Cricket: England are humiliated by historic defeat: Fletcher bemoans itinerary as Sri Lanka conquer their nerves with verve to secure a vivid victory

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England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .380 and 228

Sri Lanka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .469 and 142-5

Sri Lanka win by five wickets

A TEST that opened with almost as many Sri Lankans playing as there were watching ended with around 5,000 singing, cheering and exploding thunderous firecrackers, which proves that despite successive Test victories they have a long way to go before they get blase about winning.

It is not a problem England are likely to face for a while, either, following their fifth defeat on the trot, their worst run for seven years, and their first loss to Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe, the Netherlands and Denmark are the sort of opposition England need to recover confidence, but unfortunately the fixture list merely offers Australia and the West Indies.

For a few brief overs yesterday, the hoary old ghost of Headingley '81 made one of his occasional visitations, but then the most impressive batsman of the match, Hashan Tillakaratne, ensured justice would be done. For, despite some very questionable umpiring decisions and an equally dodgy bowling action, Sri Lanka thoroughly deserved their fourth-Test win after losing the toss and being totally outplayed for the opening seven hours.

A few individual performances apart, notably Robin Smith's batting and Chris Lewis's bowling, the only area in which England came up to scratch was in losing with dignity. They are the first team to lose here not to blame their defeat on Sri Lanka's one-eyed umpires. Neither did Keith Fletcher, the England team manager, name names when blaming the other culprits, loose batting and bowling, although he is clearly losing patience with several team members.

Fletcher said, without conviction, that he would have brought the same squad with the same attention to one- day cricket, but added: 'Players on this trip have not performed as well as I would have liked.'

While Fletcher said this did not necessarily mean youngsters, one of the players almost certain to have played his last Test is John Emburey. At least he bows out with some credit, although both he and England would have preferred it to have been for his bowling. While the Sri Lankan spinners took 15 of the 18 England wickets to fall to bowlers, Emburey and Phil Tufnell managed seven. They shared four yesterday but it was Lewis who made the initial breakthrough, after Emburey and Devon Malcolm had added just two to the overnight score, setting Sri Lanka 140 to win. They had made eight when Lewis had Roshan Mahanama well caught by Alec Stewart down the leg side.

Lewis was bowling with real venom at this stage, getting astonishingly sharp bounce for a five-day-old wicket. For the first time in the game, the tension was worthy of a Test match as Sri Lanka edged to lunch at 43 for 1. Two overs afterwards the dangerous Asanka Gurusinha was bowled by Emburey, who followed up with Aravinda de Silva, caught pulling. Tufnell gained a fortunate caught-behind decision for a fine catch by Stewart off Chandika Hathurusinghe, and England were ahead on points. In August on this ground, Sri Lanka had chased 181 to beat Australia, reached 127 for 2, then collapsed to lose by 16 runs. The memory silenced the crowd.

Emburey was now turning the ball but neither he, Tufnell nor Graeme Hick could maintain a good line, all being swept when bowling to seven- two offside fields. England's fielding also disappointed with its mix of old age, wrecked throwing arms and simple lack of co-ordination accentuated by a reluctance to risk a graze.

Arjuna Ranatunga and the man of the match, Tillakaratne, were able to counter-attack with verve, and although England managed to push the match to tea, with Mike Gatting celebrating by catching Ranatunga off Tufnell three balls later, Sanath Jayasuriya pulled the next ball, his first, for six. It was a fitting epitaph for England's winter.

But it is not all over yet, though the team, who may not agree with Fletcher's belief that the tour should have been two-and-half-weeks longer, clearly cannot wait to get on Sunday's plane home. The ludicrous itinerary has a final sting, a one-day international tomorrow in Moratuwa.

COLOMBO SCOREBOARD

(England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings

R A Smith b Muralitharan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128

(448 min, 338 balls, 20 fours)

M A Atherton lbw b Ramanayake. . . . . . . . . . . . 13

(68 min, 47 balls, 1 four)

M W Gatting c Jayasuriya b Muralitharan. . . . . . . 29

(70 min, 58 balls, 4 fours)

G A Hick c Tillakaratne b Muralitharan. . . . . . . .68

(140 min, 112 balls, 7 fours, 2 sixes)

*A J Stewart c Tillakaratne b Warnaweera. . . . . . .63

(189 min, 121 balls, 10 fours)

N H Fairbrother b Warnaweera. . . . . . . . . . . . .18

(63 min, 39 balls, 2 fours)

C C Lewis run out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

(60 min, 36 balls, 4 fours)

J E Emburey not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

(46 min, 32 balls)

P W Jarvis lbw b Warnaweera. . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(3 min, 1 ball)

P C R Tufnell lbw b Muralitharan. . . . . . . . . . . 1

(5 min, 5 balls)

D E Malcolm c Gurusinha b Warnaweera. . . . . . . . .13

(11 min, 8 balls, 2 sixes)

Extras (b5 lb3 w1 nb15). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

Total (561 min, 130.1 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . 380

Fall: 1-40 (Atherton), 2-82 (Gatting), 3-194 (Hick), 4-316 (Smith), 5-323 (Stewart), 6-358 (Fairbrother), 7-366 (Lewis), 8-366 (Jarvis), 9-367 (Tufnell).

Bowling: Ramanayake 17-2-66-1 (nb7); Gurusinha 5-1-12-0 (w1); Warnaweera 40.1-11-90-4 (nb11); Hathurusinghe 8-2-22-0; Muralitharan 45-12-118- 4; Jayasuriya 12-1-53-0; Ranatunga 3-0-11-0.

SRI LANKA - First Innings

R S Mahanama c Smith b Emburey. . . . . . . . . . . . 64

(102 min, 83 balls, 11 fours)

U C Hathurusinghe c Stewart b Lewis. . . . . . . . . .59

(195 min, 146 balls, 8 fours)

A P Gurusinha st Stewart b Tufnell. . . . . . . . . . 43

(159 min, 124 balls, 5 fours)

P A De Silva c Stewart b Jarvis. . . . . . . . . . . .80

(205 min, 148 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes)

* A Ranatunga c Stewart b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . .64

(167 min, 119 balls, 6 fours, 1 six)

H P Tillakaratne not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

(281 min, 208 balls, 9 fours)

S T Jayasuriya c Atherton b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . 4

(15 min, 8 balls, 1 four)

] A M De Silva c Gatting b Emburey. . . . . . . . . . .9

(46 min, 28 balls, 1 four)

C P H Ramanayake c Lewis b Jarvis. . . . . . . . . . . 1

(13 min, 13 balls)

M Muralitharan b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

(153 min, 72 balls, 1 four)

K P J Warnaweera b Jarvis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

(14 min, 10 balls)

Extras (b2 lb13 w2 nb15). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32

Total (685 min, 156.5 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . 469

Fall: 1-99 (Mahanama) 2-153 (Hathurusinghe), 3-203 (Gurusinha), 4-330 (P A De Silva), 5-339 (Ranatunga), 6-349 (Jayasuriya), 7-371 (A M De Silva), 8-376 (Ramanayake), 9-459 (Muralitharan).

Bowling: Malcolm 25-7-60-0 (nb1 w1); Jarvis 25.5- 1-76-3 (nb4 w1); Lewis 31-5-66-4; Tufnell 33-5-108- 1 (nb7); Emburey 34-6-117-2; Hick 8-0-27-0.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

(Overnight: 226 for 9)

R A Smith b Jayasuriya. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35

(96 min, 71 balls, 4 fours)

M A Atherton c Tillakaratne b Gurusinha. . . . . . . . .2

(18 min, 11 balls)

M W Gatting c Tillakaratne b Warnaweera. . . . . . . . 18

(26 min, 17 balls, 4 fours)

G A Hick c Ramanayake b Warnaweera . . . . . . . . . . 26

(56 min, 28 balls, 2 fours, 1 six)

* A J Stewart c Mahanama b Warnaweera. . . . . . . . . .3

(16 min, 14 balls)

N H Fairbrother run out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

(39 min, 16 balls)

C C Lewis c Jayasuriya b Muralitharan. . . . . . . . . 45

(62 min, 51 balls, 7 fours)

J E Emburey b Gurusinha. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

(148 min, 151 balls, 6 fours)

P W Jarvis st A M de Silva b Jayasuriya. . . . . . . . .3

(26 min, 13 balls)

P C R Tufnell c A M de Silva b Warnaweera. . . . . . . .1

(22 min, 15 balls)

D E Malcolm not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

(64 min, 30 balls, 1 four)

Extras (b4 lb2 w1 nb18). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Total (296 min, 66 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .228

Fall: 1-16 (Atherton), 2-38 (Gatting), 3-83 (Smith), 4-91 (Hick), 5-96 (Stewart), 6-130 (Fairbrother), 7-153 (Lewis), 8-173 (Jarvis), 9-188 (Tufnell).

