sport

Cook praises England seamers

Alastair Cook heaped praise on his bowling attack after England almost snatched an unlikely victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test at Lord's.

England fell one wicket short after running out of time on the final day, with Sri Lanka reaching stumps on 201-9 after James Anderson's burst of three wickets for one run either side of tea had given the hosts hope of taking a series lead in the two-Test series.

Stuart Broad had five deliveries at last man Nuwan Pradeep and thought he had won the match with the penultimate ball when Sri Lanka's number 11 was initially given out lbw.

But Paul Reiffel's decision was rightly overturned after Pradeep requested a review, which showed a meaty inside edge.

After Pradeep then edged the final ball from Broad short of second slip, Cook was left to reflect what might have been.

"When you get so close and then get a decision which 'wins' you a Test match overturned, it's quite hard to take," he said.

"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.

"Those last few overs, I just thought we were going to get over the line - so it's disappointing not to. (But) you couldn't ask for anything more."

"I can't praise the lads enough today," he added. "That was a flat wicket and we had to wait for the ball to reverse swing.

"It finally got dry enough and did and Jimmy bowled really well."

England have announced an unchanged squad for the second Test at Headingley, which begins on Friday, but Cook admitted his side could have benefitted from the inclusion of a frontline spinner.

"Possibly. The mainline spinner could have made a difference but the players we have available for selection this is the way we have to go and that's what we have to accept and I can't praise the lads highly enough."

That praise was also given the England's batsmen, notably Joe Root's first innings double century and Gary Ballance's maiden Test ton, who ensured the game always remained competitive.

"The batting in the team, in both innings, we scored at more than four runs an over which gave us the opportunity to win the game," Cook said.

"At the moment it's a bit disappointing that we couldn't get over the line."

Root, who was named man-of-the-match, believes that no one can now accuse Cook's side of being boring.

"It was exciting, wasn't it?" Root said. "Twelve months ago when we were told we're playing dour cricket. I don't think anyone can say that now.

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

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews was also impressed with England's seamers.

"We didn't bat well especially after tea," he said. "You can't really relax and that's a good lesson learned with the attack they have got.

"They have got some really good bowlers."

Chris Woakes, 12th man at Lord's, remains part of the squad for the Headingley Test.