England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 4th day June 23, 2014

New England, same mistakes

With Alastair Cook isolated and the deficiencies in his captaincy laid bare, the suggestion that English cricket is at a low point continues to gain credence
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Play 06:06
#politeenquiries: Will Cook resign or be sacked?

Might this count as a low ebb?

After the Ashes defeat in Australia, the ECB chairman, Giles Clarke, said it was "utter nonsense" to claim that England were at "some sort of massive low ebb".

Since then, though, little has gone right for England. They were embarrassed in the World T20 by Holland, they lost the ODI series (and the T20 match) against Sri Lanka and their new managing director, Paul Downton, has sometimes looked so out of his depth that it is hard to resist the temptation to throw him a pair of armbands.

And, as their bowlers were thrashed around Leeds by Sri Lanka's eighth-wicket pair, as their captain's grim run of form continued, as they allowed a game they had every chance to dominate slip away in front of a 'crowd' so small it should probably be called a 'sparse' and as their batsmen displayed the resilience of a papadam - Liam Plunkett's dismissal might be remembered as the worst shot by a nightwatchman in the history of Test cricket - it was hard to avoid any other conclusion than England had slipped not just to a low ebb, but to basement flat below one.

England have already gone seven Tests without a victory. But even if they do produce a miracle and prevail on the final day (and they might as well pray that a plague of unicorns prevents play), even if they pull off the largest successful fourth-innings run chase in their history, it should not obscure the deficiencies that have hurt them. And it should not obscure the deficiencies in the leadership of Alastair Cook.

It is not just the poor batting form or the uninspiring tactics that provoke such concerns. Yes, we know that he has now gone 24 innings without a Test century and that, since July 2013, he averages in the mid-20s. And we know that, as a tactician, he is more mouse than Strauss; more phoney than Dhoni. The decision to set spread fields in the opening overs of the day simply allowed Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews to settle in.

But we also know his long-term batting record is excellent and, given time, he should come again. And we know that, when he is batting well, he has the ability to unite his team and lead them to fine victories such as a series wins in India and an Ashes win at home. There are different ways to lead and Cook is not as hopeless as some would suggest.

The real concern is his inability to raise his team when required. Frustrated by his ineloquence, he appears unable to find the stirring phrases to rouse and renew in times of trouble. He is the type of captain who leads by example. And his current example is mediocrity.

More than that, though, he was the captain backed by the ECB when it was decided to drop Kevin Pietersen. He was the captain either unwilling or unable to accommodate the highest run-scorer in England's international history and, as a result, he has weakened his side and shouldered an unnecessary burden.

Any suggestion that he was unaffected by the relentless negativity towards him from high-profile critics such as Shane Warne and Piers Morgan was dashed when Cook snapped back the day before this match. It has clearly been on his mind.

But if Cook must take his share of responsibility for England's performance, a few of his senior players also need to reflect on the support they have offered him. Matt Prior has looked unrecognisable from the keeper who proved so reliable up until the end of 2013 and, in this match, has flapped like a seal and dropped like a stone.

For Sri Lanka to come in early summer and secure their first series win is a damning indictment of England's new era

James Anderson, impeccable for so long, bowled horribly short and wide in being out-performed by Dhammika Prasad. His first over with the second new ball did not demand a single stroke; his second was little better. Ian Bell was beaten through the gate, back when he should have been forward, while Stuart Broad was unable to summon any of the menace gained by his Sri Lanka counterparts. In an inexperienced side, these are the men who have to support Cook. On Monday, at least, they let Cook down. All those burned by the Ashes thrashing fell away under pressure.

What England cannot - must not - do is blame bad luck.

If you win the toss and decide to bowl first, you cannot complain if you end up batting fourth against a turning ball.

If you waste your two reviews on speculative lbw shouts - one where the ball was clearly going down the leg side - you cannot complain when an umpire misses a blatant outside edge off Shaminda Eranga before he has scored and there are no reviews remaining.

If you waste the new ball and squander more than half-a-dozen chances in the field, you cannot complain when Test batsmen punish you.

If you pass your opposition's score with only two wickets down but then lose 7 for 54, you cannot complain when the opposition fight their way back into the game.

And if you bowl your overs so slowly that you run out of time when the opposition are nine wickets down, you cannot complain when they hold on for a draw.

Sri Lanka have played well in this series, but England have been, to a large extent, the architects of their downfall.

There is, as ever, mitigation. This is an England side containing several inexperienced players; there were bound to be days like this as they learned their trade. Equally, in a two-match series, the effects of one poor day can be magnified. England have not been this bad for the other eight days. But overseas victories are hard to come by for any side and for Sri Lanka to come to the UK in early summer and secure their first series win, is not just a reward for fine cricket, but a damning indictment of England's new era.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | June 24, 2014, 19:56 GMT

    Bell, Prior, Anderson, Broad, should all be "helping" Cook. Is there anyone missing from that list? ie. The coach? Or has he disappeared from responsibility in the way that Flower did post Ashes? Moores seems not part of any low ebb although he would surely have claimed the new era if England had won. Actually England did nearly draw the game - so much for the premature sneers by Dobell and Kimber. As for Cook. He's captain. He should be leading the side by example or being a damn good captain. If he needs "helping" then he shouldn't be captain. Not sure why Balladeer thinks Bell is in the same mould as Cook re captaincy. Bell has always shown inventiveness and set attacking fields for Warwickshire. About as unlike as you can get. But would he be allowed to? Moores seems to be following the same pattern as Flower - advice by numbers. (Oh yes and no Plan B).

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 15:52 GMT

    In a similar position, Mike Denness dropped himself (Ashes 1974-5, fourth test) and came back with a huge hundred. Next year, Denness had a poor first couple of tests, was dropped forever and replaced as captain by Tony Greig. To continue playing Cook is to risk a similar fate. England would do well to let him rest during the series against India.

  • POSTED BY Balladeer on | June 24, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    It's easy to forget that Cook has scored a first-class "daddy hundred" (150+) this season. Granted, it was for Essex, against a second-division attack, but he made it and he was so very happy about it.

    He wasn't captain at the time. James Foster was.

    I doubt that Ian Bell would necessarily be a more attacking captain than Cooky: they'd probably be in more or less the same mould. But looking at the stats., I'd rather have an in-form Cook than an in-form Bell.

  • POSTED BY jb633 on | June 24, 2014, 11:41 GMT

    If we are to lose here, it may (most probably not though) make us learn something. We need to accept 2 years of being the whipping boys on the international circuit, with the players we have available this is inevitable. If we can start to mould a side that learns on the way and will become a decent outfit in 2016 onwars it will be worthwhile. We are at a crossraods IMO, we can ignore fact, the way we play the game is outdated and will not succeed any more. This notion that we can play without a spinner is ridiculous. We must find a spinner, we cannot ignore this issue, it is the single most important issue plauging English cricket. We must not stop thinking about it until it is sorted.

  • POSTED BY jb633 on | June 24, 2014, 11:34 GMT

    This series has been really an eye opener in terms of how little vision we have going forward. If we look at the series in context we have not really tried to achieve anything. We produce an absolute road at Lord's where batting was easy and we excused a 4 man pace attack because the pitch wouldn't spin (which in truth it didn't). Our attack bowled short and despite a push in the final session a draw was a fair result. What did we learn from that game? Nothing IMO. We learnt Cook is still conservative (batting to let Ballance score 100 rather than have 40 mins end of day 4) and we learnt that when the ball doesn't swing we have no attack. We don't have the pace to bowl short, nor the spin option to bowl a side out day 5. Again nothing new to any fan of the game. In this game Cook hid our batting away from a potentially tricky first session and we capitulated as soon as our SL bowlers found their rythm. Again we have known England only bat well against bad bowling for 5 years.

  • POSTED BY whoster on | June 24, 2014, 10:43 GMT

    Apart from Cook's terrible use of his bowling resources, the sight of him keeping the field back to allow Matthews an easy single to reach 100 sums up how poor his captaincy is. That was totally inexcusable, and shows how bereft he is of ideas.

    England showing faith in their players worked for a long time, but the selectors have to get ruthless now. The new boys have all shown encouraging signs, and it's the senior players who have to take responsibility for such a poor display.

    Stokes, Buttler, and a specialist spinner have to be considered for the series against India, and the time has come for the selectors to make clear that nobody in the team is safe from being dropped.

    If Cook doesn't resign after this match, then the selectors must sack him. He's far too valuable as a batsman, and it requires drastic action to help him score runs again.

    Even with so few candidates, there surely can't be any arguments in favour of Cook contnuing as skipper.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 10:31 GMT

    Besides South Africa, my homeland, there is only one country in the world who shoots itself in the foot on a regular basis and that country is sadly England. The debacle with Pietersen and Boycott once being dropped after a huge score( for batting too slowly) are just two examples.

  • POSTED BY neil99 on | June 24, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    Losing across all format at home to SL has to rank as the poorest performance in the last 20 years. At least the Aussies have a strong side, and it was on their patch. Cooks captaincy apart, its the selections and performance of senior players for me, who need to face the music - Bell, Anderson, Prior and Broad. We know about Cooks form, but what about Bell? Bell, for example, seems to avoid the flak (probably due to the home Ashes last year), but he's averaged over 40 just twice in the last 10 series (2 years) with many returns in 20s or lower. It's not that Bell is a poor batsman, but these returns aren't good enough for our supposed best batsman.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    I'm not sure England are at a "low ebb" yet. The tide may still be going out. To go from an almost invincible position (ahead with only 2 first innings wickets down) to the brink of defeat in 2 and a bit days is just awful (frankly, the sort of thing West Indies have done lately). Sri Lanka's 8th wicket pair scored more than England's last 13 wickets have done.

    Batting, bowling, fielding, captaincy: all awful. The first sign of a side lacking confidence is usually when the fielding goes. Too many "unsackables" in the England dressing room (Cook, Prior, Anderson, Broad) not pulling their weight.

    I think George is right to say Cook is not a "stirring speech" captain, he's one who leads by example. When he does that (eg in India) England do well. When he doesn't (the last year), they fall away. It's far from clear whether Cook has simply lost form or whether the cares of captaincy are getting to him. From his reaction to Warne and others, I'd say the latter.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | June 24, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    Well, it's a right shambles. Looks like a real lack of team morale, and that has to fall on the shoulders of the captain. I like Cook, but he's either going to have to have a massive turnaround of self-belief and leadership skills, or he's gone. England had this game in the bag, and let it slip. Obviously Graham Swann's absence made a huge difference. But why serve up soft tracks for the SLs? Very generous indeed of the English. Maybe they are hoping for the same when they travel to the sub-continent next. Good luck with that one.

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | June 24, 2014, 19:56 GMT

    Bell, Prior, Anderson, Broad, should all be "helping" Cook. Is there anyone missing from that list? ie. The coach? Or has he disappeared from responsibility in the way that Flower did post Ashes? Moores seems not part of any low ebb although he would surely have claimed the new era if England had won. Actually England did nearly draw the game - so much for the premature sneers by Dobell and Kimber. As for Cook. He's captain. He should be leading the side by example or being a damn good captain. If he needs "helping" then he shouldn't be captain. Not sure why Balladeer thinks Bell is in the same mould as Cook re captaincy. Bell has always shown inventiveness and set attacking fields for Warwickshire. About as unlike as you can get. But would he be allowed to? Moores seems to be following the same pattern as Flower - advice by numbers. (Oh yes and no Plan B).

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 15:52 GMT

    In a similar position, Mike Denness dropped himself (Ashes 1974-5, fourth test) and came back with a huge hundred. Next year, Denness had a poor first couple of tests, was dropped forever and replaced as captain by Tony Greig. To continue playing Cook is to risk a similar fate. England would do well to let him rest during the series against India.

  • POSTED BY Balladeer on | June 24, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    It's easy to forget that Cook has scored a first-class "daddy hundred" (150+) this season. Granted, it was for Essex, against a second-division attack, but he made it and he was so very happy about it.

    He wasn't captain at the time. James Foster was.

    I doubt that Ian Bell would necessarily be a more attacking captain than Cooky: they'd probably be in more or less the same mould. But looking at the stats., I'd rather have an in-form Cook than an in-form Bell.

  • POSTED BY jb633 on | June 24, 2014, 11:41 GMT

    If we are to lose here, it may (most probably not though) make us learn something. We need to accept 2 years of being the whipping boys on the international circuit, with the players we have available this is inevitable. If we can start to mould a side that learns on the way and will become a decent outfit in 2016 onwars it will be worthwhile. We are at a crossraods IMO, we can ignore fact, the way we play the game is outdated and will not succeed any more. This notion that we can play without a spinner is ridiculous. We must find a spinner, we cannot ignore this issue, it is the single most important issue plauging English cricket. We must not stop thinking about it until it is sorted.

  • POSTED BY jb633 on | June 24, 2014, 11:34 GMT

    This series has been really an eye opener in terms of how little vision we have going forward. If we look at the series in context we have not really tried to achieve anything. We produce an absolute road at Lord's where batting was easy and we excused a 4 man pace attack because the pitch wouldn't spin (which in truth it didn't). Our attack bowled short and despite a push in the final session a draw was a fair result. What did we learn from that game? Nothing IMO. We learnt Cook is still conservative (batting to let Ballance score 100 rather than have 40 mins end of day 4) and we learnt that when the ball doesn't swing we have no attack. We don't have the pace to bowl short, nor the spin option to bowl a side out day 5. Again nothing new to any fan of the game. In this game Cook hid our batting away from a potentially tricky first session and we capitulated as soon as our SL bowlers found their rythm. Again we have known England only bat well against bad bowling for 5 years.

  • POSTED BY whoster on | June 24, 2014, 10:43 GMT

    Apart from Cook's terrible use of his bowling resources, the sight of him keeping the field back to allow Matthews an easy single to reach 100 sums up how poor his captaincy is. That was totally inexcusable, and shows how bereft he is of ideas.

    England showing faith in their players worked for a long time, but the selectors have to get ruthless now. The new boys have all shown encouraging signs, and it's the senior players who have to take responsibility for such a poor display.

    Stokes, Buttler, and a specialist spinner have to be considered for the series against India, and the time has come for the selectors to make clear that nobody in the team is safe from being dropped.

    If Cook doesn't resign after this match, then the selectors must sack him. He's far too valuable as a batsman, and it requires drastic action to help him score runs again.

    Even with so few candidates, there surely can't be any arguments in favour of Cook contnuing as skipper.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 10:31 GMT

    Besides South Africa, my homeland, there is only one country in the world who shoots itself in the foot on a regular basis and that country is sadly England. The debacle with Pietersen and Boycott once being dropped after a huge score( for batting too slowly) are just two examples.

  • POSTED BY neil99 on | June 24, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    Losing across all format at home to SL has to rank as the poorest performance in the last 20 years. At least the Aussies have a strong side, and it was on their patch. Cooks captaincy apart, its the selections and performance of senior players for me, who need to face the music - Bell, Anderson, Prior and Broad. We know about Cooks form, but what about Bell? Bell, for example, seems to avoid the flak (probably due to the home Ashes last year), but he's averaged over 40 just twice in the last 10 series (2 years) with many returns in 20s or lower. It's not that Bell is a poor batsman, but these returns aren't good enough for our supposed best batsman.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    I'm not sure England are at a "low ebb" yet. The tide may still be going out. To go from an almost invincible position (ahead with only 2 first innings wickets down) to the brink of defeat in 2 and a bit days is just awful (frankly, the sort of thing West Indies have done lately). Sri Lanka's 8th wicket pair scored more than England's last 13 wickets have done.

    Batting, bowling, fielding, captaincy: all awful. The first sign of a side lacking confidence is usually when the fielding goes. Too many "unsackables" in the England dressing room (Cook, Prior, Anderson, Broad) not pulling their weight.

    I think George is right to say Cook is not a "stirring speech" captain, he's one who leads by example. When he does that (eg in India) England do well. When he doesn't (the last year), they fall away. It's far from clear whether Cook has simply lost form or whether the cares of captaincy are getting to him. From his reaction to Warne and others, I'd say the latter.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | June 24, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    Well, it's a right shambles. Looks like a real lack of team morale, and that has to fall on the shoulders of the captain. I like Cook, but he's either going to have to have a massive turnaround of self-belief and leadership skills, or he's gone. England had this game in the bag, and let it slip. Obviously Graham Swann's absence made a huge difference. But why serve up soft tracks for the SLs? Very generous indeed of the English. Maybe they are hoping for the same when they travel to the sub-continent next. Good luck with that one.

  • POSTED BY 2nd_Slip on | June 24, 2014, 9:14 GMT

    Cant help but feel sorry for Cook. As i have said before, he is a great batsman but is clearly out off his depth when it comes to test captaincy. With that said where is the "best swing bowler in the world"(Anderson) when you need him,where is Broad, Bell and Prior. The cricketing world is expecting too much from an English side in transition, they will find their feet again ,in two years time or so(just like the Aussies have done)

  • POSTED BY yorkshire-86 on | June 24, 2014, 9:13 GMT

    Onions and Taylor should have been playing a long time ago. KP needs to come back too - if this means the end of Cook and Prior so be it. But please no recalls for the old fogeys Compton and Carberry - we don't want players who will probably be retiring in a season or two!

  • POSTED BY SagirParkar on | June 24, 2014, 9:03 GMT

    continued ..

    These players do not conform to the coaching manual.. and yet produce excellent performances regularly, more so when their side needs them most. such is the nature and impact of a mercurial talent.

    No matter how technically pretty a batsman Bell is, i do not see him performing the way some of these guys do.. he will never be the leader of the batting attack, and he will never be the one to instigate a fightback. his batting feats in the summers of 2011 and 2013 might have been excellent, but let us not forget they also came in the face of some average bowling attacks (Indian specifically in 2011).

    It is about time we accept that the sooner we put an end to glorifying mediocrity and allowing natural talent to flourish, the better it will be for the national team in the long run..

    rant over !

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | June 24, 2014, 9:02 GMT

    @somya7 everything about your post is horrible. Just stop, please.

  • POSTED BY SagirParkar on | June 24, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    i have been a fan and admirer of Cook since the early stages of his career.. yes, he had a few niggles in technique then but he has worked hard on them and has a solid temperament.. However, i fear that his current plight is because of the administrators - primarily by keeping him as the captain, when time and again he has shown a particular lack of tactical acumen and leadership qualities. Paraphrasing your coach and ECB bosses is not a sign of leadership irrespective of how determined those words sound.

    I will not get into the whole KP saga, but i suppose that a lot of fans now see his importance to the team. ECB, and the English heirarchy, have done themselves, their team, and the nation a disservice by not nurturing and managing naturally talented people, no matter how eccentric they are. Look at some of the other teams in the sport and some of their best players are freakish - Sehwag, Malinga, AB de Villiers, Gilchirst, Lara, Gayle, Murali, etc..

    TBC...

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on | June 24, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    @Somya7, it's a good thing you are not a selector, your team is terrible!

  • POSTED BY Herath-UK on | June 24, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Be fair to England because it is not just England doing bad but unfortunately came across a Lankan side they did not expect to be strong. They thought as in the past the Asian teams can be bullied to submission by sticking them on alien bouncy wickets & leashing their fast bowlers on them. They might have succeeded had it been india ,but this is a Sri Lankan champion side brimming with confidence to their bad luck.

  • POSTED BY St.John on | June 24, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    I don't think the ECB would sack Cook. The horrible Ashes results and this current Test series with Sri Lanka that may be lost today, isn't sufficient fuel. The Indian tour will decide.. A failure there would definitely be the last straw. Moores is in the same boat. He came back not only as a failed coach but also as a man who many see responsible for the KP sacking, and subsequent divisions in the England camp. Cooks earlier Ashes and Indian triumph saw him survive the last Ashes fiasco, but while past results are Iconic and for the history books, England must live in the present and for the future.

  • POSTED BY 11_Warrior on | June 24, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    Wow, sack cricketers for non cricketing reasons and get good results in Cricket.

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | June 24, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    Too much blame falling on the Captain. Senior Players like Bell, Prior are also accountable for failures.

  • POSTED BY Kavum on | June 24, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    Its not just Chef. How about the coach and the support horde? England has more backroom staff than SL could dream of for years to come. What about the turncoat Farbrace? He was supposed to have been a wicketkeeper. What were his inputs into the selection of Prior as first choice stumper? Even if his keeping is at a "low ebb" despite his obvious batting ability, Prior would never take any coaching on keeping from a second-rater like Paul. So what did Farbrace do to earn his shilling? Give inside info on Thirimanne's frailties against bounce and Chandi's penchant for hooking in the air? This was obvious to everyone and I hope for his sake it is worth all the opprobrium coming his way. The upcoming Indian 3-1 victory should see Moores and Farby both sent home with captain Cook. All this is to say nothing of the misconception of spin's potential contribution and the preference of Such over Mushie. Take a bow ECB.

  • POSTED BY Somya7 on | June 24, 2014, 7:36 GMT

    Cook should be sacked. Robson should be out. Ballance should be out...he can not okay off spin. Lankans did hot ne off spinner. If they had one...his record would be more poor. Phil Hughes of England.

    Robson . He does hot show maturity...good bowlers will get him out easily. I fear he could be the next Mark Ramprakash or Greame Hick.

    Play with this team and I bet anyone out here - England will win . Selectors see my comment and u could be in for Jackpot -

    Playing XI -

    Cook , Compton , Root , KP , Bell , Stokes , Kieswetter (wk) , Broad, G.Batty ( he must be the no. 1 spinner in England now . Seen him bowling , Bowling some Jaffer of deliveries ) , Anderson (C) , Onion ( Unluckiest Player of This English Era , what more he can do to earn selection ) .

    Extras - Carberry , Finn , Panesar , James Taylor. Stand by Wk - Prior

    Follwing should Be on fringes of slectors and discussed in meetings to be like to like replacement for players

    Robson , Tredwell , Tremllet , Vince , foster

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | June 24, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    @ Andrew Hirst on (June 24, 2014, 6:37 GMT): I have to take issue with your opinion. Captains are hugely important and their form as players is part of that. Cook is still experiencing a marathon nightmare that began at the Gabba whilst Mathews took the attack to England through his own fearless and aggressive batting, and has created the momentum that will, in all likelihood, sweep he and his side to a famous victory today. Yes, players in form obviously make a side effective, formidable and likely winners, but a captain who has lost his own form for a protracted period, as Cook has, cannot but have a negative effect on the other ten. Then drop into the mix a tentative, defensive attitude in the field with a captain displaying a series of grimaces and gestures that could be used to illustrate a thesis on negative body language, and you have a side going nowhere, likely to be thrashed by that non-member of the ICC inner sanctum, Sri Lanka. Cook needs a rest.

  • POSTED BY Sol09 on | June 24, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    George Dobell is an excellent writer. He is fair and objective no matter which cricket team he is writing about. He is also educational. I always enjoy reading his articles and always learn from them.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 7:22 GMT

    England will look like the West Indies team of the 1970s-80s once the India series starts...don't worry England fans :) .... from an Indian

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | June 24, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    @ Edward John Dorrell Webb- You say DRS didn't work? Well yes it didn't work in this case as Eng had no reviews left . But on 50 other occasions in this series it did work and how ! Well that works out to 98% 'only'. As BCCI would have you believe and that it is a waste as it is not 100% ! :)

  • POSTED BY DJardine on | June 24, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    For you screaming for Ben Stokes, he will be in the team when he's recovered from his injury. As for KP he was the biggest divisive character England had since Wolly Hammond! He's the reason the best captain England had for the last 50 years retire early (talking of Strauss). He's why England lost heart so many times. The best option for England as captain at the moment is Bell, but I would have Morgen in the side and leading the team if I could.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    Actually it is pretty ironic when the same style of captaincy that Mr. Dobell is bashing now was hailed to be one of the best when Eng beat Ind in their own backyard in 2012. As they say, sometimes, everything that can possibly go wrong goes wrong and the captain gets the lion's share of the blame!

  • POSTED BY crimsonfukrr on | June 24, 2014, 6:53 GMT

    I totally agree with you about the DRS system. England can have no complaints at all with it. Yes, it is there to stop howlers, and it didn't in this case, but why? England wasted their 2 reviews on attempts that weren't even close, so in fact not to change a terrible decision. In my opinion, each team should only get 1 review, so they will definitely wait and use it ONLY for howlers, not just a close call, no more of these 'tactical' uses of DRS.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on | June 24, 2014, 6:49 GMT

    It's time for an intervention. Moores was no good the first time around, sack him now before wasting any more time. Cook, sack him. Prior, Broad, Anderson, Root, see you later. KP, Stokes, Onions, Compton and a spinner, for goodness sake pick a spinner, anyone, pick the best available spinner and give them time in the side. They have to take a note from Australia, the number 1 side and do only 2 simple things - 1. make brave decisions in management/selection and 2. always pick players in form. Why are are Cook, Prior, Anderson, Root etc being picked when so out of form?

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 6:37 GMT

    Captains are over rated. You need good, in form players. England have lacked that as the article clearly shows.

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | June 24, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    @ nair_ottappalam - Definitely KP is not coming back! More of a chance-even though slightly slim - of say an Ian bothom or even fred Flintof getting back for Eng! Just saying, there's next to no chance of KP back in int. cricket again. Most prob. A Cook will be happiest to be that way too, more than any1. -:)

  • POSTED BY notimeforcricket on | June 24, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    England used to plucj victory out of the jaws of defeat. now they pluck defeat from the jaws of victory. last year at home against Australia, when you looked at the batting and bowling averages, there was little difference between the teams. in fact the Australiians were even lightly ahead. england, however, one the key "moments". In these 2 games, again, England have performed well for most of the time but have got it wrong at key moments. All the points made above are correct. i think we should stop harping back to KP, however. He is not the player he was - probably still good enough to get a game but I am not convinced he would have out performed the batsmen who played. Cook is a big issue, however. He is not a good captain. should hand over to Bell or Anderson

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    Let us not take this too far. Apart from great uncertainities associated with cricket its bad luck and cud be also the curse of KP watching the game laughing for himself shouting '' Cook I told you so'' Bad luck in the sense that England were sent home from Brasil too early in Rugger they lost to Al Blacks and now facing the innevitable in cricket.

  • POSTED BY nair_ottappalam on | June 24, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    Drop Cook & Anderson, bring back KP & Ben Stokes. Let Ian Bell/KP take over captaincy. England are still a formidable side.

  • POSTED BY aby_97 on | June 24, 2014, 5:17 GMT

    England's problem with the bat has been disturbing but to collapse like this is just not acceptable for a team like this. I'm still trying to figure out about the omission of Ben Stokes from the squad who not only batted well but also bowled well in the Ashes Series.His form in he COunty Championship also has been pleasing. And he is a better bowling option than Stokes.And give that Sri lankan's are good players of spin, Moeen Ali's inclusion is not working in England's favour.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    The one thing I would take issue with is the assertion that England can't complain about the Eranga non-dismissal. I think that demonstrates the unfitness of both Bowden as an umpire and the DRS system.

    The DRS system is there to prevent howlers. It didn't prevent a howler, therefore it doesn't work. Yes, if England had used their reviews differently, it would have been given out, but a proper standard of umpiring is something players have a right to. It's not something that should be granted through successfully jumping through hoops.

    Give the third umpire the ability to aid his colleagues as he sees fit and give the professionals the freedom and responsibility to use the available technology as they see fit. There standard of decision making a team has should not depend in any way on tactics.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 5:15 GMT

    All said and done, I am pretty convinced, this was England's game to win... They just did not apply themselves... Angelo Mathews for all his grit and determination would have been a sitting duck had the English bowlers applied a bit more of themselves... Instead, Broad and Anderson were pretty clueless and Plunkett just kept bowling darts which could be either defended easily or could be left alone... for the first time, England are looking more jaded than an Indian team coming after an IPL... and we are just 2 test down with 5 more to go with 5 more ODIs and a T20 to follow... lets hope they hold up till then... !!

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 5:00 GMT

    Comments of some people like Amit Bhatnagar makes one wonder why series would be played when its result is already being projected. It was kinda same situation 3 years ago.. Only that time there were high hopes after India won the World Cup. One bad session and SL lost the series and it gave the momentum to England. Maybe if they had held together in that session, two results of series could have been different. But now these are 2 teams. It would be foolish to think that same mistakes would be repeated. SL didnt repeat same mistakes and nor will India. IF SL manage to win today( they should do that), it will put all the more pressure on Cook. Every failed inning of Cook and every run filled inning of KP will embarrass this ECB set up. Heads should roll, why not start from Flower, Downton and co.?

  • POSTED BY PACERONE on | June 24, 2014, 4:59 GMT

    The English team has players who are all the same like the management wants.No decenting voice.Imaging no bowler with enough guts to tell Cook that he does not want to bowl to a defensive field and set his own field.Captaincy can be over stated.Strauss was no different to Cook.Look at the difference between them and Clarke.Cook's deficiencies in his batting has been exploited.Good to leg and short ...long hops.

  • POSTED BY muzika_tchaikovskogo on | June 24, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    @Amit Bhatnagar: Hilarious mate, but sadly true. If Dhoni continues with his ultra defensive fields, England are assured of a 5-0 whitewash. Let's see whose achche din (good days) are coming up. As for this game, Sri Lanka deserve to win and make history

  • POSTED BY Sachin_The_Greatest on | June 24, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    @Amit Bhatnagar,

    ha ha, i was about to say the same thing. English fans need not worry, Team India is coming to solve all your problems.

    This series will be in so many ways battle of Equals.

    1. their is a big question mark on rolls of coaches of both the teams.

    2. with cooks poor form eng have opening worries?? to counter that we have Murali vijay & Dhawan who are awfully out of form & can't move there feet

    3. you think you have problem in spin department? well you are either going to face most overrated spinner in India R Ashwin , or darts from R. Jadeja (although, he is a utility cricketer & 2nd Spinner)

    4. And now to counter your unimaginative captain Cook we have most defensive captain (in Test , ODI he is damn Good) MSD. a) He thinks his bowling is weak, so what does he do? pick seven batsman rather then picking extra bowler to help b) Fast bowlers , rather being used like work horse are used as donkeys C) HE says, I will play my shots, being defensive is a job of BATSMAN

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 4:22 GMT

    England players scored well but in 1st inning, not in second inning with high pressure, only thing england cricket team want is a duo of seniors.. I prefer KP and Trot. Duo of seniors method is the sri lankan way of playing cricket and mastering it. first SL had Arjuna Aravinda, Jayasuriya And Atapattu, then Mahela and Sanga..

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 4:08 GMT

    How times change? It was only about an year ago when England was touring India that Alistair Cook was being touted as the man to break Sachin's records. About an year on and here he is fighting for his place in the side. Whatever happened to all those who were singing his praises? Why don't they come to his rescue now? Strange.

  • POSTED BY CherryWood_Champion on | June 24, 2014, 3:33 GMT

    If England lose this series to SL and a 5-Test series coming up against India, clearly this down and fatigued English team would be a fodder to India. This time around India will be coming in with no excess baggage of SRT, RD or VVS. Their young team will be coming up with all guns blazing trying to prove themselves. But due credit should be given to SL, inspite of losing their coach they have proved themselves to be a force to reckon. But just cannot imagine a Lankan team without Sanga and Jayawardane within the next couple of years.

  • POSTED BY VinothSam on | June 24, 2014, 3:20 GMT

    Come on! It's not about England's mistakes rather Sri Lanka's quality and the way they play it with the spirit. Every teams make mistakes but SL just overcome all difficulties and learn from the past and no other teams have that spaciality that SL has.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 24, 2014, 3:13 GMT

    Poms needn't worry. India is coming to solve all their problems. Cook will find form and probably score 800 runs against the most mighty and most canny attack in the world. Stuart Broad may get 2 more hat tricks. England will smash India 5-0, and KP issue will be forgotten. Chins up folks, and cheer up. Good days are coming (my co-indians will relate to that phrase..)

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    England, eat the humble pie and bring back Pieterson.. Make him the VC and I am sure given the responsibility he will do well.. If England wants to rebuild they should start looking from its Captain.. Same thought process cannot bring new ideas and success.. Well..

  • POSTED BY Realistic_cri_fan on | June 24, 2014, 3:04 GMT

    Looking forward to the changes in the squad for India series..

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 2:15 GMT

    All this ignores the brilliance of the Sri Lankans to seize the occasion and in deed make hay whilst the sun hardly shon . Their fast bowling attack described by the likes of Vaughn as second class county attack has proven to be their nemesis . What the superlative English fast bowlers failed to do the Sri Lankan bowlers did. So give some credit to a team that has out foxed and out played England.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 24, 2014, 2:11 GMT

    brindg KP back to make batting lineup strong..

  • POSTED BY Mervo on | June 24, 2014, 1:37 GMT

    Cook must stand down as captain and listen to his critics. They all can't be wrong. The lack of a full time spinner was a grave error of selectors' judgement and the lack of team spirit - playing for England not themselves - was notable.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 1:34 GMT

    New England? Is it. Same old crowd, same old strategies, same mind set. Plonket is trying to be Douglas Jardine. It is not effective. Bowling at the ribs will not get you results. Nasser tends to go on about common talk "chin music". LIne and length is what is required. SL boys have given you a masterclass how to handle the inclement weather, hostile conditions, hostile talk and still win the T20, ODI and now most likely first ever test win in England. Anderson looks injured. Michael Holding said "if there was another set of wickets on the leg side the ball would have missed the stumps. What did England and Anderson do "review". I call that sheer frustration. This is not the way to win matches. Back to the drawing board. New captain, new manager, new back up staff, new coach is what is in order.

  • POSTED BY gundapps on | June 24, 2014, 1:31 GMT

    Cook's only ray of hope is that the next series is against India with an inexperienced bowling line-up and with no spinner anywhere near the class of Herath.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 0:56 GMT

    Cook should have been sacked after Australia. He's a fine batsman and still is, but is a worthless captain and it's starting to show. Make Broad captain - he's the kind of guy who likes a scrap and has no problem with a bit of criticism. He's the perfect choice. Let Cook do what he does best, which is bat. A poor day but otherwise we've been on top, and over these two tests all the newcomers/returnees have done well. 127 for Robson, 104 not out for Ballance, 48 and some wickets for Ali, a double ton for Root, seven wickets in the first test for Jordan and now nine for Plunkett. Those are really great returns. Even Prior has batted well, even if his keeping is a bit poor - a sign he's not over the injury, perhaps? Bell has batted pretty well too. We've actually played good cricket in this series for the most part, but Cook just isn't a natural leader. England really need to replace him before too much more damage is done. Of course we all know the ECB won't hear of it.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 0:39 GMT

    Every team game involves a heavy doze of "confidence-levels" induced by the then-and-there results.

    So is foot-ball, as we saw over the last few days, with many big teams, Portugal being a classic example. So is cricket.

    England team, the current one, is heavily inflicted with that syndrome. When things go right, their confidence levels soars up and they play like lions. But, when things go wrong, the confidence level of the entire team have a free fall. Starting with the Captain's body language. Yesterday, one could clearly see that when the 4th innings target started approaching 300.

    Great teams lead by great captains play with the same intensity and calmness (intensity & calmness sound like an oxymoron; but it is a true phenomenon). And, Cook & Co is a bit doubtful on that. Good team; but miles to go before they can even attempt to become a great team.

  • POSTED BY Manush on | June 24, 2014, 0:34 GMT

    Cook has never been a captain must have been sacked long time back.He is a good dependable opener but he is failing for such a long time, must resign if he has any grace left !!! England should accept their shallowness and bring good talents instead of blaming dependable seniors and bring in non cricketing issues like dressing room politics.!!!

  • POSTED BY Culex on | June 24, 2014, 0:27 GMT

    After Lords I thought the English team was on the mend. Apparently I was being optimistic - Boycott was spot on in his last "Bowl at Boycs" interview.

    I'm no expert, but it looks like there's too much pressure on Cook. Drop him as captain and just let him bat for a while. England would be a lot better off with him scoring centuries under another captain than having his apparent lack of tactical ability let everybody down.

  • POSTED BY ruester on | June 24, 2014, 0:27 GMT

    That performance was terrible! Are Sri Lankan batsman so good that unlike other batsman they dont need to play themselves in after a nights sleep? Sweepers in the first overs, come on! How long will it be until Cook realises that he is leading the worst performing English cricket team in ages and that he......not KP or bad luck....or shane Warne are to blame for the England teams failure. I think in the history of the game it will show that the decision to sack KP was the most damaging decision in Englands cricket history. It has only helped the public to be disengaged from the captain, the team and the ECB as well as considerably weaken our national side. Cook, Downton, Clarke, Flower do you still consider that decision to be in the best interest of England? The fans wont forget what you did, despite you pompously telling us all to move on. How dare you!

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | June 24, 2014, 0:17 GMT

    Cook may still not agree, but the legend Warne was never wrong .He knows a defensive captain when he sees1 and bluntly put out his fact as a pundit.Even if Cook feels it is 'unfair'.

  • POSTED BY 2MikeGattings on | June 24, 2014, 0:12 GMT

    I am in 100% agreement about Downton. I don't know what he did to get the job, but since he has been in post he has done absolutely nothing that inspires any confidence in his management.

    If there is no plan B beyond Cook, Downton and Moores had better start preparing one because it is clear that right now he does not want and cannot handle the captaincy.

  • POSTED BY LALITHKURUWITA on | June 23, 2014, 23:59 GMT

    Root can become Anji and Broad can become Rangana and beat SL in the last over of the last day.

  • POSTED BY Chase_HQ on | June 23, 2014, 23:39 GMT

    Low ebb theory - nice ATCQ reference...

    All feels a bit 1990s ish. Lots of new faces, captain can't work out where his off stump is, erratic bowling from established bowlers, dropped catches. We've been here before and it won't be long before we're out of it again. Maybe 7 years or so....!

  • POSTED BY Dilmah82 on | June 23, 2014, 23:26 GMT

    It's not a New England, when you nhave the same negative, old captain! England desperately need Cook the opening batsmen, who was prolific scorer, not Cook the defensive captain.

  • POSTED BY Chaffers on | June 23, 2014, 23:13 GMT

    Lets not forget well played to Sri Lanka...

    Since the KP fiasco I've found myself mentally backing the cricket itself rather than the England team. Watching Sangakkara bat, Herath bowl and Matthews lead from the front has frankly been a joy. I cheered on every ball of the last few overs in the first test as I thought Sri Lanka deserved a draw, and am not too gutted by the impending defeat...

    There is certainly something lacking in the England side. Call it box office, flair or charisma. I suspected that once up against the wall they would be somewhat lacking, picking Jimmy and a right arm bowling machine set to 88mph didn't help. Neither did dropping Borthwick who decided to score a double century instead.

    I have nothing against the new lads, Moeen looks like quality ( as a batsman at least), Balance a real find and Robson steady enough. A few weeks earlier, when we usually play Sri Lanka, and we might have papered over the cracks and won.

    Cricket was the winner here.

  • POSTED BY JustIPL on | June 23, 2014, 23:00 GMT

    Unfortunately, they were against the modern day Kallis(Angelo Mathews), Sanga and Mahela and no team can afford to resist when these guys are going so well. SL fast bowlers area using their experience to beautiful effect. Poms will definitely hit their lowes ebb when they succumb to lesser teams at home. Against, SL they have an excuse that they are too hot to handle.

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 22:44 GMT

    Find it very hard to disagree with any points made here. Cook has been let down by his senior players and in these circumstances they have taken the easy option and hid behind the captain and will let him fall on his sword. Cook is not a natural leader but is there because of the runs he has scored. The inability to learn is so evident that clearly messages are not getting through t the bowlers. In England last year they let Ashton Agar off the hook but got away with it, In Australia Brad Haddin took the game away batting with the tail and now guys that average 12 and 5 are making supposed great like Anderson and lesser extent Broad look like village trundlers. After the Mankading incident their was supposed to be some spicy and nastiness in this series. Well today England had the bite of tub of custard. Just as well India are around the corner- another team who have been accused of lacking fight away from India so redemption could be a couple of wekes away.

  • POSTED BY PatrickJM on | June 23, 2014, 22:44 GMT

    Perspicacious analysis. Throw in the fact Cook has been held culpable for the extremely divisive issue of KP's departure/sacking, and he is in a pretty tight spot right now.

    The bottom line is Cook really is not captaincy material, even when he is in form - leading by example is all well and good, but it means you are solely dependent on the vagaries of cricketing fortune. As soon as your form goes you have nothing to fall back on. If you can't draw on tactical nous, or inspirational leadership then you are in a very precarious situation. As Cook is finding out right now.

  • POSTED BY Youcannotbowlshorttoadamgilchrist on | June 23, 2014, 22:37 GMT

    Some blame must go to the population of Yorkshire - 5.3 million people - who failed to attend in any significant numbers. We will never know if Sri Lanka would have been bowled out quickly had Anderson, Broad et al been running in to rousing encouragement. Tickets were £20 today - cheap enough to negate the incessant bleating about unaffordable prices. An extremely exciting day's play featuring three Yorkshire players was in prospect for a mere £20 - what more does the Yorkshire public demand before it opens its collective wallet?

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 22:36 GMT

    Cook is the David Moyes to Strauss's Alex Ferguson

  • POSTED BY himmat on | June 23, 2014, 22:29 GMT

    The problem with England is that they don't have any capable backup for their recently retired or sacked players !! Australia went through some slump after the retirement of various veterans after 05-06 Ashes but they had able replacements to fill the void !! England don't have any mainstay players who can score runs at crucial times......Ian Bell is amazing player but very inconsistent , Cook is clueless at the moment.....rest gets folded like a pack of cards..... England needs some quality spinner , Opening batsman , allrounder and middle order batsman......!!!

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 22:28 GMT

    So do you think Petiersen was right about Moores and wanting him kicked out the first time around??

  • POSTED BY pvwadekar on | June 23, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    To add to this : If you poached the opposition's coach and have no ideas how to get the team out, you cannot complain :))

  • POSTED BY gxb42 on | June 23, 2014, 22:19 GMT

    George - Gr8 article as always.

    I completely agree with your assessment of Cook. Now he may go into a purple patch of form in the India series and the last 7 months may be forgotten.

    The one comment that resonated with me was on Paul Downton; the few times he has been on TV/Radio he sounds clueless. He came into the job with City experience is what we were told, if so he must have been in one of those good old boy jobs where who you know is more important than what you know. Or maybe he is typical of the clueless City guys.

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 22:12 GMT

    The question is, what next for England? Until today, things looked mildly promising. But we couldn't keep it up!

    This looks and feels like the 1990s!

  • POSTED BY Madpashcrickers on | June 23, 2014, 22:10 GMT

    What do Broad and Anderson have to do to get dropped?

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | June 23, 2014, 22:05 GMT

    Dobell writes "There is, as ever, mitigation. This is an England side containing several inexperienced players."

    Interestingly, the inexperienced players are holding the game together, & do seem to be having the most success!

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 21:59 GMT

    'What England cannot - must not - do is blame bad luck.'

    But they will, because they have absolutely no self-knowledge. Just wait and see.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | June 23, 2014, 21:54 GMT

    A very fair analysis. Dobell clearly acknowledges previous successes, and contrasts them with contemporary deficiencies. He is neither unnecessarily harsh, & nor does he soft pedal a forthright analysis of a shambolic England performance. Eng would be better off with him giving the 'coach's lecture." as Moores' is clearly not working!

  • POSTED BY __PK on | June 23, 2014, 21:53 GMT

    You can't have a massive, low anything. But if you could, England would be having it now.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 23, 2014, 21:47 GMT

    "He is more mouse than Strauss; more phoney than Dhoni"! Cricinfo, I would love to see this in "Quote Unquote"!!

  • POSTED BY GHemrajani on | June 23, 2014, 21:44 GMT

    This England team will churn. Cook makes runs on pitches where the turn is slow and which require patience. Turn and movement are his weaknesses. Cook needs to make way for someone else. Bell is over-rated and will within a year be dropped. Less said about Downtown the better. Why have Prior in the team? Need a better bowler than Anderson- Plunkett and Broad cant do everything. Anderson like Prior and Cook is living on past glory. Missing the fearlessness of KP and the guile of Swann! Bring KP back as captain. He still has a couple of years left in him.

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 21:35 GMT

    Sri Lanka has smashed England's fake glorification of Cook and their coaching staff.

    England will go only down the drain if they don't get Swan & Peiterson back or invest in exciting blood like Butler, Bairstow & Stokes.

  • POSTED BY Youcannotbowlshorttoadamgilchrist on | June 23, 2014, 21:31 GMT

    Some blame must go to the population of Yorkshire - 5.3 million people - which failed to attend in any significant numbers. We will never know if Sri Lanka would have been bowled out quickly had Anderson, Broad et al been running in to rousing encouragement. Tickets were £20 today - cheap enough to negate the incessant bleating about unaffordable prices. An extremely exciting day's play featuring three Yorkshire players was in prospect for a mere £20 - what more does the Yorkshire public demand before it opens its collective wallet?

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | June 23, 2014, 21:27 GMT

    The real question will be can England regroup and build on some of the performances like that of robson. Beat India and all this unpleasantness will be forgotten...

  • POSTED BY neil99 on | June 23, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    An appalling performance - when we all thought it couldn't get much worse than the Ashes debacle, the malaise runs much deeper. The inexperienced have generally faired well, and even the recalled Plunkett chalked up 9 wickets. However, the common denominator here is Alastair Cook and the senior players who escaped the winter axe. Anderson's bowling was inexcusable - surely he can't be tired already at this point of the season? Bell failed again, a sight becoming all too common - his poor run almost rivals Cooks; Prior's dropped catch in the first innings epitomises England's lazy attitude and lack of concentration. Cook's captaincy has received much bad press and rightly so. His tactics and negative attitude are bewildering. Those heralding a new dawn with the coming of Peter Moores need to think again, as tomorrow looks like a clean sweep for the Sri Lankans across all formats against England this summer. There can be no more chances. Heads must roll. Cook is to go and serious thought

  • POSTED BY rizwan1981 on | June 23, 2014, 21:15 GMT

    Dump Moores and Andy Flower - Bring back KP

  • POSTED BY Twinkie on | June 23, 2014, 21:14 GMT

    Thing is though the inexperienced players have done pretty well so this can't be used as a mitigating factor.

