Jonathan Agnew column - England v Sri Lanka

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent

England's Test series triumph in Australia marked the end of an era, so this summer, therefore, is the start of a new one.

Eoin Morgan
England hope Morgan can add to his hundred against Pakistan last summer

Everyone involved, from captain Andrew Strauss to National Selector Geoff Miller is emphasising that having now won the Ashes home and away, England's goal is to become the number one-rated Test team in the world.

With India currently holding that position and visiting here later in the summer, hard on the heels of a tour of the West Indies, England have a real opportunity to knock the world champions from their perch.

But there are some issues to deal with before then, not least ensuring that there are no slip-ups against Sri Lanka, who come armed with plenty of batting capability, but seriously weakened by the retirements of spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and pace bowler Lasith Malinga.

There is little doubt that the absence of those two star attractions has also hit the ticket sales at Cardiff and The Rose Bowl, venues for the first and third Tests.

Ahed of the opening match, the main task for England's selectors was to address the hole in England's batting order created by Paul Collingwood's retirement from Test cricket.

Of the two main contenders, Ravi Bopara made the early running with two centuries for Essex while Eion Morgan was otherwise engaged at the IPL, but Morgan's 193 for the England Lions against Sri Lanka this week ensured he will be given the first chance to make the number six spot his own.

Bopara is a lovely natural player and turned down the IPL to focus on pressing his Test claims. The England camp does not actively encourage its players to take part in the IPL circus, but having granted Morgan permission to play by issuing him a 'no objection certificate', they could hardly penalise him for doing so - particularly after scoring a big hundred against the tourists.

Lasith Malinga
The loss of Lasith Malinga has weakened Sri Lanka's pace attack

Bopara's bowling might have offered Strauss an option for a few overs here and there, but most will agree that if Morgan can now cement his place with some big scores, his innovative and busy style of batting would be invaluable to England's middle order.

Another issue England need to address is Kevin Pietersen. He left the World Cup under a cloud, having been told that despite his injury he could carry on playing until the end of the tournament, and the team management expressed genuine frustration at the time.

The word around the camp is that Pietersen does not appear to be a team man, and while nothing will be said publicly, KP needs to show unfailing commitment both to the cause and to his team-mates from the word go.

It is perfectly acceptable to be 'different' and to live outside the mainstream, but it is not acceptable to have a negative impact on the team environment.

Runs will help, of course, but not entirely and besides, with only one hundred (a double) to show for the last two years' work (21 Tests) at an average of barely 40, Pietersen is currently not making the most of his undeniable talent.