6 July 2020, by: Carl Lewis

England v West Indies First Test Preview

The first match of the three-match Test series between England and West Indies will be played at The Rose Bowl in Southampton. 

International cricket returns after the Covid-19 enforced break and there will be changes in what is our new reality. Apart from a ban on spit-shining the ball, both teams will have an additional DRS review that will accompany non-neutral umpires.

The teams will be able to field Covid-19 replacements, just like the concussion subs. Possibly, the oddest thing will be the absence of high-fives while celebrating a wicket.

The Lowdown

England have been the dominant side in this series in the recent past, they have either won or retained four of the last five Wisden trophies. Although, West Indies are the current holders after a 2-1 victory on the England tour in early 2019.

West Indies a little short on full strength because a handful of top Windies players have pulled out of the tour, this might still turn out to be a very interesting series, especially with their talented squad.

England will fancy themselves to exact revenge after losing the last Test series but especially with Windows, not at full-strength squad. In the absence of regular captain Joe Root, Ben Stokes will lead England. They won an emphatic series win in South Africa earlier this year which showed off their quality with both bat and ball. They are a well-rounded team when compared to the windies.

The Windies pace attack has definitely got some fans excited. However, the problem for the West Indies is their batting. They lack the solidity at the top of the order that is required in English conditions and would need more magic from Shai Hope to win this match and series.

Teams news

Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley will open the batting while Joe Denly and Zak Crawley will be slotted at 3 and 4 respectively.

Dom Bess is the team’s leading spinner and the only spinner in the primary squad. He will make the XI alongside Stuart Broad and James Anderson. Mark Wood is likely to pip Jofra Archer as the third seamer.

 England – Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Denly, Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes (c), Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Dom Bess, Mark Wood/Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

West Indies will bank on Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope for a majority of their runs. All-rounders Roston Chase and Jason Holder will form the backbone of the team. Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel will be joined by Alzarri Joseph to form the pace battery.

West Indies – Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich (wk), Jason Holder (c), Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph, Shannon Gabriel

Weather Forecast

The weather will be partly cloudy in Southampton during the course of the Test match, but rain hasn’t been forecast on either of the five days.

The temperature is expected to mild and not crazy cold so good for Test cricket.

Pitch Report

There has been no cricket played at the Rose Bowl in the English summer so the surface might have some extra ‘juice’ to play with. Both sides have fast bowlers who are able to exploit it. 

The Rose Bowl is traditionally a decent batting track but the skipper who wins the toss will probably still want to field first and exploit anything that is there in the surface first up.

Best Bets

Ben Stokes is the man for the big occasion and with even more responsibility on his shoulders, you would be silly for putting some money on him to perform with either bat or ball when it matters.

Ben Stokes Man of the Match at 6.00

Ollie Pope showed his exciting skill-set in England’s win in South Africa and he looks like a talent that will be on our screens for a long time.

Ollie Pope Top English batsmen 1st Innings at 7.00

Jofra Archer up against the Windies sounds very exciting and with a wicket that might have some spice, expect the young quick to fire if he plays.

Ollie Pope Top English Bowler 1st Innings at 3.50

Shai Hope scored two centuries in a memorable match for him in 2017 against England. He has since gone on to become one of the most exciting batsmen in world cricket but there is a feeling that more is to come or should come. 

Shai Hope Top English Bowler 1st Innings at 3.50

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