Birmingham: After an excellent 3-1 series win at home over South Africa, England is all set to host its first pink-ball Test under lights when the first of three Tests against Windies starts Thursday at Edgbaston.
England is currently ranked No. 3 in the world, it is upbeat after beating South Africa, and is playing in its own territory. Up against it is the No. 8 team in the world, a team that has won just two of the 15 Tests it has played in the last two years while losing 10. The Windies squad wears a careworn look, with experience at a premium in all departments.
The good news for the West Indies, though, is that most of its batsmen have been among the runs in the three practice matches it has played so far.
All of Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood and Shane Dowrich got at least one good score heading into the third game, against Derbyshire, where it upped the ante with Kieran Powell scoring 92 and 100 (retired), and Kyle Hope, Shai Hope and Chase all scoring hundreds in the first innings.
Along with the batsmen doing well, there was a satisfactory performance from Kemar Roach, the comeback man, who returned a five-for in the first game, against Essex. Roach last played Test cricket in January 2016, and if in rhythm, his contribution could be vital from Windies’ point of view in a pace attack that also has Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Miguel Cummins.
On otherhand, England looks strong with Alastair Cook and Joe Root the frontmen at the top of the order, with Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali the big men in the middle, and a strong bowling attack headlined by James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Toby Roland-Jones, Moeen and Stokes, and backup -- and possibly a selection conundrum -- in the form of Chris Woakes, who has recovered from injury, and Mason Crane, the highly-rated 20-year-old leg-spinner.
But Stuart Law, the Windies coach, had his focus trained on Mark Stoneman, the new opening partner for Cook, as well as Tom Westley and Dawid Malan, both greenhorns in the XI who haven’t yet cemented their spots.
England: Joe Root (capt), 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.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishooo, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope (wk), Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach.
Stats and trivia
August 17-21, 2017 (d/n)
Start time 1400 local (13:00 GMT)