LONDON (AP) — After England's humiliating whitewash against Australia in the Ashes, heads have rolled. Peter Moores has replaced Andy Flower for his second stint as England coach and he'll lead the squad in its first test since the Ashes against Sri Lanka at Lords.
Here are five things to know heading into the test starting on Thursday:
NEW LOOK ENGLAND SIDE: There are three uncapped players in the England squad. Following the retirement of Andrew Strauss, captain Alastair Cook has a fourth partner to open the batting with in Sam Robson. Chris Jordan, who impressed in the one-day international series against Sri Lanka, also joins the four-man pace attack of Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Liam Plunkett, who returns to the England side after a seven-year absence.
And Moeen Ali replaces Graeme Swann as the spin option. Even though he is predominantly a batsman, he believes he can make a difference with the ball in his hand. "A lot of people haven't seen me bowl in the longer format so hopefully I can surprise a few people," he said. "If I just be myself, bowl how I bowl, I'm pretty happy no matter what the outcome."
SECOND CHANCES: Moores will be hoping his second tenure as coach goes better than his first. After taking charge of the team in 2007, he lost test series against both of England's summer opponents, away to Sri Lanka and home to India. Moores' first stint, marked by a difficult relationship with then-captain Kevin Pietersen, ended in 2009. He should take confidence, however, from England's 1-0 win over Sri Lanka in three tests on their own turf in 2011. His new assistant, Paul Farbrace, also controversially left his role as Sri Lanka coach in April after only four months to join Moores.
EXPERIENCE MATTERS: With three players making their international test debuts, a bowler returning to the fold after seven years, and two batsmen who have played 16 tests between them in Joe Root and Gary Ballance, England's senior players will need to make their experience felt. Ian Bell, one of the only players to emerge with any credibility from the Ashes tour in Australia, will look to continue his fine batting form in his 99th test, while wicketkeeper Matt Prior will hope an Achilles injury is behind him and won't hinder his performance.
After the acrimonious exit of Pietersen and the loss of Swann, these two will play a vital role in settling the newcomers to Moores' team, along with bowlers Anderson and Broad. "They (the debutants) will want to make an impact because they want to prove they deserve to be international players," Cook said. "But you need a bit of experience to know how it works. All the senior guys have had their ups and downs to get to where they are now."
CHANCE FOR MATHEWS AND SRI LANKA?: With a new-look England side in place, there is arguably not a better time for Sri Lanka to record its first series victory over England away. The side should also be encouraged by its win in the ODI series. Angelo Mathews has captained Sri Lanka since February 2013, but this will be the first time he leads the team outside Asia. Sri Lanka is without right-arm bowler Suranga Lakmal, who has a tear in his right hamstring, but it hopes to have him back for the second test at Headingley. The 33-year old Chanaka Welegedara, a left-arm seamer, should replace him.
MANKADING ROW ADDS EXTRA SPICE: England isn't expected to play nice with Sri Lanka or give any favours after it was upset by Jos Buttler's run out by Sachithra Senanayake in the ODI at Edgbaston last week. Senanayake twice warned Buttler about straying early from his crease at the non-striker's end, but Buttler wandered again and Senanayake took his bails in a win that clinched the ODI series. Despite the dismissal being lawful, England was far from impressed, and questioned Sri Lanka's sportsmanship. Cook went so far as to say Sri Lanka "crossed the line" and promised it wouldn't be forgotten in the tests. Sri Lanka, feeling aggrieved by England's reaction, hoped the issue was dead. "I don't want to see that happening again," captain Mathews said. "We just want to put that thing to bed and concentrate on what we can control."
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- Alastair Cook