Snakes & Ladders: England's quest to reach the top of the game

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The Independent Online

England could be crowned the world's No 1 Test team by the end of the summer. Knowing England, though, their journey from third spot is unlikely to be without its ups and downs. Or snakes and ladders. Independent Sport is monitoring England's progress.



Down: No team tries to cover more bases, in terms of appointing coaches, than England, but things can go wrong: as in Steve Finn starting with a leg-side shocker despite all the advice from bowling guru David Saker.



Up: Unfortunately, Sri Lanka were using it. A rope ladder, that is, laid flat on the outfield, which the visitors were using to warm muscles on a chilly (for them) morning by quick-stepping rungs.



Down: Hang on a minute, that's the world's best spinner you're swatting for sixes. Prasanna (the other) Jayawardene and Rangana Herath showed Graeme Swann no respect with sweeps into Grand Stand and Mound Stand.



Down: It never rains... Swann not only failed with his decision to review a leg before appeal against Herath but had two more runs added to his figures when replays showed the batsman had hit it.



Down: If you bump into Matt Prior, try not to say "bye" when you go your separate ways. The word – together with England's wayward bowlers at Lord's – must be giving him nightmares.



Up: That's more like it! Excellent slip catches taken by Swann and Strauss were straight out of the Ashes handbook.



State of play on the snakes and ladders board: Stay where you are England.

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