England Lions captain Chris Woakes knows the ‘Test’ series with Sri Lanka A, which starts tomorrow, is an ideal opportunity to push for senior international honours.
Woakes is set to lead the Lions at Pallekele in the first of three four-day games with the hosts’ second string, who are captained by Sri Lanka batsman Upal Tharanga and several of whose players have impressed in two warm-up draws.
Warwickshire all-rounder Woakes made his Test debut in August's Investec Ashes finale at the Kia Oval but was not picked for the return rubber Down Under.
Woakes, along with his team-mates, will therefore be determined to impress with a new era in English cricket meaning more places are up for grabs than before.
Woakes told ecb.co.uk: “The lads are in good shape. It’s a really exciting series and the lads have got a great opportunity to do some good things out here.
“They have got some players that have played international cricket. They are a good team with plenty of youth and experience.
“We are really looking forward to it and hopefully we can put in some good performances.”
Woakes is well aware of the scale of challenge that awaits, although he is confident the good work put in already will pay dividends.
He added: “We have put in some hard yards. It is tough out here in the heat but we have trained really hard and had two warm-up games.
“We are hoping we can match them in the skill department but we feel like we have prepared well.
“It is going to be tough; they have obviously got a great team and playing them in their own back yard is going to be hard work.”
There is a chance Graham Onions could play tomorrow having been a late addition to the squad.
Onions replaced county team-mate Mark Wood, who was forced to head home due to a side injury, in the party last week.
Speaking of last season’s leading LV= County Championship wicket-taker, Woakes said: “He is an international bowler that has been there and done it, which is good for us.
“He will be a great addition to the squad.”