Chris Jordan helped England kickstart their new era with an impressive 81-run Duckworth-Lewis victory in a rain-interrupted first Royal London One-Day International against Sri Lanka at The Oval.
In their opening high-profile match under this format since Peter Moores’s return as coach, it was one of England’s new breed who was appropriately to the fore with his powerful hitting and three crucial wickets as well.
Ian Bell (50) – before a two-and-a-half-hour stoppage which resulted in an initial 39-overs-per-side reduction – and Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance (64), either side of it, laid the platform for England’s 247-6.
That useful total was commuted upwards first of all to a D/L target of 259 under lights and then, after an interruption in the chase too, to 226 in 32 overs.
Sri Lanka did not threaten seriously, eventually bowled out for 144 in 27.5 overs as Jordan (3-25) proved their stumbling block in both innings on his return to what was once his home ground before his move from Surrey to Sussex.
It was the late impetus he provided with the bat – five fours and two sixes from just 13 balls – which did most to take the contest away from the tourists.
Sheffield’s Joe Root and Jos Buttler made important contributions too, as England recovered from off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake’s 3-30 and defied the disturbing effect of having to start to set a score twice over.
As 93 runs were piled on in England’s last seven overs, Jordan and Buttler then took unusually heavy toll of expert white-ball pace pair Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara on a pitch previously used for Tuesday’s Twenty20 here.
England lost their captain Alastair Cook early after being put in on a cloudy afternoon.
Cook made just 11 from 23 balls, and had already been dropped on one before going to an edge behind at an attempted drive off Kulasekara.
Five overs later, Bell called two from a nudge into the leg-side but would have been run out for 17 had wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara’s dash and throw on the turn hit the stumps.
Bell and new No 3 Ballance nonetheless did well to keep the board ticking – including a memorable straight six by the opener off Thisara Perera – and avoid any further losses in a half-century stand which brought up England’s hundred.
The rain break, however, was a hiccup.
First of all Bell, who had just completed his 50 in 52 balls, fell to the last delivery before menacing clouds delivered the predicted thunderstorm.
Bell managed to guide Angelo Mathews’s slower ball straight into the hands of short fine-leg.
When England returned it was without Root, who had made it as far as the pavilion steps before rain aborted his entrance and was then pushed down to No 5 in favour of Eoin Morgan.
The tactical switch did not work, Morgan misreading Senanayake and chopping on as he tried to cut.
Ballance celebrated his half-century with a powerful mow for six off Suranga Lakmal but was then caught in the deep when he tried something similar off Senanayake – who had a third victim when Ravi Bopara was lbw sweeping.
But two batsmen demoted from their usual positions, Root and Buttler, each played well.
Then Jordan produced the best of all in an unbroken stand of 54 in 21 balls with Buttler (26 not out).
Sri Lanka’s reply got off to a false start when James Anderson had opener Lahiru Thirimanne lbw with new-ball swing, and Harry Gurney doubled up when Sangakkara edged on to his stumps in defence.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene consolidated to a degree. But the second rain break brought another re-calculation, and Dilshan departed almost immediately afterwards to Jordan – a slice down to third man well-held by Ballance.
Sri Lanka were still just within striking distance even after Jayawardene chipped James Tredwell (3-38) to midwicket.
But Jordan returned with nerve, skill and pace to take two more quick wickets – making it three for three in 12 balls – as Dinesh Chandimal and Kulasekara’s attempts to hit to leg resulted instead in contrasting catches for wicketkeeper Buttler.
Only the margin of England’s victory remained in doubt – and after Cook took a very good catch off Tredwell, running back to collect Mathews’s reverse-sweep, it was clear it would be substantial.
Surrey captain Graeme Smith could miss the rest of the season after suffering a fracture in his right knee.
Marcus Trescothick hit a century as Somerset claimed a seven-wicket victory in their LV= County Championship Division One match against Durham. The win saw Somerset overtake Yorkshire in the table.