Sri Lanka will rely heavily on its five-member pace attack led by Dhammika Prasad to come good in pace-friendly conditions during the three-match Test series against hosts England.
The five-member quick-attack includes Prasad — the leader of the pack having been Sri Lanka’s most successful pacer in 2015 with 41 wickets at an average of 24.95 — Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera.
Speaking ahead of the team’s departure to England, Coach Graham Ford said the bowling unit has grown into an useful attack with experience.
“I think we’ve got a bowling group that’s grown into a useful attack. They’ve all experienced success in English conditions. I’m quietly confident that they’ll be able to work together and create pressure in English conditions. I hope they’ve improved because they’ve played a lot of Test cricket since my first stint. I did feel that when I was here previously, quite a lot of them were learning the art of fast bowling. Some of them were still fairly raw. They’ve now played a lot more cricket, and I’m sure they’re more street-wise,” said Ford who begins his first Test series in his second stint as Sri Lanka coach.
Ford however said that it’s crucial for the Sri Lankan quicks to find the right lengths on each surface they play on during the series.
“Some of the quicks have had good success in England — they know the kind of lengths they’ve got to bowl. It is going to be crucial that they find the right length on each particular surface when we get into the Test matches. Those lengths might vary slightly. It’ll be about assessing very quickly what’s the right length. I think they’re much more mature as cricketers.”
Ford was however concerned with the misfiring batsmen who need to step up for the big challenge if Sri Lanka are to win. He said Sri Lanka should not think too far ahead of the series at this point in time.
“They’ve worked extremely hard in the last few weeks. We’ve been fortunate enough in Colombo to train on some pitches that are similar to what we’re likely to get in England. That’s been pleasing to see how those younger players have been adapting to those conditions. Of course it’s going to be a huge mental challenge for them, because it is going to be about grinding out big hundreds. A lot of that comes from having done it and experience.”
Sri Lanka play two three-day practice matches, before the Tests begin on May 19.
“Any team going to England in the early summer finds it hard. Especially coming from the subcontinent, it’s more of an adjustment. As has been documented, it is a team in transition, so some extra challenges probably face us. But it is exciting anyway to see how the young lads step up, and to see whether they’re up for international cricket and whether they want to be international cricketers for a long period of time.”
Sri Lanka last won a Test series against West Indies 2-0 in October last year.