Andy Balbirnie wants Ireland to develop their own way of playing Test cricket after seeing his side outclassed by Sri Lanka and thrashed by an innings and 280 runs inside three days in Galle.

“We fought in stages but not for long enough,” skipper Balbirnie said. “We knew it would be challenging and we got a taste of just how tough it can be over the past few days.”

The Sri Lanka attack were relentless, wrapping up the Ireland first innings on 143 after Lorcan Tucker had unluckily been give lbw for a top score of 45, and then dismissing the visitors a second time for 168, shortly after tea.

“To play Test cricket well we’ve maybe got to find our own way because we’re just not brought up on playing Test cricket the traditional way,” Balbirnie said.

“Our focus is white-ball. That’s where most of our players have learned their skills and we’ve got to find a way of harnessing those skills we’ve learned in 50-overs cricket and bring them to the Test arena.

“I don’t know what that’s going to look like yet but I do know we’re going to have to do it differently to other Test nations.

“We’re not putting expectations on players. We just want them to express themselves and enjoy the challenge because it is tough and it’ll only get tougher.”

Perhaps ‘Bal-ball’ will borrow some of the qualities of ‘Baz-ball’ - the exciting brand of red-ball cricket played by England since the arrival of coach Brendan McCullum, with the emphasis on freedom of expression and scoring quickly.

There was little of that yesterday as left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya took another five wickets to earn man-of-the-match while only Harry Tector and Curtis Campher offered prolonged resistance in a sixth-wicket partnership of 60.

Tector survived a bumper barrage and again showed his class until on 42 he set off for an optimistic run, slipped as he tried to regain his ground and was run out by the length of the bat he had dropped mid-pitch.

The sight of Ireland’s best batsman flat on his face in the dirt, cursing both his judgement and his studs, somehow summed up both Ireland’s naiveté and potential as they lost a fifth Test in a row.

The only way is up - and let’s not forget it took Bangladesh 35 attempts to record a first Test win. 

“We’ve got to be realistic with where we’re at in this format,” Balbirnie said. “I can’t be critical of the players, they’re trying their hardest to be competitive against a team who, in their own conditions, are as good as anyone.”

Ireland will return to the same venue on Monday to be tested by Sri Lanka’s spinners again in the second and final match of the series, with Paul Stirling available after his break, and a few hard-learned lessons under their belts.