The first of the three match Investec test series was a lip smacking encounter that went down till the last day. Despite having dominated the match for the first three days, England faltered on day four, allowing visitors to came back strong, putting up a decent target for home team to chase and their bowlers picked up 2 quick wickets as day four came to an end. If it wasn’t for heroics from Alastair Cook and Ian Bell on the last day, the match could well have gone the West Indies’ way.
England have had a few days to regale themselves for the success, get glowing report cards and plan for the second test. They are going unchanged for the second test. The West Indies on the other hand have been relegated to understanding where they went wrong, rethink their batting order, summoning Tino Best to cover for the injured Shannon Gabriel and deal with over imposing questions regarding the possibility of Chris Gayle padding up for at least the third test if not the second.
The second test will be played at Trent Bridge and English fans are looking forward to a repeat of their home team’s success. Neutral fans and those more interested in an even matched battle of wits between both teams can take heart from the fact that the Windies came back strongly to fight on day four and five and if anything, with some luck going their way, one can expect a strong comeback from the islanders, if not a upset.
Named after the bridge over the river Trent that flows near by, Trent Bridge is regarded as one of the best grounds for cricket. The outfield is lush and shine on the ball lasts longer out here. The pavilion has an old architectural feel and despite a number of new developments, is renowned as a trademark of English cricket. West Indies haven’t played here since 1995 (skipping four tours in between) and will have to remain focused to get a hang of the conditions.
In recent times, the wicket has been extremely conducive to fast bowling and the English attack is in prime form. No West Indian batsman other than Shivnarine Chanderpaul has shown any grit or skill to hang in there and not throw away wickets, while Strauss, Trott, Cook and Bell (Bell scored half centuries in both innings of the first test) have been among the runs for England. Their bowling comprises Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and James Anderson have been bending their backs and getting good purchase. Coming back to the state of the wicket, it is pleasing to the pacemen, but if a batsman is willing to be patient and play according to the merit of a delivery, he is likely to see off initial hostility and go on to make a good score.
Head to head147th England v West Indies test match it will be, with West Indies leading 53 to 44 with 49 draws thanks to dominance they enjoyed two decades ago. In England, two teams clash for the 82nd time and England are marginally at 31 wins to 29 with 21 draws. At the venue, interestingly, home team have never beaten visitors. England have suffered defeats 4 times while 4 other tests were draw!
Playing XIsEngland has won all of 12 tests that Tim Bresnan has been part of but is that lucky fact enough for bulky right hander to retain his spot? he returned with 1 wkt for 56 overs for 144 runs besides a duck he made at Lord's. Graham Onions and Steven Finn are waiting in the wings and Proteas becon. Wouldn't be it good idea to give either of them a go?
England (likely) : Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonathan Bairstow, Matt Prior (wk), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and James Anderson.
Experience of Ravi Rampaul against raw enthusiasm of Tino Best over variation of Shane Shillinford is the decision Windies have to make. Rest of them did their job in previous test and a repeat performance will go a long way for them to do the unthinkable.
West Indies (likely) : Adrian Barath, Kieran Powell, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy (c), Kemar Roach, Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul.
Captain's speakAndrew Strauss is aware of visitor's ability, says - “West Indies put up a really good fight. There are times when they made life difficult for us and we were relieved to a certain extent to get over the line and win that game, but we’re also aware we have to do it again this week if we want to win” and he's also pleased to have finally got some runs, adding - “As I said at the time, it was a bit of a monkey off my back because people kept talking about it. But I’m obviously more conscious than ever that I need to contribute consistently; it’s not just about getting one score, it’s doing it again and I’ll be aiming to do that this week.”
West Indies captain is pondering thoughts of playing a spinner, saying “Most definitely, we’ll consider playing Shillingford. Looking at our attack, playing on flat pitches over the last year or so, a spinner has always been in our line-up, and we’ve gone with the two quick men and myself, and that has been successful for us. So we’ll definitely consider that and hopefully we can go out there and take 20 wickets against England” but he's also interested in bringing in Ravi Rampaul, adding “In the last year and half, Ravi has been the guy who always takes wickets with the new ball for us. The way Roach is bowling and the inclusion of Ravi, that could be a very good combination for us.”