Bowling: Ramanayake 3-0-16-0 (nb2); Gurusinha 6-3-7-2 (3-1-6-1, 3-2-1-1); Warnaweera 25-4- 98-4 (nb16) (14-1-63-3, 3-1-14-0, 8-2-21-1); Muralitharan 16-3-55-1 (5-0-27-0, 8-2-20-1, 3-1-8-0); Jayasuriya 16-3-46-2 (nb3 w1) (10-3-29-1, 5-0-15-1, 1-0-2-0).

Progress: Fifth day: Innings closed: 10.26am.

SRI LANKA - Second Innings

R S Mahanama c Stewart b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

(13 min, 11 balls)

U C Hathurusinghe c Stewart b Tufnell. . . . . . . . . 14

(120 min, 69 balls, 1 four)

A P Gurusinha b Emburey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

(74 min, 46 balls, 3 fours)

P A De Silva c Jarvis b Emburey. . . . . . . . . . . . .7

(23 min, 17 balls, 1 four)

* A Ranatunga c Gatting b Tufnell. . . . . . . . . . . 35

(87 min, 56 balls, 3 fours)

H P Tillakaratne not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36

(81 min, 62 balls, 6 fours)

S T Jayasuriya not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

(1 min, 1 ball, 1 six)

Extras (b1 lb2 nb6). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Total (for 5, 205 min, 42.4 overs). . . . . . . . . . 142

Fall: 1-8 (Mahanama), 2-48 (Gurusinha), 3-61 (P A De Silva), 4-61 (Hathurusinghe), 5-136 (Ranatunga).

Bowling: Lewis 8-1-21-1 (nb1) (5-1-17-1, 3-0-4-0); Jarvis 8-2-14-0 (nb1) (3-0-8-0, 3-1-4-0, 2-1-2-0); Malcolm 3-1-11-0; Emburey 14-2-48-2 (nb4) (9-2- 26-2, 1-0-6-0, 4-0-16-0); Tufnell 7.4-1-34-2 (5-1-18- 1, 2-0-6-0, 0.4-0-10-1); Hick 2-0-11-0.

Progress: Lunch: 43-1 (Hathurusinghe 8, Gurusinha 26) in 16 overs. 50: 99 min, 19.2 overs. 100: 158 min, 33.3 overs. Tea: 132-4 (Ranatunga 32, Tillakaratne 35) in 42 overs. Innings closed: 3.09pm.

Umpires: K T Francis and T M Samarasinghe.

----------------------------------------------------------------- ENGLAND'S FIRST DEFEATS IN THE TEST ARENA ----------------------------------------------------------------- Opposition Date Venue Test Margin Australia 19 Mar 1877 Melbourne 1st 45 runs South Africa 4 Jan 1906 Johannesburg 9th 1 wicket West Indies 26 Feb 1930 Georgetown 6th 289 runs India 10 Feb 1952 Madras 15th Innings & 8 runs Pakistan 17 Aug 1954 The Oval 4th 24 runs New Zealand 15 Feb 1978 Wellington 48th 72 runs Sri Lanka 18 Mar 1993 Colombo 5th 5 wickets Zimbabwe yet to play a Test v England ----------------------------------------------------------------- ENGLAND'S RECENT TEST RECORD ----------------------------------------------------------------- Opposition Venue Date Result Captain Australia away 1990-91 LOST 3-0 Graham Gooch West Indies home 1991 DRAWN 2-2 Graham Gooch New Zealand away 1991-92 WON 2-0 Graham Gooch Pakistan home 1992 LOST 2-1 Graham Gooch India away 1993 LOST 3-0 Graham Gooch Sri Lanka away 1993 LOST 1-0 Alec Stewart -----------------------------------------------------------------

(Photograph omitted)

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