England aim to seal the Test series against the West Indies when they face the visitors on Friday at Headingley.
Joe Root’s men were utterly dominant in the first Test at Edgbaston – the first day-night Test ever played in the U.K. After some early wobbles as debutant Mark Stoneman and Tom Westley both went early, Alastair Cook (243) and Joe Root (136) cashed in on some lacklustre West Indies bowling to add 241 for the third wicket.
England’s score of 514/8 declared proved all too daunting for the Windies but there was still some hope that their young batting line up could provide some resistance. It failed to happen. West Indies mustered just 305 runs over two innings and folded all too easily to England’s rampant seam attack.
The defeat prompted several pundits to heavily criticise the Windies. Former England captain Michael Vaughan feared that the rest of the series would be ‘sad to watch’ and ex-Windies great Curtly Ambrose called their performance ’embarrassing’. It has also sparked the debate of whether there should be a two-tier Test system, such was the insipidness of the away side’s performance.
So although the second Test at Leeds is even further important, albeit less competitive, preparation for England ahead of this winter’s Ashes, it is perhaps an even more significant match for the West Indies. This is their chance to show that they have enough talent and mental toughness at their disposal to have a successful future in the Test arena. Though based on their display in the first Test, it would be fair to say they have it all to do.
Watch Out For:
The number three spot has been a problem area for England for some time and it’s a weakness that needs fixing sooner rather than later. Westley is the latest man to be tried in that role and, despite impressing with 25 and 59 on debut against South Africa, he is still yet to convince.
Since that first match at The Oval, Westley’s scores read 29, 9, 8. In addition, his method of working balls to his favoured on-side has recently proved his undoing. The Essex batsman’s dismissal to Miguel Cummins looked worryingly loose as he missed out on a golden opportunity for a big score. Still, he has two more Tests to do so and runs at Headingley will go a long way to securing his Ashes spot.
The West Indies bowling during England’s big first innings total was unthreatening, to say the least. Not only did it lack bite, but the seamers could not maintain an accurate line and length and were subsequently punished for it. The one exception from this, however, was Roach.
Playing his first test since January 2016, the 29-year-old looked far more threatening than any of his other paceman and was unlucky not to earn better figures than 2-86, such was the frequency that he went past the bat. Should he perform in a similar vein in the second Test, one would think he may have more success against England’s vulnerable top order in favourable Headingley conditions.
Joe Root named his England side on Friday afternoon, with the one change being Chris Woakes coming in for Toby Roland-Jones. That means James Anderson and Stuart Broad both play, despite suggestions that one of them could be rested.
West Indies coach Stuart Law emphasised the point about keeping faith in his side from Edgbaston but one would think there will be a change or two. Perhaps Shannon Gabriel or Devendra Bishoo will come in to add something extra to the bowling attack.
- Alastair Cook
- Mark Stoneman
- Tom Westley
- Joe Root (c)
- Dawid Malan
- Ben Stokes
- Jonny Bairstow (wk)
- Moeen Ali
- Chris Woakes
- Stuart Broad
- James Anderson
- Kraigg Brathwaite
- Kieran Powell
- Kyle Hope
- Shai Hope
- Roston Chase
- Jermaine Blackwood
- Shane Dowrich (wk)
- Jason Holder (c)
- Kemar Roach
- Alzarri Joseph/Devendra Bishoo
- Miguel Cummins/Shannon Gabriel