content with playing out a draw, crawled to their total of 370 all out, from 147 overs. Chris Tavare took 138 minutes to score his 14 runs, as the sparse crowd were ‘treated’ to a less than thrilling spectacle.

Four wickets apiece for opening bowlers Ashantha de Mel and Vinothen John meant that England could have been slightly worried about missing the follow-on, but Allan Lamb’s 107 eased further English embarrassment.

After England were bowled out with the final acts of the fourth day, and a draw inevitable, there was still time on Day Five for Amal Silva to join his opening partner Wettimuny and captain Mendis on the Honours Board, making an unbeaten 102.

Sri Lanka declared seven down after Silva made his century, but not before Botham had taken six of the seven wickets to fall, putting him on the bowling Honours Board once more.

Botham’s haul was the seventh time he had taken five or more wickets in an innings at a Test at Lord’s (out of eight times in total), which went alongside the century he made at the Ground against Pakistan in 1978.

Mendis was unfortunate not to have added to his first-innings century with another in the second, falling just short as Botham took his wicket for 94.

The game itself will be fondly remembered in Sri Lanka, both for the new to Test cricket side more than holding their own against England, and for the three Sri Lankan batsmen whose names will go down in Lord’s history forever.

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