England beat India 4-0 in the Test series and followed that with a six wicket victory in the T20 international at Old Trafford – but how much longer can they keep their red-hot form going?
The Three Lions might now boast number one Test status to go with their World T20 title, but there is one form of the game where there is still work to do and that’s the 50 over version.
India are the reigning Wold Cup holders, having won the competition in their own back yard, so they will be looking to make a better fist of things in the five match ODI series.
They may be encouraged by the fact the home team are set to name a number of inexperienced players in their side.
One man hoping to leave his mark is Jade Dernbach. The Surrey man has limited experience of international cricket with just six ODI caps and two T20 appearances to his name, but he has already caught the eye.
In his last two appearances for England he took three wickets against Ireland in last month’s ODI in Dublin and finished with figures of 4/22 at Old Trafford.
Not many people were there to see it but few will forget England’s victory over Sri Lanka in a hurry.
Now the Lankans must dust themselves down and figure out how to respond to their huge innings and 12 run defeat.
If the weather holds for the second Test at Lord’s – the current forecast is rain-free – then England can expect to make hay if the mild conditions also remain.
The Three Lions will need to do it without key bowler James Anderson, but they were unable to call on him for their second innings and Sri Lanka will hardly fancy seeing likely replacement Steve Finn step in his shoes.
Chris Tremlett and Stuart Broad terrified the tourists as Tillakaratne Dilshan’s men self destructed and another tall fast bowler should have them quaking in their boots.
Take away Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga and what do you get? Runs, England will be hoping.
The Three Lions’ batting line-up is among the best in the world and they will be hoping to have a field day at the expense of the touring party which has been shorn of two of its most dangerous wicket takers through retirement.
Stuart Law, Sri Lanka’s Australian interim coach, feels England are “the best Test team in the world at the moment” after their victory over his countrymen in the Ashes and a series victory here for the hosts will continue to help them towards their aim of being the ICC’s number one-ranked team in the five-day game.
Everyone knows who England’s danger men are, but the wonder is who will get themselves among the runs in the first Test of the three-match series at Cardiff?
Captain Andrew Strauss is a steady compiler at the top of the order and has posted some decent scores in the build up for Middlesex in the county game. So has fellow opener Alastair Cook who will be well rested having skipped the World Cup after proving he was the real deal when hitting 766 runs down under.
Rock steady Jonathan Trott is about as reliable as they come at number three and no Englishman scored more than the 1,325 in Tests than he did in 2010. Kevin Pietersen has looked like a man in a hurry his whole career and chances are he’ll either be back in the pavilion in no time or smashing a double-quick century here.
Here are the runs spreads for the England team (c/o Sporting Index):
Kevin O’Brien isn’t a name that England fans will forget in a hurry, as much as they will want to. The Irishman’s 113-run assault at Bangalore on Wednesday helped cause one of the greatest shocks of all time in international cricket as the Three Lions once again had their inadequacies well and truly highlighted by supposedly inferior opponents.
There is important work for Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower to do in the build-up to their showdown with South Africa and if their quarter-final qualification hopes are already in the balance, then defeat against the Proteas could tip the scales.
The most obvious problem is the number of runs the Three Lions have haemorrhaged in their group games. They have conceded 959 and 621 of those have come against Netherlands and Ireland – two sides not good enough to cut the mustard at Test level.
Can England stop the rot against one of the most fearsome batting line-ups in the competition? Expect a quote of around mid-270s for South Africa runs if they bat first.
On the eve of the tenth installment of the cricket World Cup, England’s fifty over form will have the Barmy Army worried and punters wondering if it’s all going to go as badly as some are predicting, or whether there’s actually a chance to make a few quid.
Sporting Index have set England’s outright index at 19-22 (60-40-20-10-0). So, according to them at least, the Three Lions can be expected to reach the semi-finals before bowing out.
The traders look to have played it pretty safe here. Andrew Strauss’ men will anticipate getting through the group stage with the top four advancing and India, South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands for company.
Once it gets to the quarters – assuming England don’t fall at the first hurdle – their finishing position is going to depend very much on which team turns up, and whether their injuries have cleared up. If they can emulate the achievements of the 20 over boys who claimed the country’s maiden international trophy with the World Twenty20 last year – or that of the Test squad which retained the Ashes this winter – then they will be laughing. On the other hand, play like they just did in the one day series against Australia when they were walloped 6-1 and they could be in all sorts of trouble.