Out on their feet
Sir Ian Botham and Nasser Hussain believe England were both exhausted and exposed in Colombo.
Last Updated: 26/03/11 6:05pm
England were never good enough to win the World Cup - but were beaten as much by their own exhaustion as anything Sri Lanka did in a one-sided ICC World Cup quarter-final.
That was the verdict of Sir Ian Botham and Nasser Hussain as Andrew Strauss' men limped out of the competition on the back of a sorry 10-wicket drubbing.
Batting first, England struggled to a decent 229-6 from their 50 overs only to see openers Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan both plunder centuries as the co-hosts cantered to victory with more than 10 overs to spare.
The crushing defeat draws the curtain on a long winter and although their technicial deficiencies were severely exposed by Sri Lanka, the time on tour and heavy schedule also came under attack from two former captains.
"I think they've been exhausted," Hussain told Sky Sports.
"Look at the injury list, look what's happened to the likes of Yardy - it has been a demoralising winter as far as the amount of cricket and the scheduling. It has been ludicrous to be honest.
"I think the ECB know that, I think the players know that and Andy Flower must be spewing about the amount of cricket they've had.
"If England carry on like this, they are going to lose more and more players. It will be taking far too much out of our captain, our coach, all our boys who play all forms of the game.
"But the bottom line is England are not a good one-day side. They're an OK one-day side.
"In Test-match cricket character, attitude and team spirit will get you so far but in one-day cricket it's just about raw ability. And we're not quite producing the cricketer with great ability."
In the Test arena England of course, won the Ashes in the winter, dismissing Australia in dominant fashion.
They they went on to lose the one-day series down under and Botham believes that rather than provide a nice warm-up for the World Cup, those seven matches meant they were always going to be struggling to fire on all cylinders.
The fact that Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad, Ajmal Shazhad and this week Michael Yardy have all been sent home with injury supports that.
"Why do you have seven one-dayers after the Ashes?" asked Botham.
"They should have five before, that's one for each state, leads you nicely into the Ashes. You can't get up for one-dayers after the Ashes, it's an anti-climax, you just can't do it.
"And history tells you the side that wins the Ashes usually gets hammered in the one-dayers."
Skipper Strauss made few excuses himself for the 10-wicket hammering and Botham and Hussain were similarly critical.
Only Jonathan Trott (86) and Eoin Morgan (50) made any impact with the bat while the bowlers were sent to all parts as Tharanga (102no) and Dilshan (108no) made mincemeat of their attack.
And while their exploits provided stark contrast to England's continuing problems at the top of the order, it was the way they dealt with Graeme Swann and co and they fact that they rarely troubled the two Sri Lankan openers that needs addressing, according to Botham.
"I think they want to look at the basics; I think they need to go back and look at how they play the spinners, what is our gameplan?," he said.
"You are allowed to leave the crease and that sometimes helps because that puts pressure on the spinner and you can then go forward and get balls to cut and pull; but you've got to take the initiative.
"England I think, need to re-think their strategy against spin and also their bowling.
"I think they need to think about how they bowl and also when they bowl. Look at Malinga at the death; it's full, it's straight, it's very hard to get away, there's pace and the odd bouncer.
"England though, are a bit stereotyped; we didn't play well to get to the quarter-final and I think the result today has summed that up.
"In one-day cricket we're way behind the eight ball. At the moment spin bowlers are allowed to dictate to our batsmen and allowed to do it from a very early stage.
"It just puts pressure on the bowlers, then captains have got to rethink, talk about lines but we don't make it difficult enough for the spinners."