It's raining at Lord's as play is due to start. Inside the North Gate a family huddle from the weather. The father tries to put their bat into a bag to keep the rain off it. The little boy looks at the Nursery Ground hopefully and his slightly older sister looks at it hopelessly. She has on an English baseball cap, and she is looking out at the weather like this is going to be her day. It was supposed to be her special day, instead it's soaked with rain trying to find its way into every dry nook.

On the walkway between the main ground and the Nursery, there is a huge crowd. It is dry there but, more importantly, the England and Sri Lanka players are heading out to the nets this way, and there is an autograph opportunity.

One boy shouts, "It's Finny", as the giant fast bowler heads through. Finn stops on his way to the nets and starts signing autographs. "He's on the wrong side," squeals the boy, with all the disappointment of being one metre from your hero and never getting to meet him.

A teenage girl runs off and grabs her brother at the same time. "Quick, you can get Finn." Her little brother is quickly trying to get a mini bat out of his bag in time, he just manages it and then heads to the front to find Finn, disappearing into the crowd.

In the food court people in summer cricket gear crowd under Lord's umbrellas trying to eat their overpriced food. A teen with a cricket academy jacket can't get his debit card to work, so he has convince the woman serving him to hold his food, and then convince his mate to lend him the money for his fish and chips. He does both successfully, and then huddles under the umbrella trying to keep his food from getting soggy.

Out on the ground Mick Hunt, the Lord's groundsman, is marshalling his troops. When the rain breaks off, he quickly gets organised and has the ground ready for a prompt restart. Then it rains again and he has to cover the square, put the hover cover back into place. He swings one of the cords on to it in frustration as the umbrellas go back up.

But the rain does pass, and the cricket does go on. When the sun comes out after an over or two, the crowd cheers.

They watch Alex Hales. The ball is doing a bit, and Sri Lanka bowl well with it. Hales is edging through the slips at times. Then Shaminda Eranga hits him on the pad. It's straight but high, and not out. Sri Lanka review and again fall foul of the marginal call. Next over from Eranga, Hales is on 49 when he leaves a ball that seems to almost curve around his stumps.

But he makes it to 50, and he thanks the crowd far more than a seasoned player might.

The crowd is starting to live each ball with him. Angelo Mathews is on. If there was ever a Test bowler to ease you to a hundred, it is Mathews

Then his off stump is destroyed by another subterranean missile from Nuwan Pradeep. But before English fans can be upset Rod Tucker is screaming "no-ball". People squint at screens, and listen intently to commentary, to hear that it was a bad call. But Hales bats on.

From there he opens up a bit, he unfurls one of his long-limbed cover drives that races away despite deep point being out on the road. At one stage he takes a straight six and then swept four from Rangana Herath, who is bowling a very good spell aiming at Rangana-friendly footmarks.

A couple more sweeps come, one clever, one brutal. And Hales is in the 90s for the first time in Tests.

In the crowd there is a bit of excitement. It starts with the clapping of England's 200, but the excitement grows as Hales nears his special landmark. The crowd is starting to live each ball with him. Angelo Mathews is on. If there was ever a Test bowler to ease you to a hundred, it is Mathews.

Instead the ball comes in to Hales, maybe slope, or seam, or just the angle. All of them even. Hales is across his stumps, and it hits him high. It hits him high enough for hope, but also straight enough for worry.

The umpire gives it.

As the finger goes up a boy in the crowd clutches at his hair, then he throws his whole head back and drags his hand over his face. It is his brother who tells him about the review. There is hope again.

You can hear the murmurs from the early replays looking for an edge, the crowd thinks it is a bit high. Then the replay for the lbw itself comes up. The first red comes up, then the second, and then finally there is an orange. The crowd sighs. The boy is confused, but his dad tells him 'umpire's call' means out for Hales. The boy is upset, again.

The crowd start to clap Hales. One of the first to stand is this boy's father. Then the boy's brother gets up. Then the boy does.

The ECB goes through the motions of playing patriotic songs and waving oversized flags on almost all days of the Test, because, while for most of us it is a bit silly, there might be one kid who is there on their first day. Their first time at the cricket, or just at Test, and they want it to feel special.

This wasn't a special day for Hales. It almost was, but then it fell very short of it. It wasn't a perfect day for the young boy who watched on, or the many other kids around the ground. It rained too much, the Alastair Cook mad show later on didn't last long enough and their hero didn't get his hundred. But they were at Lord's, and it was still a bit special.

Jarrod Kimber is a writer for ESPNcricinfo. @ajarrodkimber