England in Sri Lanka – 25th October 2018

Judgement was gentle yesterday after England’s humiliation in the fifth and final ODI – it was less gentle today. They didn’t just play poor cricket, they were an embarrassment to themselves and their country with their conduct.

Ben Stokes set the tone with a series of petulant outbursts which allowed the other players to believe such behaviour represented passion and commitment rather than a lack of discipline which undermines the moral of team mates. I found it extraordinary that so few England commentators were prepared to say so.

It was interesting that Sky did a mini-documentary on Stokes’ training the night before in which Nasser Hussain commented on the “extreme intensity” with with the all rounder pushed himself aerobically before batting in the nets for over 75 minutes. Is it even possible to recover from such exertion in time for a 2:30 start the following day?

At least Eoin Morgan was prepared to be honest afterwards: “For 50 overs today we were under serious pressure and we didn’t have a lot of answers. That gives us a good opportunity to go back and look at everything from preparation right down to the end result. That’s always better when you’ve been put under a lot of pressure,” he said, instinctively trying to find the ‘positives’.

“We didn’t take our game forward today. There were areas it went backwards. Our fielding was extremely poor, our attitude was very poor and that has to be addressed. We’ll have to break down everything, from yesterday’s practice. Did we do too much the day before the game? Did we overcook ourselves? We might have been a little bit fatigued. I don’t know.” Stokes losing his rag so easily and then cramping all over his body 20 minutes into his innings would suggest preparation was amateurish.

“We will break it down and find an answer because otherwise we’re just papering over the cracks which is not what we want to do,” Morgan said after resting himself from the starting XI: “When you leave yourself out the one thing you don’t want to compromise is winning the game. But you want to see the players who come in be challenged and put under pressure… that’s one thing we definitely saw today.

“People will say you don’t want your bowlers hit all over the place, hit back over their heads, but I think it’s necessary to learn. When we go into the World Cup and play against the better teams, they perform like that on a regular basis.”

It was a day off today – a religious Poya Day on which most shops are closed and the sale of alcohol is banned. A good day to catch up on admin and do some receipts. (And make sure ‘autocorrect’ hasn’t changed ‘downtown’ to ‘downtime’.)
Confirmation that ‘The Ministry of Crab’ (as featured yesterday) is both 100% better and 100% more expensive than anywhere else to eat the rock crawling nippers. These guys would be 2000 rupees in the restaurant belonging to Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. In this roadside stall, embedded in a pastry patty, they cost 200.




If you need any more ‘context’ on life, the black-shirted demonstration by 3,000 or so protestors on the seafront was in support of the ‘tea-pickers’ up north who work long hours in extreme conditions to produce the crop for which the island is famous. Currently, their minimum wage is 500 rupees a day. They would like that doubled to 1000. That’s something like doubling 2.50 pounds to a fiver.

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