England v Sri Lanka test series preview

Stanley Gilyead takes a look at England v Sri Lanka

Stanley Gilyead
16th March 2020
England's test side returns to action this week as their two-match test series against Sri Lanka kicks off in Galle. England have happy memories of touring Sri Lanka having whitewashed them in 2018 and will be hoping a young spin attack and top-order batting lineup can replicate that success this time round.

England go into the series with an unusually settled batting lineup. Injury to Rory Burns during the test series in South Africa looked to have disturbed England's first reliable opening partnership in nigh on a decade, but Zac Crawley stepped in admirably and looks set to keep his place alongside Sibley at the top of the order in Sri Lanka. The attacking 22 year old opener looks to be in fine form having scored a century in England's recent warm-up match and will be hoping to give England's selectors a headache as he, Sibley, Burns and Crawley battle for the top three spots in the batting lineup for the upcoming English summer.

Root, Stokes and the mercurial young talent of Ollie Pope complete one of the strongest batting lineups England has had in recent years. Root and co will hope to use the tour in Sri Lanka to solidify a lineup that could play for England for years to come.

England enter the series with a depleted bowling attack. After excellent performances in South Africa fans were looking forward to seeing Wood and Archer steam in again in Sri Lanka, but both have been ruled out due to injury. Jimmy Anderson, England's greatest ever bowler, has been rested for the series, leaving Broad, Woakes and Curran as pace bowling options. Whilst all three players extract excellent swing and seam movement they lack pace and so could struggle on the turning Sri Lankan pitches.

England will instead look to their spin bowlers to provide wicket taking options, as is normal on subcontinent wickets that are much more conducive to spin than pace. England have a range of strong options in this department. Jack Leach will be keen to play having missed out in South Africa due to illness and is a great option to both hold an end and offer a wicket taking threat with his left arm wrist spin. Dom Bess made a strong case for selection in Leach's absence in South Africa, taking a five-for in the third test, whilst Lancashire's Matthew Parkinson strengthened his case for inclusion in the first warmup match, taking 4-68. The tricky leg spinner provides a different, more attacking option and could provide an X-factor if he plays in Galle.

Crowds gathered as England took on Sri Lanka 14 years ago
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Having been starved of test cricket for almost two months England fans will be hoping that the spread of coronavirus doesn't threaten the test series. England have announced that they will dispense with handshakes in favour of fistbumps as a precaution but with sporting events worldwide being affected by the killer-virus it isn't outside the bounds of possibilities that the series could be played behind closed doors or even called off completely.

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