The last day of the series at Lord's had promised so much. England needed to bowl out Sri Lanka to take a 3-0 clean sweep in the series, but Sri Lanka, driven ahead by a sense of grievance, were not about to relinquish the Test easily. At 32 for 0, requiring 362, they were down but far from out.
Then the rain spoiled it. The clouds were so black over Lord's that one might have imagined St John's Wood had become the centre of a second industrial revolution which would certainly have disturbed a few people in the posh boutiques in the High Street.
Only 12.2 overs were possible all day until the Test was laid to rest with 5.15pm approaching. By then it felt like a blessed relief. Jonny Bairstow
was named as England's man of the series and Kaushal Silva
took the equivalent award for Sri Lanka.
All that now remains is for the fall-out from a Test, in which Sri Lanka felt they did not have the rub of the green with umpiring decisions, to move on to the ICC annual meeting in Edinburgh later this month. Speeches will be made (again) about the accuracy of DRS, the validity of a 50% margin for Umpire's Call and a perceived bias in favour of the Big Three. Lord's has put fresh vigour into an old debate.
Silva was the only Sri Lanka wicket to fall on the final day as a mere 3.4 overs were possible up to tea. He departed lbw to an excellent late inswinger from James Anderson
, up the slope, and after an unsuccessful review could at least console himself that he had finally broken his extraordinary run of being caught at the wicket in each of his previous nine innings in two Test tours of England.
Had Bairstow pulled off something utterly miraculous by diving across first slip to intercept an edge that fell short off Stuart Broad, that record would have remained intact for his next tour.
England still theoretically held hopes of victory when the Test resumed after tea at 4.10pm with 47 overs remaining, with Sri Lanka's prospects of chasing 362 to win effectively reduced to zero because of the rain. There was talk of Cardiff 2011
when England spirited a win from nowhere in the Glamorgan gloom.
Kusal Mendis smashed a return catch at Broad's bootlaces which he could not pick up in his follow-through, while one attempted bouncer that hit a crack and scuttled off down the leg side emphasised that, with a full day to bowl, England could have been in business. The pitch, in fairness to the groundsman, Mick Hunt, had not become the final-day featherbed that has occasionally blighted Lord's.
Nobody believed the game was going anywhere. Alastair Cook even allowed Broad to indulge in a nonsensical wasted review when even the groundstaff, who were prowling the outfield as the rain clouds approached again, could have seen that the ball had deflected off his back as he ducked.
England were forced to turn to spin, all eight balls of it, the last of them from Joe Root, who was slog-swept for six into the Tavern Stand by Mendis. Perhaps he knew something we didn't. The umpires removed the bails and everybody could go home. Sri Lanka, with a one-day series still to play, will hope for some sunshine.