COVID-19 had sucked the life out of sports since it affected the world – and almost everything else, for that matter – but everything seems to be coming back to normal right now. After months of inactivity in the sporting world, we seem to be returning to the pre-covid era, albeit without fans at the stadiums.
Top-level football has begun in Europe and now, international cricket is slowly starting to resume. It has been nearly 4 months without cricket – a long time for not only the players, but the fans of the gentleman’s game. All eyes will be at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on 8th July as cricket returns with the ‘truest’ form of the sport.
England will host West Indies in a three-match Test series, which would mark the start of top level cricket.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at how these two teams’ preparations have gone and how they could fare at the Rose Bowl to help you make your pick on 10CRIC for this match:
Both England and West Indies have some fantastic batters in their ranks but when it comes to strength in depth, the reigning World Champions are perhaps unmatched.
The hosts will have a plethora of talents to choose from. The likes of Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Ollie Pope, and Joe Root make them a formidable batting unit. On top of that, the presence of all-rounders Ben Stokes and Joe Denly provides another dimension to their arsenal.
For West Indies, all eyes will be on Shai Hope to carry the run-scoring mantle. He will be supported by the likes of Jermaine Blackwood and the newcomer Nkrumah Bonner, both of whom have been among the runs in the practice matches.
Apart of them, Kraig Brathwaite could also play a pivotal role in the team’s batting lineup as the 27-year-old has slowly risen to prominence for his side with the bat.
The addition of Shannon Gabriel will give the Windies a major boost. The disciplined pacer is coming back from an ankle surgery and has looked in good touch in the practice matches.
He will be accompanied by Kemar Roach, who is among the most-feared right-handed pacers in the world, captain Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, and Raymon Reifer.
Their trump card could be the uncapped Chemar Holder, who has so far been hidden from the limelight. Safe to say that West Indies have a solid pace attack heading into this Test series.
Their spin department, however, is not as good as their pace battery but given that the matches will be in England, a good pace attack shall suffice.
For the Englishmen, Stuart Broad will lead the bowling attack along with James Anderson, who seems like he has overcome his recent injury troubles in the last few months. The likes of Jack Leach, Jofra Archer, Saqib Mahmood, and Matthew Parkinson could also help the duo out.
Head to head
The two sides have faced off 157 times in Test cricket with England winning 49 times while losing 57 matches, with the rest of them being draws.
Although the overall history has favoured the team from the Carribbean, recent history pits them both more equally. In the last 10 Test matches that they played against each other, both the Windies and England have won four times, respectively, with the other two matches being draws.
England, however, have had the psychological edge in the last decade. They boast of a 6-year undefeated run against West Indies (February 2009 till May 2013).
West Indies were undergoing an overhaul at the time and they would be eager to point to recent history where they won the last Test series played on English soil (a 2-1 win in 2019).
Pitch to expect
While pitches in England tend to favour the batsmen, there is also a lot of juice for the pacers. The fast bowlers can expect the ball to carry to the wicketkeeper even on the last day of a Test match. With the likes of Jofra Archer and Kemar Roach in the mix, we could expect a lot of bounce being generated from the surface.
The pitch is expected to give as much, if not more, support to the batsmen, which could result in a high-scoring opening match this Test series.
You could know more about the match on 10CRIC, which would also allow you to put your money where your mouth is and win more than just pride! So, sit back and get prepared for the return of international cricket with this blockbuster tie.