It’s fair to say that England are in a far better place going into this year’s series against Sri Lanka, than they were the last time they played.
Back in 2014, England entered the series on the back of the 5-0 Ashes thrashing, Alastair Cook was under serious pressure with his lack of runs and with his captaincy been questioned by literally everyone, and the Kevin Pietersen affair was casting a dark shadow over – what seemed like – the whole of Englaish cricket.
Two years on, and things are incredibly different. Cook is on the verge of becoming the first Englishman to make 10,000 Test runs, England have the Ashes back, they have one of the world’s best batsman in Joe Root, and the team have just won away in South Africa.
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That said, England still have plenty of room for improvement. They have just lost James Taylor, meaning another young inexperienced player – in James Vince – being introduced, and at the top of the batting order, both Alex Hales and Nick Compton are far from certain of their places.
In the medium to long term, there is also no obvious replacement for James Anderson who has become increasingly ineffective on overseas tours, although I expect him to be fine in English conditions this summer.
Sri Lanka are currently not in a good position though. They are rebuilding after recently losing two of the best batsmen in the world, in Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, and as a result they are overly reliant on captain, Angelo Mathews.
This seems to be reflected in the betting. To win the three match series, Alastair Cook’s England are anything from 1/7 to 1/12 to win the series. A drawn series is 17/2, and if you think Sri Lanka can repeat their feat of 2014, and win the series, you can get a massive 25/1 with Paddy Power.
In the 1st Test, it’s a similar story. Some bookies have England as short as 1/3, with the best price on an England win currently 4/9 with Winner. The draw is 7/2, and an unlikely looking Sri Lanka victory is a general 10/1. in the Top Batsman Betting, Joe Root is England’s favourite at a best price of 11/4.
Where Can I Watch The 1st Test And When Does It Start?
The 1st Test is from Headingley in Leeds, and it starts at 11am on Thursday 19th May. Everyday of the whole series, in fact all of England’s home internationals this summer, are live on Sky Sports.
England will no doubt be looking to continue to play in an attacking and entertaining manner, and they may have to be at their entertaining best in order to maintain interest this year. This summer the cricket will have to compete with big sporting events such as the European Championships and the FA Cup (this weekend) in football. As well as the usual suspects like Wimbledon and the Open Golf Championship.