Sri Lanka v England – ODI series preview
World Cup preparations continue this week as England tour Sri Lanka for a seven-match one-day series.
With England losing five of their last six ODI series and Sri Lanka enduring a humiliating drubbing to India earlier this month, both camps will be desperate to rediscover their form ahead of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
To what extent the teams will even get the opportunity to rectify their recent poor performances is doubtful, however, given the fact the series is being played during Sri Lanka’s monsoon season. Five of the matches have been allotted reserve days, but it would still be remarkable if all seven fixtures were completed.
Both sides will have many questions to answer when/if they do emerge from the inevitable rain delays. Sri Lanka had their winter plans disturbed by a sudden request from the BCCI to play India, and the Lankans must have regretted accepting the offer after they were the recipients of Rohit Sharma’s record-breaking 264 and a 5-0 thumping.
Sri Lanka appeared disinterested and tame, but being back on home soil and competing against a team with just six wins in their last 16 matches in the sub-continent, a similar result should not be expected.
The hosts will undoubtedly draw on the immense experience of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who are both coming to the end of their careers and will be hoping to finish with a flourish.
Sri Lanka’s captain, Angelo Mathews, is also in wonderful form with over 1000 ODI runs in 2014 at an impressive average of 70.
The 27-year-old skipper will be without the formidable Lasith Malinga, who is recovering from an ankle injury, but Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis still represent an effective bowling attack in favourable conditions.Rohit Sharma's 264 was more than the entire England team registered in nine of their last 12 ODI's.”
For England, it is a case of reinventing their strategies for one-day cricket.
The ECB’s refusal to acknowledge the startling rate at which the game has evolved in recent years must be addressed. England’s old-fashioned tactics have been and will continue to be ineffective against the power and aggression of modern opposition, which is epitomised by the fact that Sharma’s 264 was more than the entire England team registered in nine of their last 12 ODI’s.
There are serious question marks over the capabilities of the tourists’ captain, Alastair Cook, who has scored just one fifty in his last 14 ODI innings and whose career strike-rate of 77 is feeble compared to most openers in this format.
And yet, despite these institutionalised problems, all is not lost for England.
Their squad undoubtedly possesses exciting talent – Alex Hales, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and James Taylor are all capable of delivering match-winning performances if they are utilised correctly and unleashed from the conservative restraints which had riddled English cricket for years.
Steven Finn, Harry Gurney and James Tredwell have previously demonstrated their skill in this format, and Chris Jordan, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes will be keen to impress with the ball to stake a claim for a World Cup spot.
Ultimately, however, it is Sri Lanka who have a greater understanding of the requirements of modern one-day cricket. It is likely that this will be reflected throughout the series.
Prediction: Sri Lanka 4-1 England (2 matches abandoned)