Yes! Time to play!

Southampton, July 6

When the gamers of England and West Indies stroll out on to the plush Ageas Bowl pitch on Wednesday, will probably be a landmark second for worldwide cricket after a 117-day hiatus.

It may even be a milestone within the profession of England’s talisman Ben Stokes as he captains the facet for the primary time.

The circumstances will likely be surreal, with the Covid-19 pandemic which means no followers will likely be current within the bio-secure setting — the one sounds would be the thump of leather-based on willow, the chit-chat between the gamers and a few piped-in crowd results.

Once the strangeness of the ‘new-normal’ sinks in, nevertheless, an intriguing collection appears to be on the playing cards between two groups ranked fourth and eighth on the ICC’s Test listing.

With England captain Joe Root lacking the match for the start of his second little one, Stokes will get to pit himself towards West Indies counterpart Jason Holder. Holder, embarking on his 33rd Test as captain, is first on the ICC’s all-rounder rankings whereas Stokes is second.

Both have comparable issues to unravel, particularly fragile batting lineups that may very well be on the mercy of top-class bowling assaults.

West Indies gained the final collection between the edges in 2018-19 on residence soil, however haven’t gained a collection in England since 1988.

They will likely be buoyed by nearly the identical tempo assault that England discovered such an issue within the Caribbean with Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Holder complimented by Bajan quickie Chemar Holder.

The batting is extra problematic and the type of Shai Hope, who scored two centuries when West Indies claimed a well-known victory at Headingley two years in the past, will likely be very important. Holder has barely made a run within the follow video games whereas a possible prime 5 of Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Hope and Roston Chase managed simply 29 runs between them in West Indies’ second intra-squad warm-up match.

With Root lacking, England’s shaky top-order will likely be beneath scrutiny. Rory Burns and Dom Sibley look set to open with Joe Denly or Zak Crawley prone to bat at 4. Whatever the pairings, West Indies bowlers will fancy their possibilities.

Stokes could have quite a few tempo bowling choices with James Anderson and Jofra Archer, each of whom struggled with accidents in England’s 3-1 win in South Africa, refreshed. — Reuters

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