It was just the good old English summer that prevented Alistair Cook’s side from completing a test series whitewash over Sri Lanka, and surely Angelo Mathew’s men will be praying for a monsoon of biblical proportion if they are to escape the ODI series, which begins on Saturday, with anything other than another heavy defeat.
These are two very different forms of the game of course, but England’s form in the short stuff is improving all the time after progress in limited overs cricket was made a priority by the ECB. Sri Lanka, once a fearsome white ball team, look like they are ready to catch the next flight home.
So how will this series pan out? You can probably have an educated guess about that already….
Outright Series Betting
England’s white ball game is in nice shape at the moment, ad in truth they should have won their last ODI series against an outstanding South Africa side in their own back yard. That is a measure of how far the English Lions have come.
Don’t forget they beat Pakistan in their Middle Eastern stronghold as well, and defeated a canny New Zealand side back in England in 2015. They should have far too much for this fragile-looking Sri Lanka side.
These Sri Lankans haven’t won a game on their tour of England, and they even failed to beat the likes of Leicestershire and Essex in their warm-up matches. That will be of huge concern to this young and inexperienced side, who improved as the test series went on but in truth they were a mile away from being truly competitive.
The limited overs format will be of great relief to them, this is their natural habitat – certainly abroad – but their recent results are alarming. They have lost 12 of their last 15 T20 internationals and were thumped 3-1 in their last ODI series in New Zealand – where conditions are suitably English.
Punters won’t enjoy England’s odds of 1/5 to win the series unless they have a huge bankroll, so taking on the 4-0 scoreline – which allows for one postponement due to rain – at 7/2 is far more sensible.
Other Betting Tips
England have been beset by injuries, with the likes of Reece Topley and Ben Stokes both set to miss this series, while David Willey is just working his way back to fitness after his own injury woe. These absentees won’t harm England’s chances of course, but they will shake up the top bowler stakes for the Three Lions.
The seamers will still be in control given the unpredictable English summer, and with James Anderson and probably Stuart Broad set to sit the series out, we have slim pickings to work with.
But when the odds are printed, keep an eye out for Chris Woakes. He was very impressive in the last test after his call up, and his extra pace with the white ball could prove deadly for the Sri Lankans.
Alex Hales enjoyed a fine test series, and that comes hot on the heels of an ODI campaign in South Africa in which he notched a century and two fifties in just five knocks. He looks an obvious standout to be England’s best batsman.
From a Sri Lankan perspective, nothing particularly stands out. Tillakaratne Dilshan hasn’t made the trip for personal reasons, so you would expect that it would be largely the same side that takes the field in the ODIs as was present in the tests – oh dear.
It’s a long shot, but Lahiru Thirimanne’s ODI batting average of 34 suggests he will be there or thereabouts as far as his side’s top run-scorer is concerned.