SL quicks begin training with Duke ball
Sri Lanka's hopes of sending up to six cricketers to England for early-season training had been upset by former coach Paul Farbrace's move to the English setup, but their fast bowlers have nonetheless begun training at home with Duke balls, in preparation for the two-Test series in June.
Tests in England pose a unique challenge for foreign sides, most of whom use Kookaburra balls across all formats. Chaminda Vaas did not have memorable Test tours of England in his career, but as the fast-bowling coach, he has drawn up specific plans to consolidate the pace attack's 2014 gains.
"The Duke ball doesn't swing much earlier on," Vaas told The Island. "Some of the guys who could play for us in Tests like Suranga Lakmal, Shaminda Eranga, Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep have lot of potential and they will develop during this tour."
Though his Tests returns in England were mediocre, Vaas has had good experience of English conditions in four largely successful county stints for Northamptonshire, Hampshire, Worcestershire and Middlesex. His knowhow may be vital to the fast bowlers' performance on the tour, particularly as only one tour fixture precedes the Tests.
"The wickets will suit seamers in the early season and conditions will be wet. It will be tough for them, but hopefully they will enjoy the conditions and I am looking forward to working with these guys."
Nagging line-and-length complemented by modest movement off the seam has been the hallmark of Sri Lanka's new pace spearheads Eranga and Lakmal - a strategy that brought laudable dividends against Pakistan and Bangladesh this year. Vaas suggested the attack would not veer far from that blueprint in England.
"We have been working on things like accuracy, good line and length. The results are there for everyone to see and we need to keep improving. Suranga and Shaminda both bowl at 135 (kph) plus. They need to bowl in that range constantly and their variation will help them."
Accuracy had been allied with endurance in the UAE, where Eranga and Lakmal both delivered over 130 overs each in three back-to-back Tests against Pakistan. The side's plans made for some attritional cricket, but when Sri Lanka won a Test in Dubai largely on the back of their quicks, there were hints the strategy could lead to a resurgence of fast bowling in the national team.
"I always tell them to be patient. We need to bowl good balls to take wickets. When you keep bowling one line the wickets will come. You need to put the batsmen under pressure. During the Pakistan series in UAE a lot of people didn't give us much of a chance. But our seamers did the simple things right and enjoyed quite a bit of success."
Kumar Sangakkara will also have some Duke-ball preparation, after he confirmed a two-match stint with Durham before Sri Lanka's limited-overs series in England.
Sri Lanka depart for Ireland for two ODIs on May 2, before moving on to England for a full tour consisting of one T20I, five ODIs and two Tests.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando