Manchester: Alastair Cook is determined to show the world that he can change perceptions of his batting style, and change them quickly.
In little more than a week Cook has gone a long way to shedding his tag as a plodder. Before the ODI series began Cook had scored 868 runs at an average of 33.00 and a strike rate of 71.38. After four matches against Sri Lanka his overall average and strike rate have risen to 38.79 and 76.27. He is the leading run-scorer on either side in the series with 267 at 89.00, at a strike rate of 97.80.
Craig Kieswetter, recalled as opener to provide impetus at the top of the order has 161 runs at 53.66 in the series, with a strike rate of 96.41, but has been overshadowed by the new captain's strokeplay.
Thanks to a 10-wicket win in the fourth ODI at Trent Bridge — following an unbeaten opening stand of 171 by the pair — England now has a chance to win the series, currently tied at 2-2.
The Old Trafford wicket used to have a reputation for pace and bounce, though that has changed since the square was turned 90 degrees during ground renovations over the winter. It is the most spin-friendly pitch of the regular international venues in England, with an average of 3.16 wickets a match falling to spin in ODIs.
The prospect of turn for the slow bowlers may prompt the selectors to pick Samit Patel, though he has yet to play in this series. His only outing for England this summer was in the Twenty20 international at Bristol, where he was run out third ball without scoring and bowled two overs for 18. Patel last played an ODI in November 2008.