Malinga slings out holders England as early wickets again prove costly
Inexperienced England failed to measure up in defence of their ICC World Twenty20 title – and, in the words of their captain Stuart Broad, they were "not quite good enough" throughout.
England's exit was confirmed last night when, despite a maiden Twenty20 international half-century from Samit Patel, they lost by 19 runs to hosts Sri Lanka.
Two years after Paul Collingwood led his country to their first, and still only, International Cricket Council trophy – in this sprint format – Broad's callow team must head home before the semi-final stage.
Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga undermined England's chase of 169 for six, almost from the outset, with three wickets in his first over – on the way to career-best figures of five for 31 in the final Super Eight match at Pallekele Stadium.
Only victory would have taken England through to the knock-out stages – and although Patel (67) and even Graeme Swann, with some late hitting, got them closer than had seemed likely, they never looked likely to prevail.
The relatively near miss was an appropriate, if frustrating, way for England's unconvincing campaign to end.
"Ten minutes after the game, you're obviously really disappointed," Broad admitted.
"You can look at the missed opportunities – but I think throughout the whole tournament, we've not quite been good enough."
England had to get by, of course, without the controversially absent Kevin Pietersen – and, although others hinted at potential, several appeared willing and able maybe but not yet ready to take on and beat the world.
"It's very disappointing to have gone out, because I believe we do have the firepower in that changing room to go far," added the captain.
"Coming to the ground, knowing you win three games and you win a 'World Cup', you're not that far away. It's frustratingly close.
"Those three wickets in the third over damaged us quite a bit," Broad added. "It was a shame, because we'd got a nice little start. But he [Malinga] bowled really well, full and straight, and showed the class that the IPL pay millions for."
So it was for much of the past two weeks that England have occasionally been the cause of their own downfall.
"What you get with young guys is some days absolute brilliance, and other days a bit of averageness," added Broad. "I think, as a team, we've probably shown that. It has been a learning experience for us.
"We didn't have enough players firing at the same time. The talent is certainly there. You see on the domestic scene these are the guys who are performing week in week out.
"It's a learning experience when you come into the international scene. We've got guys here who haven't played a lot of international cricket. But, as long as we learn from it, we will develop."