Island, 18 May 2016
England will aim to narrow the gap with third-ranked Pakistan while Sri Lanka will target moving ahead of sixth-ranked South Africa in the ICC Test Team Rankings when the three-Test series begins at Headingley tomorrow. England currently sits in fourth position on 105 points (six behind Pakistan), while Sri Lanka is on 88 points in seventh spot (four behind South Africa). If England wins all the three Tests, then it will rise to 109 points (two behind Pakistan) while a 2-0 win will put it on 108 points (three behind Pakistan). In contrast, Sri Lanka can move to as high as 98 points, but to make this to happen, it will have to win all three Tests. In this scenario, there will be a three-way tie between New Zealand, England and Sri Lanka, but when the rankings are calculated beyond the decimal point, then New Zealand will be ranked fourth, England fifth and Sri Lanka sixth. Headingley–pic from yorkshireccc.com
A 2-1 or 1-0 win will earn Sri Lanka six points, which will put it two points ahead of South Africa, while a 2-0 win will put Angelo Mathews’ side on 96 points. This is the ninth time England is hosting Sri Lanka in a Test series. Of the previous eight series, England has won four, while Sri Lanka has triumphed twice, including a 1-0 win on the previous tour in 2014 with the 100-run victory coming at Headingley in the second and final Test. Overall, England leads Sri Lanka 6-5 in 14 series, while in 28 Tests played between the two sides to date, England has won 10 against Sri Lanka’s eight.
Meanwhile, Joe Root will resume his battle for the number-one batting position with Australia captain Steve Smith, who is presently sitting on top of the tree. Root, who twice peaked to the number-one ranking last year, trails Smith by 36 points. Some strong performances with the bat will help the Yorkshireman surge to the top and then potentially strengthen his position in the four-Test series against Pakistan, which begins on 14 July.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews is the other batsman who features inside the top 10. He is currently occupying the eighth position and has a chance to return to the top five as he trails fifth-ranked Younus Khan of Pakistan by 18 points. Those outside the top 10 and aiming to improve their rankings include England captain Alastair Cook (14th) and Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Chandimal (20th).
England fast bowler Stuart Broad will defend his number-one position when he will take the field at Headingley. The 29-year-old moved to the top of the chart following the Johannesburg Test against South Africa earlier this year, and leads India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin by just one point. Not only to retain his number-one spot but to also put some daylight between himself and Ashwin, Broad will need to put in some impressive performances in the series.
Not too far behind is his new-ball partner James Anderson. The Lancastrian, who achieved his career-high second ranking against the West Indies last year in Barbados, is currently in fifth position, and trails third-ranked Yasir Shah of Pakistan by 41 points and fourth-ranked Dale Steyn of South Africa by 36 points. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath is Sri Lanka’s highest-ranked bowler in 11th position and has an opportunity to return to the top 10 as he is just five points behind South Africa’s 10th-ranked Vernon Philander.
19-23 May – 1st Test, Headingley, Leeds
27-31 May – 2nd Test, Chester-le-Street
9-13 June – 3rd Test, Lords
Rank Team Points
1 Australia 118
2 India 112
3 Pakistan 111
4 England 105
5 New Zealand 98
6 South Africa 92
7 Sri Lanka 88
8 West Indies 65
9 Bangladesh 57