Alastair Cook allowed his renowned powers of concentration the briefest break as he drank in for a moment his achievement at passing 10,000 Test runs.
The job was already done, of course, with a trademark clip through midwicket to become the first Englishman and youngest worldwide to reach five-figures, before he looked for once beyond the 22 yards.
As England were cantering to a series-sealing nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second Investec Test at Chester-le-Street, he spotted his young daughter and Ben Stokes’s son playing a game of their own at the foot of the pavilion.
For Cook, also watched by wife Alice and her parents, the snapshot beyond the boundary provided personal context for his historic achievement.
It has taken him 10 years to join an elite 12 of the world’s greatest batsmen, headed by Sachin Tendulkar on 15,921. The hard work has long been worthwhile for the England captain.
But all can scarcely have been quite so right with the world as in the evening sunshine, at the end of a persistently cloudy Test, 10,000 runs in the bag and about to knock off a target of 79 for an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
Man of the match James Anderson’s eight wickets here took him past 450 in Tests, for good measure, as England prevailed despite Dinesh Chandimal’s 126, which kept the hosts waiting after Sri Lanka had followed on 397 behind.
“When I was 20 odd not out I saw Elsie running around with Layton Stokes – and then you realise how special it all is,” said Cook.
“It is a special moment for me personally to join the club and the company of the people who have scored 10,000 runs.”
He seemed sure at start of play to have to wait until next week’s final Test at Lord’s, with England needing only five more Sri Lanka wickets for under 88 to win by an innings.
But Chandimal had other ideas, and in the end Cook was grateful. “Clearly, everyone has been talking about it over the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“It should not play on your mind – but it did, and I can’t deny that.”
The only shame for Cook was that his own mother and father made the highly reasonable call that he would not have a second innings, and therefore went home before the fourth day.
“The 10,000 has been a milestone that has driven me over the last few years,” he added.
“You get tested at the top of the order in all conditions against the best bowlers bowling with the new ball ... and I’m glad I have hung around long enough not to get dropped.”
There was satisfaction too, of course, at back-to-back victories – this second much harder-earned than anticipated.
“To win a game by an innings and then by nine wickets is a good effort,” Cook said.
“It was tough. The pitch died a death and was a bit more like Colombo than the Chester-le-Street we have known in the past.
“They made us work hard for it, and sometimes it is a bit sweeter that way because you feel you have earned it. It was a slog (Sunday and yesterday), and James Anderson’s 5-50 in those conditions showed his class.”
Anderson and Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews both congratulated Cook.
“It is something that has been on his mind for the last few weeks,” said Anderson.
“What an amazing achievement. All that hard work, the effort, the lows and highs as well.
“It has all come down to this moment for him. He should treasure it – and to be the youngest to 10,000 is incredible.”
Mathews inevitably had mixed feelings about a match in which his team showed belated improvement, Rangana Herath took his 300th Test wicket, but it came to nought.
“Not scoring more than 100 in the first innings was very disappointing,” he said. “We talked about bringing back the fight – the Sri Lankan fight that we’ve not had in the last couple of weeks.”
“Let me congratulate Alastair for achieving his 10,000 runs.” Mathews added. “He’s been an amazing player for England.”
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