Poor batting led to 'humiliating' defeat - Mathews
A failure to leave the ball decisively paved the road to an "embarrassing" and "humiliating" innings-defeat at Headingley, Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said. Chasing England's 298 in the first innings, Sri Lanka collapsed to 91, then 119 following on. They batted for less than 73 overs in the match. Thirteen Sri Lanka dismissals were catches behind the wicket on the off side.
"We were not decisive in leaving the ball," Mathews said. "They bowled in good areas and we just kept putting our bats out of line of the stumps, and it kept nicking our bats all the time. We have to be decisive and play the correct one."
"It was quite an embarrassing defeat. It was pure poor batting and the execution. You have to be really skillful to bat against these guys, especially in these conditions. Anderson once again showed his class. Stuart Broad was brilliant as well. One or two of our guys needed to raise our hands and put up a good score, particularly in the first innings. We failed to do that in the first innings, and once again in the second innings, so that's a pretty obvious reason for our defeat."
Sri Lanka had appeared to be in control of the game when their bowlers reduced England to 83 for 5 in the second session of the opening day. However, Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales put on a partnership of 141 in which at least three catches were spilt. Later, Bairstow also combined with No. 10 batsman Steven Finn for a further 55 runs.
"We got five wickets for 80 runs, and we let them off the hook," Mathews said. "We dropped at couple of catches. Jonny Bairstow batted brilliantly - credit should go to him and Alex Hales. They got them to a decent score on this wicket and it was up to us as batters to get to a decent score as well. But once you get 90-odd runs, it is very a difficult road going into the second and third days. It was very tough. We have good enough batting to pass 300, but we made it very tough for ourselves."
Having lost inside three days at Headingley, Sri Lanka now have five full days in which to prepare for the second Test at Chester-le-Street. Sri Lanka have come back to square a series following a heavy loss in the past year. They recovered from a ten-wicket hiding against Pakistanat Galle last June, before winning the next Test. Mathews said his men would look to such series for inspiration.
"We have done it in the past. We have a couple of days to regroup, think about our strategy, train really hard and come back hard. All we've got to do is change our mindset. If you believe you can do it. Yes, it was a humiliating defeat. It was embarrassing. But if you stick to our plans in the second game we could turn the tables around."
Sri Lanka had been through extended preparation for this tour, having gone to a training camp in Kandy, before also playing two tour matches against Leicestershire and Essex. Mathews said the conditions at Headingley were much tougher.
"Nothing really went close to this game. It was swinging and seaming right from the word go. If you have top-quality fast bowling like Broad and Anderson in your team, the opposition batsmen have to work really hard. It was swinging and seaming right throughout the first day and second day, because there was no sun on the wicket to dry it out."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando