England v Sri Lanka: Bright and returning stars can shine

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England head into to the first game of their two-Test series against Sri Lanka knowing that another defeat will give the tourists a chance at a clean sweep after defeats in both the T20 and one-day series.

Alistair Cook’s new look side are still struggling with seemingly old problems and although they’re not being put under the same pressure the results are no different.

The home side are 10/11 to give English cricket a much needed injection of optimism in a format they clearly feel – and rightly so –they have more of a chance of being successful in but it would be a brave man to take odds-on quotes about a team who have made losing a habit.

And so the advice is to turn the attention away from the match betting, where although England just about deserve to be favourites with everything considered they are anything but solid.

Instead the market that should be holding our concentration is which player will receive the man of the match with a pair of intriguing, albeit contrasting, storylines set to potentially help our selections.

Matt Prior 20/1

England’s wicket-keeper makes his long-awaited return after injury and his part in the collective shambles that was the team’s winter and it would be no surprise to see the 32-year-old come back with a bang.

Many had been calling for the Big Cheese to make way for a member of the new brigade in Jos Buttler but it always looked unlikely that Cook would dispose of a man he has enjoyed so much success with in the past and whom he has placed such faith in as his genuine number two.

With seven centuries and 27 half centuries Prior’s record as a wicket-keeper batsmen stacks up almost as well as anyone in recent years and it would be a surprise if the Sussex glovesman didn’t make an impact.

Chris Jordan16/1

The 25-year-old fast bowler had the choice to play for either the West Indies or England and he will feel fully justified with his decision after being called up to make his Test debut.

Jordan has been one of the few positives about the side in the last few months and wasted little time in making a name for himself culminating with his first five-wicket haul in a rare England victory over Sri Lanka last month.

Prior’s county teammate will be desperate to impress on the only stage that really matters on these shores and at 16/1 he represents excellent value to continue solidifying his place in Peter Moores’ plans for many years to come.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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