As England scored 309-6 during their allotted 50 overs in their World Cup cricket match against Sri Lanka in Pool A of the tournament, a close contest was envisaged with bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad targeting the opposition opening batsman. Joe Root had scored 121 for England and had been ably supported by Ian Bell who claimed 49 runs with Jos Buttler adding a rapid 39 towards the end of the innings. What followed served as an example of quality batting but also some wayward bowling.
Sri Lanka had already completed victories against Afghanistan and Bangladesh prior to this game and the 332 runs scored in their win against the latter team should have served as a warning to the England pace attack. Just one wicket had fallen in accumulating those runs with both Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara compiling unbeaten centuries and Lahiru Thirimanne being dismissed for 52 runs after sharing in a first wicket partnership of 122.
It was virtually a repeat performance in their innings against England but on this occasion, Dilshan was to be the unlucky batsman when losing his wicket as the Sri Lankan total passed the century mark. Both Sanakkara and Thirimanne finished unbeaten on 117 and 139 respectively with England opening batsman Moeen Ali taking the only wicket and returning the best of the English bowling figures.
For the remainder of the players among the England attack, the match proved to be a sobering experience with Chris Woakes conceding 72 runs in nine overs of bowling and Steve Finn registering figures only marginally better at 0-54 in eight overs. Stuart Broad will also wish to forget his display as 67 runs were plundered from his 10 overs.
England now face the prospect of early elimination and the wrath of the critics back home should they fail to beat both Afghanistan and Bangladesh in their final pool games. They must wait until the 9th March before the confrontation with Bangladesh while defeat against the Afghan team just four days later would raise serious questions as to the preparations and attitude of the English selectors and players.
Yet victory against Bangladesh cannot be considered as a formality especially with their batsmen expected to gain valuable practice against a poor Scotland team before the encounter with England. With New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Australia expected to qualify from Pool A for the quarter-final matches, England will also be hoping that the weather does intervene in Adelaide ahead of the game against Bangladesh as they secured a vital point against Australia without a ball being bowled in Brisbane.
The England team will be watching the weather forecast with renewed interest but their hopes of progressing much further than the quarter-finals have already been dismissed as implausible by many leading cricketing experts. It is now the responsibility of the English players to show their true worth and defy the critics.