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."

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?