British press hammer 'spineless' England
Michael Vaughan (right) and Alastair Cook © AFP
After a dismal performance at the crease in Galle, Sri Lanka, where they were bowled out for just 81 in the final match in the three-Test series, England's cricketers will not want to eye the British newspapers.
Described as "pathetic" and "spineless", England were blasted in Friday morning's editions with one commentator writing that "as someone once famously put it, England had only three problems: they could not bat, bowl or field".
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene hit an unbeaten 213 and Chaminda Vaas ripped through the top order to leave England, trailing 0-1 in the series, in tatters after the rain-hit third day.
Left-armer Vaas followed his 90 in Sri Lanka's 499 for eight declared with four wickets as England collapsed in just 30.5 overs and were forced to follow-on 418 runs behind.
England's total fell well below their previous innings low against Sri Lanka of 148 in Colombo on the previous tour in 2003.
The Times's chief cricket correspondent wrote: "Even allowing, as one fairly must, for the excellence of Sri Lanka's cricket ... yesterday was a shameful performance by England.
"One by one, over the three matches of this short, intense and now one-sided series, the established stars of the home team have given England's young and naive side painful reminders of their quality."
Former England bowler Angus Fraser, now cricket correspondent of the Independent, also noted the third day's play "highlighted the huge gulf that now exists between these two sides".
"For 149 overs, England had lumbered in the field, dropping catches, bowling with indiscipline and at times looking totally disinterested in the game they were playing."
He added: "The sight of one beleaguered England batsman trooping to the pavilion after another brought back memories of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, in 1994 when Michael Atherton's side were bowled out for 46 by a West Indies side inspired by Curtly Ambrose."
The Daily Mail focused on the contrasting performances in the match of Jayawardene and England captain Michael Vaughan, with its cricket correspondent writing that "never can Vaughan have been so outplayed, so out-thought and completely out-manoeuvred by an opposing captain.
"This was a return to the bad old days of the mid-Nineties, when Michael Atherton seemingly had to fight a lone battle to bring any semblance of professionalism to a desperate England side.
"Yesterday they were bereft of ideas, passion and the team spirit of which they are so proud."
The likely feeling in the visitors' dressing room was summed up in The Sun, Britain's biggest-selling daily newspaper, which said England "played as though they wanted to be anywhere other than on the pitch in Sri Lanka.
"The flight home cannot come quickly enough."
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