England v Sri Lanka: Alastair Cook encouraged by new-look side

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport at Lord's
Alastair Cook and the England fielders react after an edge off the final ball falls just short of second slip
Alastair Cook and the England fielders react after an edge off the final ball falls just short of second slip

England captain Alastair Cook says his team can use their performance in the first Test against Sri Lanka as a springboard for an exciting new era.

The hosts took six wickets after tea in a thrilling final session but were denied a victory by Sri Lanka's final pair, who batted out five balls to salvage a draw at Lord's.

"We made a lot of the running in this Test match," said Cook.

"We were ahead throughout and we can take a lot from that."

In their first Test since the 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia last winter, England came agonisingly close to victory on the final day as James Anderson, who claimed 4-25, took two wickets in an over shortly after tea.

The match went to the wire as Stuart Broad claimed Sri Lanka's ninth wicket with the first ball of the last over.

"I thought we were just going to get over the line, so it's disappointing not to," Cook added. "But you couldn't ask for anything more."

Umpire Paul Reiffel gave Nuwan Pradeep out lbw off the penultimate ball, but the tourists were given a reprieve when their review showed a thick inside edge.

Broad found the outside edge with his next delivery but the ball dropped just short of Chris Jordan at second slip.

Asked if he was frustrated or proud, Cook said: "It's probably a mixture of both. At tea it looked quite a long way away.

"But when you get so close, and then get a decision which 'wins' you a Test match overturned, it's quite hard to take. Then for that last nick not to carry too...

"But it was a great Test match and that's what cricket is all about - to go all the way down to the wire with both sides leaving everything out there."

Cook was particularly pleased with England's batting display as they racked up more than 500 runs for the first time in three years.

Joe Root, who was dropped for the last Ashes Test in Sydney, scored 200 not out in the first innings, and Gary Ballance an unbeaten 104 at number three in only his second Test to set up England's victory push.

"A lot of the guys can take a lot of credit for the way we batted as a unit," said Cook.

"Rooty was outstanding with a double-hundred. It's great to see him back to his best. Gary showed his class at international level. We took that bit of a gamble and it's paid off. He looks a class player."

Most Test wickets for England
383Ian Botham (102 Tests)
350James Anderson (93 Tests)
325Bob Willis (90 Tests)
307Fred Trueman (67 Tests)
297Derek Underwood (86 Tests)

Cook remains concerned by his own form after scores of 17 and 28 extended his run of innings without a century to 22.

"I'd love a score," he said. "Leading from the front as a captain, you want to score runs. The longer it goes on, the harder it gets."

Root said England proved they could play attacking cricket after Australia coach Darren Lehmann described them as a "dour" side last year.

"Twelve months ago we were told we were playing dour cricket. I don't think anyone can say that now," he said.

"We spoke long and hard about making big scores, individually and as a team, and that's a great start to the summer."

England were fined 10% of their match fees by the International Cricket Council for maintaining a slow over-rate, with Cook fined 20%.