Collingwood struggling to find balance

England have no idea what their team might be for the one-day series against Sri Lanka. Since the first of the five matches is on Monday this might be cutting it fine, and it is to be hoped for their sake that their plans begin to crystallise after the sole warm-up match today against a side called the Tamil Union.

It is bad enough that Sri Lanka have won seven of the past eight matches between the sides and that England have not beaten Sri Lanka away in a one-dayer for a quarter of a century. Only a smidgeon of the indecision has been caused by the stomach virus that had struck a third of the players, but now appears to be subsiding.

Paul Collingwood, the captain, said yesterday: "I've looked at about 20 teams so far from the squad we've got and it's very hard to nail one down." This was hardly pushing the mathematical limit of possible combinations of 11 from a squad of 15 but Collingwood might hope to have whittled it down a tad by this evening.

Part of the problem is the absence of Andrew Flintoff, who was again the spectre at the feast as the series, to be sponsored somewhat unexpectedly by Bradford and Bingley who have no connections whatever in Sri Lanka, was officially launched yesterday.

"I've always said he is two players in one and it's obviously disappointing not to have him," said Collingwood. "Sometimes it's hard to get the balance right, whether to take an extra batsman in and get away with myself and Ravi Bopara as bowlers, or get an extra spinner in. But by the end of this we will have learned a lot."

If England have a selectorial conundrum, Sri Lanka, the World Cup finalists, are not without riddles of their own. It seems that their champion bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan will miss at least the first two matches because of the shoulder injury which forced his absence from the World Twenty20.

England cold-shouldered this notion, as it were, presuming it to be part of the usual baloney in the days before the series and are planning – as much as you can ever plan – to face Murali. But should it turn out that Murali is unfit Sri Lanka's new coach, the down-to-earth Australian Trevor Bayliss, confirmed that his replacement would be Kaushal Lokuarachchi, a leg-spinner with 30 wickets in his 19 previous appearances. No pressure Kaushal.

England's spinner will be Monty Panesar, who has deeply impressed Collingwood in the nets. "I think he's recognised the importance of changing his pace and bowling a slower ball with the arm at the same speed," he said.

Conceding that the Twenty20 specialists in South Africa had changed the dynamic of the dressing room, he was clearly pleased that the squad who beat India in a one-day series earlier this month back in England is back together. "Sometimes you come to places and are beaten before you go out on the field. But there's a lot of self-belief in here and we believe we can win."

If, presumably, they can find a team.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee