England v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Rose Bowl June 15, 2011

Hosts aim to expose Sri Lanka's problems


Match Facts

June 16-20, Rose Bowl
Start time 11.00am (1000GMT)

The Big Picture

It's been a strange Test series in many ways. Frequent interruptions by the weather and two matches that have drifted for large periods (except, of course, the stunning final session in Cardiff which gave England their 1-0 lead) means the contest hasn't really bubbled up. Now, at the final Test, Sri Lanka cling to the prospect of pulling off a drawn series while England have their sights set on establishing a clear margin between the teams.

The odds suggest the latter aim is more likely. Sri Lanka have been hit with the major loss of captain Tillakaratne Dilshan due to a broken thumb which will means Lahiru Thirimanne has to be drafted in for his debut and Kumar Sangakkara, reluctantly to say the least, resumes the leadership. Dilshan is so pivotal to Sri Lanka - as he showed with his 193 at Lord's - that it will take a mighty effort for the tourists to overcome his absence.

While the batting line-up has twice competed impressively in the first innings - which makes their capitulation for 82 even more surprising - they have not looked like bowling England out twice. The one chance they had to embarrass the hosts came on the opening day at Lord's with England 22 for 3 but the attack couldn't maintain the pressure. Although Dilshan's near double put pressure back on the home side a victory push always looked a little distant.

England, though, were some way off their best at Lord's and will want to put that right over the next five days. Such high standards have been set that the collective disappointment of the bowling last week caught many by surprise. James Anderson's return will bring a senior figure back to the attack, but this is an important week for Stuart Broad.

As it is for Andrew Strauss. Not that he should be feeling any undue pressure right now, but he was twice lbw to Chanaka Welegedara at Lord's and, given he only plays one format these days, won't want to endure too many lean series. Also, a scoreline anything less than 2-0 will be a missed opportunity for England.

A word, too, on the venue. Not much more than a decade ago the area now home to the Rose Bowl was home to grazing animals. It's been an impressive transformation into a fine venue. Unsurprisingly there were teething problems in the early years, but Rod Bransgrove is right to be proud of what has been achieved. Hampshire deserve a Test match fitting of the occasion.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

England DWWWL
Sri Lanka DLDDD

Watch out for...

James Anderson was sorely missed at Lord's as England's tall pace bowlers struggled to match his consistency. Ideally Anderson would have had at least a short run out before returning from a side strain, but is confident that he is fully recovered. With the likelihood of some cloud cover around Anderson could enjoy conditions on the south coast and reaffirm why he is worthy of consideration as the second-best pace bowler in the world after Dale Steyn.

Kumar Sangakkara has plenty on his plate. He hasn't exactly jumped feet first back into the captaincy after his departure from the role little more than two months ago. There is often more to these sorts of situations than straight cricket decisions, with outside influences common in Sri Lankan cricket. The other issue for Sangakkara is his form. He hasn't been able to improve on a poor record in England during this series, although 153 against Essex will have been a timely boost. In the absence of Dilshan he must lead from the front with the bat.

Team news

Barring any last-minute problems Anderson will slot back into England's side at the expense of Steven Finn who took wickets at Lord's but was expensive. After Kevin Pietersen's 72 in the second innings last week Strauss is the one batsman without a significant contribution in the series.

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

Lahriu Thirimanne is the favourite to replace Dilshan at the top of the order after his hundred against Essex, but Sri Lanka's other problem is how to take 20 wickets. Farveez Maharoof has been ineffective at No. 7 and with victory a must Sri Lanka could be better served by either Thisara Perera's extra pace or Suraj Randiv's offspin

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

Pitch and conditions

For a long time the Rose Bowl had a reputation as being a nightmare for batsmen, but the pitches have since bedded down and often provide plenty of runs. Sadly, it doesn't look like this Test will escape interference from the weather with Friday currently having the worst forecast.

Stats and trivia

  • The Rose Bowl becomes the 10th British Test ground with nine still currently active.

  • Eoin Morgan has scored the most international runs on the ground with 253

  • Sri Lanka have played two previous internationals at the ground - a one-day international during the 2004 Champions Trophy and a Twenty20 in 2006.


"We are determined to make it 2-0 and finish the series off. There's been some good cricket played by both sides amongst the showers we've had but we want to build on what we've done so far."
Andrew Strauss

"Whether you lose 1-0 or 2-0 you've still lost a series, but if we scrap and perform the way we can, we have opportunity to tie series. We have to show no fear and be as positive as we can but at the same time execute all we've spoken about properly on the field."
Kumar Sangakkara

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on June 16, 2011, 18:10 GMT

    @Siddhant Dubey; "Graeme Swann is hugely overrated". So, there's no particular reason then why Swann is the number 2 bowler in the world today? LOL.

  • Al on June 16, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    Neil Simpson your giggles will probably be stiffled soon and I share yorkslanka's opinion. Of course rankings are based on facts. Do you want them to be based on fiction? My Aunt Dahila purported an opinion that our village cricketing hero Bastian aged 72 was the best cricketer in the world. What does that say about opinion? I'm not a suporter of any country's cricket team rooting always for the underdog but to call Sl crap is a travesty of justice. These guys from humble beginings have won almost everything that the cricket world can offer. The FACT that they are not in the top bracket of test cricket is due to the unfair allocation of test matches given to them by the high and mighty ECB and the even more high and mighty Aussie board. Its not exactly like OZ and Old blighty who pay several hundred ashes test matches and swell their stats.

  • Dummy4 on June 16, 2011, 10:07 GMT

    My team for this test match. Paranawithana, Lahiru, Sanga, Mahela, Thilan, Prasanna, Thissara, Randiv, Rangana, Welagedara & Lakmal.

  • S on June 16, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    Go SL! You can beat this English team... you just need to fight hard and do full justice to your potential.

  • Bheem on June 16, 2011, 9:57 GMT

    And good luck to both teams in this Test! I hope SL will be inspired by their daunting task, and rise to the occasion.

  • Bheem on June 16, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    This should be about SL and England. But as @JJ dissed Zaheer Khan, I'm compelled to present some facts for folks to consider (Jimmy is no doubt terrific, but Zak is arguably even more skilful): Tests in 2010 - Zaheer Khan: 47 wkts in 9 matches @ Avg 21.97 and SR 39.8; Jimmy Anderson: 57 wkts in 12 matches @ Avg 22.96 and SR 48.7. (And remember that Anderson played several tests in swing-friendly England; as for ODI cricket, Zak was leading wkt-taker at the recent WC and led India to a win; Anderson had a nightmare)

  • Dummy4 on June 16, 2011, 9:52 GMT

    Graeme Swann is hugely overrated. He is like Michael Hussey (averaged above 80 first 3 years and then fell to 50 today), who is going through a purple patch, wait till 2013 and he will be just another off-spinner.

    Harbhajan Singh is a proven legend, won many games for India, played for 13 years, has 393 Test wickets and has got another 8 years left.

  • husain on June 16, 2011, 9:51 GMT

    England have never beaten india in the last 4 test series of which 2 were in india and 2 in england. In the last test series in england in 2007 india won the series and as far as odis are concerned india are far superior to england when sachin, sehwag, dhoni, yuvraj, gambhir and zaheer will be back and the test match series will be very well contested between the two sides but india will dominate the odi series

  • Vivek on June 16, 2011, 9:23 GMT

    Why most of the people are talking about Zak & Jimmy? It is a kind of debate that wont end nowhere. We have a game ahead of us and that is between Eng & SriLanka. And at the end of the 5th day, we will surely be able to have some answers regarding Jimmy & Co. Lets enjoy the cricket. (And Zak is far better than Jimmy :))

  • Sonam on June 16, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    "In which universe is Anderson next only to Steyn? His Strike rate, wickets per test and bowling avg all are inferior to that of Zaheer Khan. That too when Anderson has mostly played on bowler friendly conditions and Zaheer has bowled on flat pitches." - mrgupta

    Anderson averages 30.98 per wicket, with a strike rate of 56.8 and an average of 3.71 wickets per test.

    Zaheer averages 31.94, with a strike rate of 58.1 and an average of 3.47 wickets per test.

    So statistically mrgupta, Anderson is a better test bowler than Zaheer by any measure. In fact, even Anderson's economy rate is better.

    I, however, do not take statistics too seriously. I think both Jimmy and Zaheer are brilliant, underrated bowlers. Steyn is box office because of his pace, but he is not that much better than either of these two.

    I also think that both India and England are excellent test teams. Although I personally feel England are better, it is nowhere near being clear cut.

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