  • POSTED BY mrpfister on | June 23, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    Bravo George! Extremely well put. I live in Leeds and had the opportunity to be there today for just £10 but I declined. I do not wish to lend my support to this pathetic bunch of drips.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | June 23, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    So true George - excellent article. There was a lot of talk/speculating about what the England dressing room was/must have been like back during the last Ashes in Australia. I do wonder what it must be like now after this performance. There's much work to be done...

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | June 23, 2014, 21:07 GMT

    The fact is, it hasn't been the new players who have let England down. The 3 centuries by England's batsmen have been by the new guys and Plunkett has been by far the most successful of the bowlers. Of the experienced players, Bell has had a couple of decent innings and a couple of failures; Prior has batted quite well but kept, in this game at least, poorly; and Anderson and especially Broad have been well below their best. As foor Cook, his batting has an obvious technical flaw (his trigger movement involves lifting his front foot in the air as the bowler delivers the ball and then putting it down again before trying to move into position for the stroke which, as he has discovered, is physically impossible) and his captaincy has lacked all the important ingredients, including motivating the other players.

    It might be time for Cook to step aside, sort out his batting problems and come back as a specialist batsman. England can't afford any more days like today.

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 21:04 GMT

    "...and as their batsmen displayed the resilience of a papadam..."

    England players are used to Indian style papadams. The Sri Lankan ones are typically a good deal thicker and sturdier. I'm not sure that is much comfort right now though.

  • POSTED BY glen1 on | June 23, 2014, 21:02 GMT

    Somewhere Dhoni must be grinning that his disastrous oversees record will be righted this time! England failed to win the first test, but this test belongs to Sri Lanka as they have completely humiliated England.

  • POSTED BY Derek_Haines on | June 23, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    I like Cook as a batsmen. He's a bloody fine one. But as a captain, he pales against the likes of Illingworth, Vaughan, Grieg, Strauss, Brearley et al. He reminds me of Kim Hughes, lost and on his own, and maybe he too is close to a teary farewell. A fine batsman, but it's clear he is not close to being a strong, aggressive, thinking and tactical leader. A shame for him, but a bigger shame for England, especially after the culling of Flower, Pietersen and Gooch in their leadership group. England are a ship without rudder, and with no one even at the helm. A crying shame.

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    spot on George...should be required reading for all the ECB gravy trainers and their assorted media luvvies...we're almost at The Oval 1999 again...will the 'crowd' boo Cook like they booed Nasser???

  • POSTED BY waldinho1 on | June 23, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    Thoroughly agreed George. And when your 5 "senior" players are all out of sorts - Bell's 1st inns cameo and Broad's hat trick aside in this game - then we can be supremely grateful for anything at all we have got from the others, and we've got a bit.

    I really hope Cook finds himself again very soon, it could well be that will need to happen without the spotlight that captaincy brings on him. Whatever happens, he needs support from all corners. Not just nonsense "confidence", "right man" sort of statements from the morons at the ECB, but substantial and meaningful stuff from those who matter, and most of all that means his senior teammates, and his possible future captain Bell.

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    Looks as if the reign of Downton, Moores & Cook is almost over. The first two the sooner the better & Cook should have resigned after the Ashes debacle last Winter where KP apparently was the cause of the whole failure. India must be licking their lips.

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  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    Looks as if the reign of Downton, Moores & Cook is almost over. The first two the sooner the better & Cook should have resigned after the Ashes debacle last Winter where KP apparently was the cause of the whole failure. India must be licking their lips.

  • POSTED BY waldinho1 on | June 23, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    Thoroughly agreed George. And when your 5 "senior" players are all out of sorts - Bell's 1st inns cameo and Broad's hat trick aside in this game - then we can be supremely grateful for anything at all we have got from the others, and we've got a bit.

    I really hope Cook finds himself again very soon, it could well be that will need to happen without the spotlight that captaincy brings on him. Whatever happens, he needs support from all corners. Not just nonsense "confidence", "right man" sort of statements from the morons at the ECB, but substantial and meaningful stuff from those who matter, and most of all that means his senior teammates, and his possible future captain Bell.

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    spot on George...should be required reading for all the ECB gravy trainers and their assorted media luvvies...we're almost at The Oval 1999 again...will the 'crowd' boo Cook like they booed Nasser???

  • POSTED BY Derek_Haines on | June 23, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    I like Cook as a batsmen. He's a bloody fine one. But as a captain, he pales against the likes of Illingworth, Vaughan, Grieg, Strauss, Brearley et al. He reminds me of Kim Hughes, lost and on his own, and maybe he too is close to a teary farewell. A fine batsman, but it's clear he is not close to being a strong, aggressive, thinking and tactical leader. A shame for him, but a bigger shame for England, especially after the culling of Flower, Pietersen and Gooch in their leadership group. England are a ship without rudder, and with no one even at the helm. A crying shame.

  • POSTED BY glen1 on | June 23, 2014, 21:02 GMT

    Somewhere Dhoni must be grinning that his disastrous oversees record will be righted this time! England failed to win the first test, but this test belongs to Sri Lanka as they have completely humiliated England.

  • POSTED BY on | June 23, 2014, 21:04 GMT

    "...and as their batsmen displayed the resilience of a papadam..."

    England players are used to Indian style papadams. The Sri Lankan ones are typically a good deal thicker and sturdier. I'm not sure that is much comfort right now though.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | June 23, 2014, 21:07 GMT

    The fact is, it hasn't been the new players who have let England down. The 3 centuries by England's batsmen have been by the new guys and Plunkett has been by far the most successful of the bowlers. Of the experienced players, Bell has had a couple of decent innings and a couple of failures; Prior has batted quite well but kept, in this game at least, poorly; and Anderson and especially Broad have been well below their best. As foor Cook, his batting has an obvious technical flaw (his trigger movement involves lifting his front foot in the air as the bowler delivers the ball and then putting it down again before trying to move into position for the stroke which, as he has discovered, is physically impossible) and his captaincy has lacked all the important ingredients, including motivating the other players.

    It might be time for Cook to step aside, sort out his batting problems and come back as a specialist batsman. England can't afford any more days like today.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | June 23, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    So true George - excellent article. There was a lot of talk/speculating about what the England dressing room was/must have been like back during the last Ashes in Australia. I do wonder what it must be like now after this performance. There's much work to be done...

  • POSTED BY mrpfister on | June 23, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    Bravo George! Extremely well put. I live in Leeds and had the opportunity to be there today for just £10 but I declined. I do not wish to lend my support to this pathetic bunch of drips.

  • POSTED BY Twinkie on | June 23, 2014, 21:14 GMT

    Thing is though the inexperienced players have done pretty well so this can't be used as a mitigating factor.