Cook ready to 'play hard'

Captain Alastair Cook expects both sides to play ‘hard cricket’ when England renew hostilities with Sri Lanka in the first Test at Lord’s on Thursday.

Cook exchanged verbals with opposite number Angelo Mathews in the aftermath of his side's defeat to Sri Lanka in the one-day international decider at Edgbaston last week, where Jos Buttler was 'mankaded' by bowler Sachithra Senanayake.

While admitting that the incident has still left a sour taste, Cook insists his team will play within the 'spirit of the game' when the first of two Tests kicks off at the Home of Cricket this week.

He said: "Both teams will play hard cricket. We have a responsibility to win the right way. A lot of people will be watching us and a lot of kids as well.

"What happened last week, I think at the time everyone was quite emotive about it but things have settled down and we've got to concentrate on our cricket. It was frustrating at the time and still is for what happened but he (Senanayake) was within his right to do it and the bottom line is that you can't really argue with that."

England are expected to line-up with three debutants in their starting XI; Middlesex opener Sam Robson, Worcestershire all-rounder Mooen Ali and Sussex pace bowler Chris Jordan all braced for their first taste of Test cricket.

And Cook is excited to see what the blend of youth and experience will bring to the side in what will be Peter Moores' first Test in charge in his second spell as coach.

"It's an exciting time," Cook added. "Three new caps is a very exciting time and we have a lot of guys with not a lot of experience but then on the other side of the changing room you've got five or six guys who have played close to 100 Tests.

"It's quite a big split but the last couple of days (training) have been brilliant."

Cook also revealed that Yorkshire's Gary Ballance will bat at No 3 in the order, with Ian Bell, Joe Root and Moeen Ali completing the top six respectively.

Watch live coverage of the opening day of the first Test between England and Sri Lanka on Thursday from 10am on Sky Sports 2HD.