England v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Cardiff May 25, 2011

England's new target, Sri Lanka's new era


Match Facts

May 26-30, Cardiff
Start time 11.00am (1000GMT)

The Big Picture

This series is being billed as the starter before the main course of England's season. India are the major drawcard of the summer, but Sri Lanka's visit promises much interest and intrigue. It pits a home side wanting to build on one of their finest triumphs in Australia against a visiting side trying to rebuild under a new captain and coach amid more political rumblings in Sri Lankan cricket.

A lot has happened since England celebrated in Sydney and even since Sri Lanka finished second in the World Cup. The hosts now have three captains for starters, but nine of the team that played in Sydney are set to line-up in this Test. Andrew Strauss has been very keen to stress how the Ashes success was just a stepping stone, albeit an historic one, in England's quest to be No. 1 in the world. That aim could be achieved by the end of the summer if they beat both Sri Lanka and India but it won't be an easy task.

Sri Lanka come here as significant underdogs, largely due to the loss of three match-winning bowlers in Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga. Yet England will underestimate them at their peril. They showed their fighting qualities with an impressive victory against the Lions after being forced to follow-on as Tillakaratne Dilshan, the new captain, led the way with 117 at better than a run-a-ball. Much will rest on the tone Dilshan sets as a captain and batsman.

However, with Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in the ranks runs shouldn't be in short supply and then it will be down to a new-look bowling attack. The loss of Nuwan Pradeep is a significant blow and they can't afford Dilhara Fernando to go lame as well. It's impossible to replace Murali, but in Rangana Herath they have a steady left-arm spinner who will no doubt target Kevin Pietersen.

Although Sri Lanka haven't won a series in England they have surprised the hosts more than once. Most famously there was 1998 at The Oval, but five years ago they also won at Trent Bridge to level the series. A shared contest this time would be a fine achievement for Dilshan and a major let-down for Strauss.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

England WWLWD
Sri Lanka DDDLD

Watch out for...

In the end Eoin Morgan made a case that was too good to ignore. His 193 against the Sri Lankans at Derby secured him a Test place that appeared to have slipped away after six weeks at the IPL. Now he has the chance to make the No. 6 berth his for the foreseeable future. He is the ideal counter-attacking player to have in the middle order; someone who scores at close to a run-a-ball and can shift momentum. However, his biggest challenge will come if (or when) he walks in with England wobbling. Barring his hundred against Pakistan at Trent Bridge last year he was vulnerable against the moving ball. One thing he doesn't lack, though, is confidence and that can carry you a long way.

Tillakaratne Dilshan won't do anything in half measures. He has shown his attacking mindset already on this tour both with the bat and in the field. Much like Virender Sehwag, one session of Dilshan blazing away can set the tone for a Test match. England's bowlers won't be allowed any leeway to find their feet. As a captain he isn't a long-term option, but is determined to do things his way and that will include thinking 'outside of the box'. Against the Lions he brought himself on to bowl with the new ball and made a breakthrough. Don't be surprised to see Herath in action as soon as Pietersen walks to the middle.

Team news

The only decision for the home side is the make-up of their pace attack and it seems likely that Steven Finn will miss out. Stuart Broad is fit again after his winter injuries although he looked a little short of rhythm in the County Championship. Morgan replaces Paul Collingwood in the middle order with Ian Bell set to move to No. 5. Pietersen and Jonathan Trott will be needed for some fill-in overs at various stages.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Chris Tremlett, 11 James Anderson

Sri Lanka have been hit with injuries to their pace attack. Pradeep is out and there are concerns over Dilhara Fernando, who is set to share the new ball with Chanaka Welegedara. Dilshan confirmed they'd picked six batsmen and five bowlers, a hint that Farveez Maharoof could play while Rangana Herath is the one spinner in their 12.

Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 2 Tharanga Paranavitana, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 7 Farveez Maharoof, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Dilhara Fernando, 11 Chanaka Welegedara

Pitch and conditions

Domestic and international pitches are often two very different beasts at Cardiff. Alarms are sometimes raised by the amount of turn for Glamorgan matches, but the groundsman keeps things safe for the internationals. Stuart Law said the pitch "looked a belter" and two years ago Australia piled up 674 for 6. The forecast, however, isn't too promising with showers forecast for the opening day and further rain over the weekend.

Stats and trivia

  • Stuart Broad is currently sat on 99 Test wickets having collected just two scalps in his two Ashes Tests before injury.

  • The performance of Sri Lanka's bowlers in England since 2000 is better than only Zimbabwe

  • Thilan Samaraweera, overall Test average of 54.25, averages just 4.25 in England albeit from just two matches

For a full stats preview click here.


"They have some high quality players, some of them we don't know much about but that does not mean they are not good bowlers, we expect a stern test."
Andrew Strauss may be looking forward to the Indian challenge later this summer, but that doesn't mean England will be taking Sri Lanka lightly

"We have a few youngsters who will get a chance and it will be good for their development in international cricket. We are looking forward to a new era for Sri Lankan cricket."
Tillakaratne Dilshan believes Sri Lanka have the talent to keep moving forward in the post-Murali era

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Amila on May 27, 2011, 17:19 GMT

    So where are the guys who were talking about replacing Prasanna Jayawardene, bringing Dinesh Chandimal in to the team? See Prasanna played a class inning to post a Good total on the board. He is the best keeper in Sri Lankan team. What else you can expect from him.

  • Sam on May 26, 2011, 17:39 GMT

    England have upset their balance by choosing to have a four pronged bowling attack. Collingwood gave them a fifth genuine bowling option and a player that was expected to contribute overs. Using KP and Trott as bowlers is not wise and if the Sri Lankans can hang in there the England bowlers will get tired.

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2011, 15:24 GMT

    This wicket will b dead soon, no real bounce. Good 2 hold tall Dilhara and Randev. But Chandimal should get a chance over Prassanna. I'm sure Mahela will miss few catches in this match as he did when Sana, Hashan captaining. He only supports Sanga. Dili needs to handle everything him self.

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2011, 10:11 GMT

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME, IVE BEEN WAITING WEEKS TO SEE DINESH CHANDIMUL PLAY HIS DEBUT TEST AND NOW DILSHAN WANTS 5 BOWLERS???? DILSHAN WAKE UP, u bowl offspin, samaraweera bowls offspin, you dont need another bowler, u need chandimul who avg 60 in state cricket at 75 strike rate and is class act and back up keeper (why chose prassana over chandimul?? chandimul scores twice as many runs!! and seems good keeper) This is ridiculous, maharoof has wasted his chanced avg 60 with ball in test cricket...thats not a bowler, most part timers are better then that. Before i predicted 1-1 result, now they play 5 bowlers AND INJURIES TO PRADEEP , and potential non-selection of chandimul and mendis, i reckon 2 or 3 nill to england. How can SL win with such short batting line up and no mystery spinner mendis?? (and no murali, and randiv out of form) This is disgraceful, chandimal better batsman then dilshan and para SL wake up and pick young, quality, performing and in- form talent like chandimul.

  • Steve on May 26, 2011, 9:10 GMT

    Aaaah, deep sigh of relief - proper cricket's back at last! What a season in prospect. The quality of Dilshan, Sanga & Mahela and a new look bowling attack to be followed by possibly the finest batting lineup test cricket has ever seen with SRT etal. SL and India will find English conditions challenging but I've no doubt it will be an English summer to remember and I've got my fingers crossed for England hitting the No 1 spot although it sure won't be easy. You've gotta LOVE this wonderful game!

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2011, 8:57 GMT

    I hope the weather is better in Wales than it is here in Newquay #wet&wild

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    How many times we have seen the English media and fans drumming up England before the start of the season and then after one hickup the go all guns attacking the poor team. England is a over rated out fit, just bcos they beat Aus, at a time Aus was the weakest ever, their over arrogance in this tour will be their demise. SL on the other hand is rebuilding and they are fighters. Anderson, Broad, Swan has never done well against them. Swan is the most over rated bowler ever. I think SL and India will put him in his place this summer. Look forward for some cracking cricket.

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2011, 6:43 GMT

    CHandimal should keep wicket as play as Batsman Wicketkeeper. Prassana is an utter failure as a bat and last tests he had erred as WK as well. Nandi Jasen

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    SL must play with 6 recognized batsmen including Randiv and 4 bowlers. In addition, the wicketkeeper must be Chandimal as Prasanna also casual and drop catches. Maharoof must be considered after Wela, Thisara and Lakmal. For batting also, Maharoof would be a better option than Lakmal. Otherwise, it could be a procession at Cardiff.

  • Bryn on May 26, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    hahaha england think they can be the best in the world?? thats hilerious! im tipping a sri lanka series win 1-0

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