COLOMBO - For all the talk of England searching for a “different formula” on this tour there was a familiarity - a wearing familiarity - about their approach on the first day of the red-ball section of their trip to Sri Lanka.

Despite fielding a 14-man team - players came and went throughout the day as they juggled their fielding duties with net sessions and periods out of the sun - there was no place for the only out-and-out quick bowler in the squad (Olly Stone) and no place for their third spinner (the left-armer, Jack Leach). And, while it is unusual to see a different wicketkeeper used each session - they started with Jos Buttler before Ben Foakes took the gloves at lunch and Ollie Pope at tea; all performed tidily - or the second new-ball taken by legspinners, the first three bowlers of the day were all seamers. It was, by and large, pretty much the same approach utilised in Australia and India and the UAE. And we all know how that worked out.

Perhaps little should be read into this. It is likely to that both Stone and Leach will play in the other two-day warm-up match that precedes the Tests and it’s possible that England were keen to prevent this strong Sri Lanka Board side - two of their top four are in the Test squad - from sizing them up ahead of the series. Still, this was a slightly dispiriting day. Despite rotating eight bowlers, England looked worryingly toothless.

BRIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka Board XI 392 for 9 dec (Silva 62, Sarathchandra 59*, Samarawickrama 58, Priyanjan 50) v England XI.