The last time the two sides met here - just two years ago - Sri Lanka claimed a historic victory with Jimmy Anderson’s dismissal off the penultimate ball of the match seeing The Lions’ beat England by 100 runs. It was enough to see them clinch their maiden Test Series win on English soil. Their first test win was at The Oval in 1998.
However, two years since their last visit Sri Lankan cricket has gone through significant change following the retirement of legends Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the pair having amassed a remarkable 24.214 runs between them in a combined 283 tests.
Jayawardene retired in August 2014 following a series win at home to Pakistan, while Sangakkara retired 12 months later following a 2-1 series defeat to India.
Under the leadership of Angelo Matthews, Sri Lanka’s most recent Test series saw a relatively inexperienced side travel to New Zealand where they suffered a 2-0 series loss to the Kiwis’ in a two-match series. In the first Test they suffered a 122-run defeat despite a promising 84 by opener Dimuth Karunaratne in the first innings and a half century in each innings by Dinesh Chandimal. However, New Zealand’s bowling attack - spearheaded by pace duo Tim Southee and Trent Boult - proved too much for the tourists, while the Sri Lankan bowlers also struggled to adapt to conditions with New Zealand feasting on some inadequate bowling.
In the second Test in Hamilton, the Sri Lankan team offered up more of a challenge. However, again it was the home side who prevailed in a five-wicket triumph. The highlight for Sri Lanka was Dushmantha Chameera, the right arm quick who took nine wickets in the match, including an impressive five-wicket haul in the first innings.
The worry for Sri Lanka was the way in which New Zealand dismantled their inexperienced batting line up, a lack of grit and determination proving an issue when they were skittled for just 133 in their second innings in Hamilton. It is an area of weakness that Anderson and his fellow boling attack will no doubt have set in their sights.
Clearly the loss of Sangakkara and Jayawardene will have a massive impact on a team who are in a period of transition, but the Sri Lankans’ will still take heart from their victory in Headingley last time out and look to draw on that momentous occasion in their Test cricket history.
With other, familiar faces of Sri Lankan cricket turning their back on the Test arena, including the likes of Tilakartne Dilshan and Lasith Malinga, there will be many new names for English supporters to look out for this summer. With one or two already proving in New Zealand that the talent is there.
Three to watch
The Sri Lankan captain is a world-renowned figure, a very capable batsman who can play a wide range of innings from belligerent to obdurate. If his side are to be a success in England his runs will be crucial as he was a thorn in England’s side back in 2014 proving an immovable object at times. More of the same will be required this time round., while Matthews can also offer something with the ball with his right-arm seamers more than a handful.
As previously mentioned, Chameera managed to pick up nine wickets in the second Test in New Zealand. Although he’s still finding his feet at Test level, the 24-year-old right-arm seamer definitely has the ability and talent to cause problems for the England batsmen. With 18 wickets in his first four Test matches he has made an encouraging start.
At 30-years-old Siriwardana’s entrance into Test cricket is a late one but he has already shown he can play at this level. With a couple of half centuries already to his name after four Tests - including a highest score of 68 - the left-hander could certainly prove to be a tricky customer this summer. He can also bowl some useful slow left-arm spinners.
The numbers game ....
Test wins: England 10, Sri Lanka 8. Draws: 10.
Series wins: England 6, Sri Lanka 5, Draws 3.
Tests In England: England 6, Sri Lanka 3, Draws 6
Leading run scorers in England vs Sri Lanka (Home & Away)
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene 2,212; Kumar Sangakkara 1,568; Tilakaratne Dilshan 889.
England: Alastair Cook 1,078; Marcus Trescothick 957; Kevin Pietersen 874
Top five individual innings
Mahela Jayawardene 213* (Sri Lanka); Sanath Jayasauria 213 (Sri Lanka); Jonothan Trott 203 (England); Marvan Attapattu 201* (Sri Lanka); Joe Root 200* (England)
Top three leading wicket takers Sri Lanka (home & away)
Muttiah Muraliitharan 112; Chaminda Vaas 49; Rangana Herath 33
Top three England leading wicket takers (home & away)
Matthew Hoggard 37; Ashley Giles 31; James Anderson 30
Best three bowling performances (Sri Lanka)
Muttiah Muraliitharan 9-65; Muttiah Muraliitharan 8-70; Muttiah Muraliitharan 7-46
Best three bowling performances (England)
Phillip DeFreitas 7-70; John Emburey 6-33; Chris Tremlett 6-48
Sri Lanka 2016 touring squad: Angelo Mathews (captain), Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Dhammika Prasad, Dilruwan Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal (vice-captain), Dushmantha Chameera, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Lahiru Thirimanne, Milinda Siriwardana, Niroshan Dickwella, Nuwan Pradeep, Rangana Herath, Shaminda Eranga, Suranga Lakmal