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England vs West Indies preview: Part 1 - England

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Roar Guru
30th June, 2020
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Next Wednesday, England host the West Indies at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton for the first of three Test matches, with the other two taking place at Old Trafford in Manchester.

Both the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford have hotels on-site and so have been used to create bubbles.

England have not played a Test since January, when they toured South Africa, winning the four-Test series 3-1.

The shutdown has been a good thing for the team, with all players now at full fitness, which has created plenty of competition for a place in the final XI, which will be decided after a three-day intra-squad practice match at the Ageas Bowl this week.

Rory Burns has fully recovered from the ankle injury he picked up playing a game of football training for the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town. This means there are at least three batsman going for two opening spots.

Zak Crawley took Burns’ place at the top of the order, partnering Dominic Sibley, who has established himself as England’s number two batsman, scoring a century in Cape Town and averaging 40 in Tests.

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As Burns returns to the squad though, I would put him back at the top of the order in place of Crawley. Burns and Sibley look like the opening partnership that England have been crying out for.

Joe Root is set to miss the first Test to be present at the birth of his second child. In his place as captain will be current vice-captain Ben Stokes, who Root feels has said is more than capable of doing a good job.

Ben Stokes celebrates winning the third Ashes Test

Ben Stokes (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The West Indies are the current holders of the Wisden Trophy, having regained it at home last year in a challenging tour for England. Lessons have been learnt from that tour and England know not to underestimate their opponents.

While England are playing in their home conditions with the Dukes ball, they won’t have 100 per cent home advantage due to the series being played behind closed doors. The lack of crowds has already led Stuart Broad to consult a sports psychologist to help him create a good mindset when there’s no atmosphere to motivate him.

Next time, I look at how the West Indies have prepared for this series, having spent three weeks in isolation at Old Trafford after arriving in England on June 9.