Bell and Bresnan to fill England vacancies against Sri Lanka
Tim Bresnan could be worth a small saver at 12/1 to be England’s top wicket taker across the two Tests with Sri Lanka as an injury to Ravi Bopara has greatly enhanced his prospects of playing.
There were arguably two places in the England squad up for grabs in the middle order, with one specialist batting spot and one most likely for an all rounder.
Ian Bell did his chances of getting picked little good when only managing 25 runs across his two innings in victory over a Sri Lanka Developmental XI.
This latest disappointment means that in his 15 innings for England since the start of the winter in all forms of the game, he has averaged less than ten.
However, it is hard to imagine England bringing such a senior player on tour to Sri Lanka if they were to leave him out, so it seems his place at number five is safe for at least the first Test.
Therefore, Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel and Tim Bresnan are potentially battling now for just one spot.
Bopara picked up a side strain against the Developmental XI and the fallout is that he will be unable to bowl in the Test series.
So if he is picked, it will have to be as a specialist batsman, which in turn will mean England will play the first Test with just four proper bowlers.
This would be risky in the hot and humid Sri Lankan conditions and although Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott could be utilised for a few overs, it is unlikely they will offer much of a wicket-taking threat.
Patel and Bresnan would be far more dangerous with the ball, but based on the warm-up performances, spin has not been king in Sri Lanka and preference may be to go for the extra seamer.
Meanwhile, another fast bowler may be critical as Stuart Broad is not fully fit because of an ankle problem and if he suffers a reoccurrence during play, England will be reliant solely on James Anderson.