International cricket will finally return tomorrow after four long months when England take on the West Indies in the first test at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.

Several measures were taken to ensure the series is played.The West Indies(now Windies) arrived in Manchester, early in June to complete their 14-day quarantine period.The three match series will be played in a bio-secure bubble which means the players won’t be allowed any outside contact. All 702 officials involved in this Test match have tested negative for Covid-19.These matches will be played behind closed doors with no spectators in the stands.

Meanwhile,the ECB named 55 players who resumed practice in their respective counties last month.

Image courtesy:@englandcricket

Both teams will don the black lives matter logo to show their support for the cause and the #Raisethebat series has been named to thank the NHS and key workers.

Weather forecast and Pitch:-

The maximum temperature hovering about 21° celcius in the day and sunny weather throughout the week make it ideal conditions to play the 5 day format.

This game between England and the West Indies will be the first match of the summer therefore you can expect the pitch to have some zip for the new ball bowlers.The next few days will be the best for batting and the spinners will come into play towards the end of the test match with the track likely to slow down and yield uneven bounce. Much like the last test match played here between England and India where Moeen Ali picked up nine wickets including a fifer in the first innings.England have played 3 tests here, winning 2, losing none and drawing 1.

Previous result:-

West Indies won the last test series against England by a margin of 2-1 back at home last year.

Image courtesy:@icc

Team combinations:-

West Indies:

Potential five batsmen for the West Indies including Brathwaite, Campbell, Brooks, Hope and Chase struggled in the practice match at Manchester.The top four have average 21.23 since 2018 making it the lowest in comparison with any team.Two of their highest run scorers, Dowrich and Holder are the only ones averaging above 30 coming in at 6 and 7.

Their bowlers, on the other hand have been a revelation. Their lethal pace attack including Holder, Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph have scalped 177 wickets in 15 test matches(since January 2018) at an average of 21.78 which is second only to India.Andy Roberts believes Roach is the best bowler to left-handers.He would be up for the challenge against England.

Trivia: Kemar Roach will be the first West indies Bowler to reach 200 test wickets since 1992.He needs 7 more to achieve this feat.

England:

The Three Lions have named a strong 13- man squad for Wednesday’s opener.Ben stokes will become the 81st Test captain for England as Root opts out of the test match to be available for the birth of his child. Bairstow and Ali, both miss out on a spot but it doesn’t come as a surprise with Jos Butler already being the first- choice keeper and Ali making himself available for the first time since the Ashes last year.

England will play 6 specialist batsmen, a keeper and 4 bowlers which means the only spinner Dom Bess will make the cut in the eleven along side three pacers so two of them will sit out.

This is Englands dillemna.They have got five world-class quicks to pick from.Wood was the man of the match in the last test they played in South Africa picking up 9 wickets and he has increased his pace upto 90 miles an hour and Archer’s been impressive in his first year of International cricket. Anderson and Broad lead the attack and not to forget Chris woakes’ skills with the ball and usefulness with the bat down the order.

However, according to a report in The Guardian, “Stuart Broad is likely to miss the first test as England want to unleash Wood and Archer at the earliest.”If this statement stands true, Broad will be dropped for the first time in 8 years in a test match played at home.

Their batting is inexperienced but well-settled with Burns and Sibley opening the innings followed by Kent’s Zak Crawley. Ollie Pope who will play in Root’s position. Denly, Stokes and Butler taking care of the lower-middle order

Trivia: Jimmy Anderson @584 test wickets is 16 dismissals away from reaching 600 test match wickets at 4th place.He’s only behind Anil Kumble(619),Shane Warne(708)and Muttiah Muralitharan(800).

ICC’s New Rules post the pandemic(in short):-

1.Ban on applying saliva to shine the ball.

2.No neutral umpires to avoid influx of foreign population.

3.Players showing symptoms of the disease can be replaced by other players much like how concussion substitution works.

4.Sponsor’s logo allowed to be displayed on the front side of the kit for the next 12 months.

5.An extra DRS for both sides.

Anderson(above) along with the other england players wore the kit displaying their sponsor in the intra-squad practice game last week.image courtesy:@englandcricket

Stats Courtesy: cricbuzz

I hope it’s an exciting series! Thank you for reading this blog.The next one will be posted soon.