West Indies vs England – Second Test Preview

There is a lot to be said for having low expectations, particularly as an English cricket fan. With a sufficiently poor outlook on the Test team, even the remotest evidence of adequacy comes as a pleasant surprise. You’d be forgiven for thinking, having read the press reports about the first Test, that a new dawn was on the horizon for England and the previous twelve months was just a transitional period. Zak Crawley is the successor to Cook, Leach is the successor to Swann, and Bairstow has finally refound his form.

Except obviously none of this is true. West Indies are a bad Test team, and the pitch was as dead as England’s chances of reaching a World Test Championship final in my lifetime. But such are the depths of the England team’s failings that not collapsing on an extremely batting-friendly pitch against a mediocre Test bowling attack is cause for celebration.

England have already announced the team for today’s game, with Saqib Mahmood coming in for the injured Mark Wood as the only change. It is a little surprising that there hasn’t been more rotation of the bowlers, with three Tests back-to-back, particularly with regards to Ben Stokes. Before the series began, the consensus seemed to be that Ben Stokes would only be used as a last resort bowling option and yet he ended up with 41 overs in the first test.

Alex Lees has the most to prove after a disappointing debut. Opening in Test cricket is always difficult, but he looked terrible in his two very short innings so far. Chris Woakes could also be bowling for his Test career, albeit having scored a useful 46 runs with the bat.

On the plus side for England, the photos of the pitch suggest that it will be very flat again. A cynical person might suggest that the grounds and boards benefit financially from the Barmy Army coming to the ground for five days, and they probably don’t care as much about whether there is an exciting match or result. It’s not a great business model for a sport, but it is what it is. Both sides certainly have the capacity to collapse twice on any pitch, so there’s still no guarantees of a bore draw.

As always, please post your comments below if you have anything to say about the Test or anything else.

31 thoughts on “West Indies vs England – Second Test Preview

  1. Marek Mar 16, 2022 / 10:36 am

    The problem with the bowlers is that the two they could have rotated into the team are probably at least as big an injury risk as Stokes! Frankly I’m not surprised to hear that Robinson is not available–but when they selected the squad, did anyone even consider Fisher’s injury record before picking him alongside an out-of-shape Robinson, a half-fit Stokes and Wood?!

    As for Lees–well, that’s what happens when they select someone who has a career average of 35 and who hasn’t averaged 40 in any season since his much-vaunted career reboot. I know that CLS isn’t the easiest county ground to bat on, but a career average of 34 or 35 didn’t magically make a test-class batter out of Jennings or Stoneman and I’d be surprised if it does with Lees either.

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  2. Mark Mar 16, 2022 / 10:37 am

    I don’t bother reading much of the so called cricket press these days, and one of the reasons is they have become ECB fan boys pretending to be sensible insightful journalists. After the last two years of total failure… particularly with the bat the idea this is the coming of a new golden dawn sounds cretinous. This series won’t be how England are judged over the next two years. But it will be a barometer of far they have fallen.

    I simply don’t believe that Stokes is injured now. Time and time again they say he is carrying an injury going into a new test match, and won’t bowl that much only for him to be bowled into the ground. If he is really injured he is unwise to allow himself to be treated like that by the captain because his career will be curtailed through long term injuries.

    Personally I would prefer to see this England side play on flat pitches at the moment, even if they end in draws because their batting can’t be bailed out by their bowling on seamer friendly pitches. England need to start making substantial scores of 350/400 in the first innings on a regular basis.

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  3. dlpthomas Mar 16, 2022 / 3:55 pm

    As much as I like sitting up all night watching a test match, 0100 is an ungodly hour to start a game. An OK-ish start so far. The run rate is 1.6 after 28 overs and Lord Gower just described Lees as “not a dasher”. Its rather nice to have him back in the commentary box.

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  4. Mark Mar 16, 2022 / 4:14 pm

    I do hope the Aussie captain will get a bit of stick for not imposing the follow on in their game with Pakistan. When you make 556 in the first innings and then bowl out the opposition for 148 you really should not be wasting time batting again.

    Ever since the Aussies lost to India after enforcing the follow on they have become almost allergic to risking getting into trouble late on the fifth day. I guess they get away with it most of the time but not today.

