A three-match Test series between West Indies and England has come down to one match which begins in Grenada on Thursday and offers both the chance of a series win and World Test Championship points to both sides.
I think it is fair to say that what we have seen so far in the series hasn’t been the easiest watch of all time but there is a chance that we will be rewarded for staying with it if the decider is the tense and dramatic conclusion it promises to be.
We said after the opening match that while West Indies haven’t been in any danger in the series they would probably have preferred more life in the wickets to allow them to try and impose themselves on proceedings a lot more than they have been able to. In reality they have been forced to hold on in both matches having lost the toss but while they would have wanted to be on the front foot, they should be content that they have never really been in danger of losing on either occasion.
Given the two pitches that has been delivered in this series it is hard to judge the home side. The one thing you would say is that they could do with a better spin option than they have had so far, especially if there isn’t anything in the wicket for the seamers. The other thing you could suggest is that they will need someone other than the captain to stand up and be counted so the form of Jermaine Blackwood in Barbados will be welcome.
While they haven’t been able to get the job done in either match so far I think there have been plenty of positives for England in the opening two games. The obvious one is the fact that they have scored 300 and more in all three full innings they have embarked on. The other positive is that despite there being nothing in the pitch on both occasions Joe Root has urged his team to get into a position from where they had a chance to win the match. He still has a lot of work to do as a captain but that is a good improvement.
The big concern for England is their attack. While the pitches haven’t been up to much in terms of producing a result, the likes of Chris Woakes looks incredibly flat and not much use really. Most of the England batters have scored runs in this series so far so if there is something for the bowlers then you would imagine the tourists will be in a good place to fashion themselves a chance of winning the contest. That help is needed though.
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There is talk that West Indies could make a couple of changes to their XI for this match which would see Kyle Mayers coming in for Shamarh Brooks and Anderson Philip replacing the youngster Jayden Seales. Whether those changes happen or not remains to be seen.
England are expected to make one change to their side but with Ollie Robinson seemingly not fit again it will be Craig Overton who comes in for Matt Fisher, who didn’t do a lot wrong on debut in Barbados but who wouldn’t have played there if Overton wasn’t ill on the day of the game.
The performance line of Ben Stokes is up at 137.5 which is heading towards the higher end of the spectrum that I am comfortable taking but it isn’t quite there yet because the England all-rounder looked at his very best in Barbados. He abandoned that silly block everything that comes at him policy he has begun to adopt with the bat and flourished accordingly and you sense he’s only going to get better with the bat if he continues to do that.
Where he has been really impressive in this series is with the ball and if the prognosis of this pitch having a little more pace in it is true then he is entitled to be even more dangerous. England will need him to be because Chris Woakes has shown nothing overseas and the jury is well and truly out on whether Craig Overton is good enough at Test level. Joe Root has trusted Stokes to bowl a lot of overs so he should take wickets here. He’s never out of the play with regards catches either so even an average game gets him above this line but if he inspires with either bat or ball he’ll cover it comfortably as he did in Barbados.
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