England are out to close the gap on Australia at the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test Championship table as they started their three-match Test against Sri Lanka at Lordâ€™s on Thursday.
The home side is currently 18 rating points behind Ricky Pontingâ€™s line-up but it can cut that to 15 points with a clean-sweep, and even victory by one Test (1-0 or 2-1) will lift it a point closer to Australia.
Sri Lanka will, of course, have other plans and the upcoming matches present an excellent opportunity for it to make progress in the table.
As long as it avoids a series loss, it will move above New Zealand into sixth spot.
And if Sri Lanka wins the series, that would also have an impact at the top end of the table. That scenario would drop England to third place, allowing Rahul Dravidâ€™s India to move above it into second position without playing.
So there is plenty at stake over the next month but both sides are heading to Lordâ€™s missing key personnel.
England is without its injured captain Michael Vaughan and is being led by Andrew Flintoff, who this week took over from South Africaâ€™s Jacques Kallis as the worldâ€™s top Test all-rounder in the ICC Player Rankings.
And Vaughan is not the only injury victim for the home side. It is also without a host of bowlers from the top section of the ICC Player Rankings with Stephen Harmison (14th), Simon Jones (23rd), Ashley Giles (33rd) and James Anderson (45th) all missing.
On the plus side of the ledger, England can still boast two bowlers in the top 10 with Matthew Hoggard (just three wickets short of 200 in Tests) in fifth place and Flintoff one spot below him.
And they have four batsmen in the top 30, the highest ranked among them Marcus Trescothick in 10th position and now restored to the line-up after missing the series in India because of personal problems.
Below him are Andrew Strauss (13th), Flintoff (22nd) and Kevin Pietersen (26th) while Vaughan lies 35th.
Like England, Sri Lanka has two bowlers in the top 10 of the ICC Player Rankings â€” spinner Muttiah Muralidaran, who tops the list, and left-armer Chaminda Vaas (8th), fit again after missing the Test series against Pakistan.
Sri Lanka also has four batsmen in the top 30, headed by Kumar Sangakkara (11th) and also including Mahela Jayawardene (16th), Tillakaratne Dilshan (24th) and Thilan Samaraweera (30th).
The visitors are, however, without regular captain Marvan Atapattu (38th), who is nursing a back injury, and veteran Sanath Jayasuriya (34th), recently retired from Tests. The batting list is topped by Ponting, ahead of Dravid and Kallis.
Source:The NewsMore on:Australia, england, icc, Sri Lanka
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Monday, May 15th, 2006 and is filed under General.
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