England v Sri Lanka, 1st Investec Test, Lord's

England tricky start to new era

The Preview by Alex Winter

June 11, 2014

Comments: 69 | Text size: A | A
Who'll get back into the rhythm of Test cricket first?

Match facts

Thursday, June 12, 2014
Start time 1100 local (1000 GMT)

Big Picture


Alastair Cook with his new opening partner Sam Robson, Lord's, June 11, 2014
Sam Robson is the latest man to try to forge an opening partnership with Alastair Cook © PA Photos
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The talk of England's regeneration and a new era now has real credence. England's one-day side contained familiar personnel to those who competed over the winter but the Test side has gaping holes to fill; holes that were blown open by Australia and have plunged English cricket to its lowest ebb since 1999. England will hope that from their winter of discontent can be made a glorious summer.

An upturn in results and the appeal of performances are necessary for a variety of reasons but especially salient for Alastair Cook. He could not have anticipated having to lead such a rebuilding process when he marshalled a series win in India and an Ashes triumph but his captaincy will now come under more scrutiny than ever. Widely accepted as not being a natural leader of men, Cook could face louder questions over his suitability at the helm of the new era if his England do not produce results. Cook also needs to rediscover his form with the bat and has Sam Robson to forge a new opening partnership with - the fourth selection as opener since Andrew Strauss retired.

England's batting was on a steady decline before the blow out in Australia and building up big totals will be high on the priority list for Peter Moores. A vastly different batting line-up will play against Sri Lanka with novices Robson, Gary Ballance and Moeen Ali in the top six and Ian Bell moving up a place to No. 4.

There is less upheaval in the bowling attack that will still be led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad with Chris Jordan and Liam Plunkett adding the pace and aggression that England wanted from Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin over the winter. Losing a matchwinning spinner in Graeme Swann is the one major concern but he didn't have a doosra; Moeen Ali purportedly does.

Asian opponents at home should be the plumb draw for the start of a new era but with the first Tests of the summer shifted back from May to June, the advantage has been eroded slightly. Sri Lanka are well settled in the UK, have confidence and form from their successful one-day series and are set to enjoy better weather over the next two weeks.

Sri Lanka will also have gained motivation from the animosity that brewed during the one-day series, chiefly by the mankading at Edgbaston, and will sense the chance of an upset against the new-look England. They certainly hold the edge in the spin department, Rangana Herath having ran through England on their last tour of Sri Lanka, and veterans are Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara hoping to guide their side to success on their final tour to the UK.

Form guide

England: LLLLL (most recent first)
Sri Lanka: DWLWD

In the spotlight

England have had an issue in replacing Andrew Strauss at the top of the order. Nick Compton, Joe Root and Michael Carberry have all had their chance but now Sam Robson has been picked to try and form a new partnership with Alastair Cook. Robson has been sounded out for some time as a Test opener but his early-season form hasn't been outstanding.

If Sri Lanka are to find success in the series, their bowling attack must deliver. Shaminda Eranga has made a handy start to his Test career, with 38 wickets in 11 Tests. His sharp seamers have showed much promise and he can solidify that potential into a strong performance against England, their green batting order will have plenty of problems.

Teams news

England are set to field three new caps with Robson becoming the latest opening partner for Cook, Moeen playing as a spinning allrounder and Jordan adding fire to the bowling attack. Their only decision is between Plunkett and Chris Woakes as the fourth seamer.

England: 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Sam Robson, 3 Gary Ballance, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Joe Root, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Matt Prior (wkt), 8 Liam Plunkett/Chris Woakes, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson

It is all change for Sri Lanka from the one-day series with five Test specialists flying over, including a new opening partnership. Prasanna Jayawardene - the third wicketkeeper in the squad - will take the gloves; Herath now becomes the frontline spinner in the side, Sri Lanka have the option to play two; Dhammika Prasad and Shaminda Eranga are seamers with a big role to play.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Kaushal Silva, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews (capt), 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wkt), 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Dhammika Prasad, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Shaminda Eranga

Pitch and conditions

Sri Lanka's prayers seem to have been answered with the weather forecast dry and sunny with warm temperatures and hot for the first two days. Lord's always produces an excellent wicket.

Stats and trivia

  • England have won 18, drawn three and lost three of their last 24 home Test series.

  • Of captains to lead their team in at least seven Tests in England, only Brian Close (six wins in seven) has a higher win percentage than Cook (five wins in seven).

  • Kumar Sangakkara averages 30.58 in England, his lowest in any country. He has one century in 18 innings in England.

  • The entire England squad have only scored 137 more runs than Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene combined

    Quotes

    "I think both sides will play a hard brand of cricket. We have a responsibility to play it the right way, as there will be a lot of people watching us, a lot of kids, but they want us to play it hard too."
    Alastair Cook on the anticipated atmosphere of the series.

    "We had to work really hard in the ODIs and fight against the weather. The start of the summer is going to be pretty difficult for any team playing in England.."
    Angelo Mathews on the challenge of the great British weather.

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (June 12, 2014, 9:51 GMT)

The English top six batting line up should be: Cook, Robson, Bell, Ballance, Moeen Ali, Root in that order(necessary to split Robson and Ballance and Bell must bat at No.3). Sri Lanka have done very well not to omit Kulasekara. He could be a real handful to all of the top order. Eranga is very good too though I don't know much about Nuwan Pradeep. And don't forget Rangana Herath. This inexperienced line up will struggle to pick up his variations. Sri Lanka won't get a better chance to beat England in England.

Posted by   on (June 12, 2014, 8:59 GMT)

2/1 on the draw looks a good bet to me.

Posted by   on (June 12, 2014, 8:59 GMT)

A disastrous collapse of the English side for sure!!

Posted by Thilanga22 on (June 12, 2014, 8:43 GMT)

One guy saying here Chandimal didn't perform in practice matches he might see only last practice match second innings he came as a opener and he couldn't score but same match 1st inning he scored even without half century he scored better than most of them in other practice matches.most of the time he came no 8 he doesn't get fair chance to bat like others .even Mahela and Sanga getting so many chances without performing also, so if u think about future of SL cricket guy like Chandimal, kithruwan, priyanjan, deserve more chances rather than keep seniors playing .when u evaluate player don't looking at the scorecard without considering way he play in the game and which position he batted.

Posted by   on (June 12, 2014, 8:24 GMT)

Sri Lanka has no chance winning this test, they will draw or lose. I can`t believe Prasanna Jayawardene playing this text match. This guy has absolutely destroy Sri Lanka winning chances in test cricket. Dilruwan has to play for Prasanna if Sri Lanka has a chance of winning this test. Please send Prasanna ,Welagedara and Nuwan Pradeep home in the next flight. Keep Chandimal as water boy, playing him means Sri Lanka not going anywhere. Looks like Herath going to bowl a lot of overs and fast bowling trio, God knows,! But they can swing the bowl and take wickets. Otherwise they can get Prior come into form before next Ashes test. Good luck selecting the Sri Lanka team to win the test match.

Posted by SriLankanYoungBlood on (June 12, 2014, 8:00 GMT)

Why kula instead of Welagedara or Nuwan Pradeep? Kula is good One Day bowler with good variation but not threatening test bowler who get wickets easily. But Welagedara Left arm quick bowlers who has great ability of seeming both ways. Pradeep is 140+ quick bowler who also ability to get wickets regularly. If we have 7 specialist batsmen do we need a another bowling all rounder?. Mind you Eranga and Prasad has ability to get odd 30-35 runs.

Posted by dns07 on (June 12, 2014, 7:55 GMT)

@ Prem2248 Dude the best decision Sanath and SLC made is to drop Chandimal, he may have done better in tests in the past, but that's past mate, what important is this guy's current form! he has given enough chances, he didn't make any count, this guy can't even score a half century in a practice match, we should drop him for a while, even he won't deserve any place in 2015 WC squad!! A guy who couldn't save his captaincy, his place in the team, and now can't give this man another pity chance when Sri Lanka at all important Lords!! Get some time and think about it!! Best thing happened to Sri Lanka Cricket is when Chandimal got that one match ban due to slow overrate in WorldT20!!!

Posted by   on (June 12, 2014, 7:44 GMT)

@darkmanx12155 I would have thought the first 11 would have won the t20 and one day series in that case. It would have been a good argument if the first 11 was performing. Judging from the selection blunders made by the England selectors, the second 11 maybe stronger sometimes.

Posted by markatnotts on (June 12, 2014, 7:40 GMT)

@JG2704 , I agree, there is far too much emotive talk on here about so called "unfair" conditions in England in May and June. The hard cold fact is pitches are fairly slow, with a lack of bounce and if it isn't cloudy they are very good batting conditions to not only make big totals but make them fairly quickly. Still the weather is a good get out clause in case things don't go SL's way and will be trotted out as an excuse regardless of the actual weather. Also if England win no doubt there will have been excessive seam movement on offer or the pitch will be extremely bouncy.

Posted by   on (June 12, 2014, 7:23 GMT)

SL has a gud chance of winning the series. They are on the up and up and they have got match winners in every department. Batting is full of match winners. Spin bowling department has shown that it has match winners and the pacers have shown that they can win matches in the previous series. I would expect contradicting statements to the same, but there is a reason why Sri Lanka is doing so good and these are the contributing factors. Mathews needs to play attacking cricket!!!!!

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