England 321-7 Sri Lanka 324-2: Sri Lanka win by 8 wickets

England spirit dissolved by whitewash

Well, thank goodness that is all over. No, not the limp yet life-consuming performance of the England football team in Germany, but the even more inept showing of the country's cricketers in the NatWest series against Sri Lanka. Saturday's eight-wicket defeat here, which sealed a 5-0 whitewash for the tourists, was the most humiliating of the lot.

Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga, who scored 152 and 109 respectively, were magnificent as Sri Lanka chased down England's highly commendable total of 321 for 7, but how on earth can an international side concede 324 runs in just 37.3 overs? Stephen Harmison, yes, the bowler who took 7 for 12 against the West Indies two years ago, conceded 97 runs in 10 overs. These are most expensive bowling figures by an England bowler in one-day cricket, yet, in comparison to Tim Bresnan and Kabir Ali, who haemorrhaged 101 runs in eight overs, Harmison was frugal.

So what can we deduce from the events of the past fortnight? Sri Lanka's confidence has steepled since winning the third Test at Trent Bridge. Mahela Jayawardene, the captain, has been a source of inspiration and his bowlers have bowled with intelligence. Sri Lanka's fielding has been athletic and vibrant and, under cloudless skies, their batsmen have fearlessly gone for their shots. In a form of the game where batsmen win games England's willow wielders have not been dominant and only one player - Marcus Trescothick - scored a hundred. Yet it is England's bowling, and in particular their fast bowlers, that will be causing the selectors the greatest distress. In the five-match series England's fast bowlers have conceded over 1,000 runs at a rate of almost seven runs an over. The bowling of Harmison, Liam Plunkett, Sajid Mahmood, Tim Bresnan and Kabir Ali has been awful, but I do not believe it is because they are all not good enough. As bowlers Bresnan and Ali are limited and, unless they improve significantly, both may have played their last games for England.

Injuries to Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones, and the view that Matthew Hoggard is not a one-day bowler, has reduced the pool the selectors pick from to a puddle, but Harmison, Plunkett and Mahmood should be retained. Despite their showing England are not that bad. The cumulative effect of injury and defeat has drained their confidence, and each time they have dared to stick their heads out of the hole they are in a big mallet has knocked them back down.

Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, said: "It doesn't reflect our ability. It would be very interesting if Sri Lanka were missing eight of their players and we had our eight injured players back. What then would the result have been?

"It took us three or four years to build that Ashes winning side. It takes time with young players and we have a lot of young players."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam