London, June 1: Sri Lanka's thrashing at the hands of England in the recently-concluded first Test at Cardiff, made it resoundingly clear that the visitors are badly missing the experience and prowess of retired spearhead Muttiah Muralitharan.
Murali, who quit Test cricket last year before an international farewell after the World Cup 2011, was sorely missed as the Lankans allowed the English to amass 496/5 in the second innings, to then get bowled out for a paltry 82 and thus lose the match by an innings and 114 runs.
The Lankan spinners toiled without much luck on Day 3 and 4 of the Test as they failed to unsettle the English line-up. Short on experience, Tillakratne Dilshan and especially off-break Ajantha Mendis and slow-left-armer Rangana Herath struggled for impact, garnering just 3 wickets from 81overs between them.
The Lanka attack therefore looks toothless and fazed and is in desperate need of the type of leadership that only Murali could dish out. With a wry smile on his face, Murali admitted that he was obviously unable to help out his younger colleagues.
"I have finished my career and they have to handle themselves," the 39-year-old said Tuesday in a tet-a-tet with Gloucestershire's website.
"The coach is there and the captain is there and they have to handle themselves. I can't help them. I'm not there," said the spin legend.
But Murali expressed confidence that the present Lankan team will hit back in the Lord's Test which begins on Friday.
"Sometimes you have a disaster but that doesn't mean they're a bad side. They will bounce back," concluded Murali.