|Ground:||Lord's Cricket Ground, St John's Wood|
|Scorecard:||England v Sri Lanka|
|Event:||Sri Lanka in Ireland and England 2014|
DateLine: 11th June 2014
By Andy Jalil In association with INVESTEC
London – The first Test of the English summer gets underway with the tourists, Sri Lanka, no doubt confident after their series win in the one-day internationals which ended in a bit of acrimony after the controversial run-out incident in the last match. For England it’s the start of a new Test era with three new caps and the return of Peter Moores, as head coach for a second stint at the job.
For Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the two veterans of the team, the match will be of particular significance as this must be their last series in England and they will be looking for a memorable performance both individually and from their team. While Jayawardene, with a Test average of 50.3, has hit two centuries at Lord’s, Sangakkara, averaging 58.07, has yet to play a three-figure innings at HQ of cricket.
Speaking about the Test, Sri Lanka captain, Angelo Mathews, said: “We played well in the ODIs and the confidence is pretty high, we know this is going to be a hostile series. But we’ll just go out there and enjoy ourselves and play some good cricket. We’ll try and be focused, stick to the basics and concentrate on what we can do.”
Asked if he had spoken to Alastair Cook, the England captain after the run-out incident, Mathews said: “I didn’t, after the game we had a chat but didn’t talk about it much. But certainly we don’t want to repeat that, we want to put it to bed. I like to sort things out but you can’t guarantee anything, they want to beat us and we want to beat them so it’s going to be a good series.” He added: “What happened was in the heat of the moment and he (Cook) was obviously disappointed after losing the series. He hasn’t mentioned it again. We don’t want to see that again but we had warned him (the batsman, Jos Buttler) twice before and he had done it in the last match, the Lord’s ODI as well. We just couldn’t let him do that in every game. We are not an aggressive team on the field but we like to play it hard, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Talking about a new-look England team, with opening batsman, Sam Robson, all-rounder Moeen Ali and pace bowler Chris Jordan making their Test debut, Mathews said: “We can’t be complacent thinking they’ve got a new team. They have a very good team and they had a good team in the ODIs as well. They had a few new faces in the ODIs and they still gave us a run for our money. Playing against England in England is a huge challenge so we are trying to take our momentum from the ODIs into the Tests.”
Mathews said that he’ll decide on the final eleven and the bowling option after seeing the wicket, but generally it’s been three seamers and a spinner here.
Cook said: “Three news caps is a very exciting time but then we also have 5 or 6 guys who have played close to a hundred games so it’s quite a big split in the side. I think both sides will play hard games of cricket and we’ll have the responsibility to do it the right way. What happened last week (the controversy) at the time I was quite emotive about it but things have settled a bit, we’ll concentrate on cricket but we’ll certainly play it tough as well.”
Speaking about one of the debutants, Cook said: “Moeen looks an incredibly talented cricketer and is very proud of his background. I am looking forward to him showing what a good batter he is and what a good bowler he is.”
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior returns to the side after six months when he lost form and after a seven-year absence, pace bowler Liam Plunkett has also been brought back. Cook said: “I am expecting the guy to bowl 90mph, in nets he hit the bat very hard. He is relaxed and matured and certainly knows his cricket.”
England will be hoping that Jordan will reproduce the form of the ODIs and the T20. He has good pace and is very useful as a batsman. Much is also expected of the Australian born Robson who has greatly impressed for his county Middlesex and on the England Lions’ tour in the winter. He has a first-class average of 42 33 with a highest score of 215 not out.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2014 Andy Jalil)