England's woes continued with a series defeat in Sri Lanka.
It was meant to help build some confidence but England cricket team's tour of Sri Lanka has once again ended in defeat.
England headed to Sri Lanka on a bit of a roll after finally breaking a terrible run of form with a series win against India. Mood in the camp had improved and with emerging talents such as Moeen Ali and Joe Root coming to prominence, there was hope that the tour could build momentum going into new year's ICC Cricket World Cup.
A warm up victory against Sri Lanka A saw Moeen impressing, scoring a century in just 21 balls and then taking three wickets in a convincing victory. However, the feel good factor was quickly shut down as the one day internationals (ODI) began. A narrow defeat on day one was compounded by a resounding loss by eight wickets on the second.
The start of the seven game series had an ominous feeling on the 2013/14 Ashes where England suffered a whitewash to the hands of Australia. However, there was fight in Alastair Cook's men and by the sixth day they had the opportunity to level the series at 3-3. Unfortunately it was not to be as they lost the sixth by 90 runs.
A disappointing series ended with another defeat on the final day giving Sri Lanka a 5-2 overall victory. So where did it all go wrong and how can England rally themselves for the start of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand? Will Alastair Cook even be captain in when the team walks out in Sydney on February 9th?
Here is our look back at the Sri Lankan tour.
Bright start fades
Following a morale boosting win over England went into the opening ODI in Colombo in a confident mood. The signs were good with Moeen Ali scoring his maiden century in ODI. The Worcestershire all rounder hit 11 fours and five sixes for a total of 119 in just 87. Unfortunately his teammates were unable to reach figures of that nature.
Ravi Bopara was the second highest scorer with 65 as England were bowled for 292. Sri Lanka by contrast were much more consistent with Tillakaratne Dilshan leading from the front with 88 as the host posted their highest ever total against England, 317-6.
It set the tone for the early exchanges in the series with Sri Lanka going onto win by six wickets in the second match. With a 2-0 deficit, England rallied and fought back in the third. In Hambantota, England showed resolve to claim their first victory of the tour.
Joe Root and Jos Buttler were in inspired form at the crease. Chasing 242-8 thanks to excellent bowling from Chris Woakes, who took three wickets, Root and Buttler helped helped build on a positive start made by Moeen. The pair share 84 runs in 10.3 overs to carry England over the line with eight balls to spare, handing them a five wicket (D/L) win.
The feel good factor was shortlived however as Sri Lanka to win the fourth ODI by six wickets. In Pallekele it was a much different story as England put themselves within a game of levelling the series.
Chasing 239, Cook's produced a great battling performance with James Taylor scoring 68 before Root excelled once again claiming his first century of the tour, posting 104 not out. It helped towards England ending 240-5 heading into a make or break match in the sixth game.
Kumar Sangakkara hit a century leaving England with a mountain to climb.
Chasing 292-7 England were not able to repeat their heroics despite Root hitting another half century. They were bowled for 202 handing Sri Lanka the victory and the series. A final day England collapse put the gloss on a 5-2 series win for the hosts.
Will Alastair Cook survive to the World Cup?
The pressure has been mounting on captain Alastair Cook for a number of months and there is now there is a genuine question mark on whether he will lead out England when they play their opening World Cup match against the West Indies in February. The defeat to Sri Lanka put his leadership in doubt once again.
Following the final day loss in the series, Cook admitted that he would have "no complaints" if he was stood down by England selectors.
Cook said: "I haven't scored the runs I'd like to have and we haven't won the number of games I'd like to have. Whether the selectors still think I'm the right man, we'll wait and see."
His record as England captain in 2014 has been disappointing with the team only recording six wins in 14 matches, which includes a spell under Peter Moores. It is yet to be seen whether he will still be in charge in the new year.
England do not have much time before the start of the World Cup. They only have a handful of games in the build-up and will head to Australia next month to face the southern hemisphere side and India in a tri-series. Selectors are set to announce the squad on Saturday (December 20th) which could be an indication of the final World Cup squad.