Sri Lanka vs England: The Sri Lankan brigade against England in Test Cricket: A Dissection

posted on 2018-11-06 11:56:59
posted by Sritama Panda

The England tour of Sri Lanka is in the news. The first of the three Test matches have started today. The last time England toured Sri Lanka for a Test series was in the year 2012. The two-match Test series had resulted in a 1-1 draw. The two teams have faced each other in a couple of bilateral Test series since then, both in England.

The first of the three Test matches of England’s tour of Sri Lanka has started today. The last time England toured Sri Lanka for a Test series was in the year 2012. The two-match Test series had resulted in a 1-1 draw. The two teams have faced each other in a couple of bilateral Test series since then, both in England.  




Before Ireland and Afghanistan made their debut in Test Cricket this year, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh were the last two teams to achieve the same. While Zimbabwe made its first Test Cricket appearance in 1992, Bangladesh were granted Test status by the ICC only in the year 2000. Both of these teams played their respective inaugural matches against India. 18 years hence, India hosted a Test match in Bengaluru which marked Afghanistan’s Test debut.  


But Zimbabwe wasn’t the first team to play their debut Test match against India. Way back in 1952, India had hosted Pakistan’s arrival into Test Cricket. Only in 1954 did Pakistan tour England for the first time. Yes, it was an unsaid tradition back then. All teams, before Pakistan, made their respective first Test appearance in a match against England. Starting from Australia in 1877 to India in 1932. But once Pakistan broke the tradition by touring India for their first ever Test series, only one team has made their Test debut in England and that was Sri Lanka.  



 Sri Lanka’s march into Test Cricket, the traditional way 


Sri Lanka was awarded Test status by the year 1981. Prior to the Cricket World Cup in 1979, Sri Lanka were the winners of the inaugural ICC Trophy. By defeating Canada in the finals, the Lankans had booked a spot for themselves in the World Cup. Back then their biggest attained accolade was defeating India in a One Day International game in 1979, under captain Bandula Warnapura. The ODI match was a dead rubber in the ICC Prudential World Cup considering the fact that both India and Sri Lanka were out of the competition due to their previous defeats. However, by defeating India in that match the Islanders had become the first-ever associate nation to beat India in an ODI. It was one of the biggest factors as to why Sri Lanka were honoured with a spot in Test Cricket two years hence.  



The Islanders marched into Test Cricket, under the leadership of Warnapura, when the Englishmen toured Sri Lanka in the year 1982. The one-off Test match was won by a margin of 7 wickets by the visitors. Since then Sri Lanka has hosted England in Tests 5 times, which makes a total of Six bilateral series in the island. Whereas, England have hosted a total of nine series against Sri Lanka. The last time Sri Lanka hosted a bilateral series against England was in 2012. The series comprised of two Test matches and was drawn 1-1.  


It was six years ago. 



  • The captains of the two sides were Andrew Strauss and Mahela Jayawardane. 


  • Steve Smith was just starting to get recognized as a batsman in Tests. The highest position he batted at that time was at number 6. 

  • Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara were all active Test cricketers.  

  • Nelson Mandela was still alive. 

  • Virat Kohli had 11 ODI centuries in his account. 

  • MS Dhoni was the Indian captain in all formats.  

  • Dale Steyn (272) had more Test wickets than James Anderson (254). Jimmy has now over-taken Glenn McGrath and is the highest wicket-taker amongst fast bowlers. 

  • Sri Lanka had never won a Test series in England. 

  • New Zealand had never played a World cup final. 

  • Manmohan Singh was the Prime minister of India. The advent of “achchhe din” was still 2 years away. 

  • And on a very emotional note, Australia’s Phil Hughes was still alive. 


Sri Lanka’s solitary series victory on English soil had come four years ago in a closely-fought contest comprising two Test matches. Both matches went down to the last delivery. While England couldn’t break the valiant nerves of a tail-ender in the first match, Sri Lanka successfully uprooted Jimmy Anderson on the penultimate delivery in the second. Stuart Broad could not dismiss Nuwan Pardeep in the last over and consequently the match was drawn at Lord’s. Moeen Ali remained undefeated at 108 after facing 281 deliveries. Broad had bagged the second hattrick of his Test career, in the first innings of the match. Anderson faced 55 deliveries scoring zero runs in a span of around 28 overs. But the disaster was inevitable. It was probably scripted by the almighty. The omens were strong against the home team. England had lost their first home series against Sri Lanka in 28 years.  



Head to Head 


Total Number of series played against each other: 15 

In England: 9 

In Sri Lanka: 6 


Last five series: 


Won by Sri Lanka: 2 

Won by England: 2 

Draw: 1 


While Sri Lanka has had only one series victory away, England has managed only two in the island. 


Overall tally is:  

Both the teams have drawn five series between each other. 

Sri Lanka has lost seven series and won five. 



Captains with highest Win/Loss ratio: 

For England:  

Nasser Hussain (span 2001-2002) –

W/L ratio 4.0 

Matches played: 6

Won: 4, Lost:1, Drawn-1 


 For Sri Lanka 

Mahela Jayawardane (span 2006-2012) – W/L ratio 1.5 

Matches played: 8

Won: 3, Lost: 2, Drawn-3 

There were questions all over circling around the selection of English side for the Tests considering the Lankan conditions. Whether to play three spinners at the expense of Stuart Broad was the biggest dilemma that they were facing. Consequently, the tourists chose to play Jack Leach. Rangana Herath, who is featuring in his last International match, just reached his 100th wicket in Galle in the ongoing match. 

Tags :