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England Down Under 2021/22

Curran and Root pink ball

Whilst cricket is on the down-low and is not on the minds of many (understandably so), the Ashes 2021/22 will still remain at the forefront of England’s test teams’ planning when cricket eventually resumes when it is safe too.

After the excitement of the World Cup victory, the Ashes were disappointing especially from the position they were in at Edgbaston in the first test where Australia were reeling at 122-8 before Steve Smith stole the show and the Ashes. Ben Stokes at Headingley galvanised the country with his heroic and frankly world-class batting to keep us in contention of winning the Ashes but signs at Old Trafford of the old England crept back in with a demoralising loss before an encouraging yet insignificant win n the final test. In simple, Australia’s batting was catapulted into winning positions from the genius of Steve Smith, the courage of Marnus Labuschagne and the gritty nature of Matthew Wade skillfully supported by a pace brigade of Cummins, Hazlewood, Pattinson, Siddle to an extent Starc as well as the GOAT in the form of the top quality spinner Nathan Lyon. The bowling throughout the series was exceptional and there was little difference between the quality of each line up which highlighted the class and form of Smith and Labuschagne. England’s batting was certainly improved, showed through resilient and determined knocks up and down the order at Headingley and Old Trafford in particular, but other than Stokes’ incredible knock, England were outclassed in the batting department. 

From that entertaining series, England has lost in a poor series in New Zealand and signs were looking similar in the first test in South Africa. However, thanks to the introduction of pace spearheaded by Anderson and an injury-free Wood and proper, brilliant batting in challenging conditions led to a 3-1 series win. The new look top order of Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley (Biunrs injured after Test 1) showed promise, courage and a willingness to score runs whilst keeping their wicket intact. Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope in the middle order time and time again built healthy partnerships and both players scored valuable centuries with superb flair, technique and style. This was all accommodated from a firing low order and an exciting bowling attack backed up by the youth of Dom Bess in a real breakthrough series for the off spinner. The series was fun to watch at home but for the England side, it portrayed a winning formula through batting long to make a shed load of runs before knocking the opposition out into sheer obliteration. This is hugely encouraging and welcoming for England fans and players alike as the faith in youth has paid dividend so far…

England Team

Welcome to November 2021. Coronavirus is free, life has somewhat returned back to normality and sport is back on the table. Next up for the English side is Australia down under in a mouth-watering contest. The big question is who will make the England squad to hopefully gain revenge on the Aussies after they retained the urn in 2019 and thumped England in 2017/18. Here is who I will predict to see in that England touring squad to contest back for the urn: (22 players bit like Australia’s inter-squad friendly last year)

Rory Burns

Dom Sibley

Zak Crawley

Sam Hain

Joe Root (C)

Tom Abell

Bairstow - Stokes fist bump

Jonny Bairstow

Ben Stokes

Ollie Pope

Ben Foakes (2)

Ben Foakes (+)

James Bracey (+)Sam Curran 101 vs HK

Sam Curran

Dom Bess

Stuart Broad

Mark Wood

mark wood article

Jofra Archer

Olly Stone

Chris Woakes

Ollie Robinson

Saqib Mahmood

Moeen Ali

Jack Leach

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Joe Root remains my captain for the Ashes 2021/22 series because of his improving skills and tactical nous as well as his sheer quality with the ball and improving quality with the ball. Ben Foakes displaces both Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow as my premier keeper due to his superb keeping record and his ability to score runs at the high level as well as at county level (Sri Lanka 2018 maiden century ion debut). The opening trio of Burns, Crawley and Sibley for me is the perfect set of batters to score runs and take on the new cherry at the highest calibre providing platforms for our more explosive middle order batters. At a push, I would have Burns and Sibley opening due to their current record of scoring half-centuries and centuries especially the Surrey man who despite a tough start has really nailed down his place through substantial knocks. James Bracey is a young and promising keeper who has the right technique and temperant to succeed at Test level with bat and gloves.

Warwickshire’s Sam Hain and Somerset’s Tom Abell will play as reverse batsmen as both have amazing potential on the biggest stage of them all. Hain (24) currently averages 37 in county cricket and his ability to score runs consistently is ideal for England whilst Abell (26) averages just north of 31 at some tricky wickets at Taunton. Seamers Ollie Robinson, Olly Stone and Saqib Mahmood also feature in this squad. Robinson has had two incredible years of wicket taking 74 and 63 wickets apiece in first class cricket and most recently starred in the Lions tour of Australia. He is not the quickest of seamers but his ability to maintain an immaculate line and length should suit Australian wickets. Stone has been very unfortunate with injuries but he can reach 90mph and more so he is a prime candidate to add to his only test cap. Mahmood is very similar and will be able to provide competition in the bowling ranks. The rest of the squad is fairly familiar and I have trust in the likes of Broad, Wood, Curran and Archer to lead the pace attack as well as having depth in spin with Bess, Leach and maybe even Moeen.

