Galle: What is a name? Australian-born Brendan Nash, as an example is not a pop star or a Caribbean rap artist. He is not a clairvoyant, either.
He is though a solid West Indies Test middle-order batsman with a lot of belief in how they can still win this first Test at Galle International. While it is a solid belief, it also flies in the face of tradition. The West Indies have not won a Test on this Indian Ocean island, which explains the theory that there has to be a first time for everything.
Belief though is the Australian tenacity that he has and how early wickets on day three will make a difference between winning and drawing.
“We have a young, inexperienced bowling attack, yet we feel there is always a chance to win here for the first time,” he said, his accent giving away his Australian roots. “We have a big total on the board and there will be pressure on their batsmen.”
Now a month away for turning 33, he also played a major role in day two to aid Chris Gayle join a select group of four players who have scored two triple centuries in a Test career. He was at the other end when "mission accomplished" saw Gayle sink to his knees to reach his "dream milestone" of 300. He was also there when he went past 317, his own record on the way to setting more records.
Gayle’s is a career that has hit the highs of quality batting and the lows of expressing his opinions on the difference between the arena where he has achieved a special niche in history to that of the pop-corn T20 variety where some cannot even remember who won the last ICC World T20 tournament.
Gayle, tall, elegant and at times displaying the imposing and indomitable spirit often shown by the charismatic three Ws in their pomp, said at the end of Day One of this Test, he would see how the first hour went before thinking about trying to surpass his highest score of 317. If the first day was one of domination, the second was a matter of establishing records; important ones as well.
Going past the 317 as he said, “Yeah, I would love that. It would make it a milestone.”
Well, there were any number on his way to joining Sir Donald Bradman, Brian Lara and Virender Sehwag in having scored two triple centuries in a Test career. There were other breaking the Lara record of most runs against Sri Lanka (221), surpassing Mahela Jayawardene’s Galle venue record (237), followed by the best by a West Indian on the subcontinent when he reached 257 to go past Rohan Kanhai’s score against India.
Also place a tick next to the highest Test score by a tourist in Sri Lanka when he beat the Stephen Fleming 279 and later he wiped out Viv Richard’s 291 against England at The Oval in 1976. Then joined another list of batsmen to score triple centuries away from home, led of course by Bradman who did it twice (to be different and at the same venue – Leeds); the highest in Hanif Mohammad 337 against the West Indies and the first Caribbean batsman to score a triple away from home.
Amid all the records, there was some entertaining batting and more disciplined bowling from Sri Lanka than Monday. As Gayle plundered the bowling, Nash kept him company during the partnership of 167. There was clever rotation of the strike and some solid strokeplay by both Jamaican batsmen as the Sri Lankans bowled a better line, with Ajantha Mendis taking a hammering at times, bowling a shade slower than normal and with a breeze to help him get some drift.
They picked the gaps and were always looking to keep the pressure one bowlers, which led to some entertaining stylish batting to mount a total of 580 for nine, declared with Gayle’s contribution 333 being something special.
There was one faux moment though when it appeared Gayle had been bowled by Dammika Prasad in the 137th over when he was 287 and chipped a ball top short-extra cover. However, Yorkshireman Richard Kettleborough, making his debut as a Test umpire, was not too happy with the delivery and called for a replay which proved how his intuition is in sync with the game.
With a first-class and limited-overs career between 1994 and 2000, playing for Yorkshire and Middlesex, it should be expected that he would be clued on what is a fair delivery and what isn’t and he asked for Asad Rauf to give a ruling. There was some relief from the West Indies dressingroom as well, while Prasad was made to look a little foolish by lying on the pitch in a tasteless mimic of the Gayle celebration for his first century.
What hampered Gayle in the end was the cramp after tea and when he had batted through five sessions in what has been intolerable humidity and sunshine and the triple Nelson figure was achieved, one short of equalling Bradman’s best. At least the Sri Lankan players saluted the man on his dismissal with handshakes and applause.
Among them was Ajantha Mendis, who bowled the Jamaican with a flatter delivery that skidded through. In a sense it was a turning point as the inexperienced lower order was exposed to Mendis who in the end collected six wickets, although it should be said that Suraj Randiv, should have had a far better return but little luck on both days.
Mendis varied his length more and also his line, suffering on day one from sticking to the basics.