CHESTER-LE-STREET: England captain Alastair Cook was still left searching for his 10,000th run in Test cricket as fellow opener Alex Hales, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow all missed out on contrasting landmarks at the Riverside on Friday.
Yet for all those setbacks, England still ended the first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka on 310 for six.
Moeen Ali was 28 not out and Chris Woakes eight not out, with Sri Lanka paceman Nuwan Pradeep taking three for 69 from 19 overs.
England’s total was all the more significant given Sri Lanka had been dismissed for 91 and 119 during an innings and 88-run defeat in the first Test of this three-match series at Headingley last week.
Sri Lanka’s catching had let them down in Leeds, but on Friday they held three tough chances.
Cook, who won the toss in overcast conditions that offered some swing movement, failed to score the 20 runs he needed to become the first England batsman to reach 10,000 in Tests.
And for the second time in as many innings, Hales fell in the 80s when in sight of a maiden Test century.
Meanwhile Root’s exit for 80 meant he had failed to convert seven of his last eight Test fifties into a hundred.
Cook had made 15, just five shy of the 20 he needed to get to 10,000, when recalled paceman Suranga Lakmal, in for the injured Dushmantha Chameera, had him well-taken low down by diving second slip Dimuth Karunaratne as the left-hander carelessly pushed away from his body.
New batsman Nick Compton accepted in the build-up to this match he was playing for his Test place after his duck at Headingley.
Compton, however, was out for nine when he top-edged a hook off Pradeep and Lakmal, after the ball had gone over his shoulder, held a brilliant two-handed catch at long leg that left him facing the boundary and just inches from the rope.
Hales, 45 not out at lunch, completed a 131-ball fifty with eight fours.
Having made 86 at Headingley, he went into the 80s on Friday with a straight six off Milinda Siriwardana’s fourth delivery of the day.
But next ball, the left-arm spinner, replacing dropped medium-pacer Dasun Shanaka, had his revenge when Hales’s fiercely-edged cut was brilliantly caught one-handed by Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews at slip.
Hales was out for 83 off 145 balls, having added 96 with Root.
Yorkshire star Root threaded a superb cover drive through the in-field for four off Rangana Herath on his way to a 70-ball fifty.
But in common with Compton, he was surprised by a Pradeep bouncer.
Root could neither pull nor cut as the ball got ‘big’ on him and spooned a simple catch to cover which ended a stand of 59 with Vince.
Sri Lanka did not have long to wait until England’s 219 for four became 227 for five.
Vince, in his second innings in Test cricket, had struck four fours on his way to 35.
But he was out when his hard-hit drive off Siriwardana was superbly held by a diving Lahiru Thirimanne at short cover.
Bairstow, whose century at Headingley — his Yorkshire home ground — won him the man-of-the-match award, ran Sri Lanka ragged with his speed between the wickets.
But just two runs away from a fifty, Bairstow fell to the new ball when he bottom-edged an intended cut off Pradeep to opposing wicket-keeper Dinesh Chandimal.
Woakes, recalled in place of injured fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes, took England to 300 with a stylish straight-driven four off Shaminda Eranga.