Steven Finn has praised the influence of James Anderson on his fellow bowlers after another dogged showing from England’s attack.
Anderson took three wickets with the new ball on day one of the second Test against Sri Lanka, but Mahela Jayawardene’s 31st Test century brought the hosts firmly back into the game.
A stumps total of 238-6 – Finn taking an important sixth wicket with the second new ball – leaves the match finely poised.
But while the balance of power was hard to read at the close of play, there was little doubt about who Finn credits with the consistency of England’s seam bowlers over the last two years.
“Jimmy is an exceptional fast bowler. He knows how to extract the maximum movement, nip and swing in any given conditions,” said Finn. “To have him talking to me at mid-off or mid-on, to help me get my mindset right when I’m bowling, definitely helps.
“I’ve learned a lot from Jimmy since I’ve come into the team, especially over the last 12 months.
“As a young bowler, you can look at him for how he gets his wickets, the places he pitches the ball and how patient he is.
“He doesn’t go searching for wickets. He just lets it happen and he’s as consistent as he can possibly be.
“As a bowler that’s something you can learn from.”
During a 124-run stand between Jayawardene (105) and Thilan Samaraweera (54) the game appeared to be drifting from England, but Finn was relatively buoyant about the tourists’ position.
Yorkshire’s Tim Bresnan removed Samaraweera, Graeme Swann claimed Jayawardene – whose eighth century against England comprised 11 fours and the day’s only six –and Finn struck last to see off the awkward Prasanna Jayawardene.
Reflecting on England’s evening rally, Finn, selected alongside Bresnan as England opted to drop Monty Panesar, said: “I thought we played some good attritional cricket. We were very patient and got our rewards towards the back end of the day.
“Mahela Jayawardene played very well and assessed conditions excellently but I thought as a bowling unit we did well all day.
“The fact they didn’t really go anywhere, with 238 off 90 overs, maybe swings it in our favour.”
Finn thought he had struck earlier in the day when he appealed for a catch against Samaraweera at short-leg, only for both the on-field umpire and TV official Rod Tucker to turn down the appeal.
England team director Andy Flower was spotted in discussion with Tucker after his verdict but while Finn was keen to play down that incident, he was clear in his support for an expanded DRS.
Hotspot technology is not being used in this series as it is no longer a mandatory requirement – something Finn would like altered.
“Andy is passionate about England cricket and winning, I’m sure (his discussion with Tucker) wasn’t anything out of the ordinary... just to double check,” he said.
“That’s one of the down sides of not having Hotspot: there’s no conclusive evidence.
“Personally, I reckon DRS should be universal and unified across the board so you have everything at every game.
“But we have to make do with what we have and move on.”
Sri Lanka captain Jayawardene admitted Anderson’s early salvo made things tough on the hosts after winning an important toss.
“Losing three wickets up front put us on the back foot. We have to fight ourselves back into the game (today),” he said.
“The pitch is pretty slow and on top of that England bowled pretty well, much more disciplined than at Galle.
“It wasn’t easy for us to score runs, so credit should go to them as well.’’