England to fall in Galle in the 1st Test of their series with Sri Lanka
England’s spell as the world’s top-ranked Test nation is at risk of being a very brief one after the shock whitewash at the start of the year in Pakistan, with a strong showing required in this brief two-Test series in Sri Lanka.
The tourists are 6/5 to triumph across the two encounters, but this has the potential to be just as chastening an experience, regardless of their improvement since in one-day and Twenty20 action.
Not only did England fail to win either of their two series in Sri Lanka over the last decade, they didn’t even triumph in a single Test on the way to those reverses, drawing four and being beaten on two occasions.
A similarly ominous statistic is that none of their three prior matches in Galle have ended in victory, and though they snatched a draw in two of those, they were the weaker performers by some distance in each.
The draw is the favoured 1st Test outcome at 6/5, due in part to the controversy over the pitch, which was criticised by the global authorities following a Test there last year against Australia.
It isn’t quite the draw magnet that those odds might suggest however, with just one of the last six Tests in Sri Lanka’s tenth largest city concluding without a winner.
The hosts have won nine in 18 at the ground, including three of the most recent five, and therefore arguably appeal more at 9/4 than England do at the slightly shorter price of 2/1.
Even if this opener does ultimately do more to refresh Andrew Strauss and co’s memories of that Pakistan nightmare than it does banish them, there is every chance that Monty Panesar will continue his international resurgence.
Across the final two Tests of that last series, the Sussex spinner claimed 14 wickets, four more than any team-mate, and he can be backed at 5/2 to be England’s top wicket-taker again in Galle.