Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test, Galle

No room for error in short series

The Preview by Andrew McGlashan in Galle

March 25, 2012

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

March 26-30, Galle
Start time 10.00am (0430GMT)

Stuart Broad has a bowl on the eve of the Galle Test, Galle, March 25, 2012
Andrew Strauss said Stuart Broad was fully fit but the question of having enough bowling options was still being pondered © Getty Images
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Big Picture

This is an odd tour - two Tests and nothing else - but one with great significance for both sides. It is Mahela Jayawardene's first Test series since returning to the captaincy and Sri Lanka are still searching for their first series win since Muttiah Muralitharan's retirement. England, meanwhile, are coming off a 3-0 whitewash by Pakistan in the UAE, which raised questions about their No. 1 ranking.

The brief nature of the series adds a certain lottery factor to the outcome, particularly given the recent history of Galle, the venue for the opening match. The previous Test at this ground, which Australia won by 125 runs, led to a warning over the pitch from the ICC. It remains to be seen what type of surface is produced this time, and whether the groundsman plays it safe (two Tests ago Chris Gayle slammed a triple hundred here), but one crazy session - as Nathan Lyon and Shane Watson produced last September - could be all that is needed to take the series.

Significant questions remain about England's batting on the subcontinent and, with a tour to India to come at the end of the year, they need to show that lessons have been absorbed from what happened against Pakistan. There is less mystery about Sri Lanka's attack but this England line-up are not in a position to take anyone lightly.

Neither, though, are Sri Lanka's batsmen likely to find it easy. While the reputation of England's batting slumped in the UAE that of the bowlers soared. James Anderson and Stuart Broad became a two-man pace attack with Monty Panesar making a resurgent comeback. When a slightly below-par Graeme Swann is the main concern for England, it's a sign of the strength on offer. And Steven Finn is unlikely to play.

The fact that the strongest element of either team - England's bowling and Sri Lanka's batting - will face-off against each other suggests this should be a tight contest.

Form guide

Sri Lanka LWLDL (most recent first)
England LLLWW

Watch out for...

Tillakaratne Dilshan was apparently treated pretty harshly as Sri Lanka captain but being freed of the burden was not the worst outcome for such an explosive player. There were signs in the one-day series against Australia that he was getting back to being that expressive, domineering batsman that can tear attacks apart. This series will give him a chance to translate that to Test cricket, although he will need to be at his best against England's strong new-ball attack. Don't rule out his bowling having an impact, either.

Monty Panesar flourished at the beginning of his second coming as an international cricketer with 14 wickets in two Tests against Pakistan. Now, all of a sudden, he has to deal with the expectation of success again. When England were last in Sri Lanka it marked the start of Panesar's problems in Test cricket, as he failed to have the impact needed from him. Now he is back as a wiser, sharper cricketer, and will be aiming to make it very difficult for the selectors to drop him.

Team news

Angelo Mathews was ruled out of the Test having initially been named in the squad, but Sri Lanka have batting cover available. Dinesh Chandimal will slot in at No. 6 and hand the wicketkeeping gloves back to Prasanna Jayawardene, who has recovered from hernia surgery. Mahela Jayawardene also confirmed that Lahiru Thirimanne will continue to open the batting, while it's a choice between Suranga Lakmal and Dhammika Prasad for the second seamer.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Lahiru Thirimanne, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Dinesh Chandimal, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Suraj Randiv, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Suranga Lakmal/Dhammika Prasad, 11 Chanaka Welegedera

Andrew Strauss said Stuart Broad was fully fit but the question of having enough bowling options was still being pondered. Samit Patel remains an option but it would be bad luck on Ravi Bopara who's side strain couldn't have come at a worse time.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Monty Panesar

Stats and trivia

  • There have been three Tests between these two teams at Galle, and the hosts have dominated them all. They won by an innings and 28 runs in 2001, where a wicket away from victory in 2003 and would have won in 2007 except for the rain.
  • The one current England player with fond memories of the ground is Alastair Cook, who scored 118 in 2007. Ravi Bopara, in the same match, had bagged a pair that stalled his Test career.
  • Chanaka Welegedara, who will take the new-ball for Sri Lanka, made his Test debut in the correspondent fixture.


"The history of the wicket is that it tends to deteriorate as the match goes on, but I expect it to be a pretty good Test wicket. You are looking for a good balance to your side to give you the best chance of taking 20 wickets."
Andrew Strauss doesn't expect another Galle minefield

"We have about six guys, who are genuine Test players, coming in to the squad. They have been training hard, and for the rest of the boys who have been touring, it's a good challenge switching back to the longer version."
Mahela Jayawardene is not concerned about switching back to the longer format

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by satish619chandar on (March 26, 2012, 4:16 GMT)

A tired and underprepared SL against a fresh(Might be rusty?) and well prepared England.. But one would be very wrong to discount SL in home..

Posted by   on (March 26, 2012, 4:10 GMT)

@ PrasadGunawardane - I don't think that SA is the worst no-sub continent team aggainst spinners ... It has to be Enland for now ... SA have majority of players who play well against spin ... I think this series would go 1-0 to SL

Posted by sanj1981 on (March 26, 2012, 2:49 GMT)

Why would you start a test series on a Monday? wouldn't thursday or friday better because of the weekend? not many people will come. no wonder cricket board is run on a loss

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (March 26, 2012, 0:17 GMT)

Sri Lanka's problem in the Test Level at the moment is not their batting, but their bowling. Here's to hoping some Sri Lankan quicks can fire this series

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (March 25, 2012, 23:53 GMT)

Much also depends on the attitude of the 2 andys as to whether they want to try and win this test match/series or try to avoid defeat.. And whether they make a selection howler first up like UAE and then end up chasing this 2 match series... It would be a bit much to ask Patel to come in and try and save the series having already gone 1 down... Even after UAE's batting debacle IR Bell's still current hopeless form and Bopeeps memories of a pair do not bode well so hopefully the much more combative Samit will get the nod...

Posted by ikmal--syd on (March 25, 2012, 23:43 GMT)

very happy with the selection of thrimanne and chandimal, would have liked silva to fit in somehow, question on the performance of the bowlers

Posted by JG2704 on (March 25, 2012, 22:18 GMT)

@Spelele on (March 25 2012, 12:33 PM GMT) re "The only team to continuously pummel teams away from home is South Africa" - what a load of rubbish. The only team SA have beaten away from home by more than a solitary test was Bangladesh and in the last 10 years the only teams SA have beaten by more than one test in a series have been NZ , WI , Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.In their last 10 series SA have played 7 at home beating SL 2-1 Bang 2-0 WI 2-0 drawing vs Aus,Ind,Eng and losing 2-1 to Aus and away (3) Pak 0-0 , Ind 1-1 and Aus 2-1. Eng/SA series are always close encounters and I think the next series will be no exception. SA are better away vs SC teams than Eng but apart from that Eng have a better recent record vs most.

Posted by JG2704 on (March 25, 2012, 22:18 GMT)

@landl47 on (March 25 2012, 13:40 PM GMT) Don't like the undercooked theory/excuses. They had played 2 warm up games and it wasn't as though they batted badly just in the 1st test. Also the bowlers found their rhythm ok. Our batsmen were rubbish and by and large lacked any sort of intent throughout the whole series. Flower was saying about lessons learned after every test defeat - it kind of wore thin in the end. They beat Pak in a format which both teams are inconsistent at and Pak probably took their foot of the gas a bit too. If we win , I'll give our team all the credit but we've not proven anything about improvement in warm up games or games in shorter formats.

Posted by 5wombats on (March 25, 2012, 20:50 GMT)

Much depends on the attitude the SL authorities take towards their chances of winning. That will in turn dictate the pitches that are prepared. SL may take the view that England are vulnerable to spin and thus prepare rank turners - but as they found against Australia at Galle last time - that can backfire. Or, SL could take the view that heat and attrition will do for England - and prepare roads, hoping that England perish from heat and boredom. Neither way will work for Sri Lanka. First - England will play both Monty and Swann - and both are world class. Monty showed what he can do in UAE. Second - England are super-fit. Heat should not really be a factor. England will most definitely have learned from the debacle in UAE. They will be much better prepared. Cook, Strauss, Trott, KP, Bell, Prior, Patel, Swann, Broad, Anderson, Monty. Even though Bell should be dropped - he won't be. We think Patel will play; useful runs and overs. Be great to win the toss and bat! Come on England!

Posted by deol84 on (March 25, 2012, 17:56 GMT)

2nil to england,below average bowling attack for srilanka no m factor.hope batting will click for the lankans otherwise game over in3 to 4 days,

Posted by PrasadGunawardane on (March 25, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

@ Parvezur Rahman : In fact there are four Wicket Keepers in SLankan side.. Prasanna Jayawardane, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal and Thilakaratne Dilshan...

Posted by CricPissu on (March 25, 2012, 16:06 GMT)

Its not the spin factor anymore for S/L post Murali. However, S/L fast bowlers are capable of taking wickets in subcont with variety of deliveries on slow wickets. Now ENG has got a very clever spinner in the form of Swan. So, watch-out S/L and don't be complacent. SubCont humidity and heat will definitely play a part in this series.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (March 25, 2012, 16:02 GMT)

Should be an interesting seires. Sri Land in SL are not easy. They have better batsmen than Pakistan. they are very good fielders. though their spinners may not be as effective as Pakistani spinners. Engllish Batsmen will find it toughter against the sharp fielding but less sharp bowling might be a little relaxing. English bowlers will find it tougher against SL batsmnen. a different kind of challenge.

Posted by Herath-UK on (March 25, 2012, 15:44 GMT)

Though England are now much a better side than in the past playing in the subcontinent pitches I cannot think other than a Sri Lanka series win here honestly. Ranil Herath- Kent

Posted by lakmalrox on (March 25, 2012, 15:41 GMT)

happy to see thirimanne & chandimal!!!!! thirimanna has a great eye contact! if silva replace for prasanna, would be a extra batting strong!!!

Posted by CricketFan2011WC on (March 25, 2012, 15:40 GMT)

SL-needs good quality spin bowlers, I mean spin bowlers who can spin the bowl. In my opinion, whom we do not have. Because of that the series is open to any one. What surprises me is that SL-cricket basically keeps rotating the same set of players, with some so called experience. When they fail they are rested, and then when the incoming players do bad they are replaced with the previous set of failed players because they have the so called "experience". I understand giving second or third chances, because it is cricket. But, what I do not understand is giving more than 10-20 chances with out bringing or finding any new talent. Pls correct me if I am wrong.

Posted by PrasadGunawardane on (March 25, 2012, 15:24 GMT)

This is going to be an interesting tournament where none of the teams in a very good Test form...@ Spelele: To me, England is not the worst non-sub continent team against spinners; it is South Africa....I never believe this is going to be an easy series for home team at all even-though SL prepare slow pitches. Reasons are, SL have no bowler to dominate a test opposition in Sri Lankan soil these days after the retirement of Murali, Malinga and particularly after the disappearance of misty from Ajantha Mendis. Further I still believe Sri Lanka is yet to find a solid opening batting pair to Test Cricket and this time too they have not picked the correct combination. Paranavithana was not impressive as all thought and Thirimanna is not an opener either. I would say Thirimanna is a solid middle order batsman. SL need to find a solid test partner for aggressive Dilshan and must say U.Tharanga also doesn't suit to this role. Let's see in coming weeks.

Posted by Trickstar on (March 25, 2012, 14:46 GMT)

@Spelele LOL yes, SA they pummel bottom ranked NZ but can't win at home, only one win at home in 3 years, oh yes great side, as well as that they don't pummel anyone away from home, they just bully poor sides and have held there own playing India. Sorry but a team that's so average in their own back yard, is exactly that average. On to this series, SL bowlers are about the worst on the test roster, so even though England had trouble with Ajmal, the trouble is there's no one anywhere near as good as him in SL. It's all going to be about the pitches, flat ones like the warm up game and it will be about the England bowlers trying to force the win, spinning ones and I'd still back England because I England's spin options are much better than SL's. SL look a very poor team atm even at home, they even lost to the Aussies, man that's poor.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (March 25, 2012, 14:32 GMT)

At least England know the worst now so they will have no illusions about playing spin. The trouble with Sri Lanka is that at least 3 of their batsmen are top players and wickets will be harder to come by than in UAE, where apart from Younis there were no household names batting. I think though that the heat is really the no. 1 problem- too hot to do anything but swim for any normal person.

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

Doubt anyone will be able to answer this, but has there been any sufficient reverse swing for the England bowlers in the tour matches?

Posted by Duty281 on (March 25, 2012, 14:06 GMT)

Should be an easy 1 or 2 nil victory for England.

SL have no world-class bowlers, unlike Pakistan who had Gul and Ajmal. While the SL batting does appear to be very good, England's bowlers are the best attack in the World and are capable of bowling out any side, anywhere in the World cheaply. England's batsmen are coming into form as well. I predict Strauss will hit a much-needed century this series, the only batsmen I am worried about is Bell but you know what they say; Class is permanent, form is temporary.

(Please publish this Cricinfo)

Posted by mohanan on (March 25, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

The series title sounds ominous. Hope no one retires after the series.

Posted by landl47 on (March 25, 2012, 13:40 GMT)

England came into the test series against Pakistan badly undercooked. None of them had played any cricket for two months, some for three months, and two warm-up games against mediocre opposition simply weren't enough. Once they had played a few games they showed, in the two shorter series, that they were perfectly capable of playing on these wickets. In this series they are much better prepared, while Sri Lanka are coming off a very disappointing Asia Cup. England will be expecting a much better performance, and a different result, in these two tests.

Posted by maddy20 on (March 25, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

This SL spin bowling attack does not look threatening at all. Herath always looks to flight the ball and banks on the loop and turn for wickets. While it may work in second innings, it will not work in the first one. Randiv on the the other hand does not turn the ball much and depends on line and length for wickets. Me thinks Panesar nd Swann are better spinners and England should win this 1-0 unless the Lankan batting lineup can pile up the runs to make up for their thin bowling resources. Toss will be critical. Good luck to both teams. Looking forward to an exciting test series :)

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 13:24 GMT)

not playing chamara silva will be a big mistake

Posted by annon on (March 25, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

srilanka big 3 is out of form/focus and play rash shots. Tharanga is ignored for no reason. younsters will make about 150, and the total will be less tha 250-300. The better bowlers are kept out, like kulasekara, eranga, nuwan pradeep. no new talent is looked at. the team will be used by SLC to earn money, and the players willike it. Srilanka will be beaten by B-desh & Windies very soon in test cricket.

Posted by spence1324 on (March 25, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

Good luck england,srl lanka may discriminate against our fans but lets show the real lions how its done on the pitch!

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 13:17 GMT)

Chamara Silva should play Instead of Prasanna Jayawardana, as chandimal can take over the wicket keeping job.

Posted by stormy16 on (March 25, 2012, 13:15 GMT)

The toss is important at Galle as the wicket deteriorates significantly with time. SL's batting has been brittle of late despite the impressive numbers. Unless this changes SL will struggle with an experienced bowling attack. While its a test by spin for Eng, there is nothing like Ajmal on show and even Hearath is more of a usefull spinner than a match winner - is importance is magnified by the lack of other wicket taking bowlers. One guy who is under the radar is Randiv. He was Muralis partner and was supposed to be the front runner after Murali but lost his way but is back after a strong domestic performance. He has a few tricky deliveries and gets good bounce.

Posted by gularan on (March 25, 2012, 13:13 GMT)

My forecast considering the current form and mindset of SL cricketers is a 2-0 whitewash for the poms.

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

. If this is a wicket like the one they had given to Australia ,sri Lanka will win . Before England-Pakistan series i believed that Pakistan will and South Africa .For team composition i say James anderson will fail again MARK MY WORDS play finn with broad and play Bresnam at no 7 with prior at no 6 this will give England a good composition though i don't see this happening because finn in exprace pace and will do well anywhere as he showed in India and UAE (ODI series ) ,bresnam is the best fast bowler for subcontinent England has and broad the heart he bowl with he too will do well anywhere with the two spinners this can get England 20 wickets .Sri lanka have a good team but england has a better only problem they can only do well on fast and boucy pitch and hope Sri Lanka shows it but i see it tough happening i see a 0-0 series because of the pitches but anyways best of luck to both teams hopefully we see a competitive series after a long time

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 12:44 GMT)

I predict a 2-0 win for Sri Lanka. Though England spin bowlers seem better compared to Sri Lankan spin bowlers on the paper, Sri Lankan batsman plays much better than England batsman against spin bowlers, so, I predict a tough but 2-0 win for Sri Lanka. Howver, particularly, Kumar, Mahela and Thilan need to bat well throughout the series. Good luck for Sri Lanka !

Posted by Spelele on (March 25, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

English batsmen can't play spin. They are the worst non-subcontinent players of spin. All the teams in world cricket at the moment are tigers at home and mediocre lambs abroad. Aus are getting blown away by the West Indies after looking indispensable against India at home. England were blown away by Pakistan. The less said about India the better. The only team to continuously pummel teams away from home is South Africa. They've shown this again by clean-sweeping New Zealand across all three formats. They'll do the same to England later this year :)

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 12:26 GMT)

eng. should play with bopara nt with patel............bst of luck england !

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 12:11 GMT)

glad to see para was out and chance given to thirimanna

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

From the looks of it, all that remains to be seen is how the Lankans will play that'll decide this series. The amount of cricket they've been playing recently would be a big factor and should help the English. From England's point of view, they'd be better off with the patience game and looking to bat long without worrying about the pace of their innings. Survival would be the key for them!

Posted by rakesh_1907 on (March 25, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

gud chance 4 english batsman to show dier class against spin.batting 1st will b a gud's high tym 4 stauss&co. to show dier mettle at subcontinent,otherwise it wil put a ? mark on dier no. 1 ranking

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 11:54 GMT)

There are tree WK in srilankan this a record?

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 11:41 GMT)

Chamara Silva should be selected over any player since he is in terrific touch

Posted by Sinhaya on (March 25, 2012, 11:35 GMT)

Come on Sri Lanka! If you hopefully win the toss, try to post 400 or so and we will be safe. Hopefully Herath will be our trump card and also hope Dhammika Prasad plays instead of useless Suranga Lakmal.

Posted by RankPace on (March 25, 2012, 11:34 GMT)

While there is no doubt that the Sri lankan spin attack is not as dangerous as pakistans, but their batting is certainly much better. so this is definately going to be a different test for England. Here drawing match may be easier than winning it. But Sri lanka will definately push to win all games, more specially the test matches.

Posted by   on (March 25, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

wow our batting line up actually looks good for once! with chandimal in the middle order and prassana back,this lineup has good players young and old from 1-7,also dont rule out randiv he can stick in their score a 30 odd..bowling herath will be the danger man while lakmal has the ability to produce a good spell here and their,so he needs to be more consistent with his lines and lengths ,then he will be able to be more successful.england is alwayz a good side on paper,but in the sub-contignent they will find it hard as their pacies become worthless after the first 15 overs so if we can hold our own against them in the first 15 overs,i dont see panesar and swann doing much damage to us..All in all it will be a good series,but i feel sri lanka have the edge not only due to the pitches being favourable to us,but also the whether being humid and hot!!!!!!

Posted by Slesh on (March 25, 2012, 11:21 GMT)

My team is 1.Chandimal 2.Dilshan 3.Sanga 4.Mahela 5.Samaraweera 6.Chamara 7.Randiv 8.Herath 9.Prasad 10.Welagedara 11.Lakmal The main reason behind this 11 is... Look @ our bowling side..cant go with only 4 main bowlers!! Only 1 RFB to bowl lots of overs..??? it will put loads of work to the not undere esitmating.but obviously we cant comapare Lakmal or Prasad with Anderson or Broad as England going to play only 2 seamers. If our top 6 batsmen cant do their job, then we cant expect no.7 to come n dominate...SO we need 5 main bowlers including 3 seamers as well as 2 spinners..coz we are playing in Galle..Randiv will be handy with it dosent matter to let him bat @ no.7 to give us 20-25 runs.but our top 6 batsmen got to play well! Simple as that! both Herath n Prasad can give 20-30 runs also.but in this moment our bowling is what lacking. So we must go with 6-5 combination...!

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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