|Emirates Triangular Tournament|
England v Sri Lanka
Ground: Lord's, London
16 August 1998
England, winners in Sharjah last year, meet Sri Lanka, the world champions, for the first time since the 1996 World Cup Quarter Final. Both teams come into this game having convincingly beaten South Africa in their previous one-day internationals; England in the third Texaco Trophy match, and Sri Lanka on Friday in Nottingham.
The home team will be jubilant after their first 5 match test series win in 12 years, but cautious not to let slip in their first home triangular tournament match. Selectorial decisions to leave Dominic Cork and Mark Ramprakash out of the squad have attracted some criticism, and there has been debate over the opening batting pair. The established one-day partnership of Ali Brown and Nick Knight, that had been so successful in Sharjah and against South Africa earlier this year, is seen by some to be perfect to score quickly off a comparatively weak Sri Lankan attack. However, rumours have suggested that one of Brown and Knight is likely to be sacrificed in favour of former England test captain Mike Atherton. Atherton, known to prefer the longer game, has been criticised for his slow scoring and inability to take advantage of the first 15 over fielding restrictions. It is this, which will probably mean that Alec Stewart, in his first one day tournament as England captain, will have the left and right hand combination of Knight and Brown at the top of the order.
The tourists, well used to one-day tournaments around the world, are better suited to the shorter game. The way they exploited the fielding restrictions in the 1996 World Cup produced exciting cricket, with pinch-hitter Sanath Jayasuriya setting off a craze that was copied at all levels of the game.
A Sri Lanka win would give them a place in the final and some recognition as a cricketing power that has been lacking in England. An England victory, albeit unexpected in worldwide cricketing circles, would send out a message indicating that they really will be a force to be reckoned with in next year's main event.