England cricket teamâ€™s coach Duncan Fletcher insisted any side in the world would have struggled to cope with the injury crisis that affected his team during their 5-0 One-day International (ODI) series whitewash by Sri Lanka.
Just when he must have hoped things could only get better, Fletcher saw England humiliated at Headingley as Sri Lanka rewrote the record books on the way to chasing what appeared to be a testing target of 322.
But that was too many even for Englandâ€™s wayward attack to defend, the visitors winning with 75 balls to spare after an ODI record opening stand of 286 between Sanath Jayasuriya (152) and Upul Tharanga (109).
Defeat was Englandâ€™s 15th in 18 ODIs against Test playing nations â€” a worrying trend ahead of next yearâ€™s World Cup in the West Indies. â€œIt doesnâ€™t reflect our ability,â€ Fletcher insisted of the Sri Lanka thrashing. â€œIt would be very interesting if Sri Lanka were missing eight of their players and we had eight of our players back.â€
Entering this series England were without captain Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles and Simon Jones â€” all of whom played in the team that tied last yearâ€™s Lordâ€™s triangular final against Australia.
James Anderson and Ian Blackwell â€” the natural stand-ins for Jones and Giles respectively â€” were both ruled out with long-term injuries and, after England named their 15-man squad, newcomers Ed Joyce and Glen Chapple joined the casualty list.
And during the series itself star batsman Kevin Pietersen (knee) and all-rounder Paul Collingwood (thigh) sustained knocks which meant the duo were both left out, ahead of Englandâ€™s Test series against Pakistan, while Sri Lanka recorded thumping wins at both Old Trafford and Headingley.
â€œTake the (England) football team. There were a lot of queries as to what it would be like if just Wayne Rooney was missing for the World Cup. Just one player missing; we are missing eight of our top players; a very influential captain, a very experienced spin bowler, the number one all-rounder in the world.
â€œHow long did it take us to build that cricket side that went on to win the Ashes? It took three or four years to build that,â€ the former Zimbabwe captain added. â€œYou donâ€™t just pull people in and suddenly have a world-class side.â€
But Fletcherâ€™s off-repeated argument that a lack of experience was the root cause of Englandâ€™s limited overs ills was undercut by the sight of senior quick Stephen Harmison, in his 44th ODI, being outbowled at Headingley by Sri Lankaâ€™s Lasith Malinga, appearing in only his 13th.
After Malinga (four for 44) had performed with distinction, Harmison saw his 10 wicketless overs go for 97 runs, breaking Derek Pringleâ€™s 19-year-old record for the most expensive return by an England bowler in a one-day international.
And while Jayasuriya, a veteran of a world record-equalling 362 matches at this level was as experienced as they come Tharanga, his 21-year-old opening partner, was appearing in just his 26th.
Fletcher and his fellow selectors, must pick a captain for the upcoming first Test against Pakistan at Lordâ€™s and the coach insisted he still had faith in Straussâ€™s leadership abilities. â€œEven in India there were a lot of players missing and he got a victory there,â€ Fletcher said. â€œYou must give him credit for some of his captaincy under such difficult circumstances.â€
For all Fletcherâ€™s belief in experience, he was less than enthusiastic when asked about the chances of Darren Gough, Englandâ€™s most successful ODI bowler, being recalled for the ODI series against Pakistan later in the season, saying only: â€œWe have not slammed the door on anyone.â€
Source:The NewsMore on:Duncan Fletcher, england, Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka in England 2006
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, July 4th, 2006 and is filed under General.
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