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Sri Lanka v England, 3rd Test, Galle, 5th day
David Lloyd: England are not fit enough
December 22, 2007
England escaped but their lack of fitness and class was clearly evident in the series
 
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Kevin Pietersen hasn't scored a fifty for the first time in his career in a [Test] series; he's found it difficult in the conditions © Getty Images

Andrew Miller: The Test match at Galle has ended as a draw, Sri Lanka take the series 1-0, and David Lloyd they fully deserved their [series] victory today?

David Lloyd: Absolutely, it was an empty day today and the weather won in the end. I think everybody thought that it would be the natural outcome, but Sri Lanka bossed the series. England had a glimmer on the first day at Kandy when Matthew Hoggard bowled beautifully, but since then it has been Sri Lanka all the way. I think they have been toughened up in Australia; they were found wanting there. They came back here, and once again in their own backyard they are a formidable team.

AM: They [Sri Lanka] are now up to No. 3 in the world but on this evidence they are possibly worthy of being No. 2 - they have got the variety in their [bowling] attack and they have got the batsmen who can bat a long long time, haven't they?

DL: Look no further than the attack, and that is the challenge that England is constantly talking about now - it's a varied attack and it's a balanced attack. We saw that when Shane Warne was doing all his work for Australia. He [Warne] can occupy one end, just as Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] does for Sri Lanka, and your seamers after the opening salvo can rotate [from ] the other end. England have not been able to do that, but they [Sri Lanka] have got a good balance to the team.

I think if you just analyse, they have a batting unit that is capable of scoring big scores - Mahela Jayawardene, as captain, with a double-hundred and [Kumar] Sangakkara with a 192 [during the series], they get in and they do not get out.

They have also given England a fielding lesson, not only in hitting the stumps and taking remarkable catches, but just basic things - like throwing back to the wicketkeeper. England have been absolutely woeful [in the field]; perhaps [at the level of] village cricket if you like and that still might be a disservice to village cricket. So England's fielding has been very very substandard and as a bowling unit, a four-man attack, they have not been able to get the balance that they would like. In a interview Peter Moores has said that they are missing the big allrounder - and that is obviously Andrew Flintoff - to balance the whole attack. They are not going to get Andrew Flintoff for quite some time yet. They found it very difficult to take 20 wickets and they found it very difficult to find a combination of two bowlers who could actually bowl in tandem and quieten the game.

AM: England came out here with high hopes, they had of course won the one-day series in September, but do you think that those were unrealistic hopes?

DL: I have been surprised to hear, of course in interviews, that they [England] had high hopes of doing the double [of winning the ODI and Test series], but it is always very very difficult to beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. They are an excellent team, especially in extreme conditions that they are used to.

I have got a theory, for which I might get shouted down and it's a theory for debate. I don't think England are fit enough, and I am talking about physical fitness. I base that, and I have been really banging on it for a little while, and it's no disservice to anybody involved in the game but it's the operation of the central contracts that I would be worried about. I have been privy to Australian fielding sessions, I have been privy to Australian fitness sessions and I am telling you that they are fitter and they are the fittest team. Just look at way the England players get to 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s [while batting] in the extreme conditions and get out. They are better players than that and I am not sure that they are fit enough. The bowlers - the pace bowlers - dropped 10mph in the last session [of the day's play]. I might be totally wrong, I'll debate it with anybody, but I think that we [England] can get fitter.

AM: Funny you should mention that, because when England came out here four years ago they had just been to Bangladesh for their maiden tour out there and that was really used as a massive fitness camp, isn't it? They went on, after that series, to garner six in a row, do you feel that's the sort of thing that they are missing this time around?

DL: I do indeed, and that trip to Bangladesh - you can say that it is a pipe-opener or practice but you are in extreme conditions and I think that Europeans or UK people find it difficult to operate in the conditions that we have: 97% of humidity and 40°C, it is tough, it is difficult. You have to be fit.

I also asked Michael Vaughan, who was brutally honest at the presentation [ceremony], if the volume of cricket in 2007 has been the factor. It was wide open and he could have come back on that, but he said, "Absolutely not. I am very happy with the amount of cricket we play. We have been beaten graciously and we have been beaten by a far better team who have been batting, bowling and fielding far better than what we have."

AM: England did at least get their first centurion today, in Alastair Cook. He has now got seven hundreds and he is not yet 23, quite some player coming through?

DL: He is, and he is a good player to watch. He is an accumulator and he sells his wicket dearly and I think his next challenge is to get over, what Graham Gooch would call baby hundreds. He [Cook] got 118 today and his next port of call should be 200; Alastair Cook raising his bat for a double-century. Same applies to Ian Bell. Same applies to a good-looking Michael Vaughan, looking great but gets out. Kevin Pietersen hasn't scored a fifty for the first time in his career in a [Test] series; he's found it difficult in the conditions. The one thing that I will say, I watched the preparation everyday, all the practice - it's not for lack of effort but lack of class I would say. They need to work on improving the skills, and Peter Moores has just said this - the skills that are necessary in the subcontinent. Watch how Chaminda Vaas bowls the variations, we [England] were not able to do that. Watch Jayawardene and Sangakkara, the way they occupy the crease; even Michael Vandort, in his century, occupied the crease and ground them [England] into the ground. We [England] can learn a lot.

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