It’s been four months since anyone played any active international cricket anywhere on a sport-obsessing planet. Right? Well, in what can only be called a massive relief of sorts given the West Indies agreed to tour England, the first of the three games, part of the eminent Wisden Trophy in 2020, is all set to go live at Southampton, come July 8.
In that regard, all eyes will now be transfixed on the TV screens in what promises to be a a very exciting red ball series. Not only because it concerns one of the strongest current forces in the game- remember it was only a year back that England crowned themselves as champions of the world- but also because the West Indies aren’t anymore a lame outfit.
If you go back to the last edition of the eminent Wisden Trophy, then it wasn’t England who threw their arms around one of the sport’s most prestigious trophies but the West Indies, who redeemed themselves beating England by a 2-1 margin, in 2018.
But two years later, can one expect the tables to be turned? Well, that’s what England would hope given they’ve now picked a squad that’s all gung-ho for the opening approaching encounter at the famous Ageas Bowl, at Southampton.
Even though, there are plenty of youngsters in the squad, of the class and caliber of Rory Burns, Dom Bess, Dob Sibley, and Joe Denly, make no mistake. England have done well to ensure that there’s as much experience to back up all that exuberance and flair.
Ben Stokes is part of the squad, but of course, as are Chris Woakes, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
In all, it can be said that the hosts have picked a very experienced and fairly balanced line-up that, though has covered all corners, looks slightly bowling-heavy.
Will that be enough to counter the West Indian batting, the visitors recently participating in a couple of warm up games to free their arms and accustomed to what are exactly the opposite conditions to what they have at home- flat and not so friendly for seam-movement.
But can the Windies batsmen, a unit compromising of fine batsmen such as Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Jermaine Blackwood, and Kraigg Brathwaite- to name a few- muster up a mighty challenge against England’s feisty pace-attack?
Even if they don’t play Woakes, for instance, there’s always Ben Stokes who can round up as the third seamer to assist the ever-famous Anderson-Broad pairing.
On their part, there’ll be lots on Shai Hope and Roston Chase’s shoulders. While Hope has declared that the 2017 heroics- where he fired two-back-to-back tons at the famous Headingley Test- can be repeated, someone like vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite will have to really lift his game as well.
His form in the last two Test seasons has been anything but inspiring. Interestingly, the right-handed batsman known for his technical stronghold over batting fired 135 and 94 in the very Test the West Indies emerged victorious.
Moreover, it must also be noted that usual captain Joe Root will not be participating, 2019 Cricket World Cup’s most famous cricketing hero Ben Stokes will be captaining the side.
That said, here’s the complete squad that England announced for the West Indies Test:
Ben Stokes (c), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.