England will look to build on their winter success starting against Sri Lanka today
England will look to build on their winter success starting against Sri Lanka today

This England team wants to be the best cricket team in the world now, and to eventually be considered as the best England team of all time. Three months from now we will have a much clearer idea where they stand. First Sri Lanka and then India await, seven Tests that could define this group of cricketers.

They have a long way to go before they reach the real summit. As momentous a feat as winning the Ashes in Australia was, it was the start of a gradual climb. India, who currently head the South Africans by an 11-point margin in the ICC rankings, are a much tougher proposition than the ragged Australia that England faced over the winter.

But that is to look too far ahead. Right now Sri Lanka are in England's way. Their 38-run victory against the England Lions after following-on should have served notice that - despite having never won a series of at least two Tests in England - the home side are by no means run away favourites.

Without Lasith Malinga or Muttiah Muralitharan Sri Lanka are without their two most potent bowlers and the loss of Nuwan Pradeep will also be felt; but Thisara Perera has shown promise and should not be underestimated. Regardless, no team that contains batsmen of the quality of Tilakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara will be easily beaten.

For England, this series is the perfect opportunity to build on the lessons learnt over the winter. They have made a bold choice in picking Eoin Morgan over the more dependable Ravi Bopara. The decision could upset the dynamics of the batting order, a feature that was key to the success in Australia. But it is a brave choice and that should be applauded. Paul Collingwood's retirement has given the selectors a chance to freshen the team up and that's exactly what they have done. Morgan's innings of 193 on the first two days of the Lions match provided evidence that the selectors were making the right judgment.

For some, the news that Kevin Pietersen's place was under threat may come as a surprise. Although it is only three Test matches since he scored a scintillating double hundred against Australia, he needs runs more than at any time in his international career.

He remains the one batsman in the team capable of becoming the best in the world. But he has scored only two centuries in 90 innings for England since he relinquished the captaincy and there is a sense he is being picked on past performances alone. He needs a big score here, or the following week at Lords.

But England's superior pace attack should hold the key to victory against a Sri Lanka side in transition.

England's strength among their seamers has never been better, with at least seven bowlers competing for three spots. Chris Tremlett will not have any trouble slotting in as England's third seamer behind Anderson and Stuart Broad, but he will have to step up as a fielder and tailender to stay ahead of Steve Finn and Ajmal Shahzad.

And as long as Swann stays fit, England possess one of the best bowling attacks in world cricket.

Three months from now we will have a much better idea where they truly stand.

England squad for first Test against Sri Lanka, Cardiff, 26 May

AJ Strauss (Middlesex, captain), JM Anderson (Lancashire), IR Bell (Warwickshire), SCJ Broad (Nottinghamshire), AN Cook (Essex), ST Finn (Middlesex), EJG Morgan (Middlesex), KP Pietersen (Surrey), MJ Prior (Sussex), GP Swann (Nottinghamshire), CT Tremlett (Surrey), IJL Trott (Warwickshire)