England’s Test match summer kicks off against Sri Lanka with a batch of new faces and plenty of differences to settle after the Mankading saga in the sides’ final ODI.
It all means that, for perhaps the first time ever, the early summer Tests are genuinely eagerly anticipated.
To help build up the hype, we’ve selected our best three England bets for the two-match series:
Since the year 2000, England have gone undefeated in their first Test match series of the summer, only allowing two sides (Pakistan and Sri Lanka) to win a match against them.
Equally relentless though, is their failure to start first matches of a series in winning ways, having won the first Test just four times in the last 10.
The ECB called up Worcestershire’s bearded wonder as their option to replace Graeme Swann in the spin department but, just like Jacques Kallis, Ali has built his career on being an all-rounder who bats in the top four.
England’s order for Lord’s is by no means concrete with a replacement for Jonathan Trott needed at number three. Should Ali, who bats there for the Pears, be given that role then he has the form to capitalise. In five innings in the County Championship this season, he’s averaging 74.20.
Plunkett was last seen in the Test arena in 2007, but has fought his way back into reckoning with what is reportedly increased pace.
Chris Jordan exposed Sri Lanka’s weakness against serious speed during the ODI series and the Yorkshire man is a step up on him.
With 24 wickets in the Championship so far, Plunkett can celebrate his return to international red-ball cricket with a stack of wickets against a side famous for their dislike of England’s early season conditions.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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