Ahead of Sri Lanka's three-match series against England, which begins in Durham on Tuesday, visiting captain Kusal Perera might have ruefully acknowledged that if you want a job doing then you might as well do it yourself.

A 3-0 thumping in the T20I leg of the tour meant Sri Lanka's preparations were already far from ideal before Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka breached the squad's bio-secure bubble on Sunday and were send home immediately.

It means Perera is now likely to open the batting in Gunathilaka's absence and take the wicketkeeping gloves with Dickwella unavailable.

Avishka Fernando is out with a quadriceps injury and there could be a debut in the middle order for Charith Asalanka.

The hosts will begin as strong favourites and might even have their eye on a quick victory before the prospect of crowds drifting away to watch the England v Germany last-16 encounter at Euro 2020, which kicks off at 17:00 local time.

England's previous 50-over match against Sri Lanka on home soil ended in a surprise defeat at Headingley during the group stage of their ultimately triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

That meant what was in effect a quarter-final at Chester-Le-Street, where a home side flushed with local talent were roared to victory over New Zealand.

Ben Stokes is still working his way back to full fitness following a broken finger and Liam Plunkett has been cast aside at international level, but Durham's own Mark Wood remains a figurehead of England's white-ball attack and in fine form.

The quality of an England seam department boasting Wood's fellow World Cup hero Chris Woakes looks likely to be far too much for Sri Lanka, although Jason Roy (hamstring) being a doubt for an England batting order lacking Jos Buttler (calf) may give them the tiniest morsels of encouragement ahead of what might become an ordeal.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Dawid Malan

Malan finished the T20I series as an opener after Buttler was laid low and the world's number one batsman in the shortest international format is likely to get his chance to impress alongside Jonny Bairstow as Roy recuperates. In three previous ODI innings, he has 90 runs and a top score of 50. If Malan impresses over longer periods in the middle a clamour for him to be restored to England's faltering Test line-up might in turn increase.

Sri Lanka – Dushmantha Chameera

Malan and Bairstow could face a stern examination from pace bowler Chameera, whose 4-17 in the final T20I at the Ageas Bowl followed an ODI career-best of 5-16 against Bangladesh in Dhaka last month. In 28 50-over internationals, the 29-year-old has 30 wickets at 33.36 and his slingy, slippery action could be particularly problematic during this gloomy period of the English summer.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- England have lost five of their past seven ODIs (W2), including a three-wicket defeat in their most recent match at home against Australia last September.
- Sri Lanka have just one win from their previous six ODI matches (L5), however, that win was their most recent game against Bangladesh.
- Joe Root needs 38 runs to reach 6,000 in ODI cricket. He is the second highest run scorer for England in the format after captain Eoin Morgan (6,876).
- Woakes needs one wicket to reach 150 in ODIs. He would be the sixth man to achieve the feat for England and the fourth fastest (105 matches) to do so if he manages it at Chester-Le-Street after Stuart Broad (95), Darren Gough (97) and Adil Rashid (102).
- Perera needs 11 runs to reach 3,000 in ODIs. He would be the joint-third fastest to the milestone out of 17 overall if he does so in his 100th innings after Upul Tharanga (93), Marvan Atapattu (94) and alongside Lahiru Thirimanne (100).

Sri Lanka trio Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka have been sent home from their tour of England for breaching the team's bio-secure bubble.

The three players were in Durham preparing for the first of three one-dayers against England but left the team hotel to visit the city centre against COVID-19-related health guidelines.

A statement from Sri Lanka Cricket on Monday said: "This decision was taken following a preliminary inquiry conducted over a video posted on social media in which the three said players can be seen outside their designated hotel.

"The three players will be suspended from all forms of cricket until the completion of the inquiry."

The trio featured in Sri Lanka's Twenty20 international series against England, which the hosts won with a 3-0 whitewash, and had been expected to be involved in the ODI series.

"The players have been suspended pending a full inquiry, but have confessed to having gone out," Sri Lanka Cricket vice-president Mohan de Silva told Cricinfo.

"They are being recalled [home] from the tour with immediate effect."

 

Mendis, 26, only made 54 runs in three innings during the T20 series but did top score with 39 in the second T20 in Cardiff while fellow batsmen Gunathilaka, 30, has struggled with knocks of four, three and 19.

Dickwella played the second two matches but the 28-year-old managed just 14 runs with the bat and no catches or stumpings.

The departure of Mendis, Gunathilaka and Dickwella, following an injury to Avishka Fernando has left Sri Lanka has left coach Mickey Arthur with a depleted squad but there are no plans to cancel the series, which starts on Tuesday.

The match referee for England's Twenty20 series whitewash of Sri Lanka this week has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Phil Whitticase returned the positive result following a PCR test administered on Friday at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. 

He will now observe a 10-day period of self-isolation from June 25 in accordance with the UK Government's protocol on quarantine, a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said. 

The ECB also confirmed seven other members from the match officials and anti-corruption unit teams were deemed to be close contacts, including five people who were due to officiate at England's first ODI match against Sri Lanka in Durham on Tuesday. They will also have to self-isolate for 10 days.

No members of the two teams were impacted, according to the ECB, which said alternative arrangements will be put in place to ensure Tuesday's ODI goes ahead as planned.

England completed a Twenty20 series whitewash of Sri Lanka with a crushing 89-run win at the Ageas Bowl.

Having already clinched the three-match series with a pair of victories in Cardiff, England made light work of the tourists, who collapsed to 91 all out in response to the hosts' 180-6.

Dawid Malan turned his form around as he led the way with 76 for England, his Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow helping him lay the platform with 51.

Sri Lanka fought back with the ball but soon crumbled with bat in hand, David Willey (3-27) and Sam Curran (2-14) doing the bulk of the damage for England.

Bairstow and Malan wasted no time in getting going, the former reaching his half-century in 41 balls as they led England to three figures in 67 deliveries.

The expansive Malan was the star of the show, though, clearing the rope four times and getting to 50 in only 30 balls, doing so shortly after Bairstow had fallen to a yorker from Isuru Udana.

After a pair of 14th-over fours from Liam Livingstone (14) and two 15th-over maximums from Malan, England looked on course to get close to 200.

But England then lost their way as they conceded five wickets for 19 runs to go from 143-1 to 162-6, successive boundaries from Chris Jordan (8 not out) helping them get to 180.

Yet they need not have worried about Sri Lanka chasing down even a modest total, only three of their players reaching double figures, number nine Binura Fernando top scoring with 20, which came long after the game was gone.

 

Malan makes his mark

Malan scored seven in the first match and four in the second, but the top-ranked T20I batsman was back on top form here as he scored his 11th half-century in the format.

Sri Lanka struggles continue

Defeat in Southampton means Sri Lanka have won just one of their last 13 Twenty20 internationals, with Mickey Arthur's side unlikely to be considered a threat at the T20 World Cup later this year.

Jos Buttler has been ruled out of the remainder of England's white-ball encounters with Sri Lanka by a calf injury.

Buttler was named man of the match in the first Twenty20 International of the series after scoring a blistering unbeaten 68 not out in a crushing eight-wicket win on Wednesday.

The wicketkeeper-batsman damaged his right calf during that match at Sophia Gardens and missed a series-clinching five-wicket victory at the same venue on Thursday.

Buttler underwent an MRI scan on Thursday morning that revealed a small tear, which will keep him out of the final T20 at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday and all three ODIs.

The 30-year-old will return home to commence a rehabilitation programme on Friday, with Jonny Bairstow expected to keep the gloves in Southampton.

Dawid Malan, the top-ranked T20 batsman in the world, has been added to the ODI squad following Buttler's withdrawal.

Liam Livingstone led England to a Twenty20 series win over Sri Lanka despite the tourists threatening a comeback in Thursday's second match.

In the absence of Jos Buttler, who was nursing a calf injury, Livingstone's 29 from 26 balls ensured an eighth consecutive victory at Sophia Gardens in this format.

After Sri Lanka had posted 111-7, the lowest score England had ever conceded over 20 overs, the hosts survived a wobble high up the order and a rain delay in Cardiff to post 108-5 and win by five wickets via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

Sam Curran (1-8) produced a finish arguably more worthy of Wembley Stadium to run out Danushka Gunathilaka, side-footing the ball right into the stumps as England made a solid start after losing the toss.

Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis brought up a partnership of 50 from 53 balls, but the Sri Lanka captain was gone off the next delivery from Mark Wood, a reverse sweep coming right off the toe of the bat and straight to Eoin Morgan.

Wood then claimed two from two deliveries, Bairstow clearing the decks to catch a high ball from Mendis before Morgan was given a simple take at midwicket from Niroshan Dickwella. A hat-trick very nearly followed, Wanindu Hasaranga – who was later stumped by Bairstow from Adil Rashid's delivery – almost edging to slip.

Sri Lanka did at least get to three figures in the final over, Isuru Udana finishing on 19 after a huge swing for six cleared the stands, and when Bairstow and Dawid Malan fell for the loss of eight runs, England's routine-looking chase suddenly seemed uncertain.

Morgan was caught for 11 before Sam Billings and Livingstone steadied the ship, England reaching 69-4 before rain halted proceedings.

Once play resumed with a revised target of 103, Livingstone read a full ball from Dushmantha Chameera and hooked an exquisite shot into the stands to calm any lingering nerves.

Billings was skittled by Hasaranga (2-20) but it mattered little, Curran smashing a six to settle the contest just as the rain began to fall again.

Sri Lanka far too brittle with the bat

England's fifth consecutive T20 win over Sri Lanka had looked nailed on, but it became rather more nail-biting as Hasaranga led an accomplished early attack.

Ultimately, it was too little, too late after another poor batting effort. Sri Lanka entered this match with 28 sixes in T20 matches since the start of 2020, the lowest figure among Test nations, and Udana's final-over flourish produced the only boundaries they managed once Mendis had gone.

 

England make history

England have now won back-to-back multi-game bilateral men's T20 series on home soil for the first time, having beaten Australia 2-1 last September.

While Morgan could only manage 11 runs at a ground where he averaged 102 from his five previous innings, Livingstone and Wood stepped up with bat and ball to make Saturday's third match in Southampton a chance to throw off the shackles.

England maintained their 100 per cent record in Twenty20 games played at Sophia Gardens thanks to a resounding eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their series opener.

Jos Buttler made 68 not out as England made it seven wins from seven at the venue in Cardiff, this latest triumph sealed with 17 balls to spare as they easily overhauled Sri Lanka's below-par 129-7.

Jason Roy gave the chase a fast start with 36 from 22 deliveries in an 80-run opening stand with Buttler, who hit eight fours and a six during his 55-ball knock.

Wanindu Hasaranga did excel with the ball for the tourists, giving up just 12 runs in his four-over spell, while Isuru Udana bowled Dawid Malan for seven off 14 balls. Jonny Bairstow finished up unbeaten on 13.

Sri Lanka had earlier been indebted to a half-century from Dasun Shanaka, his second at international level in the format, having opted to bat first after winning the toss.

Danushka Gunathilaka made 19 at the top of the order and captain Kusal Perera contributed 30, but the tourists struggled for momentum as they slipped to 79-5 at the start of the 14th over.

Adil Rashid claimed 2-17 in four economical overs, while there was a wicket for Liam Livingstone too. Shanaka made sure Sri Lanka at least finished strongly, hitting three fours and a pair of sixes as 25 came from the final two overs, but their total was no problem for England's powerful batting line-up.


Opening role just perfect for Buttler

Buttler has made clear his desire to continue opening in T20 action for England - and the numbers support his case. This was his ninth half-century in 20 innings at the top of the order, with the milestone arriving from 38 balls with a pulled four to the square leg boundary.

Tourists toil again in format

Sri Lanka have lost 10 of their previous 11 completed T20 matches, a worrying run of form with a World Cup to come later in the year. They do not have to wait long for an opportunity to draw level in this series at least, as the teams meet again at the same venue on Thursday.

England will be looking to extend their winning streak against struggling Sri Lanka when the Twenty20 series begins on Wednesday in Cardiff.

The three matches between the nations provide an opportunity to continue building towards this year's T20 World Cup, though the hosts are without two key players due to injuries.

Fast bowler Jofra Archer is sidelined after surgery on his right elbow, while Ben Stokes is not yet ready to return to England duty following a broken finger. However, the all-rounder is playing again for Durham, suggesting an international comeback is not too far away.

Reece Topley is another to be ruled out of action, with England opting for David Willey as an alternative left-arm bowling option. Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan have been injury doubts ahead of the opening fixture, though captain Eoin Morgan said on Tuesday he expects both to be available.

England's limited-overs skipper was also asked again about the possibility of a return for Alex Hales, with the batsman having not played for England since being withdrawn from the 50-over squad just prior to the 2019 World Cup.

"There are conversations to be had between Alex, myself and the coach and potentially a few of the players," Morgan told the media. "Trying to get those happening in Covid times has been an issue. They will happen at some stage."

England have won three on the spin against Sri Lanka, who have been beaten in nine of their last 10 completed outings in T20 cricket. Their solitary win during the miserable run came against West Indies in March.

In that same month, England lost a hard-fought series in India, going down 3-2 to Virat Kohli's side. Bairstow is one of a number of players back in the fold after heading home from the Indian Premier League earlier than originally scheduled once the tournament was halted due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hosts have an unblemished record at Sophia Gardens in T20 action too, winning all six games played there. This will be the first time they have hosted Sri Lanka at the venue.


Jonny be good! 

After isolating upon his return from India, Bairstow has been in outstanding form in the domestic T20 competition, the Vitality Blast.

The right-handed batsman has made 295 runs in four outings for Yorkshire, including hitting 112 against Worcestershire when needing a runner for half of his innings due to an injured ankle. Still, there is little need to move when you can hit boundaries – he has managed 26 fours and 18 sixes while scoring at a strike-rate of 175.59 runs per 100 deliveries while in action for his county in that competition.

Opportunity knocks

Chris Woakes is back for England, having not featured in a T20 at international level since November 2015. Like Willey, he will hope to make the most of any opportunity that comes his way in the series, which sees two games staged in the Welsh capital before concluding at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

Sri Lanka, too, have some fresh faces: Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya Lakshan and Ishan Jayaratne have been included in a 24-man squad for both this series and the three one-dayers that follow. The tourists are without former captain Angelo Mathews, however.

Key series facts

- England lost their most recent men's T20I on home soil, against Australia in September 2020; however, the last time they lost two consecutive such matches at home was in August 2013.

- Since the beginning of 2020, Sri Lanka have the second lowest bowling dot-ball percentage (38.3 per cent) of any Test-playing country in the powerplay overs in men’s T20Is (Afghanistan 37.7 per cent).

- Sri Lanka have scored just 53.6 per cent of their runs from boundaries in powerplay overs in T20 games since the beginning of 2020, the lowest rate of any Test-playing country in that time.

- Morgan (201) needs just 13 runs to become the highest run-scorer in men's T20 clashes between England and Sri Lanka (Mahela Jayawardene – 213).

- Chris Jordan (12) needs just two wickets to become the highest wicket-taker in men's T20 games involving England and Sri Lanka (Lasith Malinga – 13).

George Garton has been given a first England call-up for the ODI series against Sri Lanka but Olly Stone misses out after suffering another stress fracture of his lower back.

Sussex's left-arm seamer, Garton is in line to make his debut in a three-match series versus Sri Lanka, which starts at Chester-le-Street on June 29.

