Cook and Trott hit hundreds in record stand
England 287 for 2 (Cook 129*, Trott 125*) trail Sri Lanka 400 by 113 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The Ashes series finished more than four months ago, but for Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott it looked like only yesterday as the pair resumed their remarkable run-scoring combination with a century each in an unbroken stand of 240 in Cardiff. Cook reached his 17th Test hundred to continue his prolific form from Australia and Trott brought up number six to cement his mighty average as England moved to 287 for 2.
Play was delayed until 2pm on a damp, chilly day and the atmosphere couldn't have been more removed from the cauldrons of the Gabba and MCG, yet it made no difference to the hunger of either batsman. Cook's hundred came from 224 balls when he collected his eighth boundary with a rasping cut off Suranga Lakmal and it was his fifth in ten innings since the 110 against Pakistan, at The Oval, when many were calling for his head. Trott's followed not long after, from 196 deliveries, with a flowing cover drive in the first over of the second new ball, and the pair's alliance became England's best for any wicket against Sri Lanka.
There is more rain forecast for the final two days, but England have the platform from which to put Sri Lanka under pressure although they will be down to a three-man bowling attack after James Anderson was diagnosed with a side strain. Despite the news that he won't bowl again in this Test, and is a serious doubt for Lord's, Anderson resumed as nightwatchman. However, he didn't last long before jabbing Ajantha Mendis to slip with England having not added to their overnight total. Yet it didn't harm England's prospects as, unless a nightwatchman can score quickly, his presence tends to hold up the game and that wasn't what this match needed after so many delays.
Instead, it allowed the two major batting stars of the Ashes to join forces again. It was a slow start as they got used to facing Mendis and refused to chase the succession of wide deliveries from the seamers, but steadily the runs began to flow. The first boundary of the day came with a Trott square drive in the 12th over of the session and it was actually the removal of Mendis from the attack that helped England increase the rate.
Rangana Herath struggled to settle into a consistent line as he offered Cook an opportunity to put away an early cut then Trott drove him through the covers. At the other end Thisara Perera was dispatched for consecutive boundaries by Cook although the first of those flew between second slip and gully off the edge.
Cook went to his fifty and Trott then began to catch him up with some trademark leg-side shots off the seamers who fell into the same trap as the Australians by bowling too straight. In the last over before tea the pair brought up their fourth hundred partnership in Tests and the one significant alarm in the entire stand came when Trott could have been run out by a direct hit from mid-on on 59, but Perera's throw missed despite having three stumps to aim at.
It was a rare opportunity for Sri Lanka and their attack was toothless on a slow pitch. Lakmal was wholehearted and Mendis economical, but from early on in the Cook-Trott stand there was the sense that Tillakaratne Dilshan wanted to protect what he had with 400 on the board rather than try and bowl England out. There was a period of an hour-and-a-half when they didn't hit a boundary, but with sweepers in place ones and twos were on offer to keep the scoreboard ticking.
As the final session progressed the scoring rate increased and either side of the two batsmen reaching hundreds runs came at more than five-an-over. The taking of the new ball helped England as the extra pace off the bat negated a slower outfield - Mendis conceded his first boundaries of the day when Trott twice put him through the covers - and Dilshan had to have a few more men in attacking positions. One thing the new ball didn't do, though, was provide Sri Lanka a breakthrough and they face plenty more leather chasing in this innings.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo