Mathews hopes Sri Lanka warm to their task
Two days out from the Test, with thick grey clouds overhead and the wind whistling in from the north east, Sri Lanka trained in the coldest temperatures many of the team had experienced. Gloves stayed on during fielding drills. Some bowlers wore two woollen jumpers. Batsmen only removed their hoodies to put helmets on. And after training ended, players all but sprinted back into the dressing room.
Sri Lanka had done almost everything possible to acclimatise themselves to northern springtime weather, even training in slightly cooler Kandy before travelling to Essex and Leicester in the weeks before the Test. But some will feel they should have held their training camp in an industrial freezer to really feel comfortable in the springtime north.
"This is the coldest place I've played cricket," Angelo Mathews said ahead of the Test. "It was extremely cold yesterday and it was a bit better today. The weather can be a factor, but you can't make it an excuse. When England come to Sri Lanka, it's hot, and they struggle. You can't control the weather. You can only control what you do."
Often in these conditions it is fielding that poses the major challenge for Sri Lanka, but given the two insipid innings at Headingley, the batsmen will feel more on trial at Chester-le-Street. Through the past year, Mathews had spoken of the mental muddle his top order had got themselves in. In some Tests he felt they had been too reticent. In others, too careless and aggressive.
"We have more clarity on the batting approach, and also we've found the right balance," Mathews said. "It's just that when you play more games, you tend to learn more. Batting is also an art, and Test cricket is an art. It is a test of skill and temperament. It can't be an excuse because we are all international players and we've played enough cricket now to understand what roles we have to play in the team in the batting line-up.
"As a batter you have got to have that balance. If you play a whole day and don't get a run, it's useless. You do have to be positive when a bowler is bowling really well, but you've also got to survive that situation when someone like Broad or Anderson is bowling. Those little phases, you've got to win and not lose wickets. When the ball is old and the wicket settles down you can score runs."
Kusal Mendis' 53 was Sri Lanka's only half-century in the Headingley match Mathews described as "embarrassing". Mathews said others in the top order could look to that knock for some inspiration.
"This is the first tour for Mendis on the big stage, and his first Test match in England," Mathews said. "He showed a lot of character when the ball is swinging and seaming around. That itself showed a lot of character about the player. We can take a lot of positives out of it. The rest of the batters can also take a lot of positives out of it and take up the challenge."
Mathews said his team sought to simply forget the Headingley Test, as little good could come of dwelling on so thorough a defeat. "We've had only a few days to turn around and think about our strategies. We just have to flush that game out of the system because the more we think about it, the more disappointed we get. You can't erase it, but you can move on and work really hard to have a positive mindset to take into the next game."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando