England’s miserable start to 2012 continued as they lost the first Test to Sri Lanka by 75 runs in Galle.
They have now lost all four Tests since the turn of the year, with Sri Lanka’s spinners picking up where their Pakistani counterparts left off in the United Arab Emirates.
Rangana Herath, who took 12 wickets in the match, and Suraj Randiv accounted for all 10 of England’s batsmen in the second innings, which fell well short of an imposing target of 340 despite the best efforts of Jonathan Trott.
He scored a gutsy 112, his seventh Test ton, but only Matt Prior, with 41, offered significant support as they were bowled out for 264.
In total 18 of England’s 20 wickets in this match fell to Herath and Randiv and their technique against the slow bowlers is sure to come under fierce scrutiny when the post mortems begin.
Captain captain Andrew Strauss accepts that the combination of bad results and modest form is putting pressure on his position.
Strauss is struggling to make a major impact at the top of the order, with just one century in his last 48 innings and an average of 28.52 since he reached three figures in Brisbane 16 months ago.
Strauss’ leadership has been instrumental in England’s rise to number one in the Test rankings and his strong bond with team director Andy Flower means he will almost certainly be given the chance to put things right in the English summer.
But he acknowledges that results, both personally and as a team, need to improve and is hoping they will start to do so in Colombo next week.
“I can understand (questions over my future) but it’s not something I’m focusing on,” he said after his side were dismissed for 264 on day four in Galle.
“It’s not the sort of question I’m going to answer in the middle of a series. My focus is very much on winning the next game. It would be wrong of me to think anything else at this stage.
RESULT - Sri Lanka win by 75 runs: England 193 (I R Bell 52; H M R K B Herath 6-74) and 264 (Trott 112, Herath 6-97, Randiv 4-74). Sri Lanka 318 (D P M D Jayawardene 180; J M Anderson 5-72) and 214 (Jayawardene 61no; G P Swann 4-28).