In a blaze of breathtaking strokes played with outrageous confidence, Sri Lanka completed their domination of early summer yesterday. Whitewash, call it what you will, it was the culmination that their utter ascendancy in the NatWest Series deserved. They won 5-0 and became stronger as the series wore on.
The target they had to chase of 322 was hardly small fry but Sri Lanka made it seem a mere trifle. Their opening batsmen, the legendary Sanath Jayasuriya and the rookie Upul Tharanga, broke the world record for the first wicket in one-day international cricket with a partnership of 286.
Sri Lanka won by eight wickets with no fewer than 75 balls left at their disposal. To assess it as England's most humiliating defeat was not an over-reaction since they failed to defend a total of 321 for 7 with such ease. Coming on top of the four earlier defeats made it even more dispiriting.
If there was anything that England could do to arrest the mayhem being created, they were not in the business of exhibiting it. For 20 overs Sri Lanka scored virtually at will. On his 37th birthday and in his record equalling 362nd match, Jayasuriya was imperious. His 152 from 99 balls was the second highest and probably the most explosive of all his 21 one-day hundreds.
Marcus Trescothick, who scored England's only hundred of the series in their innings, was prosaic by comparison. He said: "He was destructive. I have seen players do that for 70 or 80 but never for that long. He deserves a lot of credit but if you don't get the ball in the right areas you can make it very difficult."
Tharanga was hardly less effective. A kind of mini-Jayasuriya, his innings of 109 came from 102 balls. They attacked from the start and if he thought of defending they still attacked. England, poor and hopeless were at a loss.
Wherever their captain Andrew Strauss turned he was let down. The bowlers were not good enough and the Sri Lankans knew it. In truth, they were probably not as poor as they had been earlier in the series but the psychological high ground had long since been ceded.
Steve Harmison returned the most expensive 10-over analysis in England's history with figures of 0 for 97. Since his first five went for only 33 this was going some.
It was impossible to watch Sri Lanka batting or, more pertinently, England bowling without imagining Fred Trueman delivering his verdict. The great fast bowler died yesterday and between innings the teams had lined up to remember his immense deeds, first applauding them and then standing in silence to ruminate on them.
But Trueman had another career as a broadcaster in which he was not renowned for being lighthearted about players' misdemeanours. His stock phrase of: "I don't know what's going off out there" would not have come close to covering it. Fred would have known what was going off all right.
He would have castigated poor method and lack of nous. England were again bowling both sides of the wicket and too short, especially outside the off stump to players who thrive on such offerings. It was like presenting your neck to a vampire.
If there was a redeeming feature it was that the pitch was full of runs, the sort that one-day batsman want to sleep with and certainly dream of.
In retrospect - which was pretty quick in appearing - England were probably 30 runs or so short by modern standards. Of course, Sri Lanka would have smashed that target to smithereens as well, but it might also have made them think twice.
As it was, they had nothing at all to lose. Four ahead in the series and easily the better team, a loss could hardly have eroded their superiority a jot. They launched a blitzkreig of shots.
They pulled and they cut, taking absolute advantage of the close field, and more occasionally they drove. England had no answer. After three overs the tourists were 46 for 0 (England had been 1 for 0), after 52 balls they had reached 100 and after 136 balls they were 200. It was as scintillating as one-day cricket can be.
England won toss
M E Trescothick b Jayasuriya 121
(Missed attempted late cut; 177 min, 118 balls, 16 fours, 1 six)
A N Cook c Jayawardene b Maharoof 41
(Lofted straight to extra cover; 77 min, 54 balls, 4 fours)
I R Bell c Sangakkara b Fernando 18
(Guided slower ball down to third man; 46 min, 27 balls, 1 four)
*A J Strauss c Sangakkara b Fernando 26
(Thin edge to keeper attempting to drive; 45 min, 32 balls, 1 four)
V S Solanki not out 44
(53 min, 34 balls, 3 fours, 1 six)
J W M Dalrymple lbw b Malinga 30
(Plumb in front by in-swinging yorker; 28 min, 27 balls, 4 fours)
ÝG O Jones lbw b Malinga 2
(Trapped sweeping across line a long way forward; 8 min, 5 balls)
T T Bresnan b Malinga 4
(Bowled by yorker playing across line; 2 min, 3 balls, 1 four)
L E Plunkett not out 9 (5 min, 6 balls)
Extras (b0 lb9 w11 nb6) 26
Total (for 7, 224 min, 50 overs) 321
Fall: 1-82 (Cook), 2-157 (Bell), 3-225 (Strauss), 4-233 (Trescothick), 5-295 (Dalrymple), 6-304 (Jones), 7-308 (Bresnan).
Did not bat: Kabir Ali, S J Harmison.
Bowling: Vaas 8-2-41-0 (nb2) (one spell), Malinga 10-0-44-4 (nb1 w3) (6-0-21-0 1-0-3-1 1-0-6-0 2-0-14-3), Fernando 8-0-61-1 (nb3) (4-0-31-0 3-0-15-1 1-0-15-0), Maharoof 9-0-52-1 (w1) (5-0-26-1 2-0-15-0 2-0-11-0), Dilshan 3-0-29-0 (w5) (one spell), Jayasuriya 5-0-35-1 (one spell).
Progress: Power Play 1 overs 1-10: 39-0. PP2 overs 11-15: 73-0. PP3 overs 16-20: 107-1. 50 in 57 min, 81 balls. 100 in 93 min, 115 balls. 150 in 118 mins, 159 balls. 200 in 157 min, 210 balls. 250 in 188 min, 255 balls. 300 in 212 min, 290 balls.
Trescothick: 50: 90 min, 59 balls, 9 fours. 100: 150 min, 102 balls, 16 fours.
W U Tharanga c and b Dalrymple 109
(Return catch to right misdriving; 144 min, 102 balls, 14 fours, 1 six )
S T Jayasuriya c Strauss b Solanki 152
(Smart catch in gully off square drive; 148 min, 99 balls, 20 fours, 4 sixes)
*D P M D Jayawardene not out 12
(25 min, 14 balls, 1 four)
ÝK C Sangakkara not out 23
(21 min, 19 balls, 4 fours)
Extras (10lb, 9w, 9nb) 28
Total (for 2, 170 min, 37.3 overs) 324
Fall: 1-286 (Tharanga), 2-289 (Jayasuriya).
Did not bat: T M Dilshan, C K Kapugedera, M F Maharoof, W P U J C Vaas, C M Bandara, S L Malinga, C R D Fernando.
Bowling: Kabir Ali 6-0-72-0 (nb5) (2-0-24-0 2-0-33-0 2-0-15-0), Bresnan 2-0-29-0 (w1) (1-0-18-0 1-0-11-0), Plunkett 5-0-46-0 (w2) (2-0-25-0 3-0-21-0), Harmison 10-0-97-0 (nb3,w5) (5-0-33-0 3-0-45-0 2-0-19-0), Dalrymple 10-0-48-1 (w1) (1-0-14-0 5-0-19-0 4-0-15-1), Bell 1-0-5-0 (nb1), Solanki 3.3-0-17-1 (2-0-6-1 1.3-0-11-0).
Progress: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs. PP2 22.1-27. 50: 25 balls. 100: 54 balls. 150: 84 balls. 200: 142 balls. 250: 172 balls. 300: 229 balls.
Jayasuriya: 50: 26 balls, 9 fours, 1 six. 100: 72 balls, 13 fours, 2 sixes).
Tharanga: 50: 35 balls, 10 fours, 1 six. 100: 82 balls, 14 fours, 1 six)
Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets.
Man of the Match: Sanath Jayasuriya (SL).
Man of the Series: Sanath Jayasuriya (SL).
Umpires: M R Benson (Eng) and B R Doctrove (WI).
Third Umpire: I J Gould. Match referee: C H Lloyd.Reuse content