MANCHESTER: England have their batsmen to blame for their 4-wicket loss in the opening Test of the series. This is, in fact, the eighth time that they have lost the first Test in their last 11 series. However, the team will have hope of bouncing back as they did after being 0-1 down in their last series against South Africa.
Dominic Sibley was the only England batsman who could not reach double figures among England’s top eight in the first innings, but none of their batsmen could convert the starts into a half-century. Likewise, the team lost 4 wickets within an hour in the last session of day 4 thus losing control of the match.
England’s priority would be to avoid batting collapses that have become a regular feature for the team, especially in their home conditions.
Joe Denly, who scored 18 and 29 in the last Test and has seen his average drop below 30, is set to make way for returning skipper Joe Root, who is coming back after the birth of his second child.
There could have been a case for him to retain his place but Zak Crawley top scoring with a classy 76 run-knock in England’s 2nd innings has cemented his place for the time being. With age on his side, Crawley will certainly pip Denly for the No. 4 slot and can turn out to be a good No. 3 option for England in the long run.
Jos Buttler also has pressure mounting on him with the wicketkeeper-batsman managing only one half-century in his last 21 Test innings.
Mark Wood bowled his heart out on the largely unresponsive surface of the Ageas Bowl but failed to back it up with numbers in the wickets column.
Much has been said about Stuart Board’s absence at Southampton which broke his 51 Test streak w.r.t home appearances. Despite conditions being more conducive for Wood’s style of bowling at Manchester, Broad is all set to join his bowling partner James Anderson in the playing XI.
West Indies had Kraigg Brathwaite absorb the pressure in the first inning while Jermaine Blackwood exceeded expectations with his composure in the second innings. All-rounder Roston Chase was crucial in stabilizing things for the side with scores 47 and 37 in the match.
While the WI pacers, particularly Shannon Gabriel, would have loved to have a couple more days to recover, with Rahkeem Cornwall and Chemar Holder as the only exciting options available on the bench, West Indies are likely to walk out on Old Trafford with an unchanged XI.
England – Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Root, Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes(c), Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler(wk), Dom Bess, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
West Indies – John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich(wk), Jason Holder(c), Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel