Adil Rashid bowled beautifully in the one-dayers in Sri Lanka and is this the winter in which he can really perform at Test level for England? I do hope it is.
His personal stuff is sorted and he has signed an all-format contract for Yorkshire and I was really impressed with him in the one-day series out there. He was recently speaking about the percentage of gogglies he bowls compared to orthodox leg-spin and he seems to know his game inside out.
He is now coming up against a side who are not quite sure about themselves yet. I think Sri Lanka will make a few changes and have a young team and this could be the series that propels Rashid as a Test match bowler.
This is as good as it gets from him at the minute. The timing might just be right for him.
I am also really glad that Rashid has chosen to play four-day cricket for Yorkshire next year as it becomes a difficult game when you decide not to play the longer form and you are not that old.
Kevin Pietersen did it and his form was never as good once he packed in playing four-day stuff.
This is as good as it gets from him at the minute. The timing might just be right for him.Darren Gough
Chris Gayle also struggled to be as dominant as he used to be.
Look at Alex Hales too. In the two ODI’s he recently played, he found it very difficult to get in any sort of rhythm. Playing in the nets is not the same as being in the middle and he had not had a knock since the quarter-finals of the T20s for Nottinghamshire.
If Alex does not get a Big Bash or IPL contract, is he going to get enough cricket to keep his form?
As for the selection for the Test series in Sri Lanka, I do think it has been spot on.
We have this obsession in England of picking tall bowlers who hit the seam with the seam up looking for caught behind decisions.
When you go abroad, you need bowlers that hit the stumps. Some people do not quite get what I am saying, but what I mean by that is that the highest percentage of wickets taken abroad are bowled and lbw. A bit like mine were.
In the one-dayers, we have two players like that in Mark Wood and Olly Stone. And in the Test series, we have Olly as well and Ben Stokes, to a certain extent. He is that sort of bowler.
They are the guys who I think will be the ones to watch out for in this series. The bowlers who hit the ball straight. They are not looking for caught behinds.
You have to bowl differently when you bowl away from England. It has been a weakness of ours for a few years.
We are always searching for a good bowler overseas.
People will say: ‘well, you have to bowl at the stumps anyway.’ But, in reality, you don’t because you bowl in the channels in England and you get caught behinds and you have a few slips in place and the ball is swinging around.
When you go to Sri Lanka, Dubai and other venues in Asia, it is different, hence the need for the seamers to bowl straight and in line.
After that, obviously the spinners come into play and we have plenty of those as well.
We have got Rashid, Moeen Ali and Jack Leach. I would like to see Leach get a shot as when people say: ‘well, what does he bowl like when he’s away from Somerset?’ That does not matter. The ball turns at Somerset and he has proved he can bowl well on turning pitches.
The ball is also going to turn in Sri Lanka and playing him is a no-brainer. Leach has to play.
As for the batting, I was speaking to Mark Ramprakash recently and he said that with the heat and humidity in Sri Lanka, the trick for batsmen is having patience.
Unfortunately, we have just lost our one guy with the most patience in Alastair Cook, so it will be interesting to see how we fare.
I thought Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes batted beautifully for spells in the summer and showed that they have patience when they are batting.
But when the ball is turning more, it will be interesting to see how we have to exhibit more patience than usual.
You can go long periods over there where you are scoring at one-and-a-half an over. You have to wait for the bad delivery.
I remember my last tour there in 2001-02 when we got hammered in Galle where we got bowled out by Muttiah Muralitharian and Marvan Atapattu got a big double hundred. I think Murali got 16 wickets in the game.
We hung in there and then won in Kandy and Colombo which was against all odds.
This England team is very capable of beating Sri Lanka but, in terms of the overall series, the toss of the coin is going to be vital.
In England this year, we won the toss every time, but in India, I think we lost it before every game!
So it is important it goes our way because if it does, then we have got a very good chance of winning.
One-day wise, it all looks rosy. England’s batting order speaks for itself and has picked itself and they are ready for a World Cup now.
The batting line-up is nailed down all the way down to Moeen at No 7.
Chris Woakes selects himself as the opening bowler as he takes wickets with the new ball and is accurate and reliable, even if he is a bit inconsistent in terms of bowling at the death on occasions.
Rashid is in there as the second spinner and bats at eight or nine. So you need two seamers from somewhere and there are a few people fighting for those places.
You have Stone, Wood, the Curran brothers, Liam Plunkett and David Willey. Three of those will be in. It’s a tough call on each count, but it just goes to show the strength in depth that England has in that department, which can only be a good thing.