Sri Lankan team would hope to replicate their 2014 performance against the mighty England team
A new Sri Lankan team would hope to replicate their 2014 performance against England this summer   © AFP

Sri Lanka’s head coach Graham Ford believes his young side has their task cut out in their first series in England post the retirements of their star players, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. The coach admits that his side’s batting will have to overcome huge mental challenge against a quality pace attack as they bid to pull off a repeat of their historic series win over their hosts in 2014. The tourists would look to draw some confidence from their previous tour to England where the not only won the 2-match test series but also emerged victorious in the One Day Internationals and one-off T20. ALSO READ: Sri Lanka announce 17-member squad for England tour 2016

Their previous tour had Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara on board but after their retirement, their batting line-up has been found struggling to put up a fight. Speaking ahead of their departure to London, Ford showed confidence and hoped that his squad would adapt to the conditions abroad but acknowledged it would be a steep learning curve.

“As far as our batting goes, having lost our senior players like Sangakkara and Jayawardene, obviously young players have come in. They have worked extremely well and (worked) extremely hard in the past few weeks. It can be a huge mental challenge for them to play in such conditions,” said Ford, ahead of his first assignment since returning for a second spell as coach.

He further added that the players would have to develop a close bond among them in their two-month long tour which consists of three Tests, five one-day internationals and one Twenty20 match.

Skipper Angelo Mathews has his hopes pinned upon one of Sri Lanka’s consistent batsmen, Lahiru Thirimanne, to come good before the all important England tour starts.

“I think we all know Thirimanne is very technically equipped and he is our best batsman at the moment. A slight mental shift in his approach can do wonders. We are all backing him to go out there and fire. We really look forward to him scoring lots of runs.” said Mathews, under whom the team is going through a transition phase at the moment.

Thirimanne would catch up with his team a little late as his visa had not been cleared on time, confirmed officials. Sri Lanka have announced a 17-member squad, including two debutants, Dasun Shanaka and Dhananjaya de Silva , for the Tests starting May 19 in Leeds. The tourists will play two warm-up matches, against Essex and Leicester, on May 8 and 13 respectively.

Test squad: Angelo Mathews (c), Dinesh Chandimal (vice-capt), Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Dhammika Prasad, Dilruwan Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Lahiru Thirimanne, Milinda Siriwardana, Niroshan Dickwella, Nuwan Pradeep, Rangana Herath, Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal.