WHEN Alastair Cook dreamed of scoring his 10,000th Test run for England, you imagine he envisaged a rather more auspicious setting than a largely-empty Riverside on an overcast Monday afternoon.

As momentous occasions go, it all felt a little bit flat. But if this was to be the final day of Test cricket to be staged at Chester-le-Street, at least it came with a place in the history books guaranteed.

Cook became the first English batsman to reach the 10,000-run landmark, and the 12th of all time, when he flicked Nuwan Pradeep to the square leg boundary shortly after 3pm. An hour-and-a-half later, and he was celebrating a nine-wicket victory that sealed the opening series of the summer.

As the ultimate team player, Cook will probably take more pleasure from the latter achievement, but in time he will come to appreciate the magnitude of his personal run-making feat.

He towers above all of England’s batting greats in terms of the weight of runs he has accumulated, and given that he will not turn 32 until December, there is every chance he will climb further up the global all-time list before he retires.

He is not as aesthetically-pleasing as David Gower, not as flamboyant as Sir Ian Botham or Kevin Pietersen and arguably not even as reliable as Geoffrey Boycott or Graham Gooch. But he has out-scored all of them, and given that he has led England to an Ashes victory as well as series wins in India and South Africa since taking over the captaincy in 2012, he deserves to be recognised as one of his nation’s greatest players.

The shot that broke the 10,000-run barrier was followed by a typically understated celebration, with Cook trotting to the middle of the pitch before raising his bat in the air. A giant banner was unfurled on the North-East Terrace to acknowledge the feat, with the big screens at either end of the ground displayed a beaming Cook’s image.

No glitz, no glamour, no razzmatazz. Just straight back to business with a flashing cover drive that added four more runs to his career total and edged England closer to their victory target.

That target was reached when Nick Compton clubbed a boundary into the leg-side, although England’s second innings was not unblemished with Alex Hales succumbing in the first over after tea as he got himself into a tangle trying to whip away Milinda Siriwardana’s arm ball.

Cook finished unbeaten on 47, but while England were ultimately comfortable winners for the second game in succession, their bowling performance over the last two days highlighted two things – how well they performed on a flat, slow pitch to dismiss Sri Lanka for 101 first time around, and how limited their options are once James Anderson and Stuart Broad are removed from the equation.

Anderson was his usual explosive self in superb spells at the start of both the morning and afternoon sessions, but Broad barely featured and as a result England toiled as Sri Lanka’s batsmen overhauled their deficit before building a 78-run lead.

Steven Finn was completely out of sorts for the second day running as he was carted to all parts of the ground before lunch, with Dinesh Chandimal dishing out some especially painful punishment as he helped plunder 15 from one particularly wayward over.

That proved Finn’s final involvement, but Cook inexplicably stuck with Moeen Ali for hours on end even though the off-spinner never looked like taking a wicket.

Ali bowled 11 overs either side of lunch, but his final figures of 1-136 highlight just how ineffective he was. Rangana Herath was almost mocking him as he nonchalantly produced a succession of reverse sweeps, and it was only when Chandimal clubbed him into the stands for a six that he was finally taken out of his misery with Cook turning to Chris Woakes.

It felt like an act of mercy, although Woakes was no more effective as he also went for more than 100 runs. Excellent in the first innings, the all-rounder was poor for most of the second. As soon as Ben Stokes regains his fitness, he will deservedly make an instant return to the team.

Things had looked like being much more routine when Anderson removed Siriwardana in the fifth over of the day, with Hales claiming a simple catch in the gully.

Sri Lanka were still 83 runs behind at that stage, but by the time England claimed their next wicket shortly after lunch, the tourists had moved ahead.

Chandimal and Herath put on 116 for the seventh wicket, a superb effort given the state of the game when they came together, although both batsmen benefited from some sloppy England catching.

Chandimal, who eventually succumbed for 126, was on 69 when Jonny Bairstow failed to hold on to an inside edge from Anderson, and while the Yorkshireman was rightly acclaimed for his batting exploits in the first Test at Headingley, his limitations with the gloves remain troubling. He is fortunate that his main rival, Jos Buttler, is also a better batsman than a wicketkeeper.

England’s second dropped catch came after lunch, reprieving Herath on 48, and saw James Vince make a complete hash of claiming a skier as he zig-zagged back from point.

Anderson finally trapped Herath leg before – his 450th Test wicket - and quickly knocked over Shaminda Eranga’s off stump to complete his five-wicket haul.

Chandimal’s first Test century outside Asia was an excellent effort, with the 26-year-old displaying commendable discipline at the start of his innings before becoming increasingly flamboyant as he began to run out of partners.

He was eventually bowled by Broad as he went for one shot too many, with Sri Lanka’s second innings coming to an end when Suranga Lakmal spooned Woakes to mid-on.