    Pakistan showed a lot of fight to bat out for a draw. People will blame the pitch again but what else are they supposed to do? Serve up an Aussie friendly pitch?

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    • man in a barrel Mar 16, 2022 / 7:48 pm

      Don’t you remember that Lord’s Test against Sri Lanka where Flintoff made them follow on on the 3rd day and busted his ankle trying in vain to get Jaya and Sanga out?

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      • dlpthomas Mar 17, 2022 / 4:17 am

        That’s what I was thinking of in Pakistans second innings when it was starting tolook like Cummings was going to bowl himselfi nto the ground.

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    • Marek Mar 16, 2022 / 10:25 pm

      I think that’s a little bit harsh in this case, Mark. Cummins did leave himself 172 overs to bowl them out–and as far as I can see only three teams ever have batted longer than that in the fourth innings and only seven more after following on. Sure the pitch doesn’t sound like the most responsive but that didn’t hurt them in the first innings…

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      • Mark Mar 16, 2022 / 10:46 pm

        You both make fair points, but each case (test) should be different and treated as such. Injuries can happen at any time. Glen McGrath tripped over a ball in practice and missed a test match. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice.

        The main point Im making is enforcing the follow on is now getting about as prevalent as the Dodo. I can understand it if you bowl a side out for 300/350 chasing 556 and you want to give your bowlers a rest.

        But when you have bowled them out for 148 with a 400 lead and two and a half days left it seems over cautious. Captains and coaches seem to fear losing these days rather than having the confidence to go for the win through the follow on.

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      • Marek Mar 17, 2022 / 7:44 pm

        The weird thing to me, Mark, is that the risk of losing seems higher in not enforcing the follow-on than by doing it. In this situation, for example, if the team manages to survive the 172 overs they’re going to be pretty near the target–Pakistan were only 60 short and they batted very slowly and didn’t make any attempt to chase the target. But having followed on they’d have needed 600 instead of 500 to have a reasonable chance of a win…which would have meant they’d run out of time.

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        • Mark Mar 17, 2022 / 8:46 pm

          It seems what sides really fear is putting the other side back in and then they get 120-150 ahead with those runs having to be chased down in 3 to 4 hours at the end of the game when maybe the pitch has become difficult to bat on.

          But if the pitch is good to bat on they shouldn’t fear chasing down a small score. But they do. They would rather bat in the the third innings and get so far ahead it’s almost impossible to lose unless the opposition go crazy. Which is very rare.

          As you say…. usually with the amount of overs Aus had to bowl they have enough time to win the game. But when they don’t, and they run out of time with a few wickets left you do have to ask whether it was wise to waste time batting in the third innings? Especially when you have a four hundred lead.

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  5. StaffordshireKnot Mar 16, 2022 / 4:18 pm

    Wood

    Robinson

    Archer

    Stone

    Roland-Jones

    All injured……..and are all prone to injury………and that’s not all of them either.

    At least Broad is fit far more often than he is injured.

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    • Mark Mar 16, 2022 / 5:32 pm

      Broad and Anderson are almost freaks of nature when it comes to injuries or a lack of them. Considering the amount of wickets taken and their age its a minor miracle.

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  6. quebecer Mar 16, 2022 / 6:31 pm

    I know people are criticizing the pitches, but they are pretty normal for the Windies these days. The problem is that both teams are pretty poor and that’s what’s making the cricket also pretty poor. Hard to get enthused – though nice to see Jonny looking like we’ve always wanted him to in the last test. I’m cringing already about our attack on this pitch though… and yes, if Stokes isn’t injured now, he will be after all the overs he’ll have to bowl in this test.

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    • Mark Mar 16, 2022 / 10:56 pm

      Always best to,wait until both sides have batted. England might bowl them out for 148. But they won’t enforce the follow on if they do! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • dannycricket Mar 17, 2022 / 3:08 am

        Both sides have a “bowled out for 148 on an absolute road” in their armoury. It was a surprise that both teams batted out the draw in the last game, frankly.

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        • Mark Mar 17, 2022 / 9:32 am

          This is true, the batting of both sides is fragile to say the least, which is why I’m less bothered by these road pitches at the moment. If there is anything in the pitch or if it’s swinging you can almost guarantee the match will be over in three days.

          Maybe it’s a bit nostalgic but I quite like watching a few test matches play out the full five days and end with a side batting out a draw. Yes, it may get boring after a while but with so many test matches over quickly it makes a change. Also, it might give the batsman some confidence to make some scores in the future. Aren’t these the conditions to help bring back good spin bowling? Even if it’s just blocking up an end? Lyon nearly bowled Australia to victory yesterday even without enforcing the follow on. Just ran out of time.

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  7. Mark Mar 16, 2022 / 10:52 pm

    Why doesn’t the new batsman have to go out for the last ball of the day? Surely that is a bit of extra drama that adds to the excitement?

    So much of sport is becoming about replays which take up endless amounts of time, then when you have a bit of real drama everybody just walks off to save the batsman coming out for one ball. Isn’t that what you have a night watchman for? Or have they been abolished now?

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  8. dlpthomas Mar 17, 2022 / 3:51 pm

    Stokes on fire and could go close to a 100 in a session.

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    • Mark Mar 17, 2022 / 5:33 pm

      It’s amazing for a player that is apparently always carrying an injury!

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  9. dlpthomas Mar 18, 2022 / 2:31 pm

    George Dobell reckons Ed Smith is the favourite for the Director of Cricket (or whatever the hell the position is called) job. Must be a few people with short memories at the ECB.

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    • dannycricket Mar 18, 2022 / 5:09 pm

      I will say that I think Smith might have done a better job than Silverwood in selecting the T20 World Cup squad last year. I do think that was a backward step.

      But surely there has to be someone better than Smith available?

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    • Marek Mar 18, 2022 / 9:03 pm

      Well, there’s another Smith coming on the market in a couple of weeks if he’s not too abrasive–and with the very big caveat of what the various ongoing enquiries decide about his attitudes on sensitive questions of race.

      I actually liked Ed Smith as selector generally, but I don’t know if that would transfer to DoC. He certainly wouldn’t die wondering!

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  10. dlpthomas Mar 18, 2022 / 4:01 pm

    Mahmood has got theball reversin a bit and looks pretty good

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  11. Mark Mar 20, 2022 / 2:06 pm

    In Danny’s preview for this match he said….” Before the series began, the consensus seemed to be that Ben Stokes would only be used as a last resort bowling option and yet he ended up with 41 overs in the first test.”

    So yesterday as England took the third new ball he was given the “honour” of using it. How can they claim he is injured before almost every test match and then do this? In total he bowled 29 overs, which is 2 more than Mahmood (27) Woakes (23) and Fisher (25)

    Anyway, WI slow scoring rate yesterday means they could have a difficult couple of sessions to survive later today if England go for it in the first two hours. But the draw is the favourite which will start up all the arguments about pitches.

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  12. man in a barrel Mar 23, 2022 / 11:29 pm

    Any thoughts on this bit of good journalism?

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    • Mark Mar 24, 2022 / 12:36 am

      Smacks of the usual Selvey style. The last sentence is typical of his previous MO. The claim to have sources from the England camp that they had doubts from the beginning. As usual no evidence or names are presented.

      Is he really saying England picked Robinson even though they didn’t believe he was fit enough? If so why? And why have the England management and their cast of thousands of back room staff of diet nutritionists, chefs, and fitness gurus failed to solve the problem?

      Also, if his fitness was so bad in Australia why was he picked for this tour instead of Broad and Anderson? Those are the more pertinent questions but that means questioning Strauss and the ECB. Something he is not well known for doing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dlpthomas Mar 24, 2022 / 3:47 am

        All very good questions. Robinson has been with the England camp for nearly 12 months. If there is a problem with his fitness, it should have been sorted out by now. If there is a problem with his attitude to training (and I have no idea whether there is or isn’t) then they need to move on till he sorts himself out. And if he some sort of chronic injury that is affecting his ability to train, then they should tell the public rather than imply he simply isn’t fit enough.

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        • Mark Mar 24, 2022 / 2:10 pm

          Exactly! If he is unfit and for what ever reason can’t or won’t take the measures that are needed why they hell is he on this tour? Who picked him? Strauss and Root I imagine since they fired everyone else including too fit bowlers.

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  13. dlpthomas Mar 24, 2022 / 11:16 am

    I haven’t read anything about the pitch but surely you’d make a pitch to suit fast bowling given how toothless Englands bowling looks.

    Like

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