Headingley - 19th - 23rd May 2016
After an exclusive diet of T20 cricket over the last three months or so, Test cricket returns with an unfancied Sri Lanka visiting England. During their last tour in 2014 the visitors claimed the two Test series with the penultimate ball of the second test.
Going into the Test, the market has England as 1.51 favourites, the visitors at a chunky 12.5 and the draw at 3.8. England are justifiable favourites here, and should get the job done in helpful conditions, but with weather concerns and having won just one of their last six Tests at Headingley, this price doesn't appeal. These weather concerns are weighing on the draw price here, with rain forecast for much of the weekend. Taking this on is a bit of a gamble, but with two fragile batting line ups, two capable bowling attacks and the nature of Headingley, a result in three days is very possible. Of the three current prices, Sri Lanka's is the one that appeals the most. Although I don't see them winning this, there's every chance they trade a lot lower that their 12.5 SP. During their second Test in New Zealand
in December, the last Test they played, a similar Sri Lankan side at 70-0 and with a first innings lead of 55 were trading odds on. This was prior to a spectacular batting collapse, losing all 10 wickets for 63 runs, that saw New Zealand restrict the lead to just 188, and chase this comfortably. Whilst it's by no means a given, a similar batting collapse by this inexperienced Sri Lankan side in early-season English conditions would not be surprising, and would offer some great trading opportunities.
Looking at individual players, England's Jonny Bairstow will be looking to build of his County Championship form in familiar conditions at his home ground. With his England place secured and 500 runs already this season he'll be full of confidence coming into this game. With a green England top order above him, there's every chance he'll be required to steady the ship in the event of a wobble. With that in mind, the 10s about him being top England batsman with Ladbrokes
looks juicy. Bearing his championship form in mind, buying Bairstow's Series Runs at 162 with SportingIndex
looks to have plenty of upside over three Test matches.
For the Sri Lankans, Kusal Mendis was the standout in the warm-up games, having moved to the number three spot from opening in New Zealand, scoring 65, 16 and 66. His run line here, at 21.5 with Ladbrokes, is too low for a great young prospect who has found form in English conditions.
Overall, this should pan out into an excellent Test match and series, and one which is long overdue after three months of T20.
Trading views: Oppose the draw should the forecast allow, look for Sri Lanka to trade shorter than the 13.5 pre-match price and look for England to win.
Back Jonny Bairstow for England top batsmen at 10 with Ladbrokes.
Back Kusal Mendis to score over 21.5 runs at 1.83 with Ladbrokes.
Series Spread Bet: Buy Jonny Bairstow runs at 162 with SportingIndex.