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Bairstow and England breeze along



Lunch England 384 for 7 (Bairstow 156*, Broad 5*) v Sri Lanka
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It was a tranquil second morning at Lord’s. Matt Prior, after ringing the bell at start of play, was invited on to the England balcony to catch up with old mates and down below Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes made serene progress to their highest Test scores against an unthreatening Sri Lanka attack.

Woakes was England’s only wicket to fall, frustrated by Rangana Herath’s over-the-wicket approach into the footholes outside his leg stump and advancing to chip a return catch. But he did have his first Test half-century, 66 from 142 balls, an innings characterised by genial off-side drives.

Bairstow moved sublimely to 156 by lunch. He now holds the highest score by an England wicketkeeper at Lord’s, overhauling Les Ames’ 137 against New Zealand in 1931, the highest at Lord’s by an England No 6 and definitely the highest score at Lord’s by a Yorkshireman with a craggy red beard.

England’s slightly dicey overnight position of 279 for 6 was suitably refined to 384 for 7 by the time the clock reached 1pm. They have got 400 in the first innings in a home Test and lost before, but not since 1998 when Muttiah Muralitharan was rampant at The Oval and his 16 wickets in the match enabled Sri Lanka to pull off an unlikely heist.

These days Sri Lanka have no Murali and, indeed, one wonders how long they will have the benefit of the excellent Herath. He is 38 now, and remains a master of little subtleties, drawing one or two nods of appreciation from Bairstow as he coaxed him into minor errors of judgment.

Serenity is hardly Bairstow’s calling card. Watch him bat at his most combative and one imagines he could fight his own shadow. But with a century gathered in 11 balls before stumps on the first day, his appetite to take advantage of placid batting conditions was evident from the outset and the moments of fortune that had helped him through the opening day were absent.

Woakes shared in a sixth-wicket stand of 144 in 40 overs as Sri Lanka’s seamers made no impression. He is very much the anti-Stokes, as peaceful as Stokes is belligerent; as unobtrusive as Stokes is the centre of attention. If he saw a locker door upon dismissal, he would check it was safely closed not punch it in anger. In such, he does not fit modern fashions, but his first fifty – at the 11th attempt – will have won him respect, if not celebrity status.

For Sri Lankans in the crowd there was at least some Kandyan dancing to enjoy, arranged by the Foundation for Goodness charity which arose from the terrible dislocation of the 2004 tsunami and which has been stoutly supported over the past decade by MCC.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps


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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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