Ben Stokes and Jason Holder. (Getty Images)LONDON: When the gamers of England and West Indies stroll out on to the plush Ageas Bowl pitch on Wednesday it will likely be a landmark second for worldwide cricket after a 117-day hiatus.
It may also be a milestone within the profession of England’s talisman Ben Stokes as he captains the facet for the primary time.
The circumstances will likely be surreal with the COVID-19 pandemic which means no followers will likely be current within the bio-secure surroundings — the one sounds being the thump of leather-based on willow, the chit-chat between the gamers and some piped-in crowd results.
Once the strangeness of the ‘new-normal’ sinks in, nevertheless, an intriguing sequence seems on the playing cards between the edges ranked fourth and eighth on the ICC’s Test checklist.
With England captain Joe Root lacking for the delivery of his second youngster, Stokes will get to pit himself in opposition to West Indies counterpart Jason Holder.
Holder, embarking on his 33rd Test as captain, is first on the ICC’s all-rounder rankings whereas Stokes is second.
Both have related issues to resolve, particularly fragile batting lineups that may very well be on the mercy of top-class bowling assaults.
West Indies gained the final sequence between the edges in 2018-19 on house soil, however haven’t gained a sequence in England since 1988.
They will likely be buoyed by just about the identical tempo assault that England discovered such an issue within the Caribbean with Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Holder complimented by Bajan quickie Chemar Holder.
“It’s an exciting time for us. We’ve got a group of fast bowlers we think can challenge any team in the world,” West Indies assistant-coach Roddy Estwick stated.
“The fast bowling is key to us and we’re beginning to get blessed again.”
The batting is extra problematic and the type of Shai Hope, who scored two centuries when West Indies claimed a well-known victory at Headingley two years in the past, will likely be very important.
Holder has barely made a run within the apply video games whereas a probable prime 5 of Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Hope and Roston Chase managed simply 29 runs between them in West Indies’ second intra-squad warm-up match.
With Root lacking, England’s shaky top-order will likely be beneath scrutiny. Rory Burns and Dom Sibley look set to open with Joe Denly or Zak Crawley prone to bat at 4. Whatever the pairings, West Indies bowlers will fancy their possibilities.
Stokes could have quite a few tempo bowling choices with James Anderson and Jofra Archer, each of whom struggled with accidents in England’s 3-1 win in South Africa final winter, refreshed.
One of the primary powerful selections he must make, alongside with head coach Chris Silverwood, is which of his seamers will miss out. Stuart Broad is near 500 Test wickets, the speedy Mark Wood has taken 18 wickets in his final three Test outings and Chris Woakes revels in English circumstances.