Despite Monday's evidence, Sri Lanka's batsmen must have a small voice inside their heads that tell them the right thing to do. Here is a possible conversation a generic Sri Lanka batsman had with his batting conscience ahead of their 126 all out.
Batting conscience: All right, we've got a lead of 37. Nice one. I mean, it could have been more, but in these conditions, 37 is nothing to scoff at. They'll be worried. Lasith Embuldeniya only needs stare at their openers for them to wet themselves. Most of their batting order doesn't look too comfortable. But there's that bloody Joe Root. Getting outside the line, sweeping the offies, reverse-sweeping the left-arm spinner like a demon, using the depth of the crease. Fu! He's in ridiculous touch, and we have to make sure we put the lead beyond him. Let's get ourselves in, get some partnerships going. Really knuckle down today. I'm feeling good. We've got this.
Batsman: Hahah yeeaah, s***w you, I'm not doing any of that.
Conscience: Uhh, what?
Batsman: Look, buddy, I've listened to you for the last two innings. We've passed 350 twice. We've applied ourselves just like you said and very seriously blocked out James Anderson and, oh, so carefully batted longer than a day and gritted it out and showed restraint and ohmygod I'm falling asleep just thinking about it. But I'm sick of that negative approach trash. It's "me" time now.
Conscience: Got to say I'm a bit surprised. You do know the Test and the series are on the line, right? And that they won the first Test, and they've won their last four in a row in Sri Lanka? Do you really want to be the team that gave up five Tests out of five to England?
Batsman: Wow, look at Mr Booksmarts over here. Lighten up, bro. Hahah.
Conscience: I feel like you're really not listening to reason. But ok, look, just to get on the same wavelength, I'll cut you a deal. What if you get out there, and play your first 30 balls normally? Once you've got yourself going and are feeling good, then we can talk about aggressive shots.
Batsman: Man, 30 balls! Are you joking? That's like, six overs or something, right? Like a whole powerplay? You want me to bat out a powerplay? It's not the year 1900.
Conscience: [Sighs deeply] First of all this is a Test match. Secondly 30 balls is just five ov….
Batsman: Gaaaaaaawd listen to yourself talk, Grandpa. Live life. You're in Galle, bud. Look at that ocean, those coconut trees swaying. Smell the flowers man like the hummingbirds in the garden over there…
Conscience: Ok but Sri Lanka has no hummingbi…
Batsman: And another thing. How are you gonna tell me to be worried when their spinners are Jack Leach and Dom Bess, man? They're playing at Galle and couldn't even get a single wicket in the first innings.
Conscience:They literally got 14 wickets between them in the last match, which they won.
Batsman: Oh, but that was a fluke. You know it was a fluke. I know it was a fluke. Everyone knows it was a fluke. You can't read into that. We just batted reeeeaaally badly in that first innings.
Conscience: What do you think I'm trying to stop you from doing again?
Batsman: Whoa, hey. This is your problem. You're so tense all the time. You saw how Joe Root scored all his runs yesterday, he was loose and positive and fun. And he swept the ball. Did you see those sweeps? I'm definitely going to get me a piece of that. Anyway, you should be more like Root.
Conscience: No, you should be more like Root you idio… [Inhales] Look, so if you're going to sweep, can you at least promise me that you're not going to try the slog sweep too early, and that you're going to sweep with the turn?
Batsman: Haaaah, ok, you got me. No, not at all. I'm just going to sweep, man. With the spin, against the spin, non-slog, slog, what's even the difference?
Conscience: There's a GIGANTIC difference!
Batsman: Uhhh, only if you're not very good at executing your shots, duh. Did I mention we scored 350-plus in the last two innings?
Conscience: [Sighs] Against my judgment, I'm going to try one more time. Your poor team-mate Lasith Embuldeniya has bowled 42 overs in the first innings, which just wrapped up this morning. He's probably going to be our main threat again in the second innings. If for no other reason, then just for him, can you please make sure the team bats a couple of sessions?
Batsman: For Embula? Sure, I'll bat carefully for him.
Conscience: You won't, will you?
Batsman: Nope. Not at all.