England’s Winter Test squad begins a three-Test series against Sri Lanka on November 6th in Galle
England have won only four Test matches abroad in the last five years. One of those was in Asia. It was also their last success two years ago in Chittagong. Since then they have been beaten 10 times in 13 outings.
In Sri Lanka they will be attacked constantly from both ends by spinners on turning wickets. Australia and South Africa were beaten 3-0 and 2-0 respectively in the last two years.
It is hard not to reckon Sri Lanka are standout value to win the first Test at 13/8 with Bet365. England are 13/8 too and the draw is 12/5. On the recent bias to home teams alone in Test cricket, England have a tough task even without allowing for the alien conditions they will encounter.
It is hardly ideal that England go to one of the toughest places in the world without the experience of the recently retired Alastair Cook. A revamped opening combination, though, isn’t all of the matter. England are still trying to replace Andrew Strauss who retired six years ago so they are well used to the state of flux.
Next does the England middle order have the mettle and technical skill to counter spin? The likes of Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath took 28 wickets between them against South Africa and they are unlikely to be fazed by the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Ollie Pope, Ben Stokes or Jos Buttler. At least Herath has announced his retirement after the first Test.
With the ball James Anderson and Stuart Broad will be expected to take wickets on slow, low surfaces with little seam or swing. Chris Woakes and Sam Curran are also likely to find it tough.
As for spin Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali will play against home batsmen who know all the tricks in the book and they also face an onerous task
Sri Lanka at 13/8 is a stand out price with Bet365. The game is highly unlikely to be a draw unless the conditions intervene (which admittedly they might at the end of the monsoon season) as the pitches start taking spin and don’t last five days
For the series England are marginal favourites over Sri Lanka, 7/5 against 6/4. 6/4 is a standout price again with Bet365