England's successful winter tarnished by one-day beating
COLOMBO, March 28 (AFP) - England were looking at a near-perfect winter after success against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Test series. But
the one-day version of the game proved their downfall.
England's players and their estimated 10,000 fans were set to leave Sri Lanka Wednesday after a humiliating 3-0 defeat in the one-day
England skipper Nasser Hussain was not present to watch his side's record 10-wicket loss Tuesday as a resurgent Sri Lanka wrapped up the
third and final match with 15 overs to spare.
However, the tourists could still look back on the winter tour as one with a great degree of success.
After summer victories against the West Indies and Zimbabwe, they had won a tricky Test series against Pakistan, following it up with a 2-1 win
against Sri Lanka despite acrimony between players and controversial umpiring.
But without Hussain's leadership and batting experience at number three after he returned to England for treatment on a groin injury following
the Tests, England never looked like the same side.
Graham Thorpe, taking over from Hussain for the first time in the one-day series, could do virtually nothing as the home side came back strongly
from their Test loss to register three straight wins.
England's 10-wicket defeat in the third one-dayer was the worst humiliation they have suffered in their 325 one-day internationals.
"Although we have seen an upturn in our fortunes in Test match cricket, it is crystal clear where we stand in one-day cricket at the moment,"
said Thorpe after Sri Lanka had completed the clean sweep.
"Sri Lanka were more skilfull than us in the one-day game. It is really in the batting that we failed and that is something that we will have to look
"On the positive side we have 18 months till the World Cup and you can quickly improve in one-day cricket," said Thorpe.
England's batsmen, who smothered the off-spin of Muttiah Muralitharan comfortably in the Test series, found him a different bowler to tackle in
the one-day matches when quick runs were needed.
Muralitharan finished the one-day series with seven wickets at a cost of 9.85 runs per wicket, as England racked up totals of only 143, 160 and
It contrasted with the Test series where Muralitharan conceded 421 runs for 14 wickets, an average of 30.07.
However the Test series was something Sri Lanka feel they should never have lost at all.
"We had the ability and skill and if we had done a little bit more in the Test matches we could have won them," said Sri Lanka's Australian coach
"England played a slow a methodical grinding game with the bat and had a fair share of luck with it. We were frustrated that we weren't getting
the wickets which we normally do.
"Further, when we went to bat we didn't exercise on some occasions, the patience. A few extra runs despite all the bad umpiring would have
been enough to turn the scales," said Whatmore.
The umpiring in the Test series was considered among the worst in recent times, and it affected both teams.
Match referee Hanumant Singh of India had his hands full in trying to control frayed tempers among players on the field.
He imposed fines and gave suspended match sentences to Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya and key bowler Muralitharan for showing dissent
against umpiring decisions during the Test and one-day series.