AS INTERESTING as a handful of matches against one of the best short-form nations in the world will be, I’ll also be fascinated by the sub-plots of the forthcoming clashes with Sri Lanka.
England are a side rebuilding under a new coach after a winter of humiliation, so there are places up for grabs and it is crying out for some of the fringe players to step forward and seize this opportunity.
Sussex fast-bowler Chris Jordan is one of those men. I am certain he’ll play in the Twenty20 and one-day matches against Sri Lanka next week, and if he takes wickets and impresses with his attitude I’d expect to see more of him in England colours.
Jordan’s action is consistent and so are his performances. If he can raise them a touch to international standard then the 25-year-old – a good athlete who doesn’t get injured much and is both an able batsman and useful fielder – has a great chance of establishing himself across all formats.
It’s also another audition for Jos Buttler to prove he can be the long-term successor to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who I don’t expect to see much more of at England level. We’ve all seen what a brilliant, hugely talented and improvisational batsman Buttler can be. But the Lancashire man has to improve with the gloves and show that he is up to taking on that role in Test matches, because contests can hinge on whether the wicketkeeper catches it when Michael Clarke nicks one.
I’m also hopeful of the recalled Michael Carberry making an impact. The 33-year-old is no young buck but over the years he’s been unlucky with injuries and the cards that he’s been dealt, and I’ve always liked him.
With his age comes experience and he brings character to the side – he won’t be a rabbit in the headlights – and I can see him doing a similar job to that which Chris Rogers, who recalled aged 35, has for Australia. England haven’t replaced Andrew Strauss as an opening batsman; that role is there if Carberry can take it.
I’m not surprised to see Ian Bell recalled to the T20 side, despite a three-year absence in that format, as he’s probably England’s best player right now, while I’d have liked to see James Anderson play in all the matches, though I can understand England using him sparingly.
Last week’s win over Scotland in terrible conditions didn’t teach us much, but Sri Lanka on the other hand are not to be underestimated and should prove formidable T20 and one-day opponents.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who has also served as captain and chairman of Warwickshire.