How did a man who had not bowled a ball in the previous eight months come to be at the top of his mark with Sri Lanka in dire need?
No, I’m kidding, of course. That would be crazy for Mathews. But what actually happens is in some ways, even crazier. Instead, in Mathews ambles in, off his very modest run up, taking the most ginger steps. Pooran, who has been middling everything like he has a bazooka hidden in his bat, awaits him, low in his stance, like a wound-up spring, but muscular. Then, in it comes, a 115kph, floating petal of a delivery. (Most fast bowlers have slower balls that are a good 5kph faster than this.) It wafts in with the breeze, pitches on an utterly unintimidating length, squirts off the surface, a little wide of off stump – a ball Pooran in this form should send screaming through the covers. Instead, through some inexplicable quirk of physics, he edges it. The keeper completes the catch. Mathews is punching the air with more vigour than he bowled that ball with. Team-mates coming into mob him are at risk of getting their lights knocked out.
Then in it comes, a 115kph, floating petal of a delivery – a ball Pooran should send screaming through the covers. Instead, through some quirk of physics, he edges it