England 'could not withstand any more'

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The Independent Online

Michael Vaughan conceded that England had been worn down by Sri Lanka after a punishing three-Test series ended in their heaviest Test defeat for 30 years here yesterday.

Dismissed for 265 in their first innings of the third Test, England allowed Sri Lanka to build a massive total of 628 for 8 declared. They had almost two days to bat out for a third successive draw, but having shown their fighting qualities in the first two Tests, they slid to 148 all out in a little over four hours to lose by an innings and 215 runs.

England were heading for defeat midway through the first day when they lost five wickets for 61 in 27 overs after Vaughan won his first toss of the series.

Vaughan said: "We have been on the ropes for three games and the final knock-out blow was today. You can only keep taking so many punches, but we could not withstand any more."

Six dropped catches in the final Test, half of which came after some of the players were kept awake until the early hours of Saturday morning by a disco at their hotel, blighted their chances but Vaughan refused to make excuses. "I wouldn't blame any sort of fatigue. The boys came into this Test match full of exuberance, we were 0-0 and fully expected a better performance," he said.

He thought Muttiah Muralitharan and his own new version of the googly had been a major factor in the series. "Our experienced batting has come up against a world-class performer," he said. "It is a little bit of a concern that we haven't got experience in the bowling department and the best combination we have had for a few years was Gough and Caddick. The way we can get people to emulate those two is by giving these kids a good run and giving them experience in all kinds of conditions."