England have scored 318 for three against Sri Lanka
Lady Luck didn't just smile on England yesterday, she positively chuckled four times times and Marcus Trescothick was a triple beneficiary.
Only Umpire Rudi Koertzen knows why he denied Muttiah Muralitharan his wicket when he was 28 and the score 79, and Trescothick promptly cashed in to score his 14th hundred for England and his third against Sri Lanka.
On the way to such a precious landmark at Lord's on his return to the side after dipping out of the tour of India, Koertzen obliged him with two more unfathomable decisions which made Muralitharan almost apoplectic. With such an imbalance of luck going for them, no wonder England have built a platform for a huge score which should be a match winning one.
Alastair Cook more than justified his selection with a solid 89 before he waved at a wide one just before the close. His innings owed as much to an unflappable temperament as a tight technique, and Kevin Pietersen has hammered his way to 54 and is ready to explode this morning in front of another 25,000 plus crowd.
There were two games of cricket on view yesterday - one when Muralitharan was bowling and one when he wasn't. His close of play figures were 27-8-69-2 at two-and-a-half runs per over - while the other 63 overs cost 246, virtually four per over. Only Chaminder Vaas offered anything, but his average pace was only 76 mph compared with 80 a year ago, and on such a good batting strip the support pace attack was nothing more than cannon fodder.
Team news was as expected under cloudless skies, with Sajid Mahmood preferred to Jonathan Lewis and Ian Bell was only ever in the 13 in case England went for a belt-and-braces balance of six specialist batsmen. New Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene lost his fifth successive toss and the restored England opening partnership of Strauss and Trescothick had to be watchful in a first over which saw plenty of swing and seam movement.
Muralitharan didn't take the ball until 20 minutes before lunch and immediately created mayhem. His first was a maiden and his second produced a gold-medal candidate for the umpiring howler of the summer. Bowling from the pavilion end to Trescothick, he pitched the perfect "dhoosra" (the ball going from the left-hander's off to leg) on middle and leg.
The Somerset man's half stride took him nowhere as the ball kept a shade low and turned back up the slope inside the bat, to nail the front pad well below the knee roll. It was plumb out to the naked eye, never mind the tell-tale replays.
Everyone makes mistakes, and you always try to think why an umpire has made one. Perhaps he thought it pitched outside leg stump but it was four inches inside the legal area.
Perhaps Koertzen either thought it was too high, or there was an inside edge? Neither.
It would have hit middle stump six inches below the bails and there was a gap of a good two inches between bat and ball. Every geometrical requirement of the lbw was satisfied in spades.
In Murali's fourth over right on the lunch break he got some recompense when a lovely orthodox off-break took the edge to dismiss Strauss, nicely caught at slip by Jayawardene for 48.
Insult was added to injury when Trescothick got his second early Christmas present from Koertzen before tea when a similar stone-dead lbw was negated - the only difference was that this one would have hit middle and off stumps. Unbelievable.
Trescothick went on to reach his hundred and enjoyed the moment together with the crowd and his balcony, only for the roughest of justice to be finally meted out when, just like Strauss, he could only edge Murali to slip.
He hit 76 of his 106 runs in boundaries after putting on 127 runs in 34 overs with Cook. He is a big find and has a long term international future.
Pietersen started slowly, and was the next man to benefit from a plumb-out lbw against Vass, who did the reverse of Murali to the left handers.
He then sledgehammered nine fours on his way to 52 off 61 balls to help Cook add 99 for the third wicket.
It was England's day, but they will know that they enjoyed every bit of luck going.
If the International Cricket Council want support for their experimental trial of three appeals per innings, which is to be tried in the Champions' Trophy in October, they should canvass the Sri Lankan dressing room.