Adjusting to conditions crucial - Atapattu
Sri Lanka's batting coach Marvan Atapattu has said that the side will have to adjust to the Test format and the English conditions if they are to challenge England this summer.
"The biggest challenge is to adjust to English conditions," he said prior to the team's departure for the two-month tour. "We are playing a Test series after a gap of a few months [Sri Lanka's last Test was in the rain-affected series against West Indies in November-December 2010]. Winning the Test series in England is our aim.
"A [Test] win will make it easier for our preparation work for the one-day and T20 games [that follow]."
The squad left without newly appointed captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, and former captains Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, as the players are on IPL duty. While Dilshan will join the squad ahead of their first practice game - against Middlesex between May 14 and 16 - the other two seniors will join the squad along with Dilhara Fernando, Thisara Perera and Suraj Randiv, in time for the second practice game on May 18.
Another notable absence in the squad leaving for England was Muttiah Muralitharan, who retired from international cricket at the end of the World Cup. While Sri Lanka are yet to win a Test series in England, Muralitharan has featured in some of their better performances there, picking up 16 wickets to help them win a one-off Test at The Oval in 1998, and eight wickets to win a Test at Trent Bridge in 2006 to draw a series.
Downplaying Muralitharan's absence, Atapattu said the tour provided a chance for fringe players like Farveez Maharoof and Kaushal Silva - who have been brought in for the first practice game as cover for the absent players - to prove their credentials.