England know they can ill afford another one-day international embarrassment – for the sake of their standing with supporters, let alone their chances of a much-needed series victory over Sri Lanka.
Joe Root echoed the straight-talking of stand-in captain Eoin Morgan as England tried to make sense of their near record 157-run defeat at Chester-le-Street where the tourists levelled the five-match series at 1-1.
England, who are hoping Alastair Cook can recover from his groin strain to take the reins back for the third instalment at Old Trafford today, collapsed to 99 all out in just 26.1 overs in the North East.
Root, bowled for a third-ball duck by Lasith Malinga, is not hiding from the brutal truth that England’s performance was unacceptable.
Against a backdrop of dwindling crowds in this first series of the summer – Lord’s alone appears set to sell out – Root points out that the best way to win back support, after their winter Ashes misery, is to win matches, or at any rate avoid abject displays like Sunday’s.
“We don’t want fans turning up for games and seeing a performance like that,” he said. “It’s quite embarrassing.”
England deliberately did not dwell on their Durham humbling in the immediate aftermath but will not shy away from the subject on arrival in Manchester.
Root added: “Sometimes you get emotional on the day of the game, so it’s better to leave it a few days and then discuss it as a side.
“We have got to make sure we’re very honest with ourselves and don’t let a performance like that happen again.
“The one way to get people to come and watch you is to win games of cricket and we have to make sure we can do that consistently, earn the right for people to want to come and watch us.
“We don’t want to play like Sunday, where people come to watch and feel let down.
“We want to make sure everyone who comes in is impressed by what they see and want to come again.”
England are not, however, about to lose faith in the ability they demonstrated just last week when they took an early lead in the series with an 81-run success at The Oval.
“We can’t really worry about it too much. We played some really good cricket at The Oval, which was not even a week ago now,” said Root.
“If we do play at the top of our game we’re going to beat sides like Sri Lanka.
“In the first game we played some exceptionally good cricket and on Sunday, we didn’t.
“If we’re being brutally honest it just wasn’t a good enough performance from the whole team, especially the batters.
“As a batting unit, we’ve got to hold our hands up and say it’s not good enough.”
Neither Morgan nor Root has attempted an explanation for England’s extreme off-day.
“There isn’t one that slaps you in the face,” added the Yorkshireman.
“I think there are little things from a personal point of view that we can work on in practice and try and iron out.
“What we’re expecting is to come back strong at Old Trafford and show how good a side we can be.
“We should be able to win in these conditions.”