England struggle in warm-up match for Sri Lanka Test series with eight bowlers combining for just six wickets

EIGHT bowlers, three wicketkeepers and 14 fielders. But only six wickets in 89.5 overs.

England’s endured a difficult first day of red-ball action with the First Test against Sri Lanka only a week away.

 England toiled on a tricky day in preparation for the First Test in Sri Lanka

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England toiled on a tricky day in preparation for the First Test in Sri Lanka
 Stuart Broad went wicketless on tough day one of the warm-up game

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Stuart Broad went wicketless on tough day one of the warm-up game

It was officially described as day one of the first of a pair of two-day warm-up matches and a Sri Lankan Board XI finished with 392-9 of which three of the wickets were retirements.

In reality, it was a little more than glorified middle practice with England adopting a revolving door policy as players came and went from the field.

With first-choice Jonny Bairstow struggling to the fit for the First Test on November 6, Jos Buttler, Ben Foakes and Ollie Pope kept wicket for a session each.

And the bowling was shared between James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Sam Curran, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Joe Root and Joe Denly.

 Sri Lanka dominated the first day as England only took six wickets

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Sri Lanka dominated the first day as England only took six wickets
 England managed just six wickets in 89.5 overs in Sri Lanka today

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England managed just six wickets in 89.5 overs in Sri Lanka today
 In-form Adil Rashid managed to pick up just a single wicket today

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In-form Adil Rashid managed to pick up just a single wicket today

All-rounder Ben Stokes did not send down a ball as England attempted to conserve his energy.

Only Olly Stone, Jack Leach and the injured Bairstow did not take part.

Foakes even removed his gloves and pads and had a spell in the field although, it should be noted, there were only eleven fielders at any given time.

Captain Root and head coach Trevor Bayliss will be concerned that England conceded almost 400 runs in a day at a scoring rate considerably above four-an-over.

Moeen Ali and England continue their preparations ahead of the third one-day cricket international against Sri Lanka

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Their bowlers did not look particularly threatening.

The flat pitch at the Nondescripts Cricket Club in Colombo will be very different from the dry, dusty, spinning surface likely to be served up in Galle next week.

We can glean from all this that Sri Lanka – this was effectively their second team – will be a considerably more awkward proposition in the three Tests than in the white ball games, which England dominated.

Moeen admitted: “I definitely think there are some places for the Test team undecided.

"The balance of the team – are we going to play two or three spinners, which seamers will play? That’s for the coach and captain to decide.

“Personally, I’d love three spinners with myself, Adil and Jack Leach. With Joe Root and Joe Denly, who can also bowl. That’s probably the way they will go.

 Joe Root gave himself a bowl as one of eight to try their luck today

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Joe Root gave himself a bowl as one of eight to try their luck today
 Moeen Ali toiled away in the tour match ahead of next week's Test

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Moeen Ali toiled away in the tour match ahead of next week's Test

“It was a tough day but a good day because we got some overs in our legs. It was a completely different cricket to that we’ve been playing in the one-dayers.

"The outfield was soft and heavy after the rain and quite sapping.”

There were few concrete clues as to the make-up of England’s starting XI. As many as four places are still up for grabs.

Broad, with a new, shorter run-up, bowled well enough as he tried to convince the selectors not to drop him for the first time in almost ten years.

Moeen took two wickets and Anderson, Woakes, Rashid and Denly one apiece.

Six of the Sri Lankan batsmen passed 40 before either retiring or being dismissed. The unlikely duo of Rashid and Denly shared the second new-ball.

England will bat tomorrow with the likes of Rory Burns, Keaton Jennings and Denly hoping to score sufficient runs to secure a Test berth.

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EIGHT bowlers, three wicketkeepers and 14 fielders. But only six wickets in 89.5 overs.