Sri Lanka undone by inconsistency - Ford
Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford said his side had positives to take from a 3-0 drubbing in Australia, but had ultimately been undone by inconsistency, after Australia completed the whitewash with a five-wicket win in Sydney. Previously in the series, Sri Lanka had been close to achieving a draw in Hobart, where they were bowled out with only 10.4 overs remaining until stumps on day five, but had also sunk to their third-heaviest defeat in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
The visitors could not dominate Australia throughout the series, and also conceded substantial first-innings deficits in each match. The batsmen could only muster one score in excess of 300, and only once batted out a session without losing a wicket.
Sri Lanka were also sloppy in the field, particularly in Melbourne where five chances went down in Australia's innings, and did not sustain pressure on Australia with the ball. Their poor use of the DRS also contributed to their failure.
"We've got to look at ourselves and accept there were areas where we were short and consistency is an important thing," Ford said. "There were periods when we were every bit as good as the Australians, but we weren't able to sustain that. We had the odd session every now and then when we set ourselves back quite badly."
Ford said Sri Lanka were encouraged by their performance in Sydney, particularly as their batting in the last Test was driven largely by contributions from the side's young batsmen. Twenty three-year-old Lahiru Thirimanne's 91 was the highest score in the first innings, while Dimuth Karunaratne, 24, top-scored in the second innings with 85. Dinesh Chandimal, 23, then helped his side recover from a middle-order collapse, as he batted with the tail to take Sri Lanka's lead to 140. He made 62 not out, having forged a 41-run partnership with Nuwan Pradeep for the last wicket.
"A couple of the young guys who have been given opportunities have shown that they can play at this level. What I was happy with on the final day was the pride and the passion and the way they went out and fought. A lot of people didn't feel the Test would continue for as long as it did. A chap like Nuwan Pradeep going out and handling some nasty pace he wasn't equipped to handle - he really showed some character, along with young Chandimal. The boys certainly never gave up in the field until the last run was scored.
"I think what's been positive is that the young batsmen have handled their time out of the side so well. They've kept working on their game and kept talking about how they will be absolutely ready when they do get their chance. Attitude is just so important in a touring group. They've showed the perfect attitude and when the chance has come their way, they've really grabbed it."
Ford also defended Thilan Samaraweera's shot selection, after the batsman had perished in the second dig to a top-edged swipe across the line to Nathan Lyon, off the third ball of his innings. Samaraweera had struggled for form throughout the series, and made 79 in six innings.
"That's the nature of the game. We see highly experienced players make decisions that don't work on the particular day. Looking at the bigger picture, what was disappointing for me, and I said it after the press conference, is that we could have perhaps squeezed out a few more runs in that first innings. And we could have squeezed out a few more in the second innings as well."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here