Better, but still not good enough would be the kindest way of describing England's latest defeat to Sri Lanka in the NatWest series. The margin of the loss, 33 runs, is considerable, as is the 4-0 lead Sri Lanka have taken in the five-match series, but England's cricket here yesterday was of a higher standard than that witnessed in the opening three matches of this one-sided tournament.
England's bowling was still raw and ill-disciplined, and a further 21 wides were conceded, but the batting of the Sri Lankans, and in particular that of Mahela Jayawardene, who scored a second consecutive hundred, was superb. While the Sri Lankan captain and Upul Tharanga were at the crease, adding 137 for the second wicket in 20 overs, the tourists appeared set to post a score in excess of 350.
Yet England battled hard in the field and it was only a late onslaught from Farveez Maharoof and Malinga Bandara, who hit 57 in the final five overs of the Sri Lankan innings, that took the visitors' total to 318.
If England were to successfully chase the highest one-day score posted at this venue, at least one member of the side would need to reach three figures. Marcus Trescothick, Ian Bell, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, on his one-day international debut, all got starts but none went on to post a half-century.
England's task was made harder by the absence of Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood, who failed fitness tests. They were not the only changes to a side that has now lost its last six matches. Sajid Mahmood's wayward and expensive bowling gave Tim Bresnan a chance to impress, as did the omission of Alex Loudon for Kabir Ali.
Kabir was the bowler to suffer most. Tharanga and Jayawardene dispatched him to the boundary with ease during his opening spell, whilst Maharoof and Bandara took 20 runs off his final over. In all, the Worcestershire seamer conceded 77 runs in 10 overs.
Kabir was not the only bowler to suffer, even though England's bowling was marginally better than at Chester-le-Street on Saturday. Yet it could hardly be described as a masterpiece.
Steve Harmison was as unpredictable as ever. In his second over he bowled England's 50th wide of the series but, on a fast and bouncy pitch, he sent down several unplayable deliveries.
Sanath Jayasuriya looked in worryingly good touch before slicing a flat, hard catch to James Dalrymple on the cover point boundary, yet his departure had little effect on Sri Lanka's run rate.
The challenge of posting winning totals is easier when your side has a player of Jayawardene's class and yesterday's century was even classier than the unbeaten 126 he struck at the weekend. He had two pieces of fortune -Bell dropped him on seven, and Dalrymple on 27 - but the rest of his innings was exquisite.
Jayawardene scored off 59 of the 83 balls he faced yet did not slog. He pushed good balls into gaps and hitbad balls for four. England's bowlers may be in need of a guru, but their batsmen would be well advised to watch a video of Jayawardene's innings if they want to learn how to bat. It was masterful.
* The England A side that takes on Pakistan on 6 July in Canterbury will contain six players with Test experience. Robert Key will captain the side, while Matthew Hoggard and Alastair Cook - likely to play in the first Test which starts a week later at Lord's - also feature.
England A: R Key (Kent, captain), A Cook (Essex), O Shah (Middlesex), I Bell (Warwickshire), R Bopara (Essex), J Dalrymple (Middlesex), A Loudon (Warwickshire), C Read (Nottinghamshire), T Bresnan (Yorkshire), S Broad (Leicestershire), M Hoggard (Yorkshire)
Old Trafford scoreboard
Sri Lanka won toss
W U Tharanga c Solanki b Dalrymple 60 106 min, 80 balls, 5 fours
S T Jayasuriya c Dalrymple b Harmison 14 22 min, 20 balls, 3 fours
*D P M D Jayawardene c and b Dalrymple 100 139 min, 83 balls, 9 fours
ÝK C Sangakkara c Jones b Harmison 7 17 min, 15 balls
T M Dilshan b Plunkett 7 20 min, 11 balls, 1 four
R P Arnold c Jones b Bell 7 11 min, 7 balls
M F Maharoof not out 58 59 min, 50 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes
W P U C J Vaas c Jones b Plunkett 7 25 min, 15 balls
C M Bandara not out 28 28 min, 22 balls, 3 fours, 1 six
Extras (lb6 w21 nb3 30
Total (for 7, 217 min, 50 overs) 318
Fall: 1-23 (Jayasuriya) 2-160 (Tharanga) 3-173 (Sangakkara) 4-196 (Dilshan) 5-214 (Arnold) 6-220 (Jayawardene) 7-250 (Vaas).
Did not bat: L S Malinga, C R D Fernando.
Bowling: Harmison 10-0-51-2 (w9) (5-0-21-1, 1-0-12-0, 2-0-3-1, 2-0-15-0); Kabir Ali 10-0-77-0 (nb2 w2) (4-0-23-0, 4-0-19-0, 2-0-35-0); Plunkett 9-0-60-2 (w2) (4-0-29-0, 2-0-14-1, 3-0-17-1); Bresnan 8-0-58-0 (nb1 w1) (2-0-21-0, 3-0-17-0, 2-0-9-0, 1-0-11-0); Dalrymple 10-0-44-2 (w2) (5-0-26-1, 5-0-18-1); Solanki 1-0-9-0 (w5), Bell 2-0-13-1 (one spell each).
Progress: Power Play 1 (overs 1-10): 60-1. PP2 (overs 11-15): 102-1. PP3 (overs 26-30): from 161-2 to 180-3. 50: 44 min, 55 balls. 100: 69 min, 89 balls. 150: 101 min, 139 balls. Rain stopped play 1.00-1.18pm. 186-3 (Jayawardene 83, Dilshan 1) 30.3 overs. 200: 148 min, 200 balls. 250: 187 min, 263 balls. 300: 213 min, 298 balls.
M E Trescothick c Bandara b Malinga 44 52 min, 40 balls, 7 fours, 1 six
A N Cook b Fernando 39 57 min, 38 balls, 8 fours
I R Bell st Sangakkara b Bandara (TV replay) 30 66 min, 48 balls, 1 four
A J Strauss c Sangakkara b Dilshan 45 58 min, 44 balls, 5 fours
V S Solanki st Sangakkara b Bandara 10 21 min, 18 balls
J W M Dalrymple b Fernando 33 74 min, 49 balls, 1 four
ÝG O Jones c Maharoof b Dilshan 23 17 min, 20 balls, 1 four, 1 six
T T Bresnan run out (sub C K Kapugedera-Sangakkara) 20 18 min, 13 balls, 2 fours
L E Plunkett c Jayawardene b Malinga 29 26 min, 18 balls, 1 four, 2 sixes
Kabir Ali run out (Fernando) 0 1 min, 1 ball
S J Harmison not out 2 6 min, 3 balls
Extras (b1 lb3 w5 nb1) 10
Total (203 min, 48.4 overs) 285
Fall: 1-77 (Trescothick) 2-85 (Cook) 3-161 (Strauss) 4-161 (Bell) 5-178 (Solanki) 6-212 (Jones) 7-241 (Bresnan) 8-273 (Dalrymple) 9-273 (Kabir Ali) 10-285 (Plunkett).
Bowling: Vaas 8-0-45-0 (4-0-29-0, 4-0-16-0); Malinga 9.4-0-63-2 (w4) (6-0-31-1, 2-0-14-0, 1.4-0-18-1); Fernando 7-0-47-2 (5-0-35-1, 2-0-12-1); Maharoof 1-0-11-0 (nb1) (one spell); Bandara 10-1-43-2 (w1) (8-1-28-2, 2-0-15-0); Dilshan 10-0-46-2 (one spell); Jayasuriya 3-0-26-0 (2-0-19-0, 1-0-7-0).
Progress: Power Play 1 (overs 1-10): 59-0. PP2 (overs 11-15): 90-2. PP3 (overs 16-20): 122-2. 50: 35 min, 50 balls. 100: 76 min, 99 balls. 150: 109 min, 155 balls. 200: 153 min, 230 balls. 250: 182 min, 267 balls.
Sri Lanka win by 33 runs
Man of the match: D P M D Jayawardene.
Umpires: B R Doctrove and N J Llong.Reuse content