England 575-9 d & 267-8d v Sri Lanka 453 & 201-9: England go agonisingly close as Jimmy Anderson fires drama

England 575-9d & 267-8d Sri Lanka 453 & 164-3

Lord's

Never, ever underestimate Test cricket. It surpasses all understanding and all explanation. A match that seemed to be going nowhere last night provided a breathtaking climax in which England drew with Sri Lanka.

England tried. How they tried. To the end of the affair, they never surrendered hope that they could somehow prise a victory from the most unpromising circumstances. They were denied by a whisker, by one wicket, by a surface that steadfastly declined to recognise that it had a duty to bowlers as well as batsmen, by some resolute Sri Lanka late batting and by their own limitations.

There was a moment in the final over of the match when England had the first Test won. To the penultimate ball, with nine Sri Lanka wickets down, their No 11 was given out lbw to a searing, snorting, inswinger of good length from Stuart Broad. England celebrated, the tail-end Charlie, Nuwan Pradeep calmly signalled for a review.

As soon as the victory was handed to England it was taken away. The replays showed that Pradeep had edged the ball on to his pads and the umpire Paul Reiffel reversed his decision. The drama was still not done. Pradeep edged the last ball of the proceedings to the slip cordon but it fell a foot short of Chris Jordan.

Sri Lankas Dimuth Karunaratne walks back to the pavilion after getting out for 16 runs during play on the fifth day of the first cricket Test match between England and Sri Lanka at Lord's Sri Lankas Dimuth Karunaratne walks back to the pavilion after getting out for 16 runs during play on the fifth day of the first cricket Test match between England and Sri Lanka at Lord's

A draw it was and the teams head to Leeds for the second and final match starting on Friday. Before the pulsating end, there were fleeting passages on the fifth day when it seemed that England might extract an improbable win. At 170 for 5 in mid-afternoon the tourists still had 31 overs and a ball to negotiate. At 199 for 7 they still had six overs and four balls. Both their great batsmen had gone, England were infused with adrenalin and belief, their much-maligned captain, Alastair Cook, was thinking of gambits quicker than a chess grandmaster on speed, the crowd was alive.

Men were studded round the bat, barely five yards away. Bodyline bowling was reborn. The outcome that eventually arrived had looked likely from pretty early in Sri Lanka’s first innings on the second day – earlier than that for particularly percipient readers of pitches and form. Maybe it would have been different had Cook declared his team’s second innings 30 minutes earlier, on the fourth afternoon instead of before play on the last morning.

Maybe a specialist spinner would have made the crucial difference in dismantling a wobbling opponent when it mattered. Maybe had the teams not contrived to lose 17 overs of the match through dilatoriness and general time-wasting (where does it go?) there would have been time to reach a proper conclusion, because on a dead pitch lively performances are a prerequisite.

Instead, Sri Lanka held out. They were 201 for 9, still 189 adrift of the by then nominal 390 they needed to extract a still more improbable win of their own. They should have held out more comfortably than they did on this surface, but that estimation should take nothing away from the endeavour of England’s seam attack, who persisted in trying to extract some semblance of life, bounce, movement, pulse from the surface.

Jimmy Anderson, who like the rest was innocuous throughout most of the Australia tour last winter, was renascent here. When he managed to persuade the ball to reverse swing in the afternoon he was inspired and when he came back with the same new ball he revived England’s aspirations immediately. He was genuinely quick.

James Anderson celebrates taking the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene James Anderson celebrates taking the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene (Getty)

If Broad was less probing here, he is a big-game player who can always be relied on for something a little extra. Broad it was who bowled the last over, Broad it was who so nearly delivered – but he had to settle for one wicket instead of two at the death.

England declared at the overnight total of 267 for 8. A Sri Lanka win was distant but not completely out of the question; an England victory was possible but unlikely. A draw was what most observers expected.

For long enough the match proceeded along the expected trajectory. An early wicket to Anderson was followed by a long period of resolution. For all the world, it looked as though Kumar Sangakkara would make his second century in a Lord’s Test, having made his first at the seventh attempt in the first innings. These things are like Colombo tuk-tuks – you wait ages and then they are unstoppable.

England needed to make something happen and Jordan seems to be an all-purpose chap for this kind of thing. He had Kaushal  Silva caught behind glancing down the leg side. The two old warriors were now in, Sangakkara and his long time friend and team-mate, Mahela Jayawardene.

It was one of those days when Jayawardene never settled and he edged Anderson behind. But still Cook’s new England needed Sangakkara and plenty more besides. At tea it was 164 for 3: 34 overs, seven wickets, an academic 226 runs.

A dejected Stuart Broad sinks to his knees as England narrowly fail to take the last Sri Lanka wicket A dejected Stuart Broad sinks to his knees as England narrowly fail to take the last Sri Lanka wicket (AP)

Cook came up with one of the strangest fields ever seen. To one of the world’s greatest batsmen he had a mid-off, a silly mid-off, a silly extra cover, a silly cover, a silly point, a slip, a gully, an offside ring.

Whether it was this that did for Sangakkara may never be known but without warning he chopped a ball on to his stumps. The game was opened up. Lahiru Thirimanne was undone by the position of the match. Five were down.

Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka’s captain, played a wonderfully diligent hand for his side. Nothing seemed as if it would pass. Just before the second new ball was taken Prasanna Jayawardene was lbw to Jordan, though England needed a review to earn the verdict; just after it Nuwan Kulasekara was  lbw to Broad.

Mathews was still there – until Anderson in the 87th over found his outside edge. Two more wickets were needed. Broad accounted for a stoic Rangana Herath,  although he appeared to have one hand off the bat when he edged down the leg side. The batsman walked, the umpire did not call him back. What controversy would have ensued. But Pradeep survived, not by much, but by enough. Thirty-four overs in the session, 37 runs, six  wickets. Bliss.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee