International cricket is about to return after what seems an eternity and we cannot wait. There has been no cricket apart from a smattering of minor T20 or T10 Leagues since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us. This makes the series between England and West Indies more important than perhaps any other in recent history.
The world needs to see cricket being played without incidence so that we can slowly get back on track.
Will the importance of the situation get to the players? We have already from Stuart Broad about talking to psychologists. The lack of game time leading up to this series is another big unknown as well. Which team is likely to cope better?
Finally, we have seen home-advantage be very difficult to overcome in Test Cricket recently. Can the West Indies pull off something special against a strong England team? Let us attempt to preview the West Indies tour of England 2020 and predict what might be the result!
ENGLAND VS WEST INDIES 2020 SERIES PREVIEW
There are 30 players in England’s preliminary squad for this series and the entire summer. The list will be reduced to 15 or 16 for the first test after the intra-squad warm-up match is over. There is no way that England is going to be taking this series lightly.
Not only did England lose the previous series against West Indies 2-1 in 2019, but it has also lost at least one test match in the previous three series against the West Indies. Most of the team picks itself, especially the middle-order, however, there are a few important questions that England has to answer ahead of the first test match.
WHO IS ENGLAND’S TOP-3?
Joe Root seems set to bat at number four so England needs to decide its best top-3. In the fray are four players: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, and Joe Denly.
Neither of them has been a clear front-runner above the other and all have them are replaceable. In our opinion, one out of Joe Denly and Zak Crawley is going to miss out. We would pick Zak Crawley since he looked to be improving in every match and was scoring runs in Sri Lanka tour matches too but Joe Denly brings a toughness that may see him get the nod.
WHAT IS ENGLAND’S BEST BOWLING ATTACK?
18 fast bowlers have been picked in the 30 man squad. Yes, you read that right! This indicates that a lot of shuffling around will happen as the series progresses. Mark Wood picked up nine wickets in the previous match England so he really should be a sure pick.
With Jofra Archer returning, though, that is not the case.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad should find themselves in the team if they are fit. Sam Curran and Chris Woakes too are excellent in English conditions. Jack Leach will retain his place as the lone spinner even though Moeen Ali is back in the squad.
POSSIBLE ENGLAND PLAYING ELEVEN
Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Joe Denly, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Mark Wood, James Anderson, Stuart Broad.
The West Indies squad is missing a couple of important players who chose not to travel for personal reasons but most of its first-choice players are here. We have seen a steady improvement in West Indian cricket over the last few years as the problems between the players and the board have been resolved.
Most of the players in the 2020 squad tasted a brilliant test match victory at Headingly in 2017 as well.
The West Indies are up against a huge challenge in this series but taking them lightly is going to be a huge mistake. Just like England, though, the West Indies has a few important questions to be answered as well.
WHO APART FROM SHAI HOPE AND KRAIG BRATHWAITE?
To win in England, West Indies needs to score runs and a lot of them. Shai Hope and Kraig Brathwaite are the best batsmen of this squad by a fair distance. The absence of Shimron Hetmyer from the tour leaves a couple of spots that need to be filled.
We assume John Campbell is going to open the batting with Kraig Brathwaite while Roston Chase and Shane Dowrich are going to take their place in the middle-order. The injury concern over Jason Holder is pretty serious. If he is not available then the West Indies lose a front-line bowler and a dependable lower-order batter.
Assuming Holder makes it through, there is one spot open in the top-order. That will be one of Shamarh Brooks or Sunil Ambris. Both got runs in the first warm-up game and the player that bats better in the second one will get the nod.
The batting is definitely weak, though, and depends a bit too much on Hope and Brathwaite. Someone needs to have the tour of his life to make West Indies competitive.
IS THE WEST INDIES BOWLING ATTACK GOOD ENOUGH TO PICK 20 WICKETS?
At its best, it certainly is. They have Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph, Jason holder, and possibly Rakheem Cornwall to round out the lineup. That is pace, swing, consistency, all in the lineup.
The question is about consistency and staying fit. Shannon Gabriel is returning from injury and has been known to break down in the past. The West Indies could pick Oshane Thomas in his place, another genuine quick, but someone who can be very inconsistent.
Raymon Riefer poses an interesting choice as well. He picked up five wickets in the warm-up and brings a left-arm angle into the mix.
West Indies plays with Duke balls and so will be used to them in England. Overall, the injury cloud over Holder and Gabriel needs to clear otherwise the West Indian bowling attack could be crippled.
POSSIBLE WEST INDIES PLAYING ELEVEN:
Kraig Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Shane Dowrich, Rakheem Cornwall, Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel.
PREDICTIONS FOR ENGLAND VS WEST INDIES 2020
Series Result: 3-0 England
Most Runs England: Ben Stokes
Most Runs West Indies: Shai hope
Most Wickets England: Sam Curran
Most Wickets West Indies: Kemar Roach
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