Cricket: England vs West Indies
1st Test Match
Rose Bowl, Southampton: – 8th July 2020
International cricket returns for the first time since the COVID 19 pandemic took hold as England host the West Indies in the first of three test matches scheduled this summer. With not much cricketing action taking place anywhere in the world currently, it will be interesting to see where both sides are at and how much the traditionally unpredictable English weather impacts upon proceedings.
England are currently ranked as the 4th best Test side in the world and are notoriously strong on their home patch. They will be without skipper Joe Root for the first test, so will be under the stewardship of Ben Stokes for the first time in a 5-day game. At the top of the order, they look to have Dominic Sibley and Rory Burns as a set opening partnership whilst the likes of Joe Denly, Ollie Pope and Stokes himself make up the middle order. Dominic Bess is the surprise selection as the specialist spinner in the squad whilst Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad headline a formidable looking pace attack.
As the 8th best test team in the world currently, West Indies arrive in England with no real pressure on them. They have a relatively young squad and as always have plenty of exciting talents at their disposal. Captain Jason Holder is their talisman and he is currently ranked as the best all-rounder in the world game. At the top of the batting order, Shai Hope has a superb record in England and will relish the conditions. Whilst their bowling attack is as revered as any across the world with Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph all known for their lightening pace – which should give English batsmen a few sleepless nights.
Match Betting Tips
Whilst it would be a serious long shot, no side has any huge form to go off here and with the bowlers having been able to practice before the batsmen in England, runs could be hard to come by.
Surrey youngster Ollie Pope has continued to develop into an important part of England’s middle order and looked impressive in the warm-up games – suggesting he is in decent form currently.
Veteran seamer Jimmy Anderson hasn’t been fit and firing in test match cricket for over a year and he will be chomping at the bit to get back out there and take wickets.
Since scoring his incredible two centuries against England in 2017, Shai Hope has struggled for red-ball form, but he is deadly on his day and could pose a few problems for England here.
With pace to burn, Kemar Roach has taken over 190 test wickets and few bowlers embrace the challenge like he does – meaning he is always a threat and always in the game.
With both sides having been absent from top-level cricket for a few months, it could be a slow burner down at Southampton but England are consistently good at home and they should come through here against a dangerous West Indies side.