West Indies to provide Joe Root’s in-form England side with fresh test

first_imgWest Indies cricket team features Share on Facebook “Pride and Industry” is the national motto of Barbados and they are words that run through Jason Holder, the West Indies captain who hails from the island, like those in a stick of rock. It helps that the 6ft 7in right-armer is in the form of his life too, having spent 2018 taking 33 Test wickets at 12 runs apiece.With the brawny Shannon Gabriel set to hit splices hard and Kemar Roach having successfully converted himself into a bowler of high skill after losing the pace that once sent Ricky Ponting to the hospital with a broken elbow, England’s batsmen face a significantly different challenge from Sri Lanka provided the pitches are not dull.The question will be whether the home side’s batting, recently refurbished with a recall for Darren Bravo and two uncapped players in John Campbell and Shamar Brooks, stands up to scrutiny. Shai Hope, the Bajan right-hander who made his debut at the Kensington Oval four years ago – but his name with twin hundreds at Headingley in 2017, – will be the most prized wicket and Shimron Hetmyer, the destructive Guyanese, is another to watch.If England keep that pair quiet, and play judiciously with the bat themselves, then the hordes of supporters who stroll off the planes and giant cruise ships and into the region’s so-called mecca of cricket should have plenty to sing about. Two years ago Eoin Morgan’s surging one-day side broke new ground when completing a 3-0 clean sweep in bustling Bridgetown, an important staging post in their rise to No 1, even if the opposition were suffering in the format. But in Test cricket the most recent visit to these shores offers a useful reminder that it remains a tough citadel to storm.Bowled out for 123 in their second innings en route to a five-wicket defeat, Alastair Cook’s side blew the chance to take the 2015 series and had to settle for a draw. There were consequences for a set-up still reeling from an abject World Cup too, chiefly the botched sacking of Peter Moores as head coach less than a week later in Ireland.There are six English survivors from that match – Root, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson – who will doubtless be warning the others against complacency. But after the 3-0 win in Sri Lanka last November, four days spent dismantling a West Indies Board President’s XI during the week and with a heavily-lacquered Dukes ball they fancy should swing a good while, optimism seemingly abounds.Having whittled the squad down to a 12, Root and the head coach, Trevor Bayliss, will examine the pitch at training this week and make their final selection. It appears to be between the left-arm swing of Sam Curran or Adil Rashid’s leg-breaks, with Broad and Anderson back in tandem here following bit-part roles on the last tour. Either call would see England bat all the way down to No 9, but it is the top, not the bottom, that will be under the microscope this series.Despite looking to divert talk away from the Ashes this summer, Root admitted he had been keeping a close eye on Australia’s recent defeat by India and he will be keen that Keaton Jennings and Rory Burns cement their opening partnership before those particular hostilities resume. 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Jack Leach and Adil Rashid may become victims of England’s strength in depth Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Topics Reuse this content Share on Messenger Read more England in West Indies 2019center_img Trevor Bayliss hopes for England Ashes and World Cup double before he quits England cricket team Share on WhatsApp Over the next few days an estimated 9,000 England supporters will have arrived in Barbados, packing out the hotels, bars and sun-kissed beaches before descending on the famous Kensington Oval for Wednesday’s first Test against West Indies.They would come in their droves regardless of England’s chances, such is the appeal of the Caribbean island known colloquially as “Bim”. But the expectation among them this time is that a team starting to play in the image of its captain, Joe Root, will begin an all-important 2019 by making it successive series victories away from the cold back home. Cricket Support The Guardian Share on Twitter Share via Email For all the negativity that can surround West Indies at times the Caribbean remains verdant by way of cricketing talent. The challenge is still how this gets channelled through the sport’s three different formats given a global economic landscape that can often feel heavily stacked against the region.Richard Pybus, an Englishman with a relatively low profile at home after forging his career overseas, was in charge of this as the West Indies director of cricket until 2016, but he has now returned as the national team’s interim head coach to a touch of disquiet following the suggestion he was unilaterally hired by the board president, Dave Cameron.On Friday night, as the early travelling supporters were heading to Oistins Fish Fry for a evening of fresh food and rum punch, Cricket West Indies felt moved to issue a statement reaffirming that the appointment met standards of good governance. Enoch Lewis, the Leeward Islands Cricket Board president who has been most vocal in the criticism, was also to be referred to its ethics committee.While this all sounded a bit 1984 – the book, sadly, not the year of the 5-0 whitewash of England under Clive Lloyd – the team itself, though fresh from a recent 2-0 defeat in Bangladesh after crumbling against spin, are not to be underestimated at home. England, after all, have won only a single Caribbean Test series (2004) in the last 51 years. Former West Indies coach Stuart Law says old charges can trouble England Read more Since you’re here… The Observerlast_img read more