Colombo - Sri Lanka's rookie batting
line-up faces a "huge mental challenge" in adapting to English
conditions as they bid to pull off a repeat of their historic series win over
their hosts, coach Graham Ford said on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka are returning to England for the
first time since 2014 when they posted their first away series victory over
Alistair Cook's side in Test cricket and then won an ODI series and a one-off
But their line-up has been severely
weakened in the interim by the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela
Jayawardene, arguably the two greatest batsmen that Sri Lanka have ever
Speaking ahead of their departure to
London, Ford was "quietly confident" his squad would acclimatise to
the conditions awaiting them at the start of the English summer but
acknowledged it would be a steep learning curve.
"As far as our batting goes, having
lost a couple of senior players (Sangakkara and Jayawardene), obviously young
players have come in," said Ford, who is overseeing his first Test series
since returning for a second spell as coach.
"They have worked extremely well and
(worked) extremely hard in the past few weeks," the South African told
reporters in Colombo.
"It can be a huge mental challenge for
them (to play in English conditions)."
Ford said that his charges would need to
develop a close bond during their two-month long tour which will comprise three
Tests, five One Day Internationals and one Twenty20 match.
"I am quietly confident that they will
be able to work together and really create pressure in English
conditions," he said.
"It is going to be extremely important
that they work together as a unit and support each other. If we get that right,
we can cause some problems for English batsmen."
Skipper Angelo Mathews said he expected
Lahiru Thirimanne, one of Sri Lanka's leading batsman before he hit a run of
poor form, to bounce back during the tour.
"I think we all know Thirimanne is
very technically equipped and he is our best batsman at the moment," said
Mathews who is in fact himself widely regarded as Sri Lanka's most dangerous
"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."
Thirimanne was not travelling with the team
on Wednesday and was expected to join later as his visa had not been cleared on
time, officials said.
Sri Lanka have named a 17-member squad,
including two uncapped batsmen - Dasun Shanaka and Dhananjaya de Silva - for
the Tests starting May 19 in Leeds.
Test squad: Angelo Mathews (captain), Dinesh Chandimal (vice-captain), Dhananjaya 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.