Sri Lanka in England 2014 June 10, 2014

New England emerge from rubble

Fresh faces must be complemented by a fresh ethos as England seek to maintain their early season record at home and repair the damage of winter
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It can take years to build a consistently successful team, but just months for it to be broken apart.

The last time Lord's staged a Test it ended in the final over of added time on the fourth day, when Graeme Swann turned one to beat James Pattinson's outside edge, trapping him lbw. England were 2-0 up and were on the brink of their third successive Ashes series triumph.

Now Swann is six months into retirement and the Ashes have been back with Australia for the same period of time. England have a new coaching team, no senior spinner, a wicketkeeper recalled with a dodgy Achilles and a battle to remain in the public conscious as the World Cup kicks off in Brazil, although the timezone in South America at least means those who have watched the Test match on Saturday can then find a late-night bar in time for the 11pm kick-off against Italy.

England's limited-overs teams have not begun the task of repairing the damage of the winter at all convincingly, with T20 and ODI defeats against Sri Lanka which were a reminder, if any was needed, that much like the economy the recovery is likely to be slow with bumps along the way.

Now it is the turn of the Test team, and of the three formats it is the side that has undergone the most significant reconstruction.

From England's previous Test at Sydney, there will be just five survivors who appear at Lord's on Thursday and there will be three debutants - Sam Robson, Moeen Ali and Chris Jordan - plus the likelihood of a player resuming his Test career after a gap of seven years. Some would have liked to have seen a fourth new cap in Jos Buttler, but Matt Prior has earned a recall based on his past deeds for England, after a forgettable 12 months, and a desire to strengthen a reduced group of senior players.

Wholesale revolutions are rarely successful in sports teams, so England's 'new look' is probably about as radical as it was ever going to be. The introduction of pace in the form of Liam Plunkett and Jordan, so long as it is well directed, is one of the eye-catching elements, while Moeen could be significant on a number of levels.

There is certainly a sense that England want to try and rattle the Sri Lankans. That was likely to be the plan before what happened in the one-day international at Edgbaston and the lingering resentment over the Mankading of Buttler has only added to that.

However, they would be wise not to get distracted from finding the outside edge. England's success at Lord's is invariably from a fuller length as James Anderson's record shows (61 wickets at 26.09), as does Stuart Broad's spell against New Zealand last year.

England have an impressive record in the first home series of a season since the Test programme was split. They have not lost a series and in 36 Tests have won 26, drawn eight and lost just two

But it is the overall style of the Test cricket that England play this season that will be watched with interest. It has been accepted that their methods became a little turgid and predictable, both with bat and ball. While the wins were still coming there was no impetus to change but now their model has been broken so there is the chance to try a fresh approach. The absence of Swann, their banker for wickets and control in a variety of conditions, pretty much demands a new way of playing.

That does not mean blazing away with abandon - 250 all out in 50 overs will not win many Tests - but it means showing the confidence to not allow opposition to settle. Alastair Cook has a key role to play as batsman and captain; as the former he has not had a Test hundred in more than a year and desperately needs to return to the agenda-setting displays of 2011 and 2012. Then, in the field, he cannot let games drift, and should hunt wickets rather than be content to stem the run-rate.

It would be wrong to suggest he is clinging on to his job as captain because he has huge support from with the ECB, but if this summer does not show an improvement in Test cricket it cannot be said for sure that Cook will be the man to lead England in next year's Ashes. (The debates over the one-day side can be had somewhat separately.)

And it is not that this two-Test series fits into the 'gentle start' category. Beginning a month later than usual evens the scales, as does the warmer weather in London this week, which has enabled the Sri Lankans to shed a few of their layers. None of their bowlers has a Test average lower than Shaminda Eranga's 31.60, so England should be able to recover their batting confidence, but in a such a short series it only takes one collapse to nick the honours.

Sri Lanka also have a record of being stubborn opponents at Lord's (they have never played at Headingley, the venue for the second Test), drawing their last three outings in 2002, 2006, 2011. In 2002 they were able to enforce the follow-on after Marvan Atapattu, their current coach, and Mahela Jayawardene scored hundreds, a feat Jayawardene repeated in 2006 after Sri Lanka had followed on then batted 199 overs to save the game. In 2011 Tillakaratne Dilshan scored 193 to frustrate England who previously skittled them for 82 in Cardiff.

