West Indies vs. England – A preview of sorts..

In the not too distant past, an upcoming tour to the West Indies would have garnered a lot of noise and a lot of media attention in the build up to the series. Fortunately or Unfortunately, I was not old enough to witness the almost unbeatable West Indies sides of the late 70’s and 80’s, though they had a pretty handy side during the 90’s though probably not quite on the level as their predecessors and hence there would naturally be a lot of excitement about such a tour coupled with a lot of trepidation from the fans (and probably the players) about facing such a strong side in what used to be a trial of pace on quick, bouncy wickets. I have not so fond memories of Messer’s Ambrose & Walsh destroying the English batting line, with the 46 all out in Trinidad during the 3rd Test in 1994 being the nadir. I remember Lara destroying the English bowling unit time after time and stroking the ball to all and every part of the ground, and it was not just Lara, but also the likes of Carl Hooper, Jimmy Adams, Richie Richardson and a certain young chap called Chanderpaul who regularly put England to the sword. I clearly remember the grubber that Hooper bowled Hussain with, the unplayable pitch at Sabina Park in 98, which even with my medium paced dobbers, I’d have fancied taking a few wickets on and then in 2004 the famous Harmison 7-12 bowling spell back at Sabina Park in 2004.

When I was growing up in the late 80’s and early-mid 90’s, the West Indies were most people’s favourite cricket team aside from England and certainly each series was seen on a similar footing to the Ashes with similar expectations that we were likely to get a hammering in the series. It didn’t matter though, because the West Indies bought their own culture, their own flair and of course a fair share of world class talent to each series and even now I wish that I had managed to find a way to afford a West Indies tour in the late 90’s/early 200’s. There are still those out their that claim the standard of Test cricket hasn’t gone down and that averages of those bowlers and batsmen have improved due to better skill, better train and more longevity in the game. This tends to be the fall back answer from most Sir A. Cook apologists though I would personally have loved to see how he fared against Holding, Garner, Ambrose, Walsh or Marshall – not very well I would guess. I could also say the same for Jimmy and not having to bowl to the likes of Sir Viv, Haynes, Greenidge, Richie Richardson, Lara etc. which would probably merit similar results. The West Indies teams of the 70’s, 80’s and mid 90’s are the type of team we’ll never get to see again in our lifetimes, which is reflects terribly badly on the WICB, ICC and the whole of International cricket and something us true cricket fans continue to mourn.

This brings me back to the upcoming Test series, which unless you were really studying social media or sky, might have passed you by as starting tomorrow. Sure there are no Lara’s or Ambrose’s of the world still playing for the West Indies, but the lack of coverage of what used to be a marquis series up until a few years ago is truly astounding. Then again, perhaps it really isn’t astounding at all. The WICB are skint and incompetent and have struggled to find any sort of world class talent in their ranks for a number of years and generally those that they do find who are international class are normally hounded out by the board or prefer to take the money that the various domestic T20 tournaments can offer. As for England, we have an administration that is so focused on getting a white elephant form of the game through (so much so, that I can barely call it cricket) to supposedly attract new fans to the game, when all of the international and county fixtures are behind a paywall and lost to the masses coupled with the depth of newspaper and magazine journalism is at it’s weakest in living memory. Sure I can hardly call the likes of Mike Selvey, Derek Pringle and Stephen Brenkley investigative journalists as they generally wrote around whatever suited their agenda or in particular the agenda of the ECB, but at least they were writing to a national audience about the sport. Nowadays aside from the likes of Nick Hoult, George Dobell, Ali Martin and Lawrence Booth in his Wisden role there are no other cricket dedicated, serious journalists left in the national eye (anyone who claims Paul Newman, Dean Wilson & John Etheridge are serious journo’s needs their head examined, I mean would readers of the 2 papers said latter people write for really notice if they weren’t there?). Anyway I digress. The main point here is that cricket is becoming such a niche sport that in a few years time will anyone be on hand to write to about it? This is not meant as a slight on the individuals that play for the England team. I think many are talented just not at a world class level, and naturally they still train as hard as ever to keep their places in the side and there certainly don’t seem to be as many ‘dickheads’ floating around as previous tours gone by (Stuart Broad naturally excepted), but I do really find it difficult to both identify with and even like. Maybe it’s just me, but their disappearance from the national eye coupled with the malicious incompetence of our own governing board leaves me very ‘meh’ these days, which is probably another reason why our output on the blog has gone down over the last 6 months or so.

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England go into the first Test as strong favourites for the series and thankfully Colin Graves has been locked away in his cupboard to prevent giving the opposition so more motivation to perform, though Geoffrey Boycott seems to have weighed in on his behalf, let’s just hope the West Indies don’t read the Telegraph! Though England are favourites for the series, I don’t see it being all one way whatsoever as recent past tours to the Caribbean can attest to, as the West Indies can still perform above their level on their day. Shai Hope is a talent and I personally think Royston Chase will have a good series, meanwhile with the ball the West Indies have a couple of quick but very inconsistent fast bowlers as well Jason Holder, who is one on those players who has sucked every ounce of his talent out to be successful in Test cricket and someone I hold in high stead given the way he has handled the basket case that is the WICB.

As for England, they would have hoped that with the modified duke ball, they would have been able to go with their preferred balance of four quicks and a single seamer for the majority of the series with the view that they should be able to do more with the Duke ball than they would with the kookaburra. Having said that the England team having seen the state of the pitch in Barbados, which looks like it had animals grazing on it only a couple of days ago, might well be favoured to go with 2 spinners. One would imagine that the top 7 from the final Test in Sri Lanka will probably be in place for the whole series barring injury or a complete loss of form and one would imagine that Jimmy, Broad and Stokes will be the mainstay of the fast bowling attack with Moeen favoured over Leach should England go with one spinner. The final call I would imagine would be the inclusion of Sam Curran, who has already shown his maturity and aptitude for Test cricket and would be terribly unlucky to miss out or Leach if they think the pitch will take turn later on in the game. Naturally I would very much like to see Sam Curran included in the final XI, but not if it harms England’s ability to put their best side out with regards to how the pitch will play.

Naturally, we will try to cover each day’s play throughout the series, but that might mean that some reviews are posted the next morning (or not at all if we’re all tucked up) owing to the late finishes. Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the game or anything I have commented on above…

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21 thoughts on “West Indies vs. England – A preview of sorts..

  1. nonoxcol Jan 22, 2019 / 7:23 pm

    While not disputing anything you have written, I just wanted to add that England haven’t won in the West Indies since the GBH tour in 03/04, that said tour remains their only victory there in my lifetime, and that they’ve won only one of eight completed Tests in the West Indies since Thorpe’s magnificent innings and Hoggard’s hat trick in Bridgetown 2004.

    (They have won at least one series everywhere else* since, except UAE/Pak)

    *main 9 nations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean Jan 22, 2019 / 7:27 pm

      Absolutely agree, we have a terrible record over there. I think what I was trying to allude to is that England should have won the last two Test series over there, if you look at talent alone.

      I personally think it will be a tight series and I certainly wouldn’t rule out a drawn series.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jan 22, 2019 / 9:32 pm

        It’s funny how the media glossed over Cook’s tour last time when we were told it would be a walk in the park, but somehow England’s greatest cricketer couldn’t secure the win,

        As I have said before he had the easyIst job in sport. Praised to the heavens when he won, and never to blame when he failed.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 22, 2019 / 10:10 pm

          Because he finally got that ton after nearly two years, in the test we lost, and that was all that mattered.

          Note to Sean. There are, reportedly, 35 English journos out there. Funny that.

          Like

          • Sean Jan 22, 2019 / 10:13 pm

            Well who wouldn’t want a free trip to the Caribbean??

            Like

          • Mark Jan 22, 2019 / 10:44 pm

            35 journalists and they think, and write exactly the same opinion. What a waste of money. You could have sent just one.

            Liked by 1 person

          • psoans Jan 23, 2019 / 4:30 am

            What would be the fun in that? If England play two spinners then there will be questions on the future of Broad and the rise of Curran. If Adil Rashid is chosen and fails then the same story of white ball cricket will rise up like infected zombies. The openers will either be praised or crucified. Baristow will make comments on wanting the gloves back. If Foakes doesn’t do well then everyone will be screaming to give the gloves back to him.

