Ackerman said the first Test between England and Sri Lanka at Lord’s – which ended in a tense draw with the home side just unable to take the final wicket they needed for victory – underlined the Asian side’s top-order batting strength.
Yet, their weak under belly was exposed by the England fast bowlers, as their lower order struggled in both innings. However, Ackerman emphasised that conditions will be vastly different in Sri Lanka.
“It would have been a travesty had England won the game. They are not the force they once were, and Alistair Cook first attempted not to lose the game before he declared,” said Ackerman.
Ackerman added that the world-class spinner Rangana Herath will come to the fore in Sri Lanka. Their seam bowlers Nuwan Kulasekara and Eranga Herath also excelled at Lord’s.
South Africa will lack experience of Sri Lankan conditions after the retirement of Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith, as very few members of the team played in in Sri Lanka when the hosts won 2-0 in a Test series in 2006.
Ackerman says he is concerned about the Proteas’ bowling attack, as Vernon Philander has struggled away from home, while spinner Imran Tahir is predisposed to bowl “bad balls, and a lot of bad balls”.
Morné Morkel will have to play an important role to complement the rest of the attack, and use his bounce. “Brett Schultz captured twenty wickets in 1993 using pace, bounce and swing,” added Ackerman.