England, though, do have an impressive record in the first home series of a season since the Test programme was split in 2000, although the majority of those games will have been played in May. They have not lost a series and in the 36 Tests played in those series have won 26, drawn eight and lost just two. One of those was against Pakistan at Old Trafford in 2001 and the other against Sri Lanka, at Trent Bridge, when Muttiah Muralitharan worked his magic.

Victory in this series will not confirm that England's rebuilding is successfully underway, but anything less would have to classed as another failure - and after months of poor results and the recriminations, that is something they can ill afford.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SoyQuearns on June 16, 2014, 2:16 GMT

    @nursery_ender - I have yes. And I also know where he was born.

    Accents are learned aspects, birthplace is a fact.

    Interesting that is the only thing you could find to rebut.

    Where are your spinners? Why is Plunkett playing? Why can't Cook make more than 30?

    Pleased to see Zimbabwe's Ballance get some runs for you though, I rate him highly.

    Good to see Cook also doing his utmost to not chase the win, he's learned a lot from the hiding in Australia. The one that ended the careers of your 3 best players.

    I do like Ali and have nothing but respect for Broad. Jordan tries hard but I don't think he'll make it in Test cricket, Plunkett is not an international cricketer.

    WHERE ARE YOUR SPINNERS? You proclaimed about depth for so long, where are they?

  • Rahul_78 on June 12, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    England will go in to these tests as favorites. Not due to superior XI but due to lack of Malinga and Murali in Sri Lankan camp. The success of Lanka has been built on the mercurial talents of Mahela, Sangga and Murali in test matches. At the moment they simply doesnt posses the bowlers to take 20 English wickets. Having said that England should not go on a joy ride and hail the new era if they succeed against Lanka. It will certainly prove futile if they come up against the likes of AUS or SAF at home or away. Cook has to improve drastically on his captaincy and man management skills. Broad will have to stay fit for the test match schedules and Eng must find a quality spinner. It is not possible to replace Swann but Moin seems to be a weak choice and seem to have made the selection on his batting ability plus his skills at bowling Doosra which is untested at International level. On the other hand if Eng loose it will spell disaster for Cook as skipper.

  • nursery_ender on June 12, 2014, 8:17 GMT

    Posted by SoyQuearns on (June 11, 2014, 23:40 GMT)

    Still amusing to see that their brightest stars (Stokes and Robson) are from NZ and Australia respectively. Very English.

    Have you heard Stokes's accent?

  • nursery_ender on June 12, 2014, 8:14 GMT

    Posted by RohanMarkJay on (June 11, 2014, 20:14 GMT) Sam Robson another Aussie gutted that he couldn't get into the Australian side, moves to the other side of the world to try his luck of playing international cricket with England.

    What twaddle. Can you tell me the last 18 year old to have been picked for Australia before having played any State cricket? Because that was Robson's situation when he chose to play his professional cricket in a country he's been a citizen of since birth.

  • Buckers97 on June 12, 2014, 7:09 GMT

    We must remember Joe Root and Gary Ballance are still there and can score runs

  • KANCHANA623 on June 12, 2014, 2:32 GMT

    No chance 4 England without KP. SriLanka r going to win easily.

  • on June 12, 2014, 2:00 GMT

    its suprising to see that people are saying that the english batsmen can gain confisence by facing the toothless bowling of sri lanka and india. Things have changed, india has the likes of varun aaron, umesh yadav and other young fast bowlers who can bowl 140 and sri lanka has shaminda eranga, dammika prasad bowling at 140 and can bowl it at the ribs and has the swing and experience of nuwan kulasekara! Just remember it was only johnson that bowled @ 150 down under, harris and siddle were similar in pace to the lankan and indian bowlers!

  • dunger.bob on June 12, 2014, 0:52 GMT

    I might be an Aussie but I'm quite interested in this series. I don't really care who wins, I'm more intrigued with how England copes with a team full of newbies.

    Unless one or two of the new guys hit the ground running so much responsibility rests with Cook, Bell and possibly Prior to get a decent score on the board. Cook in particular must be under immense pressure at the moment but he strikes me as the sort of person who won't let that worry him too much. That's one advantage of being laid back I guess.

    I think England definitely has the edge in the bowling. Raw pace isn't every thing but it certainly helps. It seems to me that Englands bowlers are faster and better suited to the conditions.

    Overall, this should be a fascinating but too short series. There should be a third Test to break the 1-1 deadlock we'll have at the end of it.

  • SoyQuearns on June 11, 2014, 23:40 GMT

    Dear oh dear, if England don't win this series (and by a big margin) then that is basically a loss.

    Sri Lanka are average away from home and England's fans have been talking a big game about depth and talent for years now.

    Still amusing to see that their brightest stars (Stokes and Robson) are from NZ and Australia respectively. Very English.

    That said, they have actual 0 spinners worthy of note, and their last one fled the scene with a near 30 average, revealing to all that he was never the bowler we were all told he was.

    England's style of play, for years and years now, has been boring and grindy. And now they can't even succeed in boring people out of the game as they simply aren't good enough.

    Couple of people on here rightly pointed out that you win tests by scoring runs quickly. So true. Steve Waugh's champion side (an actual, real champion side) scored at 4+ an over throughout their 10 year reign and laid waste to everyone.

    Cook is a terrible, defensive leader

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 11, 2014, 21:06 GMT

    Attritional, steady-as-you-go cricket is almost always needed here in U.K. because there's a lot of movement through the air and off the pitch, so it's not really the style of play or pace of England's scoring that bugs me in tests. The attacking mindset of the Australians has not worked against decent swing bowling for example. What I hope to see from England is players back in form, and Root back down in the middle where he belongs and should never have been moved from. Looking forward to seeing how the new-look bowling unit operates too!

  • SoyQuearns on June 16, 2014, 2:16 GMT

    @nursery_ender - I have yes. And I also know where he was born.

    Accents are learned aspects, birthplace is a fact.

    Interesting that is the only thing you could find to rebut.

    Where are your spinners? Why is Plunkett playing? Why can't Cook make more than 30?

    Pleased to see Zimbabwe's Ballance get some runs for you though, I rate him highly.

    Good to see Cook also doing his utmost to not chase the win, he's learned a lot from the hiding in Australia. The one that ended the careers of your 3 best players.

    I do like Ali and have nothing but respect for Broad. Jordan tries hard but I don't think he'll make it in Test cricket, Plunkett is not an international cricketer.

    WHERE ARE YOUR SPINNERS? You proclaimed about depth for so long, where are they?

  • Rahul_78 on June 12, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    England will go in to these tests as favorites. Not due to superior XI but due to lack of Malinga and Murali in Sri Lankan camp. The success of Lanka has been built on the mercurial talents of Mahela, Sangga and Murali in test matches. At the moment they simply doesnt posses the bowlers to take 20 English wickets. Having said that England should not go on a joy ride and hail the new era if they succeed against Lanka. It will certainly prove futile if they come up against the likes of AUS or SAF at home or away. Cook has to improve drastically on his captaincy and man management skills. Broad will have to stay fit for the test match schedules and Eng must find a quality spinner. It is not possible to replace Swann but Moin seems to be a weak choice and seem to have made the selection on his batting ability plus his skills at bowling Doosra which is untested at International level. On the other hand if Eng loose it will spell disaster for Cook as skipper.

  • nursery_ender on June 12, 2014, 8:17 GMT

    Posted by SoyQuearns on (June 11, 2014, 23:40 GMT)

    Still amusing to see that their brightest stars (Stokes and Robson) are from NZ and Australia respectively. Very English.

    Have you heard Stokes's accent?

  • nursery_ender on June 12, 2014, 8:14 GMT

    Posted by RohanMarkJay on (June 11, 2014, 20:14 GMT) Sam Robson another Aussie gutted that he couldn't get into the Australian side, moves to the other side of the world to try his luck of playing international cricket with England.

    What twaddle. Can you tell me the last 18 year old to have been picked for Australia before having played any State cricket? Because that was Robson's situation when he chose to play his professional cricket in a country he's been a citizen of since birth.

  • Buckers97 on June 12, 2014, 7:09 GMT

    We must remember Joe Root and Gary Ballance are still there and can score runs

  • KANCHANA623 on June 12, 2014, 2:32 GMT

    No chance 4 England without KP. SriLanka r going to win easily.

  • on June 12, 2014, 2:00 GMT

    its suprising to see that people are saying that the english batsmen can gain confisence by facing the toothless bowling of sri lanka and india. Things have changed, india has the likes of varun aaron, umesh yadav and other young fast bowlers who can bowl 140 and sri lanka has shaminda eranga, dammika prasad bowling at 140 and can bowl it at the ribs and has the swing and experience of nuwan kulasekara! Just remember it was only johnson that bowled @ 150 down under, harris and siddle were similar in pace to the lankan and indian bowlers!

  • dunger.bob on June 12, 2014, 0:52 GMT

    I might be an Aussie but I'm quite interested in this series. I don't really care who wins, I'm more intrigued with how England copes with a team full of newbies.

    Unless one or two of the new guys hit the ground running so much responsibility rests with Cook, Bell and possibly Prior to get a decent score on the board. Cook in particular must be under immense pressure at the moment but he strikes me as the sort of person who won't let that worry him too much. That's one advantage of being laid back I guess.

    I think England definitely has the edge in the bowling. Raw pace isn't every thing but it certainly helps. It seems to me that Englands bowlers are faster and better suited to the conditions.

    Overall, this should be a fascinating but too short series. There should be a third Test to break the 1-1 deadlock we'll have at the end of it.

  • SoyQuearns on June 11, 2014, 23:40 GMT

    Dear oh dear, if England don't win this series (and by a big margin) then that is basically a loss.

    Sri Lanka are average away from home and England's fans have been talking a big game about depth and talent for years now.

    Still amusing to see that their brightest stars (Stokes and Robson) are from NZ and Australia respectively. Very English.

    That said, they have actual 0 spinners worthy of note, and their last one fled the scene with a near 30 average, revealing to all that he was never the bowler we were all told he was.

    England's style of play, for years and years now, has been boring and grindy. And now they can't even succeed in boring people out of the game as they simply aren't good enough.

    Couple of people on here rightly pointed out that you win tests by scoring runs quickly. So true. Steve Waugh's champion side (an actual, real champion side) scored at 4+ an over throughout their 10 year reign and laid waste to everyone.

    Cook is a terrible, defensive leader

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 11, 2014, 21:06 GMT

    Attritional, steady-as-you-go cricket is almost always needed here in U.K. because there's a lot of movement through the air and off the pitch, so it's not really the style of play or pace of England's scoring that bugs me in tests. The attacking mindset of the Australians has not worked against decent swing bowling for example. What I hope to see from England is players back in form, and Root back down in the middle where he belongs and should never have been moved from. Looking forward to seeing how the new-look bowling unit operates too!

  • yorkshirematt on June 11, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    @Jss Jaysinghe Thankfully Pietersen is out of the picture for good, and would not be worthy of a place anyway after a dreadful IPL and a grand total of 5 in his first game back for Surrey, Bopara of all people taking his wicket

  • RohanMarkJay on June 11, 2014, 20:29 GMT

    @Herath-UK I fully agree with you. You're exactly right. People forget what a challenge it is for Batsmanship in May. Dilshan 190. Mahela and Marvan scoring test hundreds in May. When the weather is at its worst for cricket in the summer in England. It takes real batting skill and temperament of supreme batting skills to score centuries in those overcast cold windy conditions of May in England. Where the ball is moving swinging and seaming of the pitch constantly. It would be interesting to find out who has scored test hundreds in May in England. Shows the high skill level of Sri Lanka's batsman that they could triumph in those conditions in May. I agree with you Herath-UK that Sri Lanka can pull a rabbit out of the hat. Sri Lanka has a great opportunity to do so this two test series.

  • Chris_P on June 11, 2014, 20:16 GMT

    @latecut_04. Couldn't agree with you more. England's seam attack is still one of the best about, especially in home conditions. The test pitches will not be anything like the ODI pitches so forget about comparisons there. Herath is a remarkable bowler, but the fact England have picked 4 quicks with Ali only supporting would suggest spin is not going to be a factor here. Despite the Ashes setback, I still rate this English side very high, especially at home. Bring on the real cricket!

  • RohanMarkJay on June 11, 2014, 20:14 GMT

    Sam Robson another Aussie gutted that he couldn't get into the Australian side, moves to the other side of the world to try his luck of playing international cricket with England. This is a popular aussie fad started in the 1990s. Its worked because the England cricket team has been struggling more or less since the 1990s with a few brief success spells in recent times. Sam Robson just another Aussie of many who've joined the club where England is their hopeful fallback team if they can't get into the Australian team. This has been popular since the 1990s. I think it started with Martin McCague in 1993 and many who grew up in Australia ended up getting a game with England. Anyway Sri Lanka is a better team and should defeat England if Sri Lanka play to their potential in the coming test series.

  • on June 11, 2014, 18:43 GMT

    England almost arrived at the top, realised this was never where they could breathe the air, and so flopped back to a more comfortable three or four.

  • on June 11, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    The big worry is with bat, ball and in the field for England. Cook needs to score a couple of 'daddy' hundreds in this series and then hope that one or more of the less experienced batsman follows his example. Matt Prior returning makes absolutely no sense to me. And the backup bowlers will leak too many runs at this level...Jordan, Plunkett and the spin of Ali do not have the necessary control. Yet.

  • Herath-UK on June 11, 2014, 15:02 GMT

    England's optimism is good but from Sri Lanka's point of view their batsmen have scored heavily at Lord's playing in worse weather about a month earlier than now.Dilshan's 190 odd ,double hundreds from Mahela & Marvan's superb century are some.I wonder how many of other famous batsmen travelling in the comfortable summer would score as such if given similar weather conditions.Therefore Sri Lankan batsmen will be very confident playing a month later than usual.I certainly think Sri Lanka will pull a rabbit out of hat for a great win.They did it in the one day series surprising England,well it will be the same for the Tests!

  • ruester on June 11, 2014, 13:55 GMT

    St John, do you really believe that the teams are evenly balanced in the batting. I think I would back Sanga, Jayawadene and Dilshan over Root, Ballance, Ali and. Robson. A lot depends on Bell and. Prior to help the new guys along. Although I would of picked butler ahead of Prior because Butler has made runs and Prior was dropped for his poor performances. I can see Priors worth and I really hope he returns to form.

  • ruester on June 11, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    Is there a test coming up? I really hope England lose so we can see the back of Cook and hopefully. Downton. Both seem to be well out of their depth! Then I might feel a little more engaged about England. KP

  • on June 11, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    I think Gnasher is right to concentrate on the style of play (as well as results). One important test will be run rate. In the 2005 Ashes (the best series in England for many years) the England run rate was close to 4 an over. In recent years it has gone down to 2.5 or so, as England have tried (largely unsuccessfully, as their first innings scores show) to grind down the opposition. They should look to score about 300 in 90 overs, in my opinion.

  • latecut_04 on June 11, 2014, 12:29 GMT

    I am amazed at the cynicism shown by Eng supporters. they seem to be suffering from the Ashes battering received months back down under. neither SL nor India- the visitors this summer, have the bowlers to take 20 wickets. you are not playing SA or even Pakistan and cheer up!!!!its going to be all England with their bowlers finding swing and seam under helpful conditions and their batsmen scoring 'daddy' scores against toothless bowling .Mediocre bowling will ensure their fielders stay on the field for long hours even affecting their batting.I can vouch on that. and I am from India

  • notimeforcricket on June 11, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    hopefully the guys can do it. I hope they leave Woakes out and go hard with the bowlers - this should also mean that Jimmy does not have to carry the bowing as he usually does. also means a straight shoot out between Plunkett and Jordan as you assume Stokes will come back in when he is fully fit. Sometimes a guy in his late 20s who has been through his ups and downs can have a great 4-5 year test career (Harris of Aus for example). no reason why plunkett cannot do this.

  • on June 11, 2014, 11:38 GMT

    Good article, and an intriguing summer coming up. I don't think we can judge the "new England" fairly over a 2 test series - I think the selectors have to back this group (with appropriate replacements where needed) over the full summer programme.

    Still not sure about Captain Cook (the last time England had one of those, it started a mutiny, so maybe the selectors sacked KP as a preemptive measure!), either in terms of captaincy, or the effect it has on his batting. I also feel there are some players in the England team who are "untouchable" (Broad, Anderson, Root, Prior, and only one of them turned up in Australia last winter), whatever they do. However, you can't change the whole team at once.

    Many "early season" test series have been one sided affairs: I don't think this one will be.

  • fkhawaja on June 11, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    I can't see England winning any tests . Anderson is a shadow of his past self and Broad has never been a match winner. their performance was so patchy in the limited overs that it does not give any confidence to the supporters. it would be a miracle if they win.

  • on June 11, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    England definitely have a good pace attack used to bowling in these conditions ,so they havet he advantage in the pace bowling with the World class Anderson and Broad,but there batting looks razor thin but the problem is SL lacks the pace bowlers to dodge em' out and i can't realistically see Herath producing a five wicket haul in 4 innings at a trott.Sl's batting comparatively looks well setlled,but Anderson's early oubursts coupled with Broad's bounce will be a big test for us,hope we do well.:D

  • on June 11, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    Where is KP? The best England batsman against Sri lanka.

  • landl47 on June 11, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    I'm not expecting too much of England at this stage. By test standards, this is a young team (Australia's 'rebuilt' side has 6 players older than the oldest player in the England squad) and a very inexperienced team- Plunkett, who hasn't played for 7 years, has more caps than half the squad!

    What I want to see is the senior batsmen, Cook and Bell, taking the lead; the young batsmen, Robson, Ballance, Root and Moeen, fighting hard for their places and the quick bowlers, Jordan and Plunkett, bowling FAST, not just pushing the ball down. Prior needs to resume his role as advisor and will hopefully keep well and Cook needs to be more proactive in his captaincy, not letting the game drift as he did in Australia.

    All that might happen and England might still lose, but it's important at this point to look at how England are approaching the game rather than the result. There's no substitute for experience and only one way to get it, so don't judge this side too quickly. Time will tell.

  • St.John on June 11, 2014, 4:41 GMT

    While Andersson is Englands front line bowler, Jordan troubled the Lankans a lot in the ODI's and then there is Plunkett. Both teams seem evenly matched in batting while England has the edge in bowling. Sri Lanka haven't unearthed any new pacemen despite a lot of hype. Welegedera, Prasad, Pradeep, Eranga, etc, have all played before with mediocre results. Herath will be the 'workhorse' and will come on early. Unless one team suffers a really bad batting collapse the result may be a draw.

  • fazald on June 11, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    Though England has a better record than Sri Lanka in test cricket currently being placed third to their opponents seventh in the ICC rankings their confidence have been severely dented since the 5-0 ashes whitewash against Australia last January. In addition the team has suffered considerably as their big players like Kevin Pietersen, Swan and Trott are missing from the side. Only a year ago they won the ashes 3-0 in England and were considered a very formidable team. This is the first time that this England side is making their appearance in a test series since their last ashes debacle . With England trying to settle a score in relation to the "Mankading" saga and Sri Lanka's grudge over Farbrace's sudden exit into the England camp as assistant coach it is poised to be an interesting test series.

  • Culex on June 11, 2014, 2:27 GMT

    I think that England could get away with a series loss provided that the fans can see that the team is at least putting up some fight.

    At Sydney the overall impression was that the English team just wasn't trying any more. Just how fair that impression was is up to debate, but a cursory examination of the blogosphere (as well as choice comments from the likes of Boycott) will reveal that there was a lot of anger that the English players had just "given up."

    If we get two hard-fought games that both run to the full 5 days and have outcomes decided in the final session, then even a series loss could see England come away with a better image. Not much of one, but a lot better than being perceived as giving up when the going gets tough.

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  • Culex on June 11, 2014, 2:27 GMT

    I think that England could get away with a series loss provided that the fans can see that the team is at least putting up some fight.

    At Sydney the overall impression was that the English team just wasn't trying any more. Just how fair that impression was is up to debate, but a cursory examination of the blogosphere (as well as choice comments from the likes of Boycott) will reveal that there was a lot of anger that the English players had just "given up."

    If we get two hard-fought games that both run to the full 5 days and have outcomes decided in the final session, then even a series loss could see England come away with a better image. Not much of one, but a lot better than being perceived as giving up when the going gets tough.

  • fazald on June 11, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    Though England has a better record than Sri Lanka in test cricket currently being placed third to their opponents seventh in the ICC rankings their confidence have been severely dented since the 5-0 ashes whitewash against Australia last January. In addition the team has suffered considerably as their big players like Kevin Pietersen, Swan and Trott are missing from the side. Only a year ago they won the ashes 3-0 in England and were considered a very formidable team. This is the first time that this England side is making their appearance in a test series since their last ashes debacle . With England trying to settle a score in relation to the "Mankading" saga and Sri Lanka's grudge over Farbrace's sudden exit into the England camp as assistant coach it is poised to be an interesting test series.

  • St.John on June 11, 2014, 4:41 GMT

    While Andersson is Englands front line bowler, Jordan troubled the Lankans a lot in the ODI's and then there is Plunkett. Both teams seem evenly matched in batting while England has the edge in bowling. Sri Lanka haven't unearthed any new pacemen despite a lot of hype. Welegedera, Prasad, Pradeep, Eranga, etc, have all played before with mediocre results. Herath will be the 'workhorse' and will come on early. Unless one team suffers a really bad batting collapse the result may be a draw.

  • landl47 on June 11, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    I'm not expecting too much of England at this stage. By test standards, this is a young team (Australia's 'rebuilt' side has 6 players older than the oldest player in the England squad) and a very inexperienced team- Plunkett, who hasn't played for 7 years, has more caps than half the squad!

    What I want to see is the senior batsmen, Cook and Bell, taking the lead; the young batsmen, Robson, Ballance, Root and Moeen, fighting hard for their places and the quick bowlers, Jordan and Plunkett, bowling FAST, not just pushing the ball down. Prior needs to resume his role as advisor and will hopefully keep well and Cook needs to be more proactive in his captaincy, not letting the game drift as he did in Australia.

    All that might happen and England might still lose, but it's important at this point to look at how England are approaching the game rather than the result. There's no substitute for experience and only one way to get it, so don't judge this side too quickly. Time will tell.

  • on June 11, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    Where is KP? The best England batsman against Sri lanka.

  • on June 11, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    England definitely have a good pace attack used to bowling in these conditions ,so they havet he advantage in the pace bowling with the World class Anderson and Broad,but there batting looks razor thin but the problem is SL lacks the pace bowlers to dodge em' out and i can't realistically see Herath producing a five wicket haul in 4 innings at a trott.Sl's batting comparatively looks well setlled,but Anderson's early oubursts coupled with Broad's bounce will be a big test for us,hope we do well.:D

  • fkhawaja on June 11, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    I can't see England winning any tests . Anderson is a shadow of his past self and Broad has never been a match winner. their performance was so patchy in the limited overs that it does not give any confidence to the supporters. it would be a miracle if they win.

  • on June 11, 2014, 11:38 GMT

    Good article, and an intriguing summer coming up. I don't think we can judge the "new England" fairly over a 2 test series - I think the selectors have to back this group (with appropriate replacements where needed) over the full summer programme.

    Still not sure about Captain Cook (the last time England had one of those, it started a mutiny, so maybe the selectors sacked KP as a preemptive measure!), either in terms of captaincy, or the effect it has on his batting. I also feel there are some players in the England team who are "untouchable" (Broad, Anderson, Root, Prior, and only one of them turned up in Australia last winter), whatever they do. However, you can't change the whole team at once.

    Many "early season" test series have been one sided affairs: I don't think this one will be.

  • notimeforcricket on June 11, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    hopefully the guys can do it. I hope they leave Woakes out and go hard with the bowlers - this should also mean that Jimmy does not have to carry the bowing as he usually does. also means a straight shoot out between Plunkett and Jordan as you assume Stokes will come back in when he is fully fit. Sometimes a guy in his late 20s who has been through his ups and downs can have a great 4-5 year test career (Harris of Aus for example). no reason why plunkett cannot do this.

  • latecut_04 on June 11, 2014, 12:29 GMT

    I am amazed at the cynicism shown by Eng supporters. they seem to be suffering from the Ashes battering received months back down under. neither SL nor India- the visitors this summer, have the bowlers to take 20 wickets. you are not playing SA or even Pakistan and cheer up!!!!its going to be all England with their bowlers finding swing and seam under helpful conditions and their batsmen scoring 'daddy' scores against toothless bowling .Mediocre bowling will ensure their fielders stay on the field for long hours even affecting their batting.I can vouch on that. and I am from India