- England beat South Africa 2-1 away from home in their most recent Test series during the winter, while Sri Lanka lost 2-0 in New Zealand.
- Sri Lanka won 1-0 in their last Test series in England in 2014. In the first Test, they held on for a draw with nine wickets down in their second innings. In the second test, they won after taking the wicket of James Anderson with the penultimate ball of the match.
Sri Lanka may have emerged as surprise victors when they last toured England, but they have endured a tough couple of years since then and have struggled to fill the void left by the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. It would be a huge ask for captain Angelo Mathews to repeat his heroics from 2014 and the batting looks far too brittle to cope with tough early-season conditions in England, so the home side’s bowlers will be licking their lips.
England’s line-up may not be completely settled, but they should have far too many world-class players at their disposal, so the big question is not really whether they will win, but what the score might be. The weather forecast must always be considered, but with the likes of Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow able to accelerate the progress of a game so quickly, England should not be struggling for time even if the odd session is lost to rain and a 3-0 series victory could be on the cards. Odds of 2/1 on a clean sweep for England look very tempting.
In the player markets, Joe Root is the understandable favourite to be top England batsman and is very hard to ignore. He is already on his way to establishing himself as one of the country’s finest-ever players and may view this series as an opportunity to achieve something very special such as a double (or even triple) century. Mathews is considered the most likely Sri Lankan batsman to score the most runs, but is not in the same form he was two years ago and a better punt may be the well-organised opener Dimuth Karunaratne at 5/1.
- Sports.net’s top tip: England to win the series 3-0 at 2/1