England v Sri Lanka ODI Series Preview
The England v Sri Lanka ODI series starts tomorrow and our Leeds news have a look at how it might go.
It's fair to say that England's recent one-day record has been nothing short of sketchy, as they head into the five-match home series against Sri Lanka.
England reached the final of the Champions Trophy on home soil in 2013 and claimed a series win in the West Indies earlier this year. However, there was also a crushing blow in the ODI series in Australia, when the tourists won just one of their five 50-over contests.
England have since revitalised the coaching and backroom staff with more of an emphasis on 'team' advocates, rather than individuality. But will the sweeping changes mean a change of fortunes on the pitch?
Peter Moores has been recruited as coach, who in his second spell has obtained the services of former Sri Lanka coach, Paul Fabrace. The 46-year-old is now the England assistant coach and was in charge of the upcoming opponents, as Sri Lanka won the World T20 tournament and the Asia Cup. Farbrace's inside knowledge may be vital in England's preparation.
The start of the new Moores era saw England defeat Scotland in a rain-affected match in Aberdeen, as a pre-cursor to this series at the start of the month.
England have recalled Michael Carberry and Tim Bresnan to the squad and omitted Luke Wright and Jade Dernbach as part of the changes. Carberry, who last month in a radio interview criticised the previous England ODI coach, Ashley Giles, finds himself back in the squad due to the fact he's made some runs in county cricket at the start of the season. Carberry's stats don't match his undoubted ability though, in five one-day internationals, he averages only 21 and has a highest score of 51.
Bresnan has been given a little more time to get back to full fitness from a back injury, but did play in the West Indies and the World T20. The 29-year-old is adept with at-the-death bowling and adds some runs lower down the order should the chance arise.
Also included in the squad is Nottinghamshire's Harry Gurney, who as a left arm seam bowler adds what Peter Moores has described as "something different". Gurney's ability to bowl at the death will give England an extra dimension to their game, something which they have struggled with in recent years. Gurney first came onto the scene at Leicestershire, and really made his name in the 2013 season with Nottinghamshire where he 44 first class wickets at a rate of 30. The fact that he made his international debut at 27, shows that England aren't afraid to check on Championship bowlers who may be late developers.
England have once again brought Chris Woakes into the squad after he missed out in the Caribbean. The Warwickshire all-rounder is a useful addition to the squad, however pundits have questioned if Woakes is more suited to the Test match arena, rather than the white ball.
One player who is not in the squad is Alex Hales, wit the Nottinghamshire batsman, who has yet to make his one-day international debut, despite impressing in the Twenty20 format and some feeling he might be a useful addition to the top of the order. However, England will have captain Alistair Cook and Ian Bell to open the batting....both have had good starts to the English summer.
As for Sri Lanka, they lost in the semi finals of the Champions Trophy last year to eventual winners India, but enjoyed revenge in winning the Asian Cup this year.
Their success will the ball in the ODI format can point to one man, Lasith Malinga. Malinga took the most wickets in the Asia Cup along with Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and has been a constant thorn in England's side over the years. The fast bowler has 213 ODI wickets at a rate of 26, against England he has 31 wickets in ODI matches at a rate of 27.
The ODI side is led by Angelo Mathews, a powerful middle-order batsman and a more than decent medium-fast bowler. Mathews has been captain of the ODI side since February 2013 and is proving to be a successful leader.
Sri Lanka can call upon the experience of their former skippers, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. These two batsmen hold the top two places in Sri Lankan test cricket for the most runs and are both in the top three for one day internationals - behind another Sri Lankan great, Sanath Jayasuriya. Both players have retired from T20 international cricket, however, they still form an important core of players of Angelo Mathews' side.
Jayawardene averages a very impressive 42 in ODI matches against England alone, his highest average in one-day cricket against any other test playing nation. Jayawardene has scored five hundreds against England over the course of his career. Additionally, Sangakkara averages 38 against England, with one century.
As ever if those two don't fire, then Sri Lanka will look to Tillakaratne Dilshan, the man who blitzed England in the 2011 World Cup.
In the bowling stakes along with Malinga, there is Ajantha Mendis, whose form has dipped slightly in recent seasons and there is also Saranga Lakmal, who can bowl in the latter overs to good effect.
If this is a new era for England, then it's a tough start against a Sri Lanka side ranked at third in the current ICC ODI rankings. Despite England being ranked as one place behind Sri Lanka, if all of the big guns fire for the tourists, then the gap will be much wider than it actually appears.
The series starts at the The Oval (May 22), followed by the next two internationals at Chester-le-Street and Old Trafford. The penultimate match is at Lords, before the series ends at Edgbaston.