England v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, The Oval May 21, 2014

Mathews wary of England, conditions


Sri Lanka are yet to lose an ODI in 2014, but captain Angelo Mathews remains circumspect, marking out key England players and foreign conditions as the primary threats as his team embarks on a five-match series on Thursday. Sri Lanka have been in Ireland and the UK since the first week of May but failure to acclimatise to both the seaming pitches and the cold has cost the team on past tours.

"We have prepared well, and started training back at home early, because we knew the conditions were going to be tough for us," Mathews said. "The English team is always very hard to beat on home soil. In the T20, they gave us a really good fight, and it was a very close game.

"There will be a couple of experienced guys - James Anderson and Alastair Cook - joining their team, and it will make it even harder for us. Alastair and James are very experienced campaigners, and offer a lot to the English team, but we're prepared for that. We all know James is a very good bowler. But we're not concentrating on any one individual. They have a bowling line-up who can run through a batting order."

Coach Marvan Atapattu was more assertive in his assessment of his team's position, suggesting the T20 win on Tuesday had set Sri Lanka's tour off apace while England continued to falter, on the back of an abysmal winter.

"The T20 win was a morale-booster," Atapattu said. "We always had confidence coming from a World Cup victory. We needed that win to tell ourselves that we are good enough to compete against these guys on their home soil.

"We believe if we play our best cricket, we can put any team under pressure. From England's point of view, they have gone through a couple of shaky series and have a new management and a couple of new players. But we are most concerned with how we perform in English conditions to meet the challenge."

Sri Lanka have aimed for explosive starts to their limited-overs innings this year, with both Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kusal Perera having been given the licence to attack. That tactic has been effective for Sri Lanka in England in past years, most notably in Sanath Jayasuriya's blitzkriegs in the 2006 ODI series, which Sri Lanka won 5-0.

"Not too many batsmen have done it as consistently as Sanath did," Atapattu said, "but I won't be surprised if somebody hits form. Why not? With field restrictions, fast outfields and good pitches, batsmen have more chances to be like Sanath these days.

"Modern-day cricket encourages and needs someone to be explosive. But it has to come naturally to you, be inherent. It's not something you can bring out in a day or two. We are lucky to have people like Dilshan or Kusal."

Sri Lanka have hired Surrey coach and Sussex captain Chris Adams for the tour, to help give insight into the conditions, and the opposition, and the move has paid good dividends, Mathews said.

"We've got a lot of information from him - especially the ground conditions, the wickets. We are trying to get as much as we can from him, because he's been playing the game for so many years in counties."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jon on May 22, 2014, 11:33 GMT

    @pissek, true to be fair. I agree with you re Sri Lankan pitches, I just get annoyed when people think playing in ENG/AUS is the same because they are entirely different.

  • Dimuthu on May 22, 2014, 11:04 GMT

    also, i agree that it's silly to generalise Eng, Aus, NZ, and SA pitches. But you did pretty much the same by generalising the entire subcontinent as one big turning pitch! Galle turns from day 1, The SSC is flatter than the M1, and Kandy + Hambantota have bounce and seam movement so strong that SL struggles on them!

  • Dimuthu on May 22, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    @jb633 - I do agree with you to a large extent. Mathews has not been the same bowler since injuring his back. Thisara has always blown hot or cold. The guy who's impressed me the most recently has been Lakmal. Not sure if he'll be selected for the ODIs, but he should play the tests. I think he will enjoy these English conditions. He played with moderate success in 2011, but he's a completely transformed bowler now under Vaas' guidance.

  • Amila on May 22, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    @rezmata is correct, green tops will not trouble SL batsmen more than English batsmen would , but bouncy pitches definitely will do the job for them ,if they can produce a pitch which can simulate the bounce that has in Perth ...etc, then they can roll over this SL side under 150 for sure

  • Jon on May 22, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    @Mr Roshan, tell me mate which tracks in Oz were green? Classic opinion from the sub continent that pitches in Oz, NZ, SA and ENG are all the same. All the pitches have different in charcteristics and OZ have no green pitches bar Melbourne on occassion. If you find a blade of grass at Adelaide give me a shout. Mate the only format of cricket that matters is test cricket. I agree we have been poor but you have been pathetic also. How many runs did Pak chase down again. How did you boys go in Oz and SA as well. India pretty much ruin you whenever you meet and just because you have one the mickey mouse T20 tournament, you give it the big one. If you win the test series here then maybe start criticising.

  • Jon on May 22, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    @rezmta, i can see where your coming from, but respectfully I really don't rate Thisara or Matthews as bowlers and they are ten a penny in county cricket so we should be used to facing them. We can't be afraid of those guys or we may as well quit playing the game altogether. Kula, I agree with, I have always liked watching him and he would do well on green tops. In terms of nicking off, that is categorically not true. Over the years SL in England have had huge issues knicking the ball behind, particularly Dilshan, Jayawardene. On green tops England play good cricket and can beat most sides

  • Asanka Sharmal on May 22, 2014, 8:17 GMT

    Surely ENG could afford DRS for this tour!

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    Hopefully DRS will be a part of this series. We saw too many bad decisions in the 1st t20 that would have been overturned had there been DRS.

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    The Ist ODI Match in Oval Ground will be a very Interesting match to watch.Both Teams have included there experiences players to the team.James Anderson is a very good Bowler.Alastair Cook is a fine player.on the part of srilankans when mahela and Sangekara play togeather any game always will be a tough game to the opposition.However the impressive Records in the Recent Matches given them upper hand,Hope there will be high Scoring match for both teams,best wishes

  • mano on May 22, 2014, 4:50 GMT

    Angelo always plays it safe but he should learn from malinga to be more aggresive as a captain. That is what the team needs.

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