Bowlers blamed as Sri Lanka add to England woe

Ross McLean
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Stuart Broad and his fellow seam bowlers all failed to take wickets against Sri Lanka

AND skipper Eoin Morgan blamed his side’s impotent bowling attack for the crushing nine-wicket World Cup defeat to Sri Lanka in Wellington yesterday.

Opener Lahiru Thirimanne and veteran Kumar Sangakkara both struck sparkling centuries and finished unbeaten on 139 and 117 respectively as Sri Lanka chased down a victory target of 310 with 16 balls to spare.

England had earlier posted 309-6 from their 50 overs, thanks largely to a career-best 121 from Joe Root, who at the age of 24 became the youngest World Cup centurion, Ian Bell’s 49 and late power-hitting from Jos Buttler.

Morgan and England persevered with the tactic of four seam bowlers – James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Steven Finn all went wicketless – and no recognised frontline spin option, but the 28-year-old refuted the suggestion that the floundering attack lacked variety.

“We were way off the mark today,” said Morgan. “When we are bowling well, it’s a good attack but you can pick it apart when we’re not bowling well. We’ve got variations in two tall bowlers who get bounce when they bowl well and two swing bowlers when they bowl well, but we were punished today by a very experienced side.”

Defeat followed resounding setbacks against co-hosts Australia and New Zealand, and Morgan added: “This one is harder to take than the first two losses. I thought our score was about 25 above par.”

England are only the second team to lose a one-day international by nine wickets after posting 300 in the first innings, and hold the unenviable record of the most defeats by any Test nation having batted first and notched such a score.

Morgan’s side lie sixth in Pool A after three harrowing defeats against Test-playing nations and their solitary victory against Scotland, leaving no error margin against Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they are to reach the knockout phase.

Morgan said: “Both games we have left are pretty crucial. We have two games to win to get us to the quarter-final and we’re going to have to dust ourselves off.”

In Pool B, former champions Pakistan survived a scare to register their first win of the tournament by edging past Zimbabwe by 20 runs yesterday in Brisbane.