England - Sri Lanka 1st Test preview: History on the horizon for captain Cook, as England begin busy Summer schedule

England and Sri Lanka meet at Headingley for the first Test match of the Summer at the scene of a famous victory for the tourists in 2014

England - Sri Lanka 1st Test preview: History on the horizon for captain Cook, as England begin busy Summer schedule
Alastair Cook and Angelo Mathews ahead of the Headingley Test (image via: InvestecCricket Twitter)

The three-match Test series between England and Sri Lanka begins on Thursday at Headingley as the Summer of international cricket gets underway. 

England head into the series as favourites in their own conditions against a Sri Lankan side who are without the star names of yesteryear.

There is history on the horizon for captain Alastair Cook, who should become the first English batsman to reach 10,000 Test match runs. The opener has already scored three centuries this season for Essex, and is just 36 runs shy of reaching of the milestone of 10,000 Test runs which only 11 others have passed in Test history.  

Selectors go with continuity following South African triumph

The early stages of the County Championship season have seen batsmen score runs galore, and with places seemingly available in the England batting lineup, rumours were rife that big changes would be rung. 

James Vince
James Vince will make his Test debut at Headingley this week (image source: Rex via Telegraph)

In the end, Alex Hales and Nick Compton retained their spots in the top three, with Hampshire's James Vince chosen as the man to replace the now-reitred James Taylor. Vince will make his debut at number five in Leeds on Thursday, while Jake Ball has missed out on a debut after the selectors decided to keep faith with Steven Finn. 

The remainder of the team have been retained following the series victory in South Africa, as England embark on a potentially famous Summer of Test cricket. If Trevor Bayliss' men claim series victories over Sri Lanka and then Pakistan, England would hold all eight of the possible Test trophies they compete for having beaten the other six sides in thier most recent series. 

Sri Lankans shy of stars still pose real threat to England

Without the likes of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara to rely on for runs, this Sri Lankan team are very heading to England under the radar. 

The lack of big names may make them a dangerous opponent if England took their foot off the pedal, and the Sri Lankan side still have a number of match-winners at their disposal. 

Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews will be under pressure to score big runs, while the wiley spin of Rangana Herath can be a difference maker on any surface around the world. 

The seam department will be without their leader at Headingley after Dhammika Prasad got injured in the warm-up draw against Leicestershire. Young speedstar Dushmantha Chameera and 29-year-old Suranga Lakmal will now lead the pace attack. 

Hosts looking for 2014 Headingley revenge

Two years ago at the same venue, Sri Lanka claimed a famous 100 run victory, after Shaminda Eranga dismissed Jimmy Anderson with the penultimate ball of the Test match. 

The win saw Sri Lanka claim the series win, and with a number of the same players returning on this tour they will be hoping for more of the same.

England return five starters from that loss, including Moeen Ali who came of age as a Test match batsman, nearly saving the match with an unbeaten 108 from 281 balls. 

A quick start from either side will put them in good position to win the three-match series, with England hoping to brush away the demons from 2014.