So there is my squad for the next Ashes down under. I hope you enjoyed reading this and it took your mind off the current situation whilst excitiing you with the depth in England’s batting and bowling. Thank you for reading and see you guys soon.

 

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Predicting England’s Squads for the Winter Tour of New Zealand

England Team

The World Cup, the Ashes and the Vitality T20 Blast Finals have all concluded, the biggest summer of cricket has come to a close! Amazing life long memories were made including Ben Stokes and Jack Leach’s heroics at Headingly as well as the World Cup Super Over drama against New Zealand.

New Zealand in fact will be the opponents when England begin their winter tour in November. 5 T20I’s and 2 Test matches have been scheduled with a chance for the uncapped to stake their claim as rotation will be paramount for the selectors of the World Cup winning and Ashes players. A new interim or permanent coach could be in place for the Kiwi tour and it will be interesting to see which way England will go with the focus – white or red ball cricket. My predicted squads are listed down below:

T20I 

Jason Roy

Jonny Bairstow 

Tom Banton

Phil Salt

Dawid Malan

Eoin Morgan (C)

Sam Billings (+)

Moeen Ali

David Willey

Sam Curran

Tom Curran

Tymal Mills

Toby Roland Jones

Pat Brown

Matt Parkinson

In Tom Banton and Phil Salt, we have two of the most exciting and talented modern day openers who deserve a chance at higher honours after exceptional eye catching performances in the T20 Blast with the latter going to play the Big Bash for the Adelaide Strikers in the winter. Also rewarded for brilliant T20 blast form are Lancashire’s leg spinner Matt Parkinson who plays instead of Rashid (injury) with 21 wickets at an average of 14 in this years blast as well as slower ball specialist Pat Brown who impressed yet again on Finals Day.

Roland Jones has starred with the ball this year ( 19 wickets at 19 a piece) and is also a Test candidate after showing glimpses of potential in 2017 versus South Africa. Mills is a fast skilful bowler who guided Sussex to the top of the group table before injury and has demonstrated amazing ability in the shortest form.

I have rested a lot if not most of the England World cup Squad and Ashes team to give them an extended break and recharge them for the Test series and then the Test Championship fixtures.

New Zealand Team

Test

Rory Burns

Dominic Sibley

Joe Denly

Joe Root (C)

Ben Stokes

Jonny Bairstow (+)

Jos Buttler

Chris Woakes

Jack Leach

Jofra Archer

Stuart Broad

Ollie Pope

Ben Foakes (+) 

Sam Curran

Craig Overton

Dom Bess

England ODI

Warwickshire’s Sibley must be a shoo-in after his fantastic season amassing 1575 runs with 6 centuries including last week’s 215 not out against Notts, carrying his bat. Burns and Sibley have great Test futures and their ability to stick around at the crease striving to score big runs is an ideal platform for England. Denly deserves to keep his spot following his determined half century knocks in the Ashes and can bat anywhere in the top 4. 

The middle order conundrum is still out for jury but I have decided to stick faith with Bairstow and Buttler as both have run scoring talent and will have a point to prove to the selectors down in New Zealand. Ben Foakes is in the squad as a reserve keeper batsman who can fill the void if needed.

Foakes’ teammate Ollie Pope is in as a reserve batsman who has played some consistent (221 not out) innings for Surrey and needs a chance to show his talent on the international stage. Dom Bess has played for Yorkshire and Somerset this county season and has replicated the sort of form that saw him make his Test debut in 2017. Overton will pip out any other county seamers due to his knack of taking partnership breaking wickets and overall consistency.

A lot of players can fill these roles more than adequately and I am sure that both of these squads would give the Kiwis a big test. English cricket needs people to be pushing constantly for positions or else the standard drops. It will be intriguing to see who is selected when the squads are released on Monday…


 

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World Cup Sundries

Chris Gayle 203 (2)

Bye: Chris Gayle has dusted off the cobwebs from his whites it seems as he has reversed his retirement decision and will continue on after the World Cup. He has hinted at a future Test match against the imperious India and will be looking to add to his two triple centuries in a Test career where his last appearance came 5 years ago – however he might want to inform his captain.

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/27058640/chris-gayle-says-definitely-playing-odis-maybe-test-post-world-cup

south africa win by 4 wickets

Leg Bye: South Africa have been a well talked story in the World Cup but for all the wrong reasons as their talented side crashed miserably out of the World Cup with games to spare. Losing Dale Steyn to injury was a blow but it has been the incumbent players that have not delivered with only Rassie Van der Dussen and Imran Tahir having a  successful time. 4 fifties and no hundred alongside key players not performing as (wickets) Rabada (6) and Ngidi (7) haven’t adjusted to the conditions. Back to the 4 year drawing board!

