"Not up to international standard" was the damning verdict of Australia's coach Darren Lehmann after the tourists lost 11 for 77 on a hectic day in Galle to all but hand over the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy to Sri Lanka for the first time in its existence.
Lehmann, who recently signed a contract extension to remain coach until October 2019, was frank in conceding that his side does not appear to have improved in playing spin bowling on Asian pitches since a 2-0 drubbing by Pakistan in the UAE in 2014. He also admitted that his players were being conclusively beaten between the ears as well as on the scoreboard by the hosts.
"Disappointing full stop the way we played. Not up to international standard on that performance today," Lehmann said. "Certainly haven't played as we would like. Sri Lanka have played well and we haven't. Can't complain about the preparation from the lads and the work ethic, it gets down to the pressure in the middle of a Test match and being able to cope with it, and at the moment, we haven't.
"Certainly, some blokes have to look at themselves and how they want to go about it in these conditions and how to succeed. We've talked a good game in the media and the press, how we want to play, but we're certainly not showing up at the moment.
"I can't put my finger on it really. It's up to the players to get there and do that. We give them as much info as we possibly can, we're pretty open in the way we want to play and the way we want to speak and all those sorts of things. It gets down to the players doing it on the ground, and at the moment, we're letting ourselves down as a group. So they know what they want to do, it's having the belief to do it and succeed. That's the biggest thing with Test match cricket, especially here on the subcontinent."
Australia's displays have been beset by similar problems to those witnessed in 2014, from batsmen failing to cover straight deliveries aimed at the stumps, to poor attacking shot selection and lapses in concentration that are seldom seen at home. This has been compounded by the fact that Sri Lanka are nowhere near as strong as Pakistan, or, for that matter, the Indian side that inflicted a similar hiding on the team coached by Mickey Arthur the year before.
"Results will say we haven't moved on, won't they? It's pretty simple," Lehmann said. "So, from my point of view, and us as a group, we've got to get better, as simple as that. We've got to stop the rot. We've lost seven in a row, and tomorrow, we've got to play better to stop the rot. They know what they have to do, we've had lots of people who've played on the subcontinent help us out, so it's not as though they haven't got the knowledge or the knowhow to do it, it's actually doing it out there on the ground under the pressure.
"You get blame and that's what happens when you're a coach. If you play badly, you get blame, there's nothing wrong with that, that's part and parcel of professional sport. We've got to sit back and work out whether we're doing the right thing. I believe we are, we're just not implementing it on the ground. We've got to make sure we get the players doing what they're supposed to be doing, and if they're not, then we've got to find blokes that are going to."
The dire batting performances seen on this tour will add urgency to Cricket Australia's search for a full-time batting assistant coach, following the departure of Michael Di Venuto earlier this year. While Lehmann's former state and national teammate Greg Blewett had been appointed on an interim basis, and Stuart Law is in Sri Lanka while Blewett is on paternity leave, it appears a far greater level of Asian batting nous is required ahead of next year's tour of India.
"Still to be a full-time appointment there," Lehmann said. "Diva's left, Blewy's there doing it at the moment and Greg had a baby, so that's why he's not on this tour, so Stuey's come in to fit in there. That's something we'll have to look at after this series and all those things moving forward. No timeframe, but if we keep batting like this, it'll be a bit quicker!"
While acknowledging a superlative display from Mitchell Starc, who claimed 11 for 94 with minimal rest between innings, Lehmann said Australia's spin bowlers, led by Nathan Lyon, also needed to improve. "Disappointing, same as the batters, no doubt about that," he said.
"Nathan Lyon's experience has been very good for us over a period of time, but his record on the subcontinent's not great. So he's got to improve, there's no doubt about that. Holland's playing his first game and going to be a little bit nervous, so you give him a bit of leeway there, but, end of the day, their spinners have certainly out-bowled our spinners."