Nothing will be sweeter for the tourists and world cricket,If Holders men win the second test at Old Trafford Manchester.Time will freeze, history will travel along the memory lane to 1988 when last West Indies won a test series against England in England.
Very few die hard Caribbean cricket admirers gave their team any chance. But a rejuvenated, well drilled , committed West Indies proved many pundits wrong. Cricket admirers all over the world were perspiring for return of international cricket. The first test after forced COVID pandemic break at Rose Bowl, Southampton quenched full the insatiable thirst. In an wonderfully competitive test underdog West Indies turned the table on favourite England winning by 4 wickets in the last session of the last day . Tourists are now 1-0 . If they win at Old Trafford in the test starting today they will grab the series with the third on the same venue becoming a mere formality. England will definitely bounce back with vengeance. But it is also true that a desperate team is always vulnerable. Smart cricket may win the series for them if they can keep their composure.
Weather forecast shows lot of cloud over the first two days and some rain interruptions from day three . Old Trafford wicket favours spin but also a bit faster than Rose bowl. England will have their captain Joe Root back in action replacing Joe Denly in the top order . That will definitely boost English batting great deal. Moreover, Old Trafford is a happy hunting ground for him. England has already decided to rest Anderson and Wood. It goes without saying that grumpy Stuart Broad would be back. We are not sure however, whether resting Anderson is a right decision. Archer bowled fast and furious in Rose Bowl. But can Chris Wokes or Sam Curran do what Anderson could do in tandem with Broad ? West Indies can not be tamed with pace. In any case toss will be a very important factor. Team winning may be tempted to let opposition to bat . But considering the turn of Old Trafford wicket in the fourth innings on day four and five experts would suggest batting first . With Root back in the fold and Woakes or Curran being better batsman than Wood and Anderson England would definitely like to bat , put up a large first innings and pressurise West Indies. But under cloud cover Roach, Gabriel, Josef and Holder may not let them do it easy at all. West Indies may be tempted playing their tall spinner Rakheen Cornwall for the match. But in any case the ultimate outcome would depend on how West Indies bat . The bowling of teams have almost similar strength but English batting with Root back looks much better . West Indies however, have momentum in their favour. With tails up would not be surprised if West Indies win and wrap up the series.
Cricket is a funny game. In test cricket a team has to play consistently over the duration of the match. Having nose ahead through out four days but losing badly on the fifth day can also cost a team the match . If West Indies win the series it will be a big boost for their cricket. Since 1998 Sir Vivian Richards led West Indies team winning the series in England, West Indies could not win any series in England. Not that this team does not have the potential. The pace bowling is as good as any top team of the world at the moment. The batting may lack experience but has quality and class . We have seen great discipline and commitment. Holder showed the calm, cool leadership like Clive Lloyd. Let us see what turns at Old Trafford. English Lions would definitely roar back.
Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root, Ben Stokes , Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes/Sam Curran/Ollie Robinson, Dom Bess, 1 Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad
West Indies (possible):
John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich (wk), 8 Jason Holder (capt), 9 Alzarri Joseph, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Shannon Gabriel