England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley

England crave tangible reward

The Preview by Alan Gardner

June 19, 2014

Comments: 51 | Text size: A | A
'Best yet to come from Bell'

Match facts

Thursday, June 20
Start time 1100 local (1000 GMT)

Big Picture

For all that has gone before, the result of the Headingley Test may determine how this tour is remembered. Win or draw and Sri Lanka, with both limited-overs series already packed in the coffin, can depart as unquestionably the side in the ascendant; lose and they will feel a wonderful opportunity has been squandered. England would take victory as confirmation they are Doing The Right Thing in the format that means the most to them.

Like a party that takes ages to get going then explodes into a Saturnalian debauch long after midnight, Lord's left us rubbing our heads and asking when we can do it all again. The chances of a similar finish in Leeds are small but, equally, the build-up might not be as restrained, either. Headingley is a ground where England have previously trusted in pace (they left Graeme Swann out against South Africa in 2012) but is also viewed as the most capricious in the country (Swann took a ten-wicket haul in the win over New Zealand last year).

Gary Ballance and Joe Root in the nets, Headingley, June 19, 2014
Yorkshire's Gary Ballance and Joe Root will be on familiar ground at Headingley © Getty Images

Look up, not down, they say and with another sunny forecast, at least to begin with, Sri Lanka will hope their batsmen, led by an imperious Kumar Sangakkara, can keep England at bay again, before Shaminda Eranga and Nuwan Pradeep attempt to probe for weaknesses. They have never played a Test in Yorkshire, however, and there will be peculiarities to adjust to. Should the game drift at all on Saturday and Sunday, Sri Lanka would be wise to keep their focus on the pitch, lest the antics in the Western Terrace throw them irrevocably off kilter.

The result in the first Test at least meant England broke their run of successive defeats. The most pertinent question is whether failing to snatch victory at the last will deflate Alastair Cook and his side, after a quietly impressive display. Cook's response to perceived criticism suggests he is still not completely at ease - even more so, since his captaincy at Lord's showed rare innovation and might have given him the confidence to laugh off commentary box needle. A Test win, and series victory, is desirable but another enterprising display coupled with a continued sense of progress would also be cause for optimism.

Almost as important, at least from a local perspective, is the opportunity to reassert Yorkshire as the heartland of English cricket. Hosting international matches is fundamentally important to Yorkshire's finances and the club have outlined an extensive redevelopment of Headingley to maintain their place in the England calendar. With three of their own likely to be in the XI, Yorkies have reason to be the northern approximate of cheerful.

Form guide

England: DLLLL (most recent first)
Sri Lanka: DDWLW

In the spotlight

Even before being hooked on Warne's barbs, the scrutiny on Alastair Cook was becoming sharper. Without a Test century since the corresponding fixture against New Zealand last year - a run of 22 innings - Cook is becoming the subject of a debate that turned into a background hum of distraction for many of his predecessors. Constructing a winning team in his own image will be much easier if he can resume the sort of scoring that made him England's leading Test century-maker at the age of 27.

Another left-handed opener in search of a three-figure score is Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne. While Kaushal Silva battened down the hatches to thwart England's new-ball bowlers at Lord's, Karunaratne's bat shimmered briefly in the light before becoming a sword for him to fall on. An attractive strokemaker who is adept at getting starts, Karunaratne needs something more substantial to nail his place; four fifties and an average of 29.90 from his 12 Tests hints at a talent as yet unfulfilled.

Teams news

England are expected to be unchanged, with Liam Plunkett's unflagging flogging of the Lord's pavement likely to rewarded by a more enjoyable workout on his home ground. Chris Woakes remains the other bowler in the squad.

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

Prasanna Jayawardene has returned to Sri Lanka because of a finger injury, which will likely open the door for Dinesh Chandimal to return and take the gloves. Dhammika Prasad could press for a place in the bowling attack if Nuwan Kulasekara's contributions are considered too lightweight.

