Angelo Mathews hopes his side can replicate previous win in England

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Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews

Angelo Mathews gazed suspiciously at a gloriously sun-soaked Lord’s and made it clear he is prepared for a lot worse when Sri Lanka attempt to repeat their famous 2014 triumph over England.

The Sri Lanka captain has arrived fully equipped for his journey north to play the first two Tests of a three-match series at Headingley and Durham as the traditional Lord’s start to a Test season has been delayed by rebuilding work.

‘The main obstacle for us will be the weather initially,’ insisted Mathews. ‘We know it was snowing here last week! We’ve brought a lot of clothes and a lot of jumpers. But we are happy with how it is now. It’s absolutely brilliant right now.’

In truth Mathews should have more to worry about than the elements from a revitalised England out to avenge the nadir of Alastair Cook’s captaincy which came with Sri Lanka’s thrilling famous Test victory at Headingley two years ago.

‘It is a moment we will cherish for the rest of our lives,’ said Mathews of a series-clinching victory sealed with just a ball to spare. ‘We created history in England and to be able to do that as a team was fantastic. It would be ideal to repeat that but it will be a tough challenge.’

It is a far less experienced Sri Lanka side who, minus Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, will attempt to repeat the 2014 triumph in all three formats that followed the Ashes debacle and led Cook to the brink of resignation.

‘We’ve lost some fantastic players and it’s a young inexperienced group that have come,’ said coach Graham Ford, returning for a second stint at the Sri Lanka helm after being recruited from Surrey. ‘We have come here to win this Test series and I believe we can do that but more importantly it’s about growing a team. I’d rather have a young team getting better than an old one past their best.

‘The England Test side are a very good unit indeed and surprised some people in winning the Ashes convincingly and then winning in South Africa. That sent out a message as to what a good team they are. It’s a challenge for us but also exciting and there’s no better way to grow a young team than to play against a really good outfit.’

It would be a huge surprise if England did not win this series convincingly but Sri Lanka are renowned for their passion and fighting spirit and their captain will not hesitate in calling on their sorely missed legends for advice.

Alastair Cook's came close to stepping down as England captain following his side's 2014 defeat by Sri Lanka
Alastair Cook’s came close to stepping down as England captain following his side’s 2014 defeat by Sri Lanka

Sangakkara is still showing his class at Surrey while Jayawardene will be in the Sky commentary box having actually joined up with England as a consultant twice during the winter.

I’m pretty sure they will always help us if they can and we can always fall back on them,’ said Mathews, who insisted he had no problem with Jayawardene being in the opposition camp last winter.

‘There is no issue. They have the freedom to go anywhere and work and we have the luxury of inviting them to help us out as well. It doesn’t really matter. When it comes to international cricket there are no secrets.’

Sri Lanka begin their tour at Chelmsford against Essex on Sunday and will also face Leicestershire next week before that first Test on May 19.

‘Yes we don’t have Sanga and Mahela any more and a lot of our players haven’t played here before but we have to move on and take up the challenge with who we have,’ added Mathews. ‘I believe we can still win if we play to our potential. We will have to play really good cricket to beat England.’

Kumar Sangakkara
Sri Lanka will be without the experienced Kumar Sangakkara (pictured) and Mahela Jayawardene