Time for change as England capsize despite Trott's ton

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Sri Lanka 318 & 214 England 193 & 264 (Sri Lanka win by 75 runs): Herath the destroyer as woes against spin continue. Now Strauss's men will lose No 1 status unless they win in Colombo next week

Galle International Stadium

There was a short period yesterday, a little longer than the blink of an eye, when it seemed that England might create history. They were batting more sensibly than they had all winter, they had six wickets in hand, Jonathan Trott had reached a century of virtuous self-denial, they needed barely a hundred more runs to win the first Test.

Then they capsized. Within 14 overs and for the addition of only 31 runs it was all done. Sri Lanka were the victors by 75 runs on the fourth day and England had lost their fourth Test match in succession, none of which they have managed to take to a fifth day.

Something, it is possible to deduce, is wrong. The story was much as it has been all winter. England were defeated by spin. All 10 of their second-innings wickets fell to slow bowling. They were vanquished this time by the pairing of Rangana Herath, who took 6 for 97 giving him match figures of 12 for 171, and Suraj Randiv, who snaffled the other four, including the last two in successive balls.

They are respectable practitioners both, no more, with Herath perhaps a little more respectable than Randiv. But England played them as if they were a combination so devilish that batsmen are afraid to go to sleep at night for fear of waking in a cold sweat at the prospect of facing them: "Not Rangana and Suraj, give me waterboarding, give me anything but them."

It cannot and it should not go on like this. Of course, continuity is a significant factor in honing a winning team but the idea that it is acceptable to say that a losing team are still the best team has a distinct lack of currency. If England fail to win next week and thus lose the series they will lose their No 1 status. The men who took them there have taken them away from there much more quickly.

Some of the manners of departure were unfortunate but in almost every case they could be traced back to batsman error. Such has been the way of it since England landed in the United Arab Emirates as the newly installed No 1-ranked team in the world. There they fell foul of Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman; they were confident it could not happen again.

For a while, before and after lunch yesterday, Trott and Matt Prior gave England cause for optimism. It was not flawless because Trott was dropped on 62 when Herath failed to hold on to a return catch. But they were chugging along pleasantly, batting naturally, batting at the pace and in a style that might have been devised for securing a draw, but knowing that if they stayed in they would score enough to win.

It was as though they had made a pre-ordained plan to get 'em in singles. At last, here was the composure that international batting requires. It had not been demonstrated earlier in the day by Kevin Pietersen, who advanced down the pitch in the third over and hacked to short midwicket, or by Ian Bell, who was probably unlucky to be given out lbw but played a careless, flimsy paddle shot which invited the appeal.

But England had seemingly overcome their needless departures. When Trott swept Herath firmly behind square to bring up his seventh Test hundred, from 240 balls, Sri Lanka might have been running out of ideas. That England had never previously lost when Trott made a hundred merely enhanced the belief that a target England had never previously made to win a Test match could be attained.

Four balls later everything changed. Prior swept at Herath and the ball went from the toe of the bat to short leg, where it struck Lahiru Thirimanne in the tummy. It was a soft landing, which helped the fielder to grasp instinctively for the ball and hold on.

Samit Patel came and went, blinking nervously all the while, and drove to cover. But if Trott could stay and England could assemble one more partnership anything was still possible. Sri Lanka, after all, have become unaccustomed to winning Test matches. He could not, they could not.

All day, Mahela Jayawardene had set cunning fields and Trott fell into his trap. There were four men prowling on the leg side as Randiv came round the wicket. Trott fended off his hip and was caught round the corner. He had 10 fours and 56 singles, the latter more finely crafted than the former.

That was that. Graeme Swann swept brutally across the line and never had a prayer of his review of the lbw decision being upheld. Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar obligingly edged off-spinners to slip and gully respectively. No doubt the bowlers have had enough by now. The poor bloody infantry have been thoroughly let down by the officer johnnies.

It would have been pertinent to ask the selector on tour what he thought should happen now, either to defend the present policy on the grounds that it really would come out all right in the end (however long it took) or to discuss the possibility of replacements sometime after this tour. But that was not possible.

It remains official policy for England to have a selector in attendance for most of the time home and away. It was one of the fundamental principles of the detailed Schofield Review published after England were whitewashed in Australia five years ago.

But success before this winter has perhaps eroded the need for it. The system might have been allowed to become sloppy. The chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Giles Clarke, is here but there is no selector, except for Andy Flower, the coach.

Perhaps the others are at home in England, limbering up for the Championship season, which starts on 5 April. They will need to be there and they will need to take copious notes of all and any potential international candidates, and they ought not to come away empty-handed.

Four to follow: Batting contenders

James Taylor

The diminutive batsman played the best innings I saw (by a non-England player) last summer, when he took 70-odd off Sri Lanka's second string playing for England Lions, the team he captains. He has shown his ambition by switching from Leicestershire to Nottinghamshire in the First Division of the County Championship and is probably earmarked by the selectors as the next cab off the rank.

Samit Patel

OK, he played in the Galle Test but he was given an odd role, batting at No 7 and sending down a few overs of spin as the fifth bowler. But he is a genuine batsman (who averages 40 in first-class cricket) and could get a proper go higher up the order.

Jonny Bairstow

The fiery Yorkshire redhead burst on to the England scene in limited-overs cricket. Since then he's found life a little tricky, but he probably has the talent – and the temperament – to succeed at the highest level.

Joe Root

Another Yorkie. A young man who could well replace Andrew Strauss, although preferably not now. Sound judges such as Michael Vaughan have earmarked him for the top.

Stephen Brenkley

Timeline: How fourth day unfolded

5.44am (UK time): England 118-3 Kevin Pietersen 30

England receive an immediate setback as Pietersen plays a poor shot across the line and weakly sends the ball spinning into Jayawardene's hands at midwicket.

6.51am: England 152-4 Ian Bell 13

Bell is the latest victim of the Sri Lankan spin assault. Bell is livid – feeling he inside edged on to his pad – but a review cannot save him and the tourists are struggling.

9.19am: England 233-4 Jonathan Trott reaches 100

England are daring to hope as Matt Prior and Jonathan Trott show grit and class to push the score along. Trott sends the ball sailing to the boundary to bring up his century.

9.21am: England 233-5 Matt Prior 41

Just as hopes are raised, Prior gets carried away. Another sweep shot and a remarkable catch by Thirimanne at short leg sends the England keeper back to the pavilion.

9.50 and 9.58am: England 252-6, 256-7 Samit Patel 9, Trott 112

Patel and Trott fall in quick succession to spin twins Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv, signalling the end of England's hopes.

10.11am: England 259-8 Graeme Swann 1

It is now just a matter of time. Attempting an ugly swing across the line, Swann is palpably leg before wicket and has to go despite a pointless review.

10.34 and 10.37am: England 264-9, 264 all out Anderson 5, Panesar 0

A valiant last-day effort, but the final two wickets fall quickly to give Sri Lanka victory – Randiv taking both to end with 4 for 74.

Peter Blackburn

Facts in figures

210-9 England's previous top fourth innings score in Galle - in December 2003.

12.50 Kevin Pietersen's Test average across the Pakistan and Sri Lanka tours.

1 Number of tons by England in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

50 Years since a left-arm spinner prev-iously took 10 wickets v England.

52 Ian Bell's first-dig 52 is his only half-century in his last eight innings.

9 Sri Lanka's victory was their first in nine home Tests since Mutt-iah Muralitharan's 2010 retirement.

Galle scoreboard

First Test, Galle International Stadium (fourth day of five): Sri Lanka beat England by 75 runs; Sri Lanka won toss

Sri Lanka: First Innings 318 (D P M D Jayawardene 180, Anderson 5-72)

England: First Innings 193 (Bell 52, Herath 6-74)

Sri Lanka: Second Innings 214 (H A P W Jayawardene 61no, Swann 6-82)

England: Second Innings Overnight 111-2

I J L Trott c Dilshan b Randiv 112, 266 balls 10 fours

K P Pietersen c D P M D Jayawardene b Randiv 30, 68 balls 4 fours

I R Bell lbw b Herath 13, 34 balls 1 four

†M J Prior c Thirimanne b Herath 41, 88 balls 3 fours

S R Patel c Dilshan b Herath 9, 25 balls

S C J Broad not out 5, 12 balls

G P Swann lbw b Herath 1, 9 balls

J M Anderson c H A P W Jayawardene b Randiv 5, 6 balls 1 four

M S Panesar c Dilshan b Randiv 0, 1 ball

Extras (lb6 w1) 7

Total (99 overs) 264

Fall 1-31, 2-48, 3-118, 4-152, 5-233, 6-252, 7-256, 8-259, 9-264.

Bowling U W M B C A Welegedara 13-2-40-0 (3-1-13-0; 2-1-3-0; 6-0-14-0; 2-0-10-0), R A S Lakmal 10-5-22-0 (3-1-9-0; 4-3-1-0; 3-1-12-0), H M R K B Herath 38-9-97-6 (14-3-51-2; 1-0-1-0; 16-5-28-1; 7-1-17-3), TM Dilshan 12-1-25-0 (8-1-13-0; 1-0-1-0; 3-0-11-0), S Randiv 26-2-74-4 (w1) (5-1-10-0; 9-1-35-1; 4-0-8-0; 2-0-4-0; 6-0-17-3).

Progress Day Four England: 150 in 57.4 overs, Lunch: 177-4 in 70 overs (Trott 76, Prior 15), 200 in 78.5 overs, 250 in 92. overs, Tea: 259-8 in 97.5 overs (Broad 5). Trott: 50 112 balls (7 fours), 100 240 balls (10 fours).

Umpires Asad Rauf (Pakistan) & R J Tucker (Australia).

Third umpire B N J Oxenford (Australia).

Match referee J Srinath (India).

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
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

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz