England v Sri Lanka Test Series Betting: Who'll score the runs for a post-Cook England?
In the first Test series since the retirement of Alistair Cook, just where will England's runs come from? Matthew Crist looks at the various options ahead of next week's opening Test against Sri Lanka...
"Almost three months after Cook's retirement from the international Test circuit, the emphasis is very much on this current crop of players to continue the good work achieved on home soil during the summer when England defeated India in convincing fashion."
All good things must come to an end
After victory in the One Day series, England's Test team return to action against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, but there's one name that will be missing from the team sheet.
Joe Root's side will start their series against Sri Lanka in Galle on the back of a pretty impressive summer, though this will be the first Test match since the retirement of Alastair Cook, whose departure has left something of a void in England's top order.
And even though the visitors may have got the measure of Sri Lanka in their recent rain affected ODI series, the longer form of the game, especially in south-east Asia, is bound to provide a very different challenge.
The hosts sit just behind England in the Test rankings and have been victorious in two of their last three series, including a 2-0 conquest of the mighty South Africa, while securing a draw in the other, though the visitors are as short as 5/4 to win the series.
Newcomer Burns brings plenty of potential
Now, almost three months after Cook's retirement from the international Test circuit the emphasis is very much on this current crop of players to continue the good work achieved on home soil during the summer when England defeated India in convincing fashion.
There's also the opportunity for someone to make a name for themselves in the absence of one of England's greatest ever Test batsmen.
Rory Burns was the most prolific batsman on the domestic scene last summer as the 28-year-old averaged over 69 in the County Championship while scoring 1,319 runs and this impressive form means he's 11/2 to be the Top England run-scorer in the series.
Denly returns as Jennings is given another chance
Joe Denly also returns to the England set-up for the first time since 2010, when he earned nine ODI caps and played five international T20 games for his country, and the right-hand batsman, who shone with the ball in the recent T20 international, is more than comfortable batting at the top of the order where he played a pivotal role in a decent season for Kent last season.
Meanwhile, Keaton Jennings has been given another chance to establish his Test career as the England selectors seemingly backed his previous success in the sub-continent over concerns about a summer which saw him average just 19.2 in six Tests.
Experience may prove to be the key
With all the talk of replacing Cook at the top of the order it's easy to overlook the more tried-and-tested middle order batsmen in the England side who are more than capable of chipping in with valuable runs.
The fresh faced but vastly experienced Joe Root is 2/1 favourite to be England's top run scorer in the three-match series and it's difficult to argue against that with human run-machine Cook no longer on the scene.
Meanwhile, in terms of value, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes might be worth considering if the visiting batsmen can cope with the difficult conditions and spin-friendly, turgid pitches they are likely to face in what is bound to be a gripping encounter.
See why Matthew thinks Alastair Cook might be a decent value bet to land a place in this year's Sports Personality awards