England vs West Indies, 3rd Test – Preview

Just a few days ago, England looked like they would fail to win the series and regain the Wisden Trophy. Now, you’d have to say they must be considered clear favourites to overcome their loss in the first Test and come out victorious again at Old Trafford.

The key difference between the two teams in this game is their bowling attacks. England have a choice from six pace bowlers for three available slots, assuming Stokes and Bess both play. None of the six have played in back-to-back Tests in this series and so should be fit and raring to go. If anything, there is too much choice for the England camp. Woakes and Broad both bowled superbly in the last game, and so it would be incredibly harsh to leave either of them out, but selecting both would mean only picking one of Anderson (at his home ground) and Archer. The suggestion has been floated that England might forgo playing with a specialist spinner altogether, instead opting for an all-pace attack with Root as a stand-in spin option. I personally can’t see it happening, but it would certainly be interesting to watch.

For what it’s worth, I would pick Archer, Bess, Broad, Stokes and Woakes for this Test, from the announced matchday squad. Broad and Woakes demonstrated their ability in Mancunian conditions last week, taking 11 wickets at a combined average of 16.73. Archer and Stokes are, for me, the most challenging two English bowlers with the older ball. That would mean leaving out Jimmy Anderson (587 career Test wickets, has a stand at Old Trafford named after him), Sam Curran (Makes Things Happen) and Mark Wood (By far the least effective England bowler so far in this series).

England’s batting lineup will continue unchanged from the second Test. This is unsurprising, as they have been very effective so far in 2020. Their top six of Sibley, Crawley, Stokes, Pope and at least two of Root, Burns and Denly have combined to lead England to innings totals over 400 four times in the last eight Tests, plus 391/8 declared in Cape Town. To put this achievement into context: From the 2017/18 Ashes to the 2019 Ashes, in twenty-six Test matches, England managed to reach 400 runs only three times.

For the tourists, the picture is somewhat less rosy. Having chosen to play an unchanged side in the second Test, the West Indies must now either pick a bowling attack which must feel dead on their feet or select their less experienced or skillful backup bowlers. As for their batting, opener John Campbell and scourge of Headingley Shai Hope have failed to impress so far in this series with averages below twenty.

All of which is to say that I think the West Indies have a mountain to climb in this game. That said, England have shown themselves fully capable of shooting themselves in the foot in the past and it would be a fool to underestimate (or call mediocre) any Test team who faces them.  The previous two Tests have developed into last-day thrillers, and it would be wonderful if tomorrow’s game completes that set, whoever wins.

As always, please comment below.

15 thoughts on “England vs West Indies, 3rd Test – Preview

  1. Metatone Jul 23, 2020 / 8:05 pm

    England are due a batting collapse, so I’m not sure we can rank them as favourites although the WI attack must be getting tired.
    Bowlers is interesting – given that after Friday plenty of rain is predicted, I can see the logic in not playing a full time spinner.
    Broad has been England’s best bowler overall.
    Archer (given Stokes injury) brings the physical power to make the old ball do something.
    Agree Wood is out of the running for this game.He’s competing against Archer on this pitch and he isn’t better than Jofra right now.
    Then we have 2 slots and Woakes, Curran and Anderson.
    And I’m finding it a really tough choice.
    Woakes bowled very well.
    Curran does have a knack for making things happen and his height/angle definitely caused problems for particular WI batsmen.
    In the end for me I’d go for Curran as I think Woakes and Broad are quite similar.
    And yet, if you want someone to bowl a side out in damp conditions at Old Trafford with overs lost to rain, should you call anyone other than Jimmy Anderson?
    So, for me, Bess to rest b/c there’s going to be little to help a spinner.
    Broad
    Archer
    Curran
    Anderson

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    • quebecer Jul 24, 2020 / 1:11 am

      I’d agree with all that (and hope you’re well, old thing). Woakes is certainly a model pro, but I’ve always had the feeling his wickets do tend to collate with how many jumpers the touring team are wearing. Curran is a different cat, and I usually don’t go with this, but he has a little something something going on, and the consistency with which he makes important contributions reflects that, I think. Given Jimmy and Stuff are good to go, I think Woakes misses out too.

      Remembering that Hetmyer at home, I think that Brookes fellow isn’t getting the attention he might deserve. On commentary, as Brookes came out to bat in the first dig at OT, Bish said straight away this was a player easy on the eye – and he wasn’t wrong. There aren’t that many batsmen coming through in test cricket that are so good to watch when playing shots (and he has a fair few), and if he reminded me of anyone in some of his scoring strokes, it would be Younes Khan – which from me is as high praise as it gets.

      But surely, even with the admirable Chase and their always impressive skipper lower down, the England batsmen stand a better chance of scoring than the West Indies…. Ha! Brilliant collapse inducing jinx (which, as has been said, is probably on the cards anyway).

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      • metatone Jul 24, 2020 / 10:15 am

        I’m surviving, hope you’re doing well?

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  2. Marek Jul 23, 2020 / 9:59 pm

    One thing in England’s favour is that WI have said that they won’t pick from outside the main squad–which essentially means that either Campbell or Hope have to play unless they want to replace one of them with Nkrumah Bonner, f-c average well under 30 in a decade-long career. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the other one of them replaced by Cornwall though.

    As to the reserve seamers, I’ll wait and see. They seem to be quite excited about Chemar Holder. Today though, Jason Holder seemed to be suggesting that they’d use the same attack again–which is probably more good news for England, although I think I can see the logic given that they don’t have any red-ball cricket (including domestic) until December. One last charge etc…

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  3. Miami Dad's Six Jul 23, 2020 / 11:03 pm

    I’m interested in seeing the fat spinner; I bet he hits a length more often than Bess does. I don’t know how sensible it is with the balance of their side though, unless he bats too. They’ve got a few issues to be honest, they must surely discard the opener Campbell, and probably Hope too. I am also not sure I’d trust Gabriel to get through the Test, but if they bat first there is supposedly a fair amount of rain due, so actually they might be able to buy another couple of days rest for their seamers. If that’s the case and they can be on point as a unit (as on Day One at the Rose Bowl) , England always have a collapse in them

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    • dArthez Jul 24, 2020 / 6:21 am

      Cornwall can bat quite well. Not a frontline batsman, but certainly a fairly capable #8 or #9. So given the form of Hope and Campbell, replacing either of them with Cornwall will not weaken the batting that much. What is more, it means there is someone fairly capable in the order behind Holder, and that can only help to improve Holder’s batting returns.

      So for me, it was a surprise that Cornwall has not played in either Test.

      I expect England to win. A draw would be the best result the West Indies have achieved since 2010 in Sri Lanka (a drawn series – that was mainly due to monsoon in Sri Lanka). And with the West Indies, it is the hope that kills you.

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      • dlpthomas Jul 24, 2020 / 12:01 pm

        I’m really looking forward to seeing him bowl.

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    • Marek Jul 24, 2020 / 11:57 am

      Cornwall for a seamer rather than an underperforming batsman is a really poor piece of selection, I think–especially when it’s not for the oldest, creakiest-looking seamer! It’s going to look incredibly stupid if Gabriel really has pulled something ten overs into the match and WI have to play a whole test with two seamers. They don’t even have a part-time seamer I don’t think, although they have four part-time spinners of various quality.

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      • dArthez Jul 24, 2020 / 12:09 pm

        My thoughts exactly. Could easily have dropped one of the batsmen. I’d go for Campbell. Cameo 20s from an opener won’t win you many Tests. That way the batting would not be weakened too much, while the bowling could be done in shorter, quicker bursts; ie. ideal for winning the toss in these conditions.

        As for Cornwall bowling – should be interesting, though it is doubtful that the conditions will suit him massively. Then again, Roston Chase picked up 8 wickets against England in the previous series …

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  4. metatone Jul 24, 2020 / 10:57 am

    5 bowlers seems to be inviting the collapse
    although I take the point that given the forecast, 20 wickets as quickly as possible could be important

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    • thebogfather Jul 24, 2020 / 2:22 pm

      Given the forecast then some runs via batsmen would be handier first!

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  5. dArthez Jul 24, 2020 / 11:45 am

    Gabriel off the field with an injury in his fourth over (8th of the match). Not exactly unexpected (we had a few doubts in the last Test as well). Cornwall will have to bowl plenty of overs as a result.

    If England can’t win from this position (weather permitting), …

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  6. metatone Jul 24, 2020 / 12:44 pm

    root run out… doh

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  7. thebogfather Jul 24, 2020 / 2:25 pm

    Ah, dear Jos, the scene is set just for you….a long, long, long tail is near, for you to fulfill and flail with no fear… #muchlovefromThePlagiarist

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  8. dArthez Jul 24, 2020 / 5:31 pm

    Of course, Cornwall can’t pick wickets if the umpires don’t give edges and Holder does not bother to review. Buttler very lucky there …

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