Root, Old Trafford Cricket & Decisons Beckon England

Will Joe Root, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood all be picked at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground against the West Indies? Test match cricket England vs West Indies
PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 20: England captain Joe Root (l) shares a joke with Stuart Broad (c) and Mark Wood before Day Five of the Third Test between South Africa and England at St George's Park on January 20, 2020 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Ominous signs for England – Old Trafford Cricket Ground?

Test cricket made a bizarre yet triumphant return to the screens and radios of fans worldwide last Wednesday. On Thursday, The Old Trafford Cricket Ground will host the second test match between England and the West Indies.

England were outclassed by the West Indies’ Jermaine Blackwood in the fourth innings in-front of an empty Ageas Bowl on Sunday. It was a disappointing game for England who will once again be rueing a missed opportunity in the first game of a series. The entertaining spectacle the game made for will be scant consolation. 

The next few days will be spent watching over players in the nets with a multitude of players pushing for inclusion. This will be a tough ask for the English batting hopefuls with a number of rapid bowlers making their auditions. 

But how will they fare at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground?

Top Order

Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley are likely to open the batting at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground
CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA – DECEMBER 28: England batsmen Rory Burns and Dom Sibley reach their 50 partnership during Day Three of the First Test match between England and South Africa at SuperSport Park on December 28, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Who will open at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground?

Both Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley can consider themselves safe. They did an excellent job they did in laying a platform in the third innings of the last test. However, it was fairly rapidly squandered by the middle and lower order.

In a straight shootout (as we have been led to believe) for the number three spot, Zak Crawley came out a fairly convincing winner on Saturday. There was no comparison between the fluent and virtually chanceless 76 from the younger Kent man and the painful 29 eeked out by his senior.

This will perhaps not be the last we see of Denly in English whites. However, he can reasonably expect to remain nothing more than a stopgap for the foreseeable future. 

Captain Joe Root will make a welcome return to the number four berth after welcoming a new member into his family over the last week. Joe Root remains one of the finest batters in the world. His strike rotation will be invaluable for a top 4 which became rather bogged down last week.

Also, Read – Can Crawley Edge Out Burns Or Sibley?

Middle Order Stability

Ben Stokes bats at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton vs the West Indies
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 11: England captain Ben Stokes bats during day four of the 1st #RaiseTheBat Test match at The Ageas Bowl on July 11, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images for ECB)

The talismanic Ben Stokes may have lost his intriguing battle with opposition captain Jason Holder. However, he remains as ever a key cog in this England side’s success. His partnership with number six Ollie Pope will be a vital part of the middle-order ‘engine room’ for years to come. 

Jos Buttler endured a tough test with a poor shot in England’s second innings and a vital drop on the final day. Short of runs and confidence it would be kindest to let Buttler go back to doing what he does best in dominating white ball attacks. Meanwhile, Ben Foakes is one of the best wicket-keepers in the world. With a batting average of 41 and a man of the series award under his belt, he can count himself unlucky if not selected at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground.

Picking A Pace Attack For The Old Trafford Cricket Pitch

Will Jofra Archer be picked at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground?
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Jofra Archer of England celebrates with captain Ben Stokes after dismissing Roston Chase of the West during day five of the 1st #RaiseTheBat Test match at The Ageas Bowl on July 12, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images for ECB)

The bowling attack looked rather flat in the West Indies first innings. It was only a fiery spell from Jofra Archer which gave England hope of a victory.

With Archer being the only bowler capable of extracting some life out of the Southampton pitch it would be a shame to see him miss out at Old Trafford.

The exclusion of Stuart Broad for the first test was by common consensus a mystifying one. The England man will be chomping at the bit to prove his obvious worth this Thursday. If the selectors do truly believe in resting and rotating during this summer then Broad for Anderson would make sense on a more juicy Old Trafford pitch.

With England’s batting line up having seen more solid days, it is vital that the lower order is bolstered without losing bowling firepower. Over the last few years, Chris Woakes has proved that at home he is as dangerous as any bowling all-rounder to have played the game.

His height and accuracy will extract what bounce there is to be found at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground. A test match century in 2018 versus India helps his case with the bat.

Spin To Win At Old Trafford Cricket Ground?

Will the conditions for the second England vs West Indies test match be spin friendly?
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 10: Dom Bess of England celebrates with his team mates after taking the wicket of Jermaine Blackwood of the West Indies (not pictured) during Day Three of the 1st #RaiseTheBat Test Series between England and The West Indies at The Ageas Bowl on July 10, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images for ECB)

The spin bowling department is showing somewhat of an embarrassment of riches at present for England. This is not a feeling that English fans have grown accustomed to in recent years.

The Old Trafford Cricket Ground has often spun in the past. Players such as Nathan Lyon and Moeen Ali have done relatively well at this venue.

The man in possession – Dom Bess – made a promising contribution against the West Indies and seems secure for the remaining tests. Should any harm befall him during the next test however, Moeen Ali, Jack Leach and Amar Virdi will all be waiting in the wings.

After an excellent low scoring first test, the series is set up nicely. The return of England’s best batsman is perhaps ready to see what the West Indies have to throw at him. Another close encounter beckons on Thursday. The cricketing world will be tuning in to see what Holder’s men have in store for England.

So, how will England fare at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground? Will they fight back and level the series or will the West Indies triumph again?

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