No excuses from Strauss
England captain Andrew Strauss offered a frank assessment of his side’s shortcomings after their rollercoaster World Cup campaign ended with a 10-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga both registered unbeaten centuries as the co-hosts cruised to their target of 230 with more than 10 overs to spare at the R Premadasa Stadium.
England have been involved in a series of thrilling encounters during the competition and produced sensational comebacks to beat South Africa and West Indies during the group stage.
On this occasion, however, they were unable to mount any sort of fightback once Sri Lanka's openers settled into their stride and Strauss was not prepared to make excuses in the post-match presentation.
“Over the course of the tournament our cricket hasn’t been good enough. I think we have got to be honest with ourselves. We haven’t played well enough and that’s why we are going home,” he admitted.
“We just haven’t played with enough quality with either bat or ball. We can’t hide away from that.
“We’ve shown a lot of resolve and spirit and we’ve won some tight games and come through but this was a step too far. Sri Lanka are a very good side, played very well on the day and we weren’t good enough.
“We thought if we took early wickets we would be in with a chance but fair play to Sri Lanka, they played beautifully.
“Both Tharanga and Dilshan were outstanding and we have been thoroughly beaten by a much better side today.”
Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan had contributed 86 and 50 respectively to help England recover from 31 for two, but it soon became apparent that a total of 229 for six was some way short of what was required.
“We probably thought it was 30 light and in the end it was probably 50 light if I’m honest,” Strauss added.
“We didn’t get off to a good start with the bat, we did reasonably in the middle but then we weren’t able to accelerate at the end.
“They were able to bowl a lot of dot balls at us. We lost a couple of wickets early and then it was always that consolidation phase where batsmen have to build a platform. We weren’t able to take advantage of that platform in the end.”
Strauss believes England’s tough winter schedule may have played its part in their off-colour showing here, but is wary of that excuse.
“I think you can cite tiredness, but that would be running away from the issue,” he explained.
“We haven’t played good enough cricket at this World Cup, and generally English teams haven’t played well in the sub-continent to compete day in and day out. We’re the latest in a long line of sides - and we need to be better than that.”
England’s skipper will nonetheless look back on 2010/11 with much reason for satisfaction.
“The Ashes was certainly my proudest moment in cricket and probably one of English cricket’s proudest moments for a long time - and no one will ever take that away from us,” he said.
“But since then things have got tough - we’ve had injuries and losses of form to deal with, but we haven’t been good enough in either Australia or this World Cup.”
Strauss remains committed to leading England in one-day internationals and has backed his team-mates to bounce back following a period of rest and recovery.
When asked if he believes he can take the team further in the one-day format, Strauss replied: “Absolutely. I still think I’ve got a lot of cricket left in me, full stop.
“As is always the case at the end of a World Cup you’ve got to sit down and think what the best way forward is.
“Right now we are obviously very disappointed, but we’ll get home, regroup and we’ll come back.”