It has been now 22 innings since Alastair Cook compiled the last of his England Test record of 25 hundreds © Getty Images
By Julian Guyer
London: Jun 17, 2014
England captain Alastair Cook will hope a return to the scene of his last Test hundred sees him back among the runs after a thrilling series opener with Sri Lanka ended in a draw at Lord’s. Cook saw England pile up 575 for nine declared in the first innings at Lord’s on the back of 23-year-old Joe Root‘s unbeaten 200 not out and then be bailed out second time around by a maiden Test century from Gary Ballance — Root’s 24-year-old Yorkshire colleague.
Ballance’s hundred enabled Cook to declare before Monday’s final day and set Sri Lanka 390 to win. However, Sri Lanka just did enough to cling on for a draw at 201 for nine after last man Nuwan Pradeep saw out the final five balls of the match from Stuart Broad.
Although Cook was heartened by a new-look England’s performance in their first Test since the 5-0 Ashes 2013-14 drubbing in Australia, the 29-year-old left-handed opener accepted his own form was a concern.
Scores of 17 and 28 at Lord’s meant it was now 22 innings since Cook compiled the last of his England record 25 hundreds — 130 against New Zealand at Headingley in May last year. However, the Leeds ground is the venue for Friday’s second and final Test of the Sri Lanka series.
“I’d love a score. Leading from the front as a captain, you want to score runs — that’s your job as a batter,” Cook said on Monday.
Root was named Man of the Match but the honour could have gone to James Anderson after the England spearhead turned the game on its head with a spell of three wickets for one run either side of tea on Monday.
Anderson, who finished with impressive innings figures of four for 25 in 19 overs on a docile pitch, was well-supported by long-time new-ball partner Broad [three for 43]. Come the last over, England still needed two wickets for victory.
The first ball of that over saw Broad have Rangana Herath caught behind and England thought he’d won the match when Pradeep was given out lbw to the penultimate delivery. But the Sri Lanka No 11 called for a review and former Australia paceman Paul Reiffel’s decision was overturned for an inside edge.
Pradeep then nicked the last ball short of the slips to secure a draw. Cook insisted he’d no problems with the Decision Review System verdict that reprieved Pradeep.
“I’ve always been a big fan of it,” he said. “It’s to stop the howler and unfortunately, that one was quite a big inside edge. It’s gutting to take at that time but as players you want the right decision.”
Apart from fifties by Kaushal Silva (57) and Kumar Sangakkara, who made 61 to go with his first-innings 147, Sri Lanka found runs hard to come by on Monday.
“I thought we batted poorly, after tea especially,” said Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, eighth man out for 18, having made 102 in the first innings.
However, the all-rounder saluted the tenth-wicket duo of Shaminda Eranga and Pradeep, whose combined score of nought not out Monday told only part of the story.
“I thought it was a great effort by the last pair, Stuart Broad running in hard, especially with the new ball,” Mathews said.
There were suggestions that Cook should have declared earlier, although the fact England didn’t bowl at least six overs in the match because of a slow over-rate probably hurt them more in the end.
“We were a bit behind, it wasn’t ideal,” Cook admitted. As for the declaration, he added: “The last four overs [on Sunday] went for 40 or 50 runs.
“So if you’d declared [before then] at 330 or 340 [in front] on that wicket, 100 odd for one at lunch, as Sri Lanka were, it would have looked a very short total. Give Sri Lanka some credit there. They bowled well, and made it difficult for us.”
England named the same 12 for Headingley, with all-rounder Chris Woakes, omitted at Lord’s, again in the squad. But Sri Lanka are set to make at least one change after wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene broke a finger, with Dinesh Chadimal in line to take over the gloves.