At Lord's, June 12-16. Drawn. Toss: Sri Lanka. Test debuts: M. M. Ali, C. J. Jordan, S. D. Robson.
At 6.42 on the final evening - and for the next few seconds - England went 1-0 up, after Broad won a leg-before shout against Sri Lanka's last man, Nuwan Pradeep Fernando, in the game's last over. But the celebrations were unconvincing: Cook, fielding in the slips, admitted he heard two noises. Fernando asked for a review, which revealed a thick inside edge. Still, there was one ball left. To the sound of a roar that gave way, at the moment of delivery, to silence, Fernando thrust forward. The ball flew towards second s ie overnight slip - and reached Jordan on the half-volley. While England looked numb, Sri Lanka's final pair could barely summon the strength to celebrate. It had been an exhausting match.
The result itself would have shocked no one who had dozed off at tea. Sri Lanka had long given up hope of chasing 390, and were only three down. Any talk of their capitulation at Cardiff three years earlier - skittled for 82 inside 25 overs - seemed a bare-faced attempt to resurrect interest. But Anderson was getting the old ball to reverse, and after the break added Sangakkara and Thirimanne to his pretea scalp of Mahela Jayawardene. The new ball wasn't far away.
For 20 overs Sri Lanka's captain Mathews held firm with wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, who was batting with a broken finger sustained on the first morning (it would rule him out of the Second Test). The lights were on, conditions comatose, the bowlers tired. Sri Lanka were creeping towards safety. Then Jordan, one of three Test debutants, had Jayawardene leg-before on review. England had 11 overs to claim the last four, with the new ball available for ten. In the fourth of those, Broad trapped Kulasekara, before Anderson had Mathews poking low to Cook at first slip. England's hopes rose once more.
But when the final over began, they were still two wickets short.
The first came in circumstances widely thought to have died with the dodo. Going round the wicket, Broad persuaded the lefthanded Herath to glove a short one down the leg side. Herath walked. To add to the sense of disbelief, replays showed his bottom hand had been off the handle when the ball
made contact - a mirror image of Michael Kasprowicz's dismissal at Edgbaston in 2005.
Mathews later lamented that Herath didn't know the laws. And Broad now had five balls at Fernando, one for each of the runs that made up his first-class batting average. He had assured his captain he would cling on, and - for dear life - did precisely that. Perhaps fearing the damage England's four-man seam attack - including Liam Plunkett, back in Test cricket after an absence of seven years and 85 matches - might wreak on a first-day surface flecked with green, Mathews chose to bowl on a sunny Thursday morning.
For a while, the gamble paid off. Sam Robson, the Sydney-born opener picked for his alleged adhesiveness, came unstuck when he pushed at a widish one from Fernando, and Cook chopped on against Kulasekara, the ball too close to cut. When Fernando persuaded Ballance into a loose drive, England were 74 for three in the 19th over - shedding wickets as if back in Australia, but this time scoring runs along the way. Bell lifted Herath straight for six in the first over after lunch to underline England's intent, and completed an attractive half-century, before Eranga overturned an lbw rejection. At 120 for four, the innings could have gone this way or that. Direction came from Moeen Ali - perhaps the first Test debutant to turn up at Lord's carrying his baby son - who
scored 48 runs with watchfulness outside off and a flourish to leg. Then Root and Prior joined forces, both making their return to the Test side after being dropped in Australia.
(In all, six changes were made to the team that had lost at Sydney in January.) Prior almost fell second ball, reprieved by Paul Reiffel's view that Herath's slider had hit him just outside off stump; Hawk-Eye suggested an umpire's call. Prior soon deposited Herath over mid-on, setting the tone for the kind of counter-attack he used to play in his sleep. Root, cutting a more authoritative figure than the little-boy-lost in Australia, eased along in third gear and reached his hundred before stumps, with England in command at 344 for five.
Next morning, they extended their stand to 171 before Prior - having passed 4,000 Test runs - flinched Eranga, banging it in from round the wicket, to short leg. But the scoreboard kept ticking over. England registered 400 for the first time since March 2013 in Wellington, 27 innings ago, then went past 500 for good measure. Broad and Plunkett chipped in, and Anderson hung around long enough for Root to complete an enterprising double-hundred, from 298 balls; it was England's first for almost three years. Two days earlier, his younger brother Billy had made 200 for Nottinghamshire Second XI.
After Joe reached 102 on Thursday evening, mum Helen texted him: "Well done, but unlucky - it's not 200 like Billy got." Joe replied: "I'm not finished yet." As good as his word, Root allowed England to declare on 575 for nine, their highest total against Sri Lanka, beating 551 for six here in 2006. Just as gratifyingly for those seeking signs of a new era, they had rattled along at 4.4 an over. But the pitch had turned brown, as if changing season in a single day, and recent totals of 500-plus at Lord's had usually spelled a draw: this was England's sixth such score here since 2006, but only Bangladesh had been beaten. And, at the second-day close, Sri Lanka were 140 for the loss of Karunaratne, to Jordan's third ball in Test cricket. For much of Saturday, another draw looked inevitable. Silva went to Anderson, but Sangakkara added his maiden Lord's Test century - his 36th in all - to the one-day hundred he had scored here a fortnight earlier. He also put on 126 with the less fluent Mahela Jayawardene: these two great friends were now the most prolific pairing in all international cricket, surpassing the 12,400 added by Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.
Pietersen was a modern-day Banquo at the feast
Mathews completed a classy century of his own, but Sri Lanka's last six tumbled for 68 - literally so in the case of Fernando, who fell on his stumps after being hit by Jordan. Before lunch on the fourth morning, England re-emerged with a lead of 122 and a game to be won. Watching on from a corporate box was Kevin Pietersen, a modern-day Banquo at the feast, now tweeting his hopes for a lead of 380, followed by a declaration. He got his wish: England managed 389. But it was a struggle. Eranga and Herath reduced them to 121 for six, and Ballance needed help from Jordan. In the last over of the day, Ballance slog-swept Herath for six to reach his maiden Test century; his first fifty took 130 balls, his second just 54.
Opinion was divided over whether Cook should have declared before stumps. But the early tumble of wickets had hindered acceleration, which came necessarily late: 59 were scored off the last seven overs. On a pitch still playing despairingly well, a target of 330 would have felt vulnerable - and this was only a two-Test series.
For almost two sessions, the final day bumbled along so quietly that the debate seemed irrelevant. Karunaratne fell before lunch, Silva after it. England tried everything, with Plunkett reprising the leg theory employed by Eranga on the second morning. But Sangakkara appeared unwilling to budge, and it needed Anderson's removal of Mahela Jayawardene in the penultimate over before tea to stir everyone up.
In the third over after the break, Anderson bowled Sangakkara from round the wicket, then had Thirimanne edging low to second slip. In 14 balls, he had taken three for one, and Sri Lanka were panicking. Had Billy Bowden upheld his lbw shout against Prasanna Jayawardene before he had scored, England would probably have won. But Mathews dug deep, and the final clatter of wickets came just too late. The teams headed north to Leeds with mixed emotions - England lamenting a chance missed, Sri Lanka hoping to trade their get-out-of-jail-free card for something more glamorous.
Man of the Match: J. E. Root.
Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for the Daily Mail. His fourth book, What Are The Butchers For? And Other Splendid Cricket Quotations, is published in October 2009 by A&C Black