Battle with England seamers pivotal, says Adams
Chris Adams, the consultant to the Sri Lanka team, has said the key to Sri Lanka winning a Test series in England for the first time will be for their experienced batsmen to come out on top against England's seamers. Sri Lanka have won Tests in England but the closest they have come to winning a series was a 1-1 draw during the the three-match series in 2006.
"One of the big challenges would be the conditions particularly at Lord's," Adams said. "If as expected England get what they request which should be a grassy pitch, the ball would no doubt move around a little bit especially if there are overhead conditions."
With Graeme Swann having retired, Adams knows what would give Sri Lanka a big advantage. "If the pitch takes spin at any stage, then clearly Sri Lanka will be favourites, particularly with Rangana [Herath] his confidence is very high and he could well be the difference between the two sides."
England are rebuilding from a hiding in the Ashes in Australia, and Adams identified another weak link for Sri Lanka to target. "[Stuart] Broad and [James] Anderson are proven performers,but the other seamers will be inexperienced at this level. There are areas on which we can capitalise on. If we can bat well, hopefully win the toss and get runs on the board, that would certainly set up the Test series and they could play into our hands.
"It won't be easy for Sri Lanka. From the two sides, without a doubt the batting is more settled for Sri Lanka who are more talented and proven at this level. It's possibly fair to say that England have the edge on their seam attack and Sri Lanka with their batting. That's the main contest. Whoever wins that contest will come out victors in the series. The confidence will be certainly high on the Sri Lankan camp going into the Test matches."
Sri Lanka had begun their tour with matches in Ireland in early May, which Adams said was a great way to tune-up for English conditions. "The preparation for this tour has been exceptional. I had a concern about the Ireland leg. Ireland are a good team and, in their conditions, difficult to play. On hindsight it was a brilliant thing for the team to do to get out there and experience probably the most extreme conditions - colder, windy and very unpleasant. To get through that,for a lot of the younger players especially, and then to come to England and go through the run of county games to the first ODI was terrific."
Adams was hired soon after Sri Lanka's then head coach Paul Farbrace had taken up the post of England assistant coach in April. Adams had worked with England coach Peter Moores at Sussex as he captained the side coached by Moores. As a result, Adams has gained first-hand knowledge of exactly how Moores thinks and works, something which could prove to be useful for Sri Lanka.
"Where I come into the equation is that with Paul Farbrace, Sri Lanka had an excellent insight into England, English conditions, wickets, the Duke ball etc," Adams said. "Every country will have their existing plans and how they look to win games of cricket against every opposition. But to have direct knowledge of the English players, be it how to get them out or how to deal with the deliveries they are going to bowl and also the mentality and approach, that's where I come in.
"The players will always play a major part in any competition but I feel confident and comfortable that I have played my part in the ODI series. A lot of what I was able to assist and support Marvan [Atapattu, the head coach] with was implemented and we had some success. I am very good at reading the game and that's benefited Marvan and the team. I have been able to talk of my vision of what to play, when to play and how to play and what's the next step.
"Sanath [Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's chief selector] was very forthright that I get involved and speak when I thought it was right which I did. Marvan has given me an open floor at any stage to talk to the team collectively or individually. I am really pleased the way it has worked as the balance has been excellent. The next two and a half weeks will define the tour."