Joe Root had bacon, bananas and a little help from an old friend to thank for helping him with his feat of extraordinary endurance and skill.
The England captain narrowly missed out on a double double when he was run out for 186 at the end of day three of the second Test, to follow up his 228 in the first.
Both were performances of epic proportions, but it was this eight and a half hour vigil in the energy-sapping 34 degree heat that pushed his body to the limit.
By the time he was dismissed with the score 339-9 and England 42 behind, Root had spent all but 36.4 overs of the series on the field of play.
And as Root moved steadily up the England Test run scoring charts to fourth, putting Kevin Pietersen and David Gower in his rearview mirror, he steadily knocked back seven bananas and seven energy gels from lunch onwards to fuel his progress.
Far from scoffing a ‘knock off Nandos, a Yorkie bar and a Red Bull’, as Ben Stokes famously did before his brilliant Headingley innings in 2019, Root had a steak with vegetables the night before and then a breakfast of lean bacon and poached eggs with brown toast in readiness for the day.
And just when the threat of cramp was round the corner, he had his old team-mate Matt Prior and his One Pro Nutrition energy gels to thank for giving him an extra kick.
“He has stood up as captain and led from the front,” said former keeper batsman Prior. “He will be asking his players to bat long, and bat big out there and he has shown the way just like Alastair Cook did back in 2012 in India.
“I know from experience that Sri Lanka is the greatest physical challenge that you face from a heat and climate perspective and I was found wanting out there a couple of times when it came to dehydration and cramp.
“I tried all sorts of strategies, but very few worked, and it is that experience as a player that drove me to develop the products we have and that is what you see Joe and the England players using.”
Lasith Embuldeniya remains the home side’s biggest threat after taking care of another seven English batsmen with his left arm spin, but Root wasn’t one of them.
Oshada Fernando’s direct hit from short leg ended Root’s innings but the plaudits kept on coming, including from former Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene who compared him favourably to Brian Lara as the best overseas player of spin he had seen on the island.
Root’s quick feet and a sweep to die for have been the key for him and vice captain Jos Buttler admitted the rest of the team couldn’t help but learn from him.
“We’re all in awe of what Joe Root has just achieved really,” said Buttler.
“Root is one of the finest players of spin in the world and for all of us in the dressing room it is a great strength to have, and someone to learn from.
“It’s been a masterclass in batting against spin, and it has been a great education for all of us, watching from the sidelines.”
ROOT’S EPIC EFFORTS ACROSS TWO GAMES
Runs scored – 415
Balls faced – 633
Minutes batted – 977 (16 and a half hours)
Overs spent off the field – 36.4
Batsmen leapfrogged – 3 (Geoff Boycott, Kevin Pietersen, David Gower)
Bananas and energy gels consumed – 1 every 45 mins
For more information on One Pro Nutrition energy gels and clean performance supplements visit www.onepronutrition.com