England v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, The Oval June 27, 2011

Captain Cook takes the helm


Match facts

Tuesday, June 28, The Oval
Start time 1300 (1200 GMT)

Big Picture

This time last week, Andrew Strauss was England's man at the helm. On Saturday, for a perfunctory 37.2 overs, Stuart Broad took over as national captain, and at 12.30pm tomorrow afternoon, Alastair Cook will line up at the toss as England's third skipper in eight days. The policy of separate leaders for all three formats always looked like a bit of a gamble, but right at this moment, following the most anticlimactic coronation imaginable for Broad at Bristol, there's an additional layer of scrutiny pending.

On the bright side for Cook, his first game as full-time ODI captain is unlikely to go quite as badly as Strauss's last in the role, in Colombo three months ago. England's ten-wicket drubbing in that fixture was inflicted by Upul Tharanga, who is currently serving a suspension for the use of a prohibited substance, and Tillakaratne Dilshan who, although passed fit, is still feeling the effects of his broken thumb. Nevertheless, there was a yawning gulf in class on display at Bristol. In the 50-over format, England have four years in which to get their act together ahead of the 2015 World Cup. Few people are expecting them to pull it off at the first time of asking.

There will be other factors at play at The Oval. After a handy cameo with the ball, if not the bat, at Bristol, Sanath Jayasuriya is preparing to sign off from international cricket at the ground where, in 1998, his blazing double-century set the stage for Muttiah Muralitharan's 16-wicket masterclass in the one-off Test against England. The circumstances of his recall have been controversial, even though with Dilshan missing for a week his experience has not been unwelcome. Meanwhile off the pitch, Stuart Law has confirmed he will be moving on to become coach of Bangladesh. Distractions abound for Sri Lanka, but they are pretty accustomed to such things.

But the major focus will be on a left-handed opener with a somewhat different reputation in short-form cricket. The success of the three-captain policy requires each of the leaders to display personal form while producing the victories expected of them. So far this summer, Strauss has won a Test series without scoring runs, while Broad has been hammered in his solitary outing without showing much evidence of a return to his best. Cook, meanwhile, has been scoring runs for fun in Test cricket, but struggled to raise his game in an ODI scenario at Lord's last month, where he was stumped for the first time in his first-class career. He will know, better than anyone, how much he has to prove.

Form guide (most recent first)

England LWLWL
Sri Lanka LWWWW

The spotlight

Where else to look but Alastair Cook? Stuart Broad may have had a tough time on his captaincy debut at Bristol on Saturday, but at least his value as a limited-overs performer has rarely been called into question. Cook, on the other hand, wasn't deemed worthy of a place in England's 30-man squad for the World Cup earlier this year, and yet has now been parachuted back straight back into the set-up as skipper. In his defence he performed admirably in a stand-in capacity in Bangladesh last year, but the doubts about his suitability have been voiced already, with the former England captain Mike Atherton denouncing him as a "plodder" on Sunday morning. "Takes one to know one," was Cook's wry reply.

Lasith Malinga's four overs at Bristol were as perfect as one could hope to witness in Twenty20 cricket. His first Powerplay over cost just three runs, his second accounted for the vital wicket of Eoin Morgan, his third leaked five singles as England tried and failed to up the tempo, and his last resulted in two wickets, three scrambled byes and not a single run off the bat. His absence from the Test series was understandable given the nature of his role and the workload required in five-day games, but this was a hint as to what exactly Sri Lanka had missed.

Team news

Andrew Strauss's ODI retirement means there will be no change more notable than the one at the top of the order, where Cook will be reunited with his opening partner from last year's tour of Bangladesh, Craig Kieswetter. Of the two rookies who opened the bowling in the Twenty20, Chris Woakes seems the likelier to make way for the returning James Anderson, which means Jade Dernbach should make his ODI debut on his home ground. Tim Bresnan's late inclusion in the squad could squeeze Samit Patel out of the starting XI, despite his five-wicket haul on this ground against South Africa in 2008.

England (probable) 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alastair Cook (capt), 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ian Bell, 7 Samit Patel/Tim Bresnan, 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Jade Dernbach.

Sri Lanka had good news late on Monday when Tillakaratne Dilshan was passed fit after his broken thumb and he'll open with Sanath Jayasuriya, meaning Mahela Jayawardene reverts to his middle-order role. Angelo Mathews is still doubtful to bowl and Dilshan may not be risked with the ball, either.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt) 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Thilina Kandamby, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekera, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Suraj Randiv, 11 Lasith Malinga,

Pitch and conditions

London's dank June has given way to a mini-heatwave in the two days leading up to the start of the match, although that is all set to end with thunderstorms forecast for Monday evening. The wet weather should have cleared sufficiently to allow a prompt start at 1pm, but the clouds may still be lingering.

Stats and trivia

  • England and Sri Lanka's last meeting in 50-overs cricket was the World Cup quarter-final in Colombo back in March, which - thanks to their ten-wicket trouncing - also happens to have been England's most recent ODI.

  • Inauspiciously for England, their home record against Sri Lanka is scarcely any better in recent times. In 2006 they were thumped out of sight, five matches out of five, with Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga racking up an opening stand of 286 at Headingley. Only two England squad members remain from that game - the new captain Cook, and the returning Tim Bresnan.

  • Alastair Cook averages 33.00 in 26 ODI appearances, with a solitary century against India in 2007, and a strike-rate of 71.38.


    "I just see myself as the one-day captain. I'm just concentrating on tomorrow's game and doing the best job I can. We can worry about the other stuff later."
    Alastair Cook presents a straight bat to questions about his Test captaincy ambitions.

    "Sanath won't be staying on for the rest of the series. He has already decided to retire after the first one-day. That's his call and we can't help it."
    Thilina Kandamby prepares to say farewell to Sanath Jayasuriya.

    Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sanjeev on June 28, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    @sri lankans dont worry we will see in England last time we won this time you lost..you can never win there in England and yes lets see how ur team does in Sa we atleast drew the series lets see how ur team does..and why did india not toured in early summer cause we are engaged with WI in 2002 we toured in may june dont forget that...fact of the matter is we are not afraid of fast or swinging pitches whether it is headingley, jamaica, perth, durban or adelaide, we atleast drew series in SL your team has yet to win test in India :))

  • sandun on June 28, 2011, 10:57 GMT

    to sanjeewmukarje. india gt test status in 1932& the had to wait for test win aus to1970.so what abt that?

  • Lakmal on June 28, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    I don't think cricinfor team will be final team of SL. Here are the my team..... Thissara should not be included in any format of the game.

    1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt) 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Thilina Kandamby, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Jeewan Mendis, 8 Nuwan Kulasekera, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Suraj Randiv, 11 Lasith Malinga

  • sandun on June 28, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    to sanjeewmukarjeThey became the sixth team to be granted Test cricket status.In their first fifty years of international cricket, India proved weaker than Australia and England, winning only 35 of the 196 test matches.

  • sandun on June 28, 2011, 10:40 GMT

    to sanjeevmukarji. when india got test status?and when sl got test status?only 116 test players for sl.& more than260 test players for india. sl showed their class. sl was the 8th team to get test status.so anyone cnt say sl isn't a very good cricket nation.actually there are the best.they are the only team that shows such a talent.though sl culdnt win a test in india aus sa.the main reason was lack of overseas tournaments.they wll prove the capabitily and the skillmore in nxt 2,3 yrs.let see

  • Rajitha on June 28, 2011, 10:24 GMT

    look at last SLs form in recent ODIs and compare it with Englands. i dun c England winning this series...

  • Anver on June 28, 2011, 10:20 GMT

    WOW !!!!!!!! Great news for SL cricket lovers, Dilshan is back & will play in 1st ODI. Like to see Sana & Dilshan open the batting for SL ???? Go Lanka Go !!!!

  • Dummy4 on June 28, 2011, 9:58 GMT

    Except for Suranga Lakmal, who bowled well in T20 and therefore deserves his place, Sri Lanka has gone with the most experienced lot in the squad. Jeewan Mendis can come in once Sanath retires after this game. Then he can provide extra spin option. Dinesh Chandimal finds himself out of reckoning which his supporters may argue as grossly unfair. However,he has not shown that he is capable of handling swing and extra bounce in English wockets in this tour. It was not only a single failure several failures in a series of matches. I am sure if he had shown good form he would have got in at the third test ahead of Lahiru although he is not an opening bat.

  • Nishani Lochna Madhumali on June 28, 2011, 9:50 GMT

    SL must drop Thisara Perera who tried to destroy the T20 game by delivering lose & poor balls to clever batsmen like Kevin & Morgan. He should be dropped & Dhammika Prasad must be concerned. My team is 1.Dilshan 2.Jayasooriya 3.Sanga 4.Mahela 5.Kandambi 6.Mathews 7.Dhammika/Jeewan 8.Kulasekara 9.Randiv 10.Lakmal 11.Malinga

  • Melaka on June 28, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    Here's your first chance Dilshan to show the world what you can do as captain, as for Jayasuriya I'm going to miss the master-blaster he used to be my favorite batsman when I was small before I changed to Dilshan. It's going to be a tight game but I think because Strauss is not captain that Srilanka will have a slight advantage. Remember this is the ground that Jayasuriya played a double-hundred

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