Boycott purring at Headingley after Robson turns back clock

England's Liam Plunkett celebrates taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne (not pictured) with Kumar Sangakkara (right), during day three of the second Investec Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
England's Liam Plunkett celebrates taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne (not pictured) with Kumar Sangakkara (right), during day three of the second Investec Test match at Headingley, Leeds.
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Chris Waters reflects on how an old-fashioned approach enabled an England newcomer to score his maiden Test century against Sri Lanka.

LAST year, Joe Root marked the Saturday of the Headingley Test with his maiden hundred for England.

This year it was the turn of Sam Robson, who followed Root’s 104 against New Zealand in 2013 with 127 against Sri Lanka.

Robson, born in Australia to an English mother, is not a batsman who empties bars.

On the contrary, he is more likely to send spectators looking for them, such is the attritional nature of his strokeplay.

But Test cricket is Test cricket for a reason.

It demands application and concentration as well as self-expression.

Small wonder that one Geoffrey Boycott – who knows a thing or two about opening the batting – purred with admiration on the radio.

“He’s played well,” said Boycott, which counts as purring in Sir Geoffrey’s book.

In humid conditions, with overcast skies occasionally broken by bursts of sunshine, Robson nudged, nurdled and occasionally cut free.

As befitted a man playing only his second Test, and in need of a good score after innings of one and 19 at Lord’s last week, his watchwords were caution and dogged defence.

Robson tried little extravagant – a straight six off the left-arm spinner Rangana Herath towards the Rugby Stand stood out like a belch in polite company – and was mainly content to work into gaps.

He faced 253 balls in a vigil that lasted just over six hours, many of his 15 fours stroked sweetly through the covers.

On a day when England scored 320-6 in reply to 257, perhaps the most memorable thing about Robson’s performance was the understated manner in which he celebrated his century.

The Middlesex right-hander happily does not know the protocol in such matters, which is basically to jump in the air in self-indulgent triumph before snogging the Three Lions emblem on the shirt.

Perhaps Robson, with his foreign roots, is a tad bashful in this regard – not that it ever bothered a certain Kevin Pietersen.

Either way, it was a refreshing change, and it did not detract from the applause he received from the 13,000 crowd.

That crowd seemed relatively well behaved for the Saturday of a Headingley Test – beer snake antics excepted, of course.

There was no repeat of the smelly shenanigans on day one, when a piece of cheese was thrown at Shaminda Eranga by a spectator in the White Rose Stand.

Yorkshire named and shamed the villain as Rhys Duerden, of Hull, who was fined £150 for a public order offence.

With Headingley battling to retain its international status, which cannot be guaranteed beyond 2019 once the club’s staging agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board expires, Yorkshire can ill-afford such unsavoury episodes.

None of which will concern Robson, apart from the fact that he seems to like batting at Leeds.

After the early departure of Alastair Cook, who fell to a typically tentative prod outside off-stump at Dhammika Prasad and was caught at first slip, Robson rebuilt the innings with Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance.

The pair added 142 for the second wicket in 50 overs, Ballance contributing 74 of them before he edged Angelo Mathews to wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal.

It was a fine innings by Ballance, who faced 157 balls and hit eight fours, although he did have a life on 61 when he was spilled at short-leg by Kaushal Silva off Herath.

Ballance – another who hails from foreign climes (in his case Zimbabwe) – treated the crowd to a typical exhibition of tucks, tickles and muscular thumps.

He twice cut Nuwan Pradeep in quick succession to the backward-point boundary in front of the White Rose Stand to reach his half-century from 116 balls with seven fours.

The left-hander had one other scare shortly after lunch.

When he had scored 31, Ballance missed a straight delivery from Herath and was adjudged lbw, a decision overturned on review after replays showed the ball was missing leg stump.

Watched by his parents, Robson, 24, went to his hundred from 220 balls with a steer for two through the covers off Prasad.

He had spent a nervous tea break on 98, probably unable to stomach even a nourishing piece of cheese had one been offered to him.

Robson, who was finally bowled by Pradeep while attempting to drive, was helped to his milestone by Ian Bell, whose dream of marking his 100th Test with a century of his own was dashed in the closing stages.

Bell had played well for 64 when he was fourth out at 311, strangled down the leg-side off Eranga, and he was followed in the next over by Root, also caught behind, pushing at Mathews.

England would have lost three wickets on 311 had Mathews clung on to a difficult return chance in his follow-through, one-handed low to his right, offered by Matt Prior before he had scored.

As it was, only two runs had been added when Moeen Ali drove loosely at Eranga and was caught behind, leaving England 313-6.

Sri Lanka missed another opportunity just before stumps when Chris Jordan was dropped on one by Dimuth Karunaratne at cover off Prasad.

It was a tough chance on a tough day of cricket, a day that Robson will remember forever.

Sam Robson

Scored his maiden Test century for England from 220 deliveries and struck one six and 15 fours.

taking the applause: England century-maker Sam Robson salutes the Headingley crowd as he leaves the pitch after being bowled by Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Pradeep in the second Test on Saturday. Inset, Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance hits out against Dhammika Prasad on his way to 74 off 157 deliveries and a second-wicket stand of 142 in 50 overs with Robson.

Pictures: Martin Rickett/PA

Boycott purring at Headingley after Robson turns back clock

LAST year, Joe Root marked the Saturday of the Headingley Test with his maiden hundred for England.

This year it was the turn of Sam Robson, who followed Root’s 104 against New Zealand in 2013 with 127 against Sri Lanka.

Robson, born in Australia to an English mother, is not a batsman who empties bars.

On the contrary, he is more likely to send spectators looking for them, such is the attritional nature of his strokeplay.

But Test cricket is Test cricket for a reason.

It demands application and concentration as well as self-expression.

Small wonder that one Geoffrey Boycott – who knows a thing or two about opening the batting – purred with admiration on the radio.

“He’s played well,” said Boycott, which counts as purring in Sir Geoffrey’s book.

In humid conditions, with overcast skies occasionally broken by bursts of sunshine, Robson nudged, nurdled and occasionally cut free.

As befitted a man playing only his second Test, and in need of a good score after innings of one and 19 at Lord’s last week, his watchwords were caution and dogged defence.

Robson tried little extravagant – a straight six off the left-arm spinner Rangana Herath towards the Rugby Stand stood out like a belch in polite company – and was mainly content to work into gaps.

He faced 253 balls in a vigil that lasted just over six hours, many of his 15 fours stroked sweetly through the covers.

On a day when England scored 320-6 in reply to 257, perhaps the most memorable thing about Robson’s performance was the understated manner in which he celebrated his century.

The Middlesex right-hander happily does not know the protocol in such matters, which is basically to jump in the air in self-indulgent triumph before snogging the Three Lions emblem on the shirt.

Perhaps Robson, with his foreign roots, is a tad bashful in this regard – not that it ever bothered a certain Kevin Pietersen.

Either way, it was a refreshing change, and it did not detract from the applause he received from the 13,000 crowd.

That crowd seemed relatively well behaved for the Saturday of a Headingley Test – beer snake antics excepted, of course.

There was no repeat of the smelly shenanigans on day one, when a piece of cheese was thrown at Shaminda Eranga by a spectator in the White Rose Stand.

Yorkshire named and shamed the villain as Rhys Duerden, of Hull, who was fined £150 for a public order offence.

With Headingley battling to retain its international status, which cannot be guaranteed beyond 2019 once the club’s staging agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board expires, Yorkshire can ill-afford such unsavoury episodes.

None of which will concern Robson, apart from the fact that he seems to like batting at Leeds.

After the early departure of Alastair Cook, who fell to a typically tentative prod outside off-stump at Dhammika Prasad and was caught at first slip, Robson rebuilt the innings with Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance.

The pair added 142 for the second wicket in 50 overs, Ballance contributing 74 of them before he edged Angelo Mathews to wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal.

It was a fine innings by Ballance, who faced 157 balls and hit eight fours, although he did have a life on 61 when he was spilled at short-leg by Kaushal Silva off Herath.

Ballance – another who hails from foreign climes (in his case Zimbabwe) – treated the crowd to a typical exhibition of tucks, tickles and muscular thumps.

He twice cut Nuwan Pradeep in quick succession to the backward-point boundary in front of the White Rose Stand to reach his half-century from 116 balls with seven fours.

The left-hander had one other scare shortly after lunch.

When he had scored 31, Ballance missed a straight delivery from Herath and was adjudged lbw, a decision overturned on review after replays showed the ball was missing leg stump.

Watched by his parents, Robson, 24, went to his hundred from 220 balls with a steer for two through the covers off Prasad.

He had spent a nervous tea break on 98, probably unable to stomach even a nourishing piece of cheese had one been offered to him.

Robson, who was finally bowled by Pradeep while attempting to drive, was helped to his milestone by Ian Bell, whose dream of marking his 100th Test with a century of his own was dashed in the closing stages.

Bell had played well for 64 when he was fourth out at 311, strangled down the leg-side off Eranga, and he was followed in the next over by Root, also caught behind, pushing at Mathews.

England would have lost three wickets on 311 had Mathews clung on to a difficult return chance in his follow-through, one-handed low to his right, offered by Matt Prior before he had scored.

As it was, only two runs had been added when Moeen Ali drove loosely at Eranga and was caught behind, leaving England 313-6.

Sri Lanka missed another opportunity just before stumps when Chris Jordan was dropped on one by Dimuth Karunaratne at cover off Prasad.

It was a tough chance on a tough day of cricket, a day that Robson will remember forever.