Broad can lead way for England

  • By: Dave Tickner
  • Last Updated: June 19 2014, 13:23 BST

Dave Tickner previews the second Test between England and Sri Lanka with Stuart Broad fancied to help the hosts win.

Stuart Broad: Can help England to victory at Headingley
Stuart Broad: Can help England to victory at Headingley

The first Test between England and Sri Lanka was the ultimate slowburner, a beautiful example of what makes it the greatest format of the greatest sport.

For four-and-a-half days, the match contained much honest toil. There were some excellent performances and some tough cricket played. None of it, though, was particularly exciting.

Then everything changed. Either side of tea on the final day, James Anderson produced a great spell of swing bowling to open the door for England. They came within an inside edge of bundling through it to claim a win that had looked out of reach since the second evening.

As we look back on that game, we must decide who can take more encouragement from it for the second and final Test at Headingley this week.

Despite the disappointment of failing to get over the line, it has to be England. On a slow and flat Lord's pitch, they took 19 Sri Lankan wickets and should find conditions more to their liking in Leeds.

It is a ground that generally produces a result, with only one stalemate in the last 14 matches. That came two years ago, when Kevin Pietersen's dazzling 149 lit up a match played in damp and gloomy conditions that saw almost a whole day's play lost to the weather across the five days.

And Headingley Tests have not generally been close. The margins of victory in England games since 1997 (most recent first) have been: 247 runs, an innings and 80 runs, 10 wickets, an innings and 283 runs, 167 runs, nine wickets, 191 runs, an innings 46 runs, six wickets, an innings and 39 runs, 23 runs, an innings and 61 runs.

While England have not always been on the right end of those generally one-sided encounters (seven wins, five defeats), they surely look the likelier side here to take a grip on proceedings and run away with the game after exorcising some winter demons with a solid display at HQ.

The lack of a frontline spinner should be less of a concern at Headingley, where England's four-man pace attack looks well equipped to give the Sri Lankans an even sterner test than they did at Lord's.

Headingley can be a tough place to bat when conditions favour the bowlers, but both Joe Root and Alastair Cook scored centuries here last time out against a New Zealand attack that poses greater threat with pace and movement than this game but slightly limited Sri Lankan unit.

Given the draw is already onside after an ante-post tip of 0-0 at 9/1, England are a straightforward selection here at anything approaching even money.

One other bet that catches the eye is Stuart Broad to be top England bowler at 3/1. He has a fine record at Headingley, having picked up 19 wickets here at 24 apiece in just four matches.

The favourite in this market, James Anderson, has just 10 wickets at 50 from five matches.

Broad has outperformed Anderson in all five innings in the last three England Tests here, taking top first innings bowler honours in two of those three, and therefore has to be the call despite Anderson's heroics on Monday.