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

Pitch and conditions

The surface again looked to have a layer of grass left on - though that didn't count for much at Lord's. It is expected to be a touch quicker and seam friendly but that should not prevent runs from flowing when the sun is out.

Stats and trivia

  • England have won only one of their last four Tests in Leeds (against New Zealand), with defeats to Australia and South Africa.

  • This will be Sri Lanka's first Test at Headingley but they have won their previous two ODIs at the ground, in 2011 and 2006.

  • Cook needs 23 runs to go past Geoffrey Boycott and 90 to go past Kevin Pietersen, fifth and fourth on England's Test run-scorers list respectively.

  • Only 33 runs separate Mahela Jayawardene, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Kumar Sangakkara, who lie sixth to eighth in the all-time Test runscorers list. All three are in action this week.


    "Last week couldn't have gone any better for us. Yes, we didn't quite get over the line but what we did I was incredibly proud of and if we play that way in a Test match every time I am captain I will be incredibly proud."
    Alastair Cook was encouraged by England's manner despite drawing at Lord's

    "It's going to be a fresh start for all of us. We'll take that. We showed our character in the first game, but we've got to play our best cricket to beat them."
    Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka's captain, is looking to the next challenge

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

RSS Feeds: Alan Gardner

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 14:56 GMT)

Here is my comment before it's too late (before the game progress any further). I see a BIG problem with SL selection panel. Especially promoting Chandimal before he had his feet placed firmly and now promoting Thirimanna as the VC of the team (pretty much securing a spot in the 11 when they are seriously out of form). Chandimal did really well in the fast bouncy tracks in ENG 92011) and Aus, SA afterwards and he should be given preference when we play them. Thirimanna is good in slow subcontinent pitches and if SLC want to promote him in the team they should have done that in those situations. i would have played Chandimal as a batsman in both games or replace thirmanna with kitruwan. He seems fearless, just like chandimals last tour of ENG.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (June 20, 2014, 12:23 GMT)

I think this is good. Luckily Mathiew did not win the Toss otherwise SL will be bowling first and trying to save the match in the 4th and 5th day. I

Posted by Gloryof96 on (June 20, 2014, 9:48 GMT)

@ModernUmpiresPlz, you have no idea about what test cricket is, Thrimanne is a pure and classic test batsmen


For SL needs to get min 350, then see what else can be made at that time

For Eng needs to get to lunch with SL 2/3 down, any more is a bonus

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (June 20, 2014, 9:08 GMT)

@Gloryof96 If Thirimanne is Sri Lanka's only possible test batsman for the future they're in serious trouble. Fortunately there are many better test batsmen in Sri Lanka, they just aren't getting picked like they should be. Thirimanne is not a test batsman, he's terrible. Shorter formats no problems. Test cricket is a different game.

Posted by Gloryof96 on (June 20, 2014, 8:05 GMT)

Thirimanne and Karunarathe MUST play, they are our future, you don't drop players because some armchair selectors here don't like what they see

Prasanna is out and the possible replacement will be between Chandimal and Vitharage. I doubt the selectors will drop Kulesekera but if he is, the possible replacement would be Prasad unless Lakmal is stiff iinjured

Posted by Gloryof96 on (June 20, 2014, 8:00 GMT)

If anyone thinks that Mattews is a defensive Captain, think again .....

SL were positive even after Eng got 575/9(d), and that is why SL got so close, after the morning session of the 5th day, all 3 results were still possible

Yes Eng bowled SL out for 453 but the SL top order fired, but the Eng top order failed and it was the tail that bailed out Eng, how many times can Eng expect the tail to bail out Eng?

Posted by cric_J on (June 20, 2014, 7:26 GMT)

Agree with most people here that England should play an unchanged squad here. Personally, I do want to shuffle up the batting order a bit, but maybe not for this game. Despite the fact that Ballance got a ton at 3 and Root got a double at 5, I'm certain England will be better off switching their places in the near future.

The biggest concern right now is the openers. Should Robson not get at least a fifty this game, he's sure to lose his place to Carbs (or maybe someone else) at Trent Bridge next month. Cook last got a ton at this very ground. I wish I could amply express how desperately I've wanted him to get one for a LONG while now. Do it now Chef.

