Forget day five
Right at this moment I can't believe what's just happened, but I'll probably go into my sorrows soon. We played a good four days of cricket in Cardiff, but then threw the entire Test match away in one session. Sadly, that's what can happen in Test cricket if you don't focus and concentrate throughout. We were not up for it, and the English boys showed why they are one of the best Test teams going around these days. They always come back and keep fighting, and we were not up for the challenge
It was always going to be a tricky situation to bat on the last day, when we weren't sure what the weather was doing, but to blame the rain would be nothing more than an excuse. Almost every day of the match had been a 1.30-2pm start, so we knew that whenever it stopped we'd have to focus and get on with it, like we'd done for four days already. Today it just didn't happen. We lost early wickets to pile the pressure on ourselves, but we didn't buckle down and take the fight back to England.
In Test cricket you really have to tough it out in those situations, but we didn't. Our job was just to bat the situation, but there wasn't much incentive because we weren't really going to get anything out of the day other than a bit of time in the middle and maybe a few unbeaten fifties. That would have been the only positive to come out of the day for us, but once we'd been put under pressure by good bowling and poor shot selection, things went out of control. We were not up for the task.
I can't put my finger on the reasons for the defeat, but it wasn't the way we planned it. Any defeat hurts, whether you have a really bad game or whether you lose a tight match in the last over, but to lose a Test like this hurts even more, because we were totally in control and just had to bat 40 overs. The first Test of any series is so important. We have to pick ourselves up and concentrate for the next one.
A lot of people have been saying that England are the best Test team in the world, and they really do look solid at the moment. But, for me, you have to win all over the world if you want to be considered the best, and the subcontinent is the one place they really need to come and dominate if they want that accolade. They have been playing some really good cricket of late - the way they played Australia in Australia, the way they fought well in South Africa as well. But if they are to say they are the No. 1 team in the world, they have to challenge themselves in all conditions, and that includes the subcontinent.
When England toured Sri Lanka three years ago, they seemed to struggle quite a bit with the conditions. That last series was a totally different scenario. We completely dominated the Galle Test before the rain came to save them, and we won the series 1-0. Here in England, the conditions are favourable to the home side and they know exactly what to do with them. We need to stand up for ourselves, which is a great challenge, but we've lost a great opportunity to go to Lord's at 0-0.
The final day was crazy, but really, this match was dominated by England's batsmen. Both Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott did really well to build a massive partnership, but in my opinion it was Trott who was the stand-out player. More than Alastair, he was in control of entire situation, and that's what you need when you are batting second with 400 already on the board. You need big partnerships to make sure you get into the game, and beyond, and that's what they did.
Lots of people have commented on the fact that this is Sri Lanka's first Test since Muttiah Muralitharan retired, and it's true our bowlers don't have the same variety now that he's not in the side - which is the main reason why we chose five of them for this match. But we have to move on from Murali, because we're not going to get him back. We have to find other options. Every team has to go through that transition period at some stage, and we need to make sure we get through it too.
I actually thought our bowlers bowled pretty well and were a bit unlucky at times. Cook and Trott did really well to stifle our ambitions. A big partnership is all about how you complement each other, rotate the strike, and attack different bowlers. Those two got through the tough situations, then dominated for a while, and were able to bat through sessions to make big runs.
The challenge now is to get our mindsets right, and our senior players, especially, need to score a lot of runs for Sri Lanka. I love batting at Lord's and I've made hundreds in each of my last two Tests there, although a third one is not really in my immediate planning. Records are great but we're 1-0 down and we have to win the Test match to get back into the series. I just need to start at ball one and get the job done for the team. That's the priority. That would be my personal objective and for the rest of the team as well.
Quite simply, we need to take the fifth day at Cardiff completely out of our minds, and think about what we did right on the first two, three, four days. Our batting was really good in the first innings. Prasanna Jayawardene carried a big responsibility at No. 6 and responded with a hundred, while Paranavitana and Samaraweera fought hard as well. The conditions helped England in the first innings, but we put runs on the board against a quality attack.
There are positives to take into the Lord's Test, but we need to keep working and fighting, and making and creating opportunities. The Cardiff Test is finished now and we need a fresh mindset for the next game, and we need 20 wickets to win a Test match.
Mahela Jayawardene is former captain of Sri Lanka