            Like

          • Sean Jan 23, 2019 / 9:08 am

            Psoans – don’t forget the howls for Cook to unretire and lead the team to glory 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  2. psoans Jan 22, 2019 / 9:00 pm

    I do think the series will come down to which of spinners bowl better and consequently which team will play spin better. If Windies have to win then they will need Holder, Dorwich and Chase to play really well. I do not want to make a call on what England have to do to win it as I do not want to jinx them. I cannot help that I am slightly superstitious🤞. My concern though is what would the state of Broad be if he is not chosen in the XI.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rooto Jan 23, 2019 / 10:18 am

    Always worried about being patronising, but I’m supporting the likeable underdogs. Despite their toxic administration, so I suppose I’m guilty of a little hypocrisy!

    Like

  4. Sean Jan 23, 2019 / 1:56 pm

    So Broad has been dropped, not sure I agree with that decision! Still it should be fun watching him with the double teapots on the balcony…

    Like

    • Metatone Jan 23, 2019 / 3:00 pm

      I’m far from Broad’s biggest fan, but I think this is a bad call.
      Curran has made some parts of Test cricket look easy, but many of those moments have been with the bat. I’m not sure he’s ready to open the bowling.

      Like

      • Sean Jan 23, 2019 / 4:21 pm

        Agreed. I’m at work so haven’t seen a ball, but from the commentary i’ve seen it seems like England have misread this pitch pretty badly..

        Like

        • Sophie Jan 23, 2019 / 4:57 pm

          On the plus side, with Broad not playing, they got 30 overs in before lunch.

          Liked by 1 person

        • dannycricket Jan 23, 2019 / 5:10 pm

          I’m not sure they have. Not much swing, not much spin, England don’t really have many bowlers available who could thrive in these conditions because they injure them all. I doubt Broad would be significantly more effective than Curran, or Leach more troubling than Moeen or Rashid. Wood, I assume, is either injured or recovering from injury and so wouldn’t be at his best.

          Had Root won the toss, two spinners would have been a fine choice. As it is, unless the pitch breaks up quickly I suspect England will be playing for the draw.

          Like

          • sidesplittin Jan 23, 2019 / 11:39 pm

            Oppo eight down after winning the toss after Day 1 and “Eng will
            be playing for the draw”

            Like

          • dannycricket Jan 24, 2019 / 8:27 am

            Well yes, to be fair I posted that before Anderson took 4 wickets after Tea.

            Like

  5. Benny Jan 23, 2019 / 3:31 pm

    I’m sitting here contentedly, in the warm, beer in hand, watching on TV. I tend to forget about the incompetent administrators once the game begins. I’m certainly more interested in this England team, coincident with Cook’s retirement and Whittaker’s removal.

    True that the great Windies team gave us gripping cricket. Cricket needs brilliant players. As ever, I live in hope that the Windies will rise again and I thought Campbell was looking very promising till he got out.

    Like

  6. Miami Dad's 6 Jan 23, 2019 / 5:48 pm

    A few noises about the substandard preparation in terms of facilities available over there. I wonder if anyone at the ECB thought, perhaps, about distributing some of the vast wealth in the sport towards the smaller nations so they could invest in those sort of things. Or thought that actually, you might need an opposition to play the game. I never blame the individuals, but Archer, Jordan…they’d certainly improve the West Indian squad.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mark Jan 23, 2019 / 9:55 pm

    The Agnew/Broad connection never stops does it?

    The ECB has denied the allegations of players preparations being disrupted by bedbugs…..

    “”He has got some terrible bed-bug bites, and on quite a sensitive area, which I inspected yesterday on the outfield,” Agnew said, adding that he had been tipped off to the incident by Broad’s mum.”

    How chummy they are all are? Remember the KP genius twitter account business when Agnew claimed that the twitter account was not run from the England dressing room? How did he know?

    How did know there were bed bugs?

    The England team does not leak, or something. Have another slice of buttery cake.

    Like

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