SRI LANKA VS ENGLAND TEST SERIES PREVIEW

The three-match Test series between Sri Lanka and England gets underway at Galle next Tuesday, as England target their first away series win since the 2015/16 tour to South Africa.

After a winter which included disappointing trips to Australia and New Zealand plus an underwhelming home series against Pakistan, Joe Root’s side found some form later in the summer with a fantastic 4-1 victory against India.

Attention now turns to Sri Lanka and a whole different environment in the sub-continent, with England looking to build on some impressive performances with the white ball on the tour so far.

Root has already suggested that Jos Buttler is likely to keep wicket in the First Test, as Jonny Bairstow continues to recover from an ankle injury.

England have also called up wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, fresh from a title-winning campaign in the Specsavers County Championship with Surrey.

Another player who has forced his way into contention is Kent’s Joe Denly, who recently played in his first International match in eight years as England won the T20 international against Sri Lanka by 30 runs.

The 32-year-old has scored plenty of runs in Division Two this summer, but he was a surprise inclusion in the Test squad. With doubts remaining on England’s top order and the fact that he can bowl some part-time leg-spin, a Test debut may not be out of the question next week.

His chances have been helped with the indifferent form of opener Keaton Jennings, who needs a sizeable score in the near future to retain his place, and the retirement of Alastair Cook.

Surrey batsman Rory Burns looks certain to be the replacement for the latter after a sensational 2018 season, whilst Moeen Ali is likely to feature at number three once again.

England are likely to go with two front-line spinners and it will be between Jack Leach and Adil Rashid for who plays alongside Ali, whilst Denly would provide a third option if selected.

The pace department will include the trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes, and whilst a fourth seam option is unlikely, the likes of Sam Curran, Olly Stones and Chris Woakes may be called upon later in the series.

The news around Sri Lanka’s squad for the opening Test has been dominated by the upcoming retirement of spinner Rangana Herath, the most successful left-arm bowler in the history of Test cricket.

The 40-year-old, who has taken 430 wickets and is 10th on the all-time list, is set to retire after the First Test.

It will be another blow to a Sri Lanka team who have had to adjust to recent retirements of some of their best players, including batsmen Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.

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