Sri Lankan batting coach Grant Flower found himself short of words to explain the hosts' dismal batting show against England.
Batting first in the first Test in Galle, Sri Lanka were skittled for just 135 runs. Off-spinner Dom Bess took five wickets for the visitors. The Lankan batting order looked in T20-mode as most batters got out trying to play attacking strokes against some disciplined bowling.
As quoted by ESPNcricinfo, Grant Flower remarked that every Sri Lankan batsman should share the blame for the poor staging.
"I can't explain it. I've been with the team for a year. It's the worst batting I've seen. It's purely mental I think. I don't have any reasons to explain that. Every single batsman should take the blame. They've only got themselves to blame. One of the guys was unlucky - Dasun Shanaka - when it came off Jonny Bairstow's ankle. But the rest just got themselves out. There was some decent bowling, but the pitch isn't a minefield," said Grant Flower.
In reply, England lost a couple of wickets early as well. However, skipper Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow reprived the innings with their unbeaten 110-run stand.
"Pitch played well and we batted terribly" - Grant Flower
Sri Lanka are coming fresh off a 2-0 series loss from South Africa. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne had expected a better performance from his team in favorable conditions. However, Karunaratne himself got injured just before the play and was replaced by Dinesh Chandimal at the helm.
Grant Flower said the Sri Lankan batters should have taken advantage of the home conditions.
"I can't give much technical advice. I can only talk to them about the mental aspect, and ask them what they were thinking regarding their dismissals. I've only spoken to a few as well as the coach. I'm at a loss for words. I've never seen us bat that badly. Whether it was nerves or coming back from South Africa...But they know these conditions so well, so they should have had a big advantage over England. But the England batsmen showed us this afternoon there's nothing wrong with the pitch so far. It's going to get worse, but today it played well and we batted terribly," said Grant Flower.
England trailed Sri Lanka by just 8 runs at stumps on the first day. Root notched up his 50th half-century in Test cricket and is being ably supported by Jonny Bairstow, who is batting at 47.