Jayawardene sets standard for Cook
Captain Alastair Cook defended the approach of England’s batsmen after they failed to chase down a daunting target of 310 in the second NatWest Series one-day international against Sri Lanka.
Cook was one of several who failed to convert a start into a significant score as England were dismissed for 240 in 45.5 overs at Headingley Carnegie.
Their efforts were in contrast to the brilliance of Mahela Jayawardene, who had earlier compiled 144 from 150 balls – his highest ODI score – to lead Sri Lanka to 309 for five after they were asked to bat first.
Reflecting on England’s performance with the bat, Cook said: “All of the top six got in, but none of us 'did a Mahela’ to get us close to that score.
“The positives were we all got in and looked good, but obviously none of us went on and made that match-winning hundred. I think it (the target) was gettable, but one of us had to go and play a special innings.”
When pushed on the dismissals of many of the top six, he added: “You’ve got to take risks to keep the runs going, but when you don’t execute it well it looks a poor shot.
“I think a lot of the shot options were right, but our execution was poor. He (Jayawardene) took risks as well; he just executed better than we did.”
Although Jayawardene played superbly throughout his innings, he was fortunate to survive on seven when a leaping Graeme Swann failed to hold on to a sharp chance at slip off Tim Bresnan.
“It would have made a big difference, but it was a very tough chance,” said Cook. “Certainly in our fielding we aim to take those 50/50, or even less than that, probably 80/20 chances.
“We set ourselves high standards in practice so that we can try and take them more often than not, but that’s not blaming Swanny.”
Cook conceded he may have made the wrong decision in choosing to field first, but does not believe this proved a decisive factor.
“We fancied chasing. It’s quite a hard ground to defend, a lot of edges can fly down the hill and that was part of our reason to chase,” he explained.
“Maybe in hindsight we got it wrong, but the crux of the matter is our skills. The toss didn’t make that much of a difference; our skills let us down at some times.
“I think they got a few too many from the position we got ourselves in. That last 10 overs obviously went for around 100 (England conceded 97 in that period) and that’s certainly a big area we can work on.”
Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan admitted he had been keen to bat first and was delighted with the way his team responded to their 110-run defeat at the Kia Oval on Tuesday.
The tourists were bowled out for just 121 on that occasion, but were always on course for a big score today after Jayawardene put on 159 for the third wicket with Kumar Sangakkara – a record for Sri Lanka against England.
“We wanted to bat first. It was a good wicket, and we wanted to get some runs and put the pressure on the chasing side,” said Dilshan. “We stuck to our plan, got to 300 - and the bowlers then did a great job.
"We had a long discussion, senior players and the batting unit. We discussed – Mahela, myself and Sanga – how to bat a little bit longer. I think Mahela did a great job – and that's why we got 300.”