England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 5th day June 24, 2014

Root provides Sri Lanka spark

As Sri Lanka sought a famous victory, Joe Root's words to Angelo Mathews were a pin prick that triggered an explosion
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It all began with Joe Root on the final day. He had been the overnight batsman. Moeen Ali was lacing silk with stone at the other end, and Root was blocking for his life. Sri Lanka's seamers began by bowling full. Rangana Herath went over the wicket, then around. Nothing worked. After a shower, and lunch, Sri Lanka asked to change a wet, misshapen ball.

With all that was to follow on day five, Root may not even remember what he said to Angelo Mathews, as Sri Lanka's captain oversaw the umpires' choosing of a new ball. But he did say something. Root spoke for no longer than three seconds, and suddenly Mathews was alive and aggressive, throwing something much longer, and nastier, in his face.

Sri Lanka had spoken since day one about how their attack might rip through England if they could take the match five days, but on the final morning, all the gunpowder they felt they had could not break England down. They needed a spark. A reason to run in harder, and stay keen in the field.

Within minutes Root was being harangued before each delivery, at the end of the over, and whenever a Sri Lanka player could get within earshot. For about 20 minutes, Root was a walking dartboard. Sri Lanka players who do not give more than two-word responses to journalists' questions were unleashing wordy tirades. The press box watched on with jealousy as Root collected the best quotes Mathews has ever given in his life.

Perhaps not even Root will know whether the edge he would send to gully was induced in part by the verbal assault. But before his jibe at Mathews, Sri Lanka were like a balloon, slowly deflating in the sun. Root's brief words were a pin prick, but they brought an explosion.

Sri Lanka would not have a smooth ride to the finish, but the intensity they mustered then did not dip until the penultimate ball took James Anderson's splice and floated into Rangana Herath's hands. As Mathews made 10 bowling changes in the final hour, like a man searching through his many pockets for some money, Sri Lanka's desperation was immense.

On a pitch that seemed to have died since the third day, after already having delivered more than 104 overs in the series, Shaminda Eranga found a magic ball formed of nothing but burning desire, and sealed Sri Lanka's first series win in England. Outside Asia, they last defeated top-eight opposition in a series way back in 1995.

Root was Sri Lanka's spark on Tuesday, but the past few months of Sri Lanka's cricket has been defined by the will to flourish in adversity. The players do not blame Paul Farbrace for switching sides in the weeks approaching the tour, but the team understood the strategic significance. They knew their own board was partly to blame for the clipping of one Test in this series, yet seeing that Test handed to India still felt like a slight.

On tour, the officials' reporting of Sachithra Senanayake's action, and the Mankad controversy to follow developed into what the team felt was a siege. Then in the days preceding the Tests, Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, labelled the visiting bowlers just "a glorified county attack". Mathews could not help but smirk, when it had all whirled to its extraordinary end.

"I hope my attack is better than a county attack," he said. "There was a little bit of a debate saying that my attack is not quite good enough for county cricket. That motivated us. We don't have Chaminda Vaas or Muttiah Muralitharan in our team, but we have some guys who are willing to do the job, are working really hard, and they're excited about playing Test cricket."

On paper Sri Lanka were outgunned, but on the final day at Lord's and the last four days at Headingley, they also transposed the fight that has shaped their limited-overs cricket for some time. England seemed headed for a straightforward victory with Sam Robson and Ian Bell at the crease on the second day, but Eranga's epic toil of line and length brought the quick wickets that gave Sri Lanka their first surge in the game. Mathews' 160, and his 149-run stand with Herath came in an even direr situation. Dhammika Prasad's fourth-day burst defies belief, given he had not taken more than one wicket for less than 100 runs in his past 10 Tests.

Sri Lanka have played without a break since early December, save for the few weeks of early IPL, to which none of the 16 men in the Sri Lanka squad had a ticket. With preparation having been so crucial to the trophy-sweep in England, the players will perhaps be glad for that. Since the painful end to the Sharjah Test in January, they have won 22 out of 27 matches, across all formats. Of all their plaudits, a Test series win in England seemed by far the least likely.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on June 27, 2014, 1:42 GMT

    Micheal Vaughn's comments about our bowling attack not being as good as a county attack - Just extend the same arguement. A side gets beaten by being bowled out by an attack less than a county attack. Then what about the batting side that get bowled out by that attack. They are worse . True England proved that they are not as good as a county side. All in Vaughn's perspective of our attack!!!

  • CoolWorthy on June 26, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    @Rakhita...the author never said that SL have lost 5 matches...he just informed that SL "WON" 22 out of 27 matches....that means the other 5 might be tie/draw/lost/abandoned matches:)

  • Patchmaster on June 25, 2014, 23:10 GMT

    Root would have been better concentrating on his batting

  • on June 25, 2014, 22:58 GMT

    Pundit Nasser Husain is always on about "CHIN MUSIC". He wanted England bowlers to emulate Late Douglas Jardine. Well Mr.Poppadum fingers anything England can do Sri Lankans can do better. Sri Lanka comprehensively beat England in all three forms of the game. With the sort of advice the England players get from the yester year pundits like Hussain no wonder the England players do not know what to do or how to get on with the game. Sad to see the likes of Anderson reduced to tears???? Never seen anything like it. Joe Root, Jos Butler, Alistair Cook, Broad thought they can intimidate Sri Lankans. Wrong again. Focus on your game. Try and see at least if you can beat the Indian Team. I doubt that too.

  • on June 25, 2014, 22:50 GMT

    Someone refresh my memory. What are those five losses after the sharja test? I remember the T20 lost to England in WT20, 2 ODI losses in England and a drawn test. What is the other one?

  • on June 25, 2014, 21:24 GMT

    Sri Lankans are not too keen to sledge. Joe Root must have driven them mad, for them to retalitate like this.

  • on June 25, 2014, 16:08 GMT

    I'm all in favour of sledging. Nothing physical nothing that could be construed with an "ism" at the end of it and certain words that start with the third letter of the alphabet banned. Outside that? Let's go. Root saying something along the lines of "It will take more than a good choice of ball for you to win mate" to Matthews I not worth an inch of column space. It's a nothing event. Have you seen what a certain Uraguay/Liverpool footballer did yesterday? Now THAT'S worth reporting. I want to see passion in sport. If I wanted it played by automatons I'd buy a computer sim.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on June 25, 2014, 14:17 GMT

    A perfect retort to Vaughns mind games by Angelo and SL. A sweet victory

  • niazbhi on June 25, 2014, 13:58 GMT

    I am against sledging. It takes away composure from many batsmen and sometimes matches are decided by not the best bowling but the most irritating sledger.If being able to irritate becomes an skill for advantage in the game, its no longer a sports. Whats next? ICC should use to hidden microphone to record and ban players for sledging... yes not like a single match ban.. may be 5 or 10 match ban...and let umpire award 10 runs to the batting team if the fielding team is sledging.

  • CricketMaan on June 25, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    Spot on Angelo : Preparations for the series, pace on dead wickets...that is the way to do it. Glad for your team and well done. Sadly for us Indian fans, both the key Ps are missing and we arrived 48hrs before tour game and without PACE...you did well in 2 tests which was the whole series, i will be happy if we do well in 2 tests which has 3 more to it!! What a year for SL cricket and fans.

  • on June 27, 2014, 1:42 GMT

    Micheal Vaughn's comments about our bowling attack not being as good as a county attack - Just extend the same arguement. A side gets beaten by being bowled out by an attack less than a county attack. Then what about the batting side that get bowled out by that attack. They are worse . True England proved that they are not as good as a county side. All in Vaughn's perspective of our attack!!!

  • CoolWorthy on June 26, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    @Rakhita...the author never said that SL have lost 5 matches...he just informed that SL "WON" 22 out of 27 matches....that means the other 5 might be tie/draw/lost/abandoned matches:)

  • Patchmaster on June 25, 2014, 23:10 GMT

    Root would have been better concentrating on his batting

  • on June 25, 2014, 22:58 GMT

    Pundit Nasser Husain is always on about "CHIN MUSIC". He wanted England bowlers to emulate Late Douglas Jardine. Well Mr.Poppadum fingers anything England can do Sri Lankans can do better. Sri Lanka comprehensively beat England in all three forms of the game. With the sort of advice the England players get from the yester year pundits like Hussain no wonder the England players do not know what to do or how to get on with the game. Sad to see the likes of Anderson reduced to tears???? Never seen anything like it. Joe Root, Jos Butler, Alistair Cook, Broad thought they can intimidate Sri Lankans. Wrong again. Focus on your game. Try and see at least if you can beat the Indian Team. I doubt that too.

  • on June 25, 2014, 22:50 GMT

    Someone refresh my memory. What are those five losses after the sharja test? I remember the T20 lost to England in WT20, 2 ODI losses in England and a drawn test. What is the other one?

  • on June 25, 2014, 21:24 GMT

    Sri Lankans are not too keen to sledge. Joe Root must have driven them mad, for them to retalitate like this.

  • on June 25, 2014, 16:08 GMT

    I'm all in favour of sledging. Nothing physical nothing that could be construed with an "ism" at the end of it and certain words that start with the third letter of the alphabet banned. Outside that? Let's go. Root saying something along the lines of "It will take more than a good choice of ball for you to win mate" to Matthews I not worth an inch of column space. It's a nothing event. Have you seen what a certain Uraguay/Liverpool footballer did yesterday? Now THAT'S worth reporting. I want to see passion in sport. If I wanted it played by automatons I'd buy a computer sim.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on June 25, 2014, 14:17 GMT

    A perfect retort to Vaughns mind games by Angelo and SL. A sweet victory

  • niazbhi on June 25, 2014, 13:58 GMT

    I am against sledging. It takes away composure from many batsmen and sometimes matches are decided by not the best bowling but the most irritating sledger.If being able to irritate becomes an skill for advantage in the game, its no longer a sports. Whats next? ICC should use to hidden microphone to record and ban players for sledging... yes not like a single match ban.. may be 5 or 10 match ban...and let umpire award 10 runs to the batting team if the fielding team is sledging.

  • CricketMaan on June 25, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    Spot on Angelo : Preparations for the series, pace on dead wickets...that is the way to do it. Glad for your team and well done. Sadly for us Indian fans, both the key Ps are missing and we arrived 48hrs before tour game and without PACE...you did well in 2 tests which was the whole series, i will be happy if we do well in 2 tests which has 3 more to it!! What a year for SL cricket and fans.

  • yorkshirematt on June 25, 2014, 13:35 GMT

    @Indianslovefasttracks That's fair enough then and good to hear. TV over here didn't show that

  • on June 25, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    I do not believe that sledging has a part to play in cricket at any level. If the ICC seriously wants to put a stop to it they should empower the umpires and match referees with the appropriate authority to do so. That having been said, what is 'good for the goose is good for the gander'. Just because the Sri Lankans have not been renowned for their chirpiness in the past, does not mean they will continue in that vein. They may not be the most astute sledgers, but they played better cricket, in a more determined manner than the Englishmen. They deserve their win, good on them.

  • Indians-love-flattracks on June 25, 2014, 12:58 GMT

    @yorkshirematt we did see see Sanga and Chandimal, infact most of the players pat on Anderson's back. You couldn't have expected the Lankans to give a shoulder to cry on, that would make Anderson look silly.

    He looked devastated but the players didn't rub it on him, they acknowledged his desolation and consoled him with a pat(what more could they do), which was nice to see

  • on June 25, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    Root should learn to focus on his game of cricket. England have not picked him to be an orator or a heckler. His conduct on the pitch is disgraceful. No wonder Warner lost his cool. How is Root allowed to swear and have a go at a captain of an international team? Is anyone going to discipline him?

  • yorkshirematt on June 25, 2014, 10:55 GMT

    I also think it would have been nice had someone from the SL side gone to console Anderson, Flintoff at Edgbaston style, at the end. One of those two so called 'model professionals' Sangakkara or Jayawardene perhaps. I do hope the two sides got together at the end and offered congratulations/commiserations, but I won't hold my breath

  • Harlequin. on June 25, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    @yorkshirematt - agreed, as fun as it is to imagine that the nasty man has played a part in his own downfall, this article doesn't shine a good light on the Sri Lankans. It hints that they weren't really trying before Root started sniping (even though I am positive they were) and second it hints that they are affected by the on-field chatter, which is never a good thing to admit and good teams (i.e. not England at the moment) will be able to take advantage of that.

  • on June 25, 2014, 10:31 GMT

    OK...what did Joe Root said to mathew?

  • yorkshirematt on June 25, 2014, 10:14 GMT

    And if SL needed a bit of 'chirp' to raise themselves for the task of winning their first Test series in England after looking half asleep in the morning, and then took nearly all day to clean up the tail of the worst England side for 15 years I'd be pretty miffed myself

  • Harlequin. on June 25, 2014, 10:13 GMT

    I think that's trying to make a story out of nothing, and in fact I think it is plain wrong. Root winding up the Sri Lankans seemed to work well for England, because as soon as he did they started bowling short at him, which is what Root will have wanted. It was only once they had calmed down a bit and started bowling full again that they got him out.

  • on June 25, 2014, 9:49 GMT

    @yorkshrematt - Come on man. Just grow up.

  • md111 on June 25, 2014, 9:41 GMT

    Not sure Pietersen would have helped at all (maybe 1st innings). Biggest disappointments batting wise were Plunkett (every Yorkishireman saying hes now a excellent batsman) and Prior who now just seems like a bouncer will get him out more often than not. Pluses for Ali and Sri Lankan team when they were playing cricket instead of heckling

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on June 25, 2014, 9:40 GMT

    Some hard, closely fought and passionate Test cricket in this series due in no small part to the huge hunger for success and a champion's desire to overcome a whole host of problems by the Lankans.

    If that spills over to a bit of sledging from Root and Mathews or tears from Jimmy that's always been part of international cricket and is fine by me.

  • Prabhash1985 on June 25, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    I think Russel Arnold realized what really happened. Joe Root tried to say nasty things in the first match on the final day, when Mathews was batting. Mathews said nothing by then, he kept calm. As a very young cricketer, I believe he can be forgiven, but he was given the right lesson. Mathews, Mahela or anyone will not say even a simple thing to a batsman without a reason. Our fast bowlers don't even frown at the batman. Root is a youngster who just got into international cricket, but he acted as if they can sledge and win in the Test match. I think what Mathews and Mahela did was right. Hitting him with bouncers, sledging at him, that's ok, because they DID that to Sri Lankans initially. If you do that, you have to expect that from others, may be with an interest. Sri Lankans didn't do that to Moen Ali, they didn't do it even to Anderson, or anyone. It was just Joe Root, because he did that bad thing prior. Sri Lankans are smiling, it doesn't mean they are not tough! Well done!

  • yorkshirematt on June 25, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    @RoshJ Yes that's exactly what I'm saying! It was a criticism of England as much as anything. They are no better than a county side, and there were only three players above county level on that cricket ground (all playing for SL might I add) Put those SL bowlers up against the current Yorkshire TEAM(not individual players playing in a failed side) and then see how successful they are

  • on June 25, 2014, 9:19 GMT

    Unbeliveble win for Lankans

  • jackiethepen on June 25, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    What is missed here - I was at the game - is that a very vocal and persistent Sri Lanka fan barracked Joe Root throughout his entire innings nonstop. He was urging the Sri Lanka team to have a go at Root. Every time Root blocked the ball, he screamed out that Root was trying to bat like Boycott. He urged him to show his colours and hit out. This tirade went on without any break. He also shouted 'Bowl him' at the moment of the release of the ball. As the ground was only lightly sprinkled with spectators, the shout echoed very loudly. He shouted at the Sri Lanka players to attack etc. This had more to do with Root's dismissal than anything Root is supposed to have said I am sure. If it had been an England fan behaving like that during the Matthews innings I'm sure they would have been led from the ground.

  • siltbreeze on June 25, 2014, 8:44 GMT

    As an England supporter, many congratulations to Sri Lanka. You showed great resilience and togetherness and thoroughly deserved to beat us. I'm genuinely happy for Sangakkara and Jayawardene and Mathews has come of age in spectacular fashion.

    Anyone demeaning the Sri Lanka fast bowlers clearly hasn't been following international cricket of late - under Vaas' tutelage they are much improved, the biggest difference being far greater discipline. And they won this series without Lakmal, one of their first choice seamers.

    As for the Root/Mathews incident, who knows what was said and the rights and wrongs of it. But to hear some ex-players (particularly G Swann on TMS) whining about it, you would think England have never indulged in a spot of sledging themselves. We need to stop making excuses and show the same fortitude as Sri Lanka.

  • DaisonGarvasis on June 25, 2014, 8:08 GMT

    It is sad for Cricket that ECB is not getting the fact that Cook may be a good batsman but not a good Captain. His lashing out on former players for comments they made is not making things any better. That humiliating ashes loss was enough for him to step aside as Captain and concentrate on his batting. At the current rate it seems like he is gonna be losing the captaincy and his place in the team. And that is the result of the great foresight" shown by ECB by keeping him Captain after the Ashes. And to do so they foresake their best batsman. (in his own defence cook is talking about the past series victories! The same applies for KP dont they?)

  • Raj006 on June 25, 2014, 6:49 GMT

    When England ditched Kevin Peterson for Ashes loss, that showed their denial of the situation. May be Peterson could have saved this test, but that is not the point. If England have realized the problems withing the team, they would have saved this test by themselves. I would like to think that this England team is a better one than the one that went to Ashes, and Sri Lanka is a better team than England.

  • on June 25, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    great job SL. These moments are not only historical but they inspire a whole nation to get better, to achieve things, to react positively when pushed against wall in every aspect. But I still feel for Ali and Anderson for their resistance. Yes they fought out with their 'lion hearts' but what made the difference was they played against 11 players who were born with lion hearts.

  • RoshJ on June 25, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    Well Played SL....Lions Roar yet again!!

    @ yorkshrematt...how many Yorkshire players were/are in ENG team..5 ,6 ,7, 8, are they not the cream of the county team, were they not dissmissed at least 2/3 times by SL bowlers?? So as per your lopsided logic your England national cricket team can be steamrolled by your county attacks?? What on earth is ECB doing than simply drafting the entire Yorkshire or Notts teams to play for Eng..I wonder?

  • Senaratne77 on June 25, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    Shadows of '95/96 begin to emerge with the new sunrise!

  • smokem on June 25, 2014, 5:44 GMT

    The headline and first half of the article makes a big deal about Root saying something that sparked SL. So what did he say???

  • 9ST9 on June 25, 2014, 5:02 GMT

    @wiiCricket I think the first ever away series win was against NZ in 1995.

  • on June 25, 2014, 4:47 GMT

    @KingOwl - Agreed man. These guys thought SL were push overs and now they cannot stomach that they are a really bad side. They are trying to come up with many stuff. Apart from the SL seamers who were unproved (but looked full of potential), ENG had not edge in any department.

  • ranganashan on June 25, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    Angelo Mathews, made history here and not only on the filed, but off the field as well. The way that he handles the press after makding controversy, the way that he backed his boys, his on field captaincy made a huge impression on the SL cricket fans' minds. After Arjuna Ranathunga, Sangakkara and Mahela another shining stat has born in the SL Cricket dorm. Many had concerns about the team combination, in the post Mahela/Sanga era, but I guess most of those doubts are clarified in this series. Especially about the bowling department, it might not be the best pace attack, but a committed and disciplined lot who know what the right thing to do n the right time. Vauhgan learnt this truth in the hard way, I guess. Well done Lions, way to go. I guess Pakistan series will be a good opportunity to hoist the colours in SL soil after this historic win....

  • PrasPunter on June 25, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    Congrats SL !! Have come a long way since they got beaten a couple of seasons ago down-under. This victory bodes well for their future !! They must play more test cricket. The intensity and will are there but wondering why they play more limited-overs games than tests. Nothing can match this achievement of theirs - I would rate this ahead of their t20 world-cup victory !!

  • Alexk400 on June 25, 2014, 4:22 GMT

    We know how good this england team is when india play them. If england draw or win against India then Srilanka win against england is spectacular. I feel england lost its mojo when they lost kevin pieterson

  • on June 25, 2014, 3:10 GMT

    One of the greatest test series ever played, albeit it for 2 Test matches. Both test matches went to the last ball/second last ball of the final day. Magnificent comeback by Sri Lanka after Day 2. Mathews, Sanga and a young bowling attack proving to be class apart. Sri Lanka needs to play more test matches, unfortunately only get 2 test series when they travel abroad. Well done Lions !!

  • on June 25, 2014, 3:01 GMT

    With Cook as Captain, India's probability of winning the Test series have doubled to 10%.

  • wiiCricket on June 25, 2014, 2:40 GMT

    I remember Sri Lanka won their first ever away test series win against a top 8 test nation in 1995 - that was against Pakistan. They won 1996 world cup next year. I see a great resemblance in this series win which might make them very much a top contender for winning the next world cup. They have all the right ingredients and they are motivated. They have two high class batsman with a cool headed captain in Mathews.

  • John_Geo on June 25, 2014, 2:06 GMT

    SOME LESSONS TO BE LEARNED 1. SL learned the lesson on rich dividends of playing positive cricket - probably in retrospect on evaluating the series against Pakistan. 2. SL (and other teams probably) learned truth behind the over-hyped impact of foreign coaches on Asian teams. Our own coaches are just as good - if not better 3. It is not over until the last ball is balled 4. Vauhgan learned the lesson on the possible backlashes of unfounded and prejudiced criticism and importance of mutual respect 5. Root learned the lesson of focusing on circle of influence rather than the circle of concern. Let the bat do the talking. 6. England learned the lesson on the importance of focusing on their own strengths rather than the weaknesses of the opposition (i.e. balling short balls) 7. Never mind the weather conditions, the opposition, and the pitch, it CAN BE done with self-belief.

  • npuh002 on June 25, 2014, 2:02 GMT

    Word of the day harangued, great article.

  • on June 25, 2014, 1:11 GMT

    England asked for it. With their continuous chirping. SL simply matched England. Both in cricket and chirping. SL cricketers are great ambassadors of the game. Quiet, non controversial and efficient they go about doing their jobs without displaying any of the differences they have with their board. They often don't get paid despite depending on the game for livelihood. Just shows their passion. Even in defeat they are great sportspersons. The whole world needs to learn from them, not just England.

  • KingOwl on June 24, 2014, 23:57 GMT

    Seriously Andrew, was SL outgunned on paper? I think if the wickets took spin, this England side would have been steamrolled by SL. Sure, with seaming conditions and doctored pitches, SL were up against a lot of the elements. But I think SL clearly are a superior batting side to this England lineup. SL have a far better spinner. England clearly have the better seam attack. But where the elements are not friendly to seam, this English attack is pretty toothless in my view. So, if we take the hype usually associated with the English sides (including football) away, I would say that this series win was not a real surprise. I think we cannot discount too critical elements: SL had some practice games, for a change, and the test series was played in June, not early May. Taken together, (and combined with hind sight), I feel that I should have bet on a SL series win!!

  • yorkshirematt on June 24, 2014, 23:52 GMT

    Sorry but I still struggle to see this SL attack troubling a confident, in form county team, like Yorkshire or Notts. England as a team have been very poor for nearly a year now and frankly Cook, Bell and Prior would struggle against Bangladesh at the moment

  • tamperbay on June 24, 2014, 23:46 GMT

    Warner and now Angelo Mathews. Who is next in line to get angered by this guy Root? Warner is hot headed, but he must have been annoyed by something. Congratulations Sri Lanka!

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  • tamperbay on June 24, 2014, 23:46 GMT

    Warner and now Angelo Mathews. Who is next in line to get angered by this guy Root? Warner is hot headed, but he must have been annoyed by something. Congratulations Sri Lanka!

  • yorkshirematt on June 24, 2014, 23:52 GMT

    Sorry but I still struggle to see this SL attack troubling a confident, in form county team, like Yorkshire or Notts. England as a team have been very poor for nearly a year now and frankly Cook, Bell and Prior would struggle against Bangladesh at the moment

  • KingOwl on June 24, 2014, 23:57 GMT

    Seriously Andrew, was SL outgunned on paper? I think if the wickets took spin, this England side would have been steamrolled by SL. Sure, with seaming conditions and doctored pitches, SL were up against a lot of the elements. But I think SL clearly are a superior batting side to this England lineup. SL have a far better spinner. England clearly have the better seam attack. But where the elements are not friendly to seam, this English attack is pretty toothless in my view. So, if we take the hype usually associated with the English sides (including football) away, I would say that this series win was not a real surprise. I think we cannot discount too critical elements: SL had some practice games, for a change, and the test series was played in June, not early May. Taken together, (and combined with hind sight), I feel that I should have bet on a SL series win!!

  • on June 25, 2014, 1:11 GMT

    England asked for it. With their continuous chirping. SL simply matched England. Both in cricket and chirping. SL cricketers are great ambassadors of the game. Quiet, non controversial and efficient they go about doing their jobs without displaying any of the differences they have with their board. They often don't get paid despite depending on the game for livelihood. Just shows their passion. Even in defeat they are great sportspersons. The whole world needs to learn from them, not just England.

  • npuh002 on June 25, 2014, 2:02 GMT

    Word of the day harangued, great article.

  • John_Geo on June 25, 2014, 2:06 GMT

    SOME LESSONS TO BE LEARNED 1. SL learned the lesson on rich dividends of playing positive cricket - probably in retrospect on evaluating the series against Pakistan. 2. SL (and other teams probably) learned truth behind the over-hyped impact of foreign coaches on Asian teams. Our own coaches are just as good - if not better 3. It is not over until the last ball is balled 4. Vauhgan learned the lesson on the possible backlashes of unfounded and prejudiced criticism and importance of mutual respect 5. Root learned the lesson of focusing on circle of influence rather than the circle of concern. Let the bat do the talking. 6. England learned the lesson on the importance of focusing on their own strengths rather than the weaknesses of the opposition (i.e. balling short balls) 7. Never mind the weather conditions, the opposition, and the pitch, it CAN BE done with self-belief.

  • wiiCricket on June 25, 2014, 2:40 GMT

    I remember Sri Lanka won their first ever away test series win against a top 8 test nation in 1995 - that was against Pakistan. They won 1996 world cup next year. I see a great resemblance in this series win which might make them very much a top contender for winning the next world cup. They have all the right ingredients and they are motivated. They have two high class batsman with a cool headed captain in Mathews.

  • on June 25, 2014, 3:01 GMT

    With Cook as Captain, India's probability of winning the Test series have doubled to 10%.

  • on June 25, 2014, 3:10 GMT

    One of the greatest test series ever played, albeit it for 2 Test matches. Both test matches went to the last ball/second last ball of the final day. Magnificent comeback by Sri Lanka after Day 2. Mathews, Sanga and a young bowling attack proving to be class apart. Sri Lanka needs to play more test matches, unfortunately only get 2 test series when they travel abroad. Well done Lions !!

  • Alexk400 on June 25, 2014, 4:22 GMT

    We know how good this england team is when india play them. If england draw or win against India then Srilanka win against england is spectacular. I feel england lost its mojo when they lost kevin pieterson