Jimmy/Broady should be fine if the pitch behaves even 70% like the classic Headingley wickets.I agree with @landl47 that Jordan & Plunkett ought to be used a bit more to attack than to contain.

Hope it's not a wicket like last year's vs NZ. There's no one close to our Swanny to bail the seamers out this time.

All power & luck England.

Posted by chandimasl on (June 20, 2014, 7:04 GMT)

I prefer if Kulasekara and either Dimuth or Thirimanna to be removed from today's match and Prasad and Dilruwan to be included. Because Dimuth and Thirimanna are not in good form. Specially Thirimanna. Dilruwan will add value by increasing the bowling options. Whereas Kulasekara is not generating enough pace to test level so Dammika can be a handy option. If Chandimal could step down the captaincy in world t20, why cant Thirimanna to do it to win a match.

However i still feel that SL are having the lack of focus on getting the tailenders quickly. Malinga is clearly missing here. I do not think Mendis as an option since he is picking quite easily by Eng players. If vass can develop the bowling yorkers at regular intervals by a bowler like pradeep it will be a much better resource not only for this match but also for the future. importantly pradeep got a bit of reverse swing as well. Therefore developing him will be more useful to take the wickets of tailenders quickly.

Posted by Gloryof96 on (June 20, 2014, 7:00 GMT)

How ironic, the last time SL toured Eng during a FIFA WC (2006), SL drew 1-1 in the test series beat Eng in Leeds to win the ODI's 5-0 and on the 5th ODI day, Eng were dumped by Portugal, this time 3-2 ODI's to SL and Eng almost but dumped by Uruguay, so lets see what the result would be at Leeds (again!!)!

I am surprised that some people think Eng bowled well, apart from the last 2 hours of a 5 day game. Eng failed to take 20 wickets but the so called "village green bowlers" did far better as an inexperienced attack in that cold climate

Yes I do expect SL to get beaten at Leeds, but don't make excuses if you don't beat SL.

On the overall view of the series V SL and simple deductions would make Ind favorites for that series

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 6:57 GMT)

Basically SL is happy winning the ODIs. England will be happy if they win the Tests. So it's a win-win.

Posted by vallavarayar on (June 20, 2014, 6:50 GMT)

Kulasekara is unlikely to cut it. A better option would be Welegedara.

Posted by Lord.emsworth on (June 20, 2014, 6:32 GMT)

I don't think the SL selectors are influenced with what us humble contributors write in, but they should realize some hard facts. Thirimanne should be dropped. He is a good batsmen, but he is awfully out of form ad then there is his weakness for Anderson. Vithanage can take his place. Also as Alan puts it, Kulaskekera's bowling may prove 'Lightweight' unless he gets enormous swing which is doubtful on the Headingly wicket. Try Prasad...He can bat a bit too.

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 6:18 GMT)

I too think Thirimanne should not be in the team. Play Chandimal for Jayawardena and Mendis who can bat and bowl leggie stuff.

Posted by CodandChips on (June 20, 2014, 5:59 GMT)

@R_U_4_REAL_NICK I agree with what you say. The bowlers did a lot better than expected, but I still fear a lack of penetration in the spin department. I don't think the seamers lack penetration as such, but more they lack control. Also Finn may come back in the future to add more bite, but perhaps we need an Onions or Woakes or Roland-Jones to add control, because Plunkett and Jordan are too wayward imo.

I like football though. Southampton. However watching England is painful (as it often has been in cricket)

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 5:56 GMT)

need to drop thirmannr,karunarathne,kulasekara to have any chance in this match..they are useles passengers at this moment of time..

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 5:55 GMT)

I am Sure Chndimal will Get Century in This Test Match...Plealese Give Chance To Chandimal....My Team...1.kaushal, 2 chandimal Or Dimuth..3 Sanga,,4.mahela,,5.Dimuth or chandimal..6.thirimanne..7.Mathews.,,8.herath,,9.prasad,,10.shaminda...11.nuwan..

Posted by InternationalCricketFollower on (June 20, 2014, 5:43 GMT)

It's funny watching quotes from both defensive captains. Pretty funny series. Both trying to be as defensive as possible while the least defensive team wins!

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 5:28 GMT)

1 thirimanne 2 silva 3 sanga 4 mahela 5 chandimal 6 mathews 7 kithruwan 8 herath 9 welagedara 10 eranga 11 pradeep

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 5:21 GMT)

please give chance to chandimal

Posted by Kruns on (June 20, 2014, 5:21 GMT)

Also i think SL should play Mendis as all the young players of England would find him difficult

Posted by Kruns on (June 20, 2014, 5:18 GMT)

Mark my words we shall see a good inngs from Mahela this match .... I think Sri Lanka should score more than 450 runs whether batting first or second to put pressure on this in-experienced england batting side (except Cook/Bell/Prior).

I back Sri Lanka to put a good effort ..... (Indian Cricket Fan)

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 5:03 GMT)

My 1st 11 for Sri lanka in the 2nd test 1. Kithuruwan 2. Kaushal 3. Sanga 4. Maiya 5. Chandi 6. Mathews 7.Thirimanne 8. Kule 9. Herath 10. Welagedra 11. Nuwan Pradde / Ajantha Mendis

Posted by pandian_ikku on (June 20, 2014, 4:52 GMT)

Please drop Thirimanne and play Chandimal insted

Posted by pandian_ikku on (June 20, 2014, 4:38 GMT)

1. Kithuruwan 2. Kaushal 3. Sanga 4. Mahela 5. Chandimal 6. Mathews 7. Dilruwan 8. Prasad 9. Rangana 10. Eranga 11. Pradeep

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (June 20, 2014, 4:28 GMT)

As a neutral, the buildup to this 'winner takes all' test is brilliant. I only hope that both teams will be bold and take gambles as opposed to being conservative and holding for a draw. A pity that Lakmal is not available for SL but this pitch should suit their other pacers. I hope England pick Plunkett, nice to see a quick running in and bowling at 145kmph upwards. All in all hope the weather does not become a factor and we get to see thrilling cricket in which only the players cricketing skills are not display and not their sledging skills. Heres to a thrilling finish

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 4:11 GMT)

welagedara is better option than prasad. he can bowl long spell unlike prasad. good line and length with economical spells .he has far better average than prasad . welagedara is left hand bowler .

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 4:01 GMT)

My team: 1. kusal, 2. chandimal, 3.Sanga, 4. Mahela, 5. Mathews, 6. Lahiru , 7. Kithruwan, 8. Dhammika/ Chanaka, 9. Herath, 10. Shaminda, 11. Nuwan

Posted by Shehan_W on (June 20, 2014, 3:31 GMT)

Sri Lanka can't afford to have too many passengers in their side, since a big problem lies with an opening bowler and an opening batsman in their tream. Kulasekera and Dimuth Karunarathne are not up to the mark to start the the proceedings for Sri Lanka. Others players had to do extremely well to fill the voids these two have created in the last test to take that match to a draw. You can't expect to win test matches with pedestrian fast bowlers such as Kulasekera while the likes of Prasad and Welegedera are in the squad. But Chandimal who is averaging more than 50 in test cricket will definitely strengthen their batting in this game, his batting will be a big plus for them in this game.

Posted by Darkmanx12155 on (June 20, 2014, 3:20 GMT)

So its gonna be "opening with a walking wicket" for SL once again eh? Mark my words. If SL bat first, england will go on to win by an innings margin by day 3. If england put to bat first, same result in four days. It is unbelievable to see SL selectors persist with a provan walking wicket at the top, instead of giving a chance to a positive young guy like Kithruwan. And then you have Jimy andy's bunny, Thirimanne. Another duck. So SL are already in trouble before even setting fut on the ground. 0/2. You cant win games with passengers. you need players who can do their part.

Posted by Lakpj on (June 20, 2014, 2:45 GMT)

After seeing their team crash out of the FIFA world cup a test series win here is a bit of a consolation for England fans. For Sri Lanka it is all about playing positively and hope for the best. It is England's series to win. But Sri Lanka can always pull out a rabbit from the hat as they did in Durban 2011.

Posted by   on (June 20, 2014, 2:36 GMT)

Thirimanne is a bunny for Anderson. He should be left out from this match. Better to give opportunity to Dilruwan. He is a good batsman.

Posted by Kithth on (June 20, 2014, 1:47 GMT)

Hope Dhammika Prasad will replace Nuwan Kulasekara. Kula is a solid one day bowler but at test level he cannot trouble/hurry batsman with his lack of pace. Also once the shine of the ball goes off Kulasekara becomes totally ineffective leaving only Nuwan pradeep and Eranga to make something out of a worn out ball. This put so much strain on these two because there is no effective third seamer to trouble batsman as Mattews and Kula bowls more or less at the same pace. Test cricket is about aggressive bowling to take wickets. Hope Dmamika could form a trio of pacies along with Eranga and Pradeep so that at all times we have a wicket taking bowler in operation whether the ball is new or old.

Posted by landl47 on (June 20, 2014, 0:51 GMT)

If this pitch has even a touch more life (say, enough to get a #11's wicket) than Lord's then England should win and will be disappointed if they don't. The magnificent Sangakarra and resolute Mathews can't go on propping up a team that is basically much weaker forever.

England's one real weakness, lack of a top-quality spinner, is unlikely to prove too much of a handicap.

It would be nice, though for completely different reasons, to see both of the opening pair get runs. I'd also like to see Jordan used as a real strike bowler, 3/4 overs full out and off, than see him bowl 7 or 8 over spells at 85-87mph.

Hopefully we'll see a good match and another good finish.

Posted by Revelation3_7 on (June 20, 2014, 0:43 GMT)

This is a good Test to actually "TEST" the Sri Lankans, they managed a good draw at the Lords, hope some of heir batsman will start firing, starting from "Mahela" and Co, Dinesh Chandimal better prove his worthy on this tour and so is Dimuth, good luck boys.

Posted by TeamSelector on (June 19, 2014, 23:56 GMT)

What exactly is Moeen Ali's role in this side? Is he a spinner that can bat a bit, or (is he like Root) a batsman who can bowl a bit? Either way, a 'specialist' spinner is needed & I don't think he's it. If none is available, then bring back Swann & while you're at it (bring back England's backbone ... KP).

Posted by Vostok_1 on (June 19, 2014, 22:41 GMT)

"Last week couldn't have gone any better for us. Yes, we didn't quite get over the line but what we did I was incredibly proud of and if we play that way in a Test match every time I am captain I will be incredibly proud."

When you can't even beat Sri Lanka at home something is very wrong and to have the captain parading around the park like its some sort of victory is astounding. You have to question where the hunger for England has gone. They lose one series and all of a sudden they are reduced to patting each other on the back for drawing a game against a mediocre team. Cook and co need to change their attitude, this is not good enough.

Posted by Yasi_Gee on (June 19, 2014, 22:35 GMT)

SL has brought Kithuruwan all the way from Sri Lanka for this match but looks like he is not going to play. What a waste of money!

Posted by   on (June 19, 2014, 21:19 GMT)

A cricinfo page 2 article had mentioned tongue in cheek that cricket will remain relevant in England despite the football world cup going on because it represents the only chance for an England team to win something this season. Moments after England's first round exit from Brazil, cannot help but remember these words. Hope that spurs on Cook and co. rather than demoralize them.

Posted by   on (June 19, 2014, 20:19 GMT)

Good luck lions! Looking forward to your victory at Headlingley.

Posted by   on (June 19, 2014, 19:46 GMT)

play chandi at 5 nd kiththa at 7..no thirimanne please

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (June 19, 2014, 19:41 GMT)

I agree - no point in changing the team really, barring sudden injuries/fitness scares. Big game for the openers (Cook and Robson); need some runs boys. The bowlers did really well last game despite the docile pitch - much better than I expected to be honest. But I'd still like to see more wickets from the likes of Plunkett and Jordan, otherwise I simply may not be able to shake off the feeling that they (still) lack penetration/strike enough, and with no proper spin bowler England need this more than ever now.

P.S. anybody else here despise football, or just me!? #yawn; cricket4ever!

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (June 19, 2014, 19:34 GMT)

@Ysakaru: Which lions? Both sides have lions on their badge!

Posted by Herath-UK on (June 19, 2014, 19:11 GMT)

Sri Lanka can be proud, whatever the outcome of the Headingly Test, of what they have done on this tour being equal partners to England if not better having bagged T20 & ODI series on alien conditions sans the coach. The ECB should consider starting with the usual summer team in early June so their Tests will extend to the summer as they have 4/5 Tests & arrange Sri Lanka tour at the end of the summer rather than at the beginning. This will give both touring teams the advantage of the summer for more competitive games. At least this could be arranged in an alternating fashion. England needs good competition to improve its status & SL can provide it touring in the summer who have been to WC finals than most others.

Posted by St.John on (June 19, 2014, 18:59 GMT)

Warne's criticism might dwell negatively on Cooks mind, maybe force him into making mistakes in his captaincy role. On the other hand it may galvanize him to greater deeds. For Sri Lanka its the greatest chance they have had for a long time to pull off a series win in England. To do that the top order batters must score heavily to compensate the weak SL tail. A really big score is long, long, overdue from struggling Mahela Jayawardene and even Karunaratne. SL's bowling is pedestrian but as we saw at Lords Eranga can make a breakthrough...

Posted by   on (June 19, 2014, 18:33 GMT)

Sri Lanka have one this match.sanga and mahela good partnership.eranga to many wickets.rangana have little bit with.spiner.comone Sri Lanka..

Posted by old_chap on (June 19, 2014, 18:09 GMT)

prasanna jayawardena's injury is a blessing in disguise..thank god

Posted by Jeewaka9999 on (June 19, 2014, 18:05 GMT)

Please drop Kulasekara from Last XI. he is not a test bowler. pace is too easy to handle. 38 test innings only 48 wickets. we don't need a bowler who takes 1 wicket per innings. i think Matthews can also do his role. So Give chance to other fast bowler who has genuine speed and capable of taking wickets. i also believe it is enough for Dimuth also. but as we don't hv extra opener we should let him play

Posted by   on (June 19, 2014, 17:34 GMT)

Look first of all the prediction I have made become reality. So read this, I want SL to play two spinners and 3 seamers. So kula and Eranga can keep their place. Herath with mendis if Senanayake unavailable. Now openers, sliva must open with Chamdima because he had more experience in english conditions than vitanage. One of them should take gloves if not Silva. If vitanage or Chamdimal don't play then we can plays one genuine batsmen at n.o 6 as Mathews at n.o 5. Kula is slow too so I think playing prasad waist of time so welagedara in for pradeep.Important point is SL must play two genuine spinners.

Posted by cric1965 on (June 19, 2014, 17:33 GMT)

Kula and Thiri should be replace by Dhammika Prasad and Vithanage. Chandimal shoul be the wicket keeper.

Posted by YsaKaru on (June 19, 2014, 16:52 GMT)

hopefully the weather will be nice.... GOOD LUCK LIONS!!!!!

Posted by CodandChips on (June 19, 2014, 16:19 GMT)

I can see no reason to change the side. Give everyone another go at least.

Glad Woakes was allowed to play for Warwickshire in the championship. He needs and deserves some cricket.

I doubt Moeen Ali is a long-term solution to the spin problems. Hopefully against India a front-line spinner will get picked. My choice would be Kerrigan. But Ali did alright last match and I would never discard anyone after just one match.

Good luck to Ian Bell in his 100th test. I am always critical of him, so best of luck.

Would love Cook to score a hundred just to get rid of the vultures.

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