Source: Sri Lanka Cricket

England crushed by Sri Lanka

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Undone by Athapaththu – Second T20

The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford 2 September 2023

A memorable day for Sri Lanka in front of a packed crowd at Chelmsford.

They overwhelmed England with a one-sided victory to post their first ever defeat of England at T20 level.

England are asked to bat first for the second time. SL now bowl really well: in the first over Athapaththu dismisses Wyatt for 1. England muster only 14 runs in three overs. Then an excellent catch by Fernando off Kumari secures Capsey’s wicket. (15-2)

In the fifth over, even worse: Bouchier is caught by Dilhari (21-3); a second wicket for Kumari. A scoring rate of over 5 is being spoiled by wicket-wastage.

Knight and Jones come together to repair the damage, but it’s England’s poorest powerplay for yonks. Even then, Knight survives an lbw appeal, thanks to the ball brushing a glove.

On review Jones (12/12) goes lbw to Ranaweera (41-4). So now the second half of England’s batting line-up has to show its quality.

In the ninth over Freya Kemp misses a leg-side delivery, loses her balance and is well stumped by Sanjeewani. (46-5) At once Knight (14/16, the top score) gets a leading edge off Ranaweera and offers a simple c & b. 48-6!

An early demise is delayed, because drinks are called. The 50 arrives perilously in the tenth over. Phew!

Gibson is well caugtht at short third by Ranaweera (65-7). Once more a reverse-stroke fails to produce.
A series of English batters have shown a weakness against slow bowling. With no pace on the ball, they can’t find a safe way of hitting it hard and true.

Glenn goes fourth ball for 0. (66-8)

When England do begin to find some form, it’s the ninth wicket at the crease. Dean proves her value as an all-rounder, helping her side past their lowest ever T20 total of 87 versus Australia.

Wong swings and misses (99-9). The pair have put on 33, but can that possibly be enough?

The crowd roars (in disbelief?) as England post three figures. The disbelief is undoubted as the last wicket falls for 104, Dean bowled for a defiant 34.


Athapaththu hits Cross for 4 to get her side off to a positive start. Gibson, given her big chance,
bowls two no balls in her first over. Sanjeewani chips her to extra to give a first invaluable wicket,
but her over is expensive, 9 runs. How long till they get the wicket that matters, Athapaththu?
Preliminary answer: Cross goes for three consecutive fours then a six to the admirable SL captain.

21 off one over, if you please. In the absence of Sophie Ecclestone, Knight turns to Dean to
restore sanity, but a four is almost another six.

When Wong comes on, she bowls a no-ball that is hit for four. She bowls two more to confirm worries about her run-up, not to mention other concerns.

SL have posted 50 by the fifth over. As Athapaththu strikes another massive six, the umpire calls for a second replacement ball. Do we ever feel sympathy for the pain that the cricket ball suffers?

Dean goes for 14 as the powerplay sees SL reach a formidable 63-1. Only 38 needed from 14 overs now; Knight must already be formulating her losing captain’s speech. Athapaththu is striking around two runs per ball; her bat-makers will be feeling prosperous.

Glenn goes for only 2 runs in her first over!

Athapaththu reaches 50 with a four off 26 balls. (73-1), but she mishits Capsey to Cross in the
deep (55/31, 8×4, 2×6). England have seized the wicket that matters but at the wrong end of the

Wong returns and is promptly hit for two fours. Samarawickrama whacks Cross for six to finish
the game with a glorious flourish.

English diehards may want to blame the pitch. They’ll point to the twenty dot-balls Glenn and
Capsey delivered, set against the torrent of runs conceded at the start of proceedings. But then,
they didn’t face the extraordinary Athapaththu.

England 104 (18 overs)
Sri Lanka 110-2 (13.2 overs)
Sri Lanka win by 8 wickets

Player of the Match: Chamari Athapaththu

The Teams:

Danni Wyatt, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Heather Knight (captain), Amy Jones (wk), Freya Kemp, Danielle Gibson, Issy Wong, Sarah Glenn, Charlie Dean, Kate Cross
One change: Wong for Gaur. Lauren Bell was still missing.

Sri Lanka
Anushka Sanjeewani (wk), Chamari Athapaththu (captain), Nilakshi de Silva, Vishmi Gunaratne,
Kavisha Dilhari, Harshitha Samarawickrama, Inoka Ranaweera, Sugandika Kumari, Udeshika
Prabodhani, Hasini Perera, Inoshi Priyadharshani
One change: Inoshi Priyadharshani for Kawya Kavindi


The Athapaththu effect

Her qualities effect the game in different ways:

Can SL discover other players to help spread the responsibilities? At the moment she does look like a one-woman team. She bowled the first over and dismissed Wyatt.

Bowlers who face her return poor analyses. England’s scorecard neatly proves the point.

After SL’s victories over NZ and South Africa this must count as the moment when they have really arrived in the big time. Will the board respond by offering the players the support they deserve?

The Lewis reaction

Jon Lewis is well known for taking the positive approach. It will now be put to the test. If his side can’t beat SL at Derby, it will mark an undigestible loss 1-2 to the eighth-ranked Sri Lankans. Solution: somebody needs to dismiss Athapaththu for a duck. Kate Cross went for 33 runs off her fourteen deliveries; Issy Wong for 24 off her twelve. If we say Wong shouldn’t have been picked while still sorting out her run-up, then what was Lauren Filer doing, watching on for the second time running? She must be injured.

The spinners claimed the limited English success in the field.

None of Sciver-Brunt, Beaumont or Ecclestone are available to sort things out; two of them are Lewis’ responsibility.

The absence of fast bowling in the SL armoury would have helped England, had they not proved so vulnerable to slow bowling.

The remaining T20

6 September, The Incora County Ground, Derby

The three ODIs

9 September 2023, Seat Unique Riverside, Chester-le-Street 11.00 (BST)
12 September, County Ground, Northampton 12.30 (BST)
14 September, Grace Road Leicester 12.30 (BST)