Graeme Swann’s 1st Test Preview: England To Banish Winter of Discontent

It’s a new dawn for England, and I'm really looking forward to seeing them in action. 

It’s a new team, with some fresh blood and a new coach and I think this can only be good. The old team enjoyed a lot of success but it came to a natural end, so it’s time for the new guys to come in and reshape English cricket for the next few years. And I think Peter Moores is a good coach to be at the helm when that happens.

Cricket is a game of batting and bowling and Moores has a similar philosophy to Andy Flower. They’re both excellent coaches, so technically I can't imagine a lot will change.


New faces

Chris Jordan has definitely got what it takes to make an impression at Test level. He virtually picked himself after his exceptional one day series performance and he’s sure to be on the teamsheet come Thursday. Chris is very strong, mentally, and has proved that international cricket is something to be enjoyed rather than feared - I expect him to continue in that vein and do really well.

I’m excited to see Liam Plunkett (pictured above) back in the fold again because all reports are that he’s been bowling very fast and very hostile all summer – and I don’t think Sri Lanka will enjoy that one bit. If he can replicate the form he’s found for Yorkshire, then it could be the re-birth of his international career. So it’s pretty obvious that the strategy from England is all out pace and Plunkett, Broad, Anderson and Jordan completes an aggressive bowling line-up.

Sam Robson just needs to approach test cricket as he does county cricket, it’s the same game after all. His record speaks of a very good player and I’m expecting big things. There’s no reason why he can’t come in and be very successful.

Moeen Ali will do well when he gets in there and it will be interesting to see exactly how much bowling he has to do. If the four-man pace attack doesn’t work out as England hope, then he may come under some pressure with the ball. But I’m sure he’ll respond to it because he’s got a lot of talent.


First Test

The winter was horrible for everyone involved and the players that remain from that tour will be desperate to bounce back and banish that memory. Some big scores here will wipe away the bad memories that may still linger.

There’s no point England thinking about pacing themselves, they just need to go out and win the first one. In a two-match series, if they win the win the first Test, they can’t lose the series – and I’m expecting England to win the series quite comfortably. They will hit the ground running at Lord's.

The controversial dismissal of Jos Buttler in the recent ODI could fire things up a little bit, but Senanayake is not playing in this Test. Sri Lanka's skipper Angelo Matthews might get a bit of stick. He's been criticised in some quarters, but I've always found him to be a nice guy!

This test all depends on the conditions, for me. If it’s hot and sunny it will run for four or five days and England should win. If it’s overcast England will win in two and a half days.


Top batsmen

Ian Bell – 4.25

On the back of just winning the player of the year award, I’m tipping Ian Bell to be England’s 1st Innings top runscorer. He’s had a very good start to the season and he always seems to score heavily in the first series of the summer.

Mahela Jayawardene - 4.50

For Sri Lanka, Mahela Jayawardene is the best batsman I ever faced in Test cricket and, if the sun comes out, I can see him scoring very well indeed.


Top bowlers

Jimmy Anderson - 3.50

Jimmy Anderson is still the best bowler in the world, in my opinion. He will be keen to hit the ground running here and I can see him dominmating Sri Lanka and taking as many as 12 wickets in this match.

Nuwan Kulasekara  - 4.25

Kulasekara is a very good bowler and I think if the quicks are going to reign, then he'll do well with the ball for Sri Lanka here, so I’m tipping him to be their top wicket-taker.


Man of the match

Jimmy Anderson – 12.00

Anderson's bowling prowess will come to the fore here and I fancy him to take the MOM prize, and at a decent price too!


Best bet

England to win – 2.02

I think England at anywhere near evens represents a great value bet and I wouldn’t waste my money on Sri Lanka, even at 7/2. The draw shouldn’t be ruled out if the weather stays hot, but when does that ever happen across a whole match in this country?

Bet on England vs Sri Lanka here.