Day-night Tests arrive on British shores as England prepare to take on the West Indies in a three-match series. The home team recently beat South Africa 3-1, putting on dominant displays of cricket in all the Tests they won. The Windies lost to Pakistan 2-1 back in April-May.
The first Test of the series will be only the fifth to be played with a pink ball under lights and the first to be played in England. The red ball has been scrapped in light of visibility issues, but several issues surround the feasibility of using the pink version which could play into the hands of a weak Windies squad against the third best Test playing nation in the world.
The last time these two met was for an ODI series back in March, and England defeated the then home side 3-0. Will this Test series be any different?
Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Dawid Malan, Toby Roland-Jones, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley, Chris Woakes.
Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach.
Where the Teams Stand
England need not worry too much about not having played with the pink ball before. Players like Ben Stokes have seen what it is like in domestic cricket although a lot of English players don’t seem to have positive opinions of it. Perhaps the most vocal critic so far, former England captain Paul Collingwood, has said the ball feels like plastic and does not come onto the bat easily.
Besides this, the ball also seems to deteriorate quickly, making it difficult for both batsmen and bowlers to play with. As per the rules, it needs to last 80 overs before the new ball can be taken. The ball swings sharply off the pitch for the first 10-20 overs before it loses its sheen, placing undue importance on the toss as both teams will want to bowl first.
England’s pedigree easily overwhelms the uncertainties and unpredictability of the behaviour of the pink ball. They possess a stellar lineup and playing at home is a bonus when you’re using a ball that does not assist the spinners as much as the red and white versions. On fast, bouncy pitches England will still hold the advantage coming into the game.
Chris Woakes’ return provides a boost to their bowling and batting departments, given the all-rounder’s versatility. Keaton Jennings will see himself replaced by Mark Stoneman while Dawid Malan and Mason Crane look most likely to miss out. If England plays the way they played against the Proteas, the West Indies’ team will find it very hard to succeed on foreign soil.
Joel Garner recently warned England against writing off the visitors under the unfamiliar conditions of day-night Test cricket. However, given the circumstances, it will take a Herculean effort for the West Indies to defeat or even force a draw against a resolute England team.
Kemar Roach is returning to the team after an 18-month absence from Test cricket thanks to impressive performances on the domestic circuit. The fast bowler’s services will be crucial in pace friendly conditions as the Caribbeans’ bowling is their only hope of the defeating England.
Shai Hope impressed with the bat against India before scoring a century against Derbyshire in the recently conducted practice match along with two other batsmen. The team will hope that these players can maintain their fine form against a much better bowling attack. Rovman Powell is another highly rated batsman who has the potential to be an X-factor in the series.
The West Indies will want to bowl first and hope that the swinging new pink ball troubles the England batsmen enough to give the visitors a few early breakthroughs to work with and gain an advantage on day one. Their brittle batting order is a cause for major concern, who will surely prefer an older ball to play against, something that will help them save the Test and earn at least a draw.
England should comfortably win this one in four days. They possess far too much depth in their ranks to lose.
Who do you think will come out on top in the first Test, England or the West Indies. Let us know in the comments below.
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