Luckless paceman Stone has been ruled out for the remainder of the English summer, having played in a Test series-deciding defeat to New Zealand at Edgbaston.

Ben Stokes will make his return from a broken finger for Durham in the T20 Blast fixture against Birmingham Bears on Sunday, but the all-rounder has not been included in England's 16-man squad.

Pace trio Jofra Archer (elbow), Saqib Mahmood (abdominal) and Reece Topley (side strain) are making excellent progress with their recoveries from injury but will not face Sri Lanka.

Graham Thorpe will step in to take charge of the team as head coach Chris Silverwood takes a break, with Paul Collingwood set to take over duties for the Pakistan ODI series next month.

Silverwood said: "We have been monitoring the progress of George Garton for quite some time. He has been a significant part of Sussex's bowling unit in white-ball cricket for an extended period.

"His ability to bowl quick with his point of difference being a left-armer certainly gives us options in this series, and he deserves his chance at this level.

"This ODI series is important as we continue to build momentum ahead of the 2023 World Cup. Despite some injuries, the squad I have selected is strong and gives us depth across all departments. We are looking forward to competing and putting on a show for the fans."

He added of Stone's setback: "Unfortunately, following the second Test at Edgbaston against New Zealand, Olly Stone has been diagnosed with a stress fracture of his lower back and will miss the rest of the summer with the injury.

"It is a great shame as Olly was showing real promise with the ball and would have been part of our selection plans for this series."

 

England ODI Squad:

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, George Garton, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Chris Woakes and David Willey have been named in England's squad for the Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka at the end of June.

A key component of the side that won the 50-over World Cup in 2019, Woakes has not featured in the shortest format at international level since November 2015.

Willey, meanwhile, will hope to get the chance to impress ahead of the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in October and November this year.

Liam Dawson is also included in a 16-man party that is minus the services of injured trio Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Reece Topley.

"With the T20 World Cup only a few months away, this summer is about perfecting our team and continue to progress on the field," England head coach Chris Silverwood said.

"We want to approach every series with an influx of players aiming to win every match and giving us the best preparation as we get closer to the tournament.

"With several high-profile players missing through injury, it allows me to look at some of our experienced players who have not featured at this level for some time.

"The likes of Chris Woakes and David Willey are very experienced cricketers, and to have them both in the mix is exciting and shows the depth of squad we have available.

"I want our team to play an attacking form of the game. I hope we can continue to excite the England fans with our approach."

The three-match series begins in Cardiff on June 23, with the second game also taking place at the same venue the following day. The Ageas Bowl will then host the finale on June 26.


England squad for T20 series against Sri Lanka:

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite was a happy man on Thursday upon hearing the news that his team is now sixth on the ICC Test rankings, up from eighth following improved performances against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in recent months.

Former Sri Lanka paceman Nuwan Zoysa has been hit with a six-year ban from all cricket after being found guilty of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.

The 42-year-old's suspension has been backdated to October 31, 2018 – the date when he was provisionally banned during his employment as Sri Lanka's bowling coach

An ICC Anti-Corruption Tribunal found Zoysa guilty of "being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of an international match".

He was also found guilty of "directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach Code Article 2.1". 

Zoya's third guilty charge was for "failing to disclose to the ACU [ICC Anti-Corruption Unit] full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the code".

"Mr Zoysa has also been charged by the ICC on behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) with breaching four counts of the ECB Anti-Corruption Code for participants for the T10 League and those proceedings are ongoing," an ICC statement added.

The quick played 95 ODIs and 30 Tests for Sri Lanka, with his last international appearance coming in 2007.

Alex Marshall, ICC general manager – Integrity Unit, said: "Nuwan played 125 matches for Sri Lanka, attending a number of anti-corruption sessions during a decade-long international career.

"In his role as a national coach, he should have acted as a role model. Instead, he became involved with a corrupter and attempted to corrupt others.

"Contriving to fix a game betrays the basis of sporting principles. It will not be tolerated in our sport."

 

 West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, thinks losing the captaincy may have been a blessing in disguise for all-rounder Jason Holder, who he thinks is freer to be more himself without the additional responsibility.

After seven years in charge, Holder was replaced as captain of the Test team last month by Kraigg Brathwaite.  Brathwaite was himself promoted to the post after successfully taking charge during a successful tour of Bangladesh, which Holder had opted out of, along with 11 other players.

The change in circumstances has, however, not affected Holder’s play on the field and, equally importantly, he has been vocal with his encouragement of teammates on the field.  The previously mentioned characteristic is one many of his critics believe was absent during the majority of his tenure as captain.

 “Jason brought a different personality to the dressing room than what was in Bangladesh and it’s been working out nicely, especially the hard times in the field, Jason has been behind the guys, pushing us to do well.  I think him being skipper stopped that for a few years,” Mayers told SportsMax.tv’s The Commentators podcast.

“That’s the type of person he actually is.  A jovial person, always making fun, talking a lot.  I guess as captain being focused on the game, he couldn’t do that as much but now he is free, probably just trying to play as well as he can and be as free as he can,” he added.

“For me, if you are enjoying cricket more and you have less to worry about, it should make you better.  You focus more on yourself.”

Catch the full episode of The Commentators podcast below 

 

 

Promising West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, has expressed confidence at the prospect of becoming a top international Test cricket all-rounder, on the back of encouraging displays with both the bat and ball in recent months.

The attacking-minded Mayers burst on the scene with a stroke-filled 210 unbeaten in the first Test against Bangladesh, in February of this year.  However, against Sri Lanka last month, the player also had a good turn with the ball.  Not only extracting movement from a placid pitch but taking four wickets in the process, with just a short spell.

The display prompted some pundits to suggest that the player had the ability to become a dependable all-rounder for the squad if he could improve his overall fitness.

Bowling would not have been entirely new to Mayers, however, as he was at one point considered more of a bowling all-rounder, having claimed 71 wickets in 30 first-class matches at an average of 21.54.  Having displayed more prowess with the bat in recent months, Mayers is convinced that he can do both at the highest level in the mold of former West Indies captain Jason Holder, or England’s Ben Stokes, the world’s top-ranked all-rounders.

“I have it in me to do it.  I just have to become fitter,” Mayer’s told SportsMax’s The Commentators podcast.

“I just started Test cricket and people think watching it on tv, it’s very easy, it’s very hard.  I will always say that, and I will always let young people coming up know that if you want to play Test cricket you need to work very hard,” he added.

“Preparation is key for me to be up there with Jason.  It will take that hard work, but I believe I can do it for sure.  Having number one and maybe number two in the world can’t be so bad.  If they had two of the world’s best all-rounders the guys would be happy.”

 Catch full interview in the Podcast below

 

 

West Indies legend, Curtly Ambrose, has re-added his voice to the call for an end to the preparation of ‘placid’ pitches throughout the Caribbean for international and regional cricket fixtures.

In the light of the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka, which ended with two drawn games, several former players and Windies coach Phil Simmons has expressed dissatisfaction with the surface prepared for the tour.

The debate has, however, raged on long before that, with Ambrose himself listed among those previously suggesting that many of the pitches prepared are too flat and offer little assistance to bowlers. 

The West Indies, Sri Lanka series has only added to the dissatisfaction.  In both Test matches, Sri Lanka, then the West Indies, the teams enjoyed comfortable leads headed into the final day but ended up doing very little to disturb the batsmen in the pursuit of wickets.

“I have seen local cricket played at Sir Viv Richards cricket stadium where you have grass on the pitch and the ball bounces and carries with good pace … so it’s not a situation where it cannot be done,” Ambrose told the Good Morning Jojo Radio show.

“I felt that the pitches were a little too flat and I’ve been saying this for years — we need to prepare better cricket pitches where the batsmen could play their strokes and the ball bounces a bit for the bowlers,” he added.

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