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England vs Sri Lanka 1st Test

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It’s hard to know how Trevor Bayliss’ England will approach test match cricket after their tour to South Africa. Their gung ho method worked on the harder, flatter tracks of Jo’burg and Durban, but will they be able to dominate in more bowler friendly conditions?

They take on a Sri Lankan side that has been in transition ever since it sealed an unlikely 1-0 victory in English soil in 2014. Since then they have lost five out of seven test series. They lost their first home series in ten years at the hands of India. It really has been a bumpy road under Angelo Mathews.

There’s no doubt that England have the class to put this first test to bed at Headingley, the scene of the visitors’ 2014 triumph. And with many of their star men effectively enjoying a home fixture, it’s hard to see them losing.

That said, Sri Lanka do possess a number of English-style seamers, who nibble the ball off a receptive surface. Eranga and Lakmal are two who will particularly enjoy the conditions. Their most dangerous bowler, Rangana Herath will be stifled by the cold, despite a couple of seasons in the North Staffs league a couple of years ago. His old fingers will struggle on a cold Leeds morning, that’s for sure.

It looks as though Nick Compton is likely to miss out in favour of James Vince, who will be the latest holder of the most poisoned chalice on the planet. Batting three for England. Ian Bell would surely be the option if fit, but Vince is an able deputy. He’s not proven international quality, but this is his chance to do so.

Remarkably, Alex Hales will retain his opening berth alongside on-form skipper, Alastair Cook.

Both have runs to their name in the early part of the county season, but it is the nick of Cook that really catches the eye. He’s been hitting the ball in front of square and everything. And with three tons in five games for Essex, he looks as mentally formidable as ever.

Another big story is the call-up of Jake Ball. The Notts seamer has outshone his England teammate, Stuart Broad, so far in the domestic game, and has rightfully been given a shot in the big boys game. From what we’ve seen, if picked, he can handle himself.

This is a ground where England have enjoyed plenty of success over the years, and with so many key players calling it home, it’s hard to see anything other than a victory over a Sri Lanka side that will take a couple of years to rebuild.

You can back England to win the 1st test at 8/13 with William Hill.

As for the player markets, with the ball set to swing around and make life very uncomfortable for the Sri Lankan middle order, we’re going for a bit of value in the top batsman market by targeting the visitor’s middle-order.

Malinda Siriwardana isn’t bang on form, but if selected he will bat six. In the past he has shown an aptitude for making scores when wickets are falling. His gritty style could do well here.

You can back Siriwardana to be top Sri Lanka batter at 12/1 with Paddy Power.

The selections:

5pts England to win the 1st test at 8/13

1pt Siriwardana to be top Sri Lanka batter at 12/1

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3 pts Jimmy Anderson to be top bowler in the 2nd test at 7/2 with Paddy Power

Sri Lanka look really poor against the moving ball, which is the dream for the leader of the England attack. he took candy from babies in the first game, and I don't think this SL batting line-up will learn enough, fast enough, to do better this time around. This price feels very decent to a pretty substantial stake, give it is a player market.

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