Laying down the Law for Sri Lanka
Amid a certain amount of chaos within Sri Lankan cricket following their second successive failure to win a World Cup final, the elevation of assistant coach Stuart Law to the main role provides a note of calm.
Sri Lanka will become the second touring team to play a Test match in Cardiff on Thursday - and their tour of England (and Wales) continues all the way through to 9 July, before they head to Edinburgh for two one-day internationals against Ireland and Scotland.
Their two opening matches went pretty well, a win against a weak Middlesex side followed by a come-from-behind triumph against the much stronger England Lions.
Those results followed a pre-tour build-up which was anything but easy.
The resignations of captain Kumar Sangakkara and the selectors in the wake of the World Cup were predictable enough. More unsettling was the retirement from Test cricket of fast bowler Lasith Malinga, and an unpalatable tug-of-war between the national board and the Indian Premier League, which meant five players turned up after the first warm-up match.
Law makes a point to Sri Lanka's star batsman Mahela Jayawardene - photo: Getty
Add to that the sword of Damocles hanging over Sri Lankan cricket - namely former captain Hashan Tillakaratne's threat to name players he believes have been involved in match-fixing - and it's a relief to know that in Law they do at least have a hard-nosed former Aussie pro who is very familiar with all the players.
It is an additional boon that he knows local conditions as well as anyone in the England camp, following his fruitful spells as a player for both Essex, Lancashire and Derbyshire.
Sri Lanka are expected to be a formidable force in the five-match one-day series. On their last tour, in 2006, they caught a June heatwave and some consequently flat wickets to batter an experimental home side 5-0.
But it is the Tests which come first, and for the first part of the tour Sri Lanka's bowling attack is shorn of both Malinga (who, at 27, has decided he will only play limited-overs cricket for his country) and, of course, the brilliant spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, whiling away his last few years as a cricketer in various domestic Twenty20 leagues.
Law says of the absence of Malinga: "It's a massive loss, people are going to ask this question until probably the day he dies, and we're going to miss Muralitharan too, as anyone would.
"My understanding of it was that after the Test series against India [in August 2010] Malinga wasn't going to play much more Test cricket, so for me it's not really much of a surprise that he said he didn't want to be selected for this tour.
"Filling his boots is going to be tough work. He's a natural, he's unbelievably good at what he does and he's just getting through the IPL now. He knows he can't push his body to bowl 25-30 overs in a day.
"If he does he can't walk for a week so that's no good for him either. We will miss him but we have a young kid in our squad now called Nuwan Pradeep, who's very slingy. Hopefully he's the one who stands up to take his place.
"He's the future. You will miss guys like Malinga but we've got to stand up and find someone else who wants to play 10 to 15 years for Sri Lanka."
Pradeep was a key component in the win over the Lions, taking 4-29 on the final day against England's second-string unit.
Of the five Test players joining the tour late because of IPL commitments, Law is unconcerned about the lack of preparation for the excellent experienced batsmen Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
But off-spinner Suraj Randiv, plus pace bowlers Dilhara Fernando and Thisara Perera, may suffer from their rushed lead-in to Cardiff, particularly as they have not been regular selections for their IPL sides.
Sri Lanka's victory over the England Lions came after following on. Picture: Getty
Law takes the inconvenience on the chin: "That's professional cricket these days. You'd love to have everyone together two weeks before a crucial opening Test match but unfortunately circumstances don't allow that these days."
An uncompromising, naturally fast-scoring right-handed batsman, Law had a reasonable run in the Australian one-day side in the late 1990s before being dropped just before the successful 1999 World Cup.
He never returned to the national side, but when not churning out runs for his native Queensland in the Australian summer he was also one of the most consistent scorers in county cricket in the early noughties.
A dalliance with the ill-fated Indian Cricket League led to an inevitable dead end, but Trevor Bayliss, the Australian who coached Sri Lanka for four years until the World Cup, helped Law make the transition from player to coach when appointing him as his assistant.
Just like Andy Flower, who took over as England coach on an interim basis in the Caribbean two years ago and went on to take the job permanently, Law is keen to make his current role into something more.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for me to work with one of the best teams in the world, so I am keen. I've got this tour to show what I'm capable of. I think I can take the team forward and hopefully myself and Sri Lanka Cricket will sit down and talk things through at the end of it."
Sri Lanka have already won two Tests in England, memorably at The Oval in 1998 when Muralitharan took 16 wickets in the match, and then when they took advantage of a deteriorating surface at Trent Bridge in 2006 to square that three-match series 1-1.
A draw or better over the course of the upcoming three-match rubber would be a notable achievement, and if the dry weather prevails, spinners like Randiv and Ajantha Mendis are potentially key.
So too is the captaincy of Tillakaratne Dilshan, known more for his imaginative batting than his leadership skills.
Law was enthused by Dilshan's bold decision to declare behind Middlesex at Uxbridge - a move which paid off with victory on the third and final day of Sri Lanka's tour opener.
"Dilly's a guy who's very positive in the way he plays his cricket and hopefully that carries on into his captaincy."
Law is also happy to disregard the official standings which show India as the number one Test team. England, he says, are the "best team in the world" in Tests, having had "a fantastic 18 months."
It's quite a compliment, but here's the Australian's ominous warning: "We can match them if we apply ourselves and play good consistent cricket. If we keep things simple we can be a devastating team."