England will look to continue their momentum from the series victory against South Africa as they play the West Indies in the first Test at Edgbaston – the first day-night Test to be played in the UK.
Joe Root’s men are on an upward curve following their success against the South Africans. Things looked bleak after a hammering a Trent Bridge but a combination of smart and skilful cricket earned them a 3-1 series win against the number two ranked side in the world.
England vs West Indies: First Test Preview
Several star performers from that series include Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, James Anderson and Root, who all led the side in exemplary fashion. There are still question marks over a number of positions, however, such as the opening partner for Alastair Cook, the number five slot and who will take their place as the regular third seamer in the side. England look in good shape but will want these conundrums solved before heading down under for the Ashes tour.
First, they face the West Indies who, despite being seen as easier opponents, are slowly emerging into a young, promising Test side. The batting is led by the solid Kraigg Brathwaite at the top of the order and the duo of Roston Chase and Jermaine Blackwood in the middle. Meanwhile, the away side possess an exciting bowling attack consisting of Shannon Gabriel, Alzzari Joseph and the returning Kemar Roach. They are also well led by Jason Holder and the 25-year-old will hope his side can start the series off on a positive note.
The addition of the pink ball will make for fascinating viewing too. Several of England’s squad have admitted to not having much experience with the pink ball and they will need to adapt quickly with more day-night Tests coming up on their winter schedule. West Indies, on the other hand, have had practice with the pink ball during their stint in the UK so far and could provide dangerous opposition under the Edgbaston lights.
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The merry-go-round continues. England are still yet to find a consistent opening partner for Alastair Cook and after Keaton Jennings was dropped following a sub-standard series against South Africa, Stoneman has been chosen as Cook’s twelfth partner at the top of the order.
Left-hander Stoneman’s place is warranted. He has enjoyed a fine season for his new county, Surrey, averaging 59.14 and scoring 828 runs – the second most in Division One. And should he make a strong contribution in his maiden international series, he could well seal a spot on the plane to Australia. England will hope he can provide some much-needed solidarity at the top.
West Indies may not have several, if any, superstars in their line-up but all-rounder Chase is fast becoming their key man. The 25-year-old has had a solid start to his Test career, averaging over 48 with the bat and has produced some stellar performances already. A classy right-hander who likes to play his shots, Chase warmed up for the series in style with an eye-catching century against Derbyshire at nearly a run-a-ball.
With the ball, Chase has had a far more up and down time of it but his off-spin not only offers a reliable option in that department but allows his side to play a fourth seamer – something that could prove crucial. He is a man that the West Indies hope will cause England plenty of problems.
Joe Root confirmed his England side on Wednesday, with Stoneman coming in for his debut and Dawid Malan keeping his place at number five. In the bowling, Toby Roland-Jones, who impressed hugely against South Africa, nudges out Chris Woakes as the third seamer.
For the West Indies, Kieran Powell showed good form in the warm-up matches and is expected to open with Brathwaite. Kyle Hope should also come in at three after his hundred against Derbyshire. The away side will have to decide between the experience of Kemar Roach or the pace of Miguel Cummins for the third seamer slot.
- Alastair Cook
- Mark Stoneman
- Tom Westley
- Joe Root (c)
- Dawid Malan
- Ben Stokes
- Jonny Bairstow (wk)
- Moeen Ali
- Toby Roland-Jones
- Stuart Broad
- James Anderson
- Kraigg Brathwaite
- Kieran Powell
- Kyle Hope
- Shai Hope
- Roston Chase
- Jermaine Blackwood
- Shane Dorwich (wk)
- Jason Holder (c)
- Kemar Roach/Miguel Cummins
- Alzzari Joseph
- Shannon Garbiel