We'll take a series win - Strauss
The conflicting emotions of jubilation and frustration jostled for pride of place in captain Andrew Strauss’ mind after England wrapped up the npower Test series against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, led by Kumar Sangakkara’s maiden Test century on English soil, batted out the fifth day at the Rose Bowl to secure a draw in the third and final Test.
They had converted their overnight 112 for three into a commendable 334 for five by tea, which translated into a lead of 141.
It left England toasting a 1-0 triumph – their fifth series win in succession – but Strauss admitted his pleasure was “tinged” with disappointment at their failure to take more than two wickets in the two sessions possible before rain intervened today.
“We’ll take the series win,” said Strauss. “We would have loved to have won the game and the series in an emphatic manner. If we’d had longer in this game we would have been able to do that.”
As well as Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera, who finished unbeaten on 87, played, the weather’s impact on this match and the series was considerable.
A total of 184 overs were lost to rain in this match, taking the tally for a thoroughly soggy series to 369 – the equivalent of four full days’ cricket.
“It's been a frustrating series full stop in terms of the number of stops for rain,” said Strauss.
“All three Test matches were affected by the weather and in all three Test matches time was running out in order to force a result.
“In a way we’re very satisfied that we were able to convert one of the three opportunities to force a result, but maybe (there’s) a tinge of disappointment that we weren’t able to do more today.
“It's been very hard for any team to gain any real momentum - and when you have done it gets stopped by a rain break again.
“It's one of those series that never really got going, but we’re very happy to have won it. It continues our momentum from the winter and (we) move on still in a jubilant mood.”
Stand-in captain Sangakkara, whose 119 spanned more than six hours and occupied 249 balls, added an ultimately match-saving 141 with Samaraweera for the fifth wicket.
They combined resolute defence with judicious, fluent strokeplay on a surface that remained true – and won high praise from an admiring Strauss.
“We felt we were in with a really good chance of winning the game,” he said of the situation at the start of play, with England leading by 81.
“We just couldn’t create chances. It was a day three wicket and it was at its flattest today.
“Having looked very threatening in the first innings, the wicket was a bit more placid today and two good players got stuck in.
“Sangakkara and Samaraweera played very well,” he said. “They’re a good batting side and they’re allowed to bat well.”
Stuart Broad spent parts of the afternoon off the field with a bruised left heel, but Strauss would be surprised if England’s new Twenty20 captain did not lead the players out at Bristol on Saturday.
He added: “It’s a niggle rather than anything serious. He will have to rest up over the next few days but I don’t think there’s any real reason to doubt that he will be fit.”