Galle: Jonathan Trott has described England's batting during the first innings in the Galle Test as "a sin" but has struggled to pin down a reason why a batting line-up that was so prolific only a few months ago is now consistently faltering.
England, who must now win in Colombo to draw the series, were bowled out for 192 in 46.4 overs to concede a crucial first-innings advantage of 125 to Sri Lanka as their batting failed for the fourth time in a row.
Criticised for being too defensive at times during the series against Pakistan in the UAE, this time the strokes of some England batsmen in Galle bordered on the reckless as they continued to struggle to find a suitable tempo for batting in Asia.
It has been a rapid fall from grace for a batting line-up that had become accustomed to making 500-plus regularly while the individual batsmen were gaining a reputation for the 'daddy' hundreds that Graham Gooch used to have cause to talk about. From the start of the 2010-11 Ashes to end of the home series against India last summer they had scored six double hundreds and another four scores in excess of 150.
By comparison in 2012, Trott's 112 in the second innings in Galle was England's first hundred of the year. "We've lost a lot of wickets in clusters," Trott said. "In the past if we've lost two early wickets then guys have been able to steady the ship and we've been able to get through sessions pretty unscathed.
"But we've had bad sessions with the bat and getting bowled out in 40-odd overs was a bit of a sin. The wicket was pretty good and we should have capitalised. It's no lack of effort on any par, it just hasn't worked out for us."
Defeat meant that Trott was not able to savour his hundred - one of the finest of his career - despite him showing England that run-scoring was possible with patience and shrewd shot selection.
"To get a hundred is satisfying, but to get one and win always makes it sweeter," he said. "I was pleased by how I felt, I wasn't all that tired at the end of the innings, I just wish I could have batted a bit more. If I'd have got 140, 150 who knows what might have happened."
And, according to Trott, there was no magic formula to his success. "I just played normally. I didn't try going in with any pre-conceived conceptions. I had a bit of luck early on and rode it. You certainly need a bit of luck in these conditions with a lot of catchers round the bat... you need the ball to bounce in the right areas."
Trott also took a swipe at the media for, as he saw it, fuelling an unnecessary debate about Andrew Strauss' position in the team. Strauss has averaged 25.50 since the start of the previous home season and has just two hundreds since July 2009.
"When someone is not scoring as may runs as they would like or expect of themselves it is highlighted by you guys [the media]. I'm sure it will have a similar impact as it did when Alastair Cook came through his little slump. I'm surprised you guys haven't learned from that."
Steven Finn, Strauss' Middlesex teammate, hoping for a place in England's attack in the second Test, was equally supportive on BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme.
"I don't think there's any question that he won't be in charge throughout the summer and beyond," he said. "He's a great captain, everyone here's backing him and this is something that just hasn't come up within the team because no one in the team believes it's valid. Straussy will score runs and that's that."
"Straussy leads from the front. He's an exceptional leader, he's a levelling person. When we have our highs we don't ride them too high and when we have our lows we don't ride them too low. And that's what a great captain does, I think."