Lord’s, 1973, the third Test versus England – Garfield Sobers closes a day’s play on 31 not out.
In the second of my articles previewing the upcoming Test series between England and the West Indies, I focus on the West Indies and how their preparations for this series have gone.
I would like to add my thanks to Cricket West Indies for agreeing to tour England in these difficult times.
The West Indies team have been isolating and training at Old Trafford for just over three weeks and have settled in well to their new home from home. They played a three-day intra-squad practice match last week and are playing another intra-squad game at the moment.
The West Indies have brought their youngest Test team ever with them to England. Their 25-man squad consists of a 14-man Test squad and 11 reserves. The Test squad is as follows: Jason Holder (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich (wicketkeeper), Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer and Kemar Roach.
The last tour of England by the West Indies was a memorable one for Shai Hope, who is named in the Test squad. Hope scored a century in each innings at the Headingley Test, the first time a batsman had done so at Headingley in first-class cricket.
The West Indies come into this series as the holders of the Wisden Trophy, having regained it on home soil in 2019. Their victory margin in the first Test was their biggest as they won by 381 runs.
Retaining the trophy would be a big achievement for the West Indies as, despite a few blips here and there, England are strong when playing in their own backyard.
The last time the West Indies retained the Wisden Trophy was back in 1998 when the team featured greats such as Brian Lara, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.
That golden age of West Indies cricket is long over. However, the current squad is strong, particularly in terms of the bowling attack, led by Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel, which should help make this series a close one.
The West Indies should not be underestimated. The hosts’ opening partnership is still in its infancy and any cracks in the top order could well be exploited by the likes of Roach and Gabriel.
The West Indies have not scored a single point in the World Test Championship and they haven’t played many Test matches in the past 12 months. The last Test match they played was against Afghanistan last November.
So while there is hope that this West Indies side can give England a run for their money, it still feels like they are the underdogs going into this series, which gets underway at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Wednesday.