Duncan Fletcher is hoping England's epidemic of dropped catches can be dismissed as another Lord's off-day and will not spread through the remainder of the Test series against Sri Lanka.
The England coach was bemused at the failure to accept even regulation chances during the drawn opening npower Test at Lord's, when Sri Lanka survived for 199 overs in their second innings to salvage an unexpected draw.
Their rearguard action was aided by England dropping nine catches, including misses by normally reliable fielders such as stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff, Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood.
Their under-par display, in stark contrast to some of their fielding and catching in last summer's Ashes series and the winter tours to Pakistan and India, could be interpreted as a worrying sign but Fletcher is remaining philosophical.
"It's pretty frustrating we couldn't finish them off," he said. "You have to say we didn't win it because we dropped too many catches and if we'd have held those catches, it would probably have been a totally different story.
"You can probably afford to drop one or two catches, but we got on a run with it and that cost us the Test.
"It was very disappointing, but the guys didn't mean to drop the catches and we didn't change our practices, we did the same routines and they caught very, very well."
Fletcher remains convinced the under-par fielding display can be forgotten as a one-off following a similar display against Australia last summer, when a series of dropped catches condemned England to a 239-run defeat in the opening Test.
At least the dropped catches did not result in defeat this time and Fletcher said: "It doesn't happen often, but we do have off-days and the couple of occasions it has happened before have also been at Lord's.
"I think you just drop a couple early on and then you get on a run and I've seen that happen to other teams.
"We're not going to give excuses for it. It's difficult to say why it is and I don't think the fielders have said why, but it does seem to happen at Lord's.
"We caught very, very well in the winter in foreign conditions, so you've got to put the catching at Lord's down to the fact sometimes things like that just happen.
"When you drop nine catches, it means you have to bowl a side out nearly three times and that would always be difficult to do on a wicket that didn't really help the seamers."
One of the consequences of those dropped catches was the amount of time England spent in the field and the number of overs the bowlers got through in their attempts to break Sri Lanka's resistance.
All-rounder Flintoff, whose workload is being monitored by Fletcher since he has stood in as captain for the injured Michael Vaughan, once again led from the front and delivered 51 exhausting overs. Yorkshire seamer Matthew Hoggard sent down 46 overs while Liam Plunkett and Sajid Mahmood both contributed more than 30.
Their workload at Lord's has prompted Fletcher to rest the entire line-up from domestic competition this week and give them a proper break before the first of two back-to-back Tests starts at Edgbaston a week tomorrow.
Fletcher added: "The bowl-ers did bowl a lot of overs and that was one thing we considered when we put them into bat again, but what else could we do? There was a lot of cricket to be played there and hopefully they will have a good break before the next Test." n Michael Vaughan continued his slow rehabilitation following surgery to his right knee with a gentle lunchtime jog in front of the Roses match crowd at Headingley yesterday.
Before a recent setback in his recovery, the England captain had been hoping to play for Yorkshire at Northampton last Sunday. Instead, yesterday's efforts were limited to his regular light exercise, watched by 2,000 or so spectators.
Vaughan had to leave England's tour of India three months ago with a recurrence of the injury which had struck him down in Pakistan last autumn and required surgery before Christmas.
His next opportunity to test his knee appears to be the Championship match against Hampshire which starts at Headingley on May 31 and coincides with England's third and final Test against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge.
Other options could include Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy fixtures against Lancashire and Scotland over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of this month. There is also a Second XI Championship match against Surrey which begins a week today in York.