Gopal bowled

No Ball: Previously banned David Warner leads the tournament currently for most runs scored with 500 followed by Australian batting partner Aaron Finch (496). Warner holds the highest score (166) whilst Shakib Al Hasan has been in super form becoming only the third player to score a hundred and take a 5 wicket haul in the tournament. 

Wide: We have some amazing cricket matches with some nail biting matches including New Zealand’s pair of brilliant chases against South Africa and Bangladesh led well by Captain Kane Williamson! England’s collapses against Sri Lanka and Australia as well as a poor showing against Pakistan have had an old era about them. Cricket is on the up and it is a sensational sport!

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Injury plagued Surrey turn to experience!

 

tom curran

It is safe to say that Surrey haven’t had the ideal start to the domestic season. After a long hard fought draw against Essex in their first County Championship match, they began the road to Lord’s in the Royal London One Day Cup with two away encounters to Gloucestershire and Sussex. The trip up to Bristol initially went well as they bowled out the hosts for 235 with England’s Tom Curran and experienced seamer Rikki Clarke sharing 7 wickets. With Jason Roy opening and plenty of fire power and excitement to come, Surrey faltered badly and were subsequently bowled out for 88, Roy incidentally top scoring with 19.

Up to the picturesque Hove on Good Friday and my home team Sussex snatched a two wicket win from the visitors largely thanks to a splendid 92NO from Koplak David Wiese as yet again Sussex showed their strength in depth and competition for places. This was definitely an improved performance from Surrey with Sri Lankan series star wicketkeeper Ben Foakes top scoring with 64 alongside T10 pre season centurion Will Jacks who scored 56. Tom Curran starred with the ball but was very much a lone hand with Liam Plunkett struggling for form and rhythm ahead of the upcoming World Cup!

In a whirlwind tournament which features the 8 group matches plus finals, time is not on Surrey’s side with their last match in just over 2 weeks. The short turn arounds including travel and training means for these county players it is the most intense and gruelling stage of the season where the hard graft starts. Surrey have an injury problem with talented all rounder Jordan Clark from Lancashire still out with a knee injury whilst all rounder Scott Borthwick and spinner Amar Virdi have side and back issues – seamer Matt Dunn is also down with illness. They have some higher profile unavailability’s with Sam Curran playing in the IPL and overseas star Dean Elgar not arriving until next week. 

Plunkett

Liam Plunkett has and is struggling from the winter with his form and rhythm in his bowling and has been very costly and expensive with the ball in the RLODC and in the last 5 ODIS. Stoneman and Burns have not had great records in List A cricket and with the injuries they occupy spots where they need to be aggressive and its perhaps not their natural game.

Its not all lost for Surrey (and I am only summarising in the opening month of matches) but they need their senior players to step up and make a difference for a side plagued with injuries and will be tested to the roots with their squad depth. Another injury plagued bowler Stuart Meaker will play a key role in his comeback along with all rounder Ryan Patel in all 3 formats. With the inclusion of Elgar next week and the returns of the injured players coming in the next few weeks, can Surrey revitalise and surge towards the qualification of the One Day Cup!

 

 

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Bow and Archer – England World Cup Squad 2019

 

England ODI.PNG

England will name their preliminary 15 man squad tomorrow which will enter the 2019 Cricket World Cup with the expectation of home pressure and the favourites tag to lift the cup at the end of the competition. Led by captain Eoin Morgan, England have changed fortunes since their disappointing 2015 World Cup campaign and have played an exciting and attacking brand of cricket which has seen world records broke and wins increased. Since the ICC World Cup in 2014/15, England have won 14 out of 20 series including the famous 5-0 Aussie whitewash at home last summer following the 4-1 away series victory in Australia from the lacklustre Ashes series! Players like Joe Root, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler alongside Morgan have confirmed their places with some stellar performances across the last 3 years and with the strength of the batting, Hales is likely to start as a reserve batsman with an average of 37.79…

However, in the bowling department, England have built a nucleus of seamers alongside the two spinners of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, but they have all come under pressure from newly eligible Englishmen Jofra Archer, with his availability almost nailing down a spot in the squad.

Archer.PNG

West Indies born Archer was fast-tracked through the registration system after hailing in Sussex for the last few years. Whilst he has only featured in 14 List A matches, his stints with the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash and the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, has seen his hype increase and the pressure on the current incumbents as well. His most recent ongoing spell with the Royals has seen him wield 11 wickets including 3-15 against the Kings XI Punjab today!

These stints came from bursting on the scene at Sussex, most notably in club cricket for Horsham before he came Sussex’s star pace man and handy lower order batsman. Archer has seen lots of support for securing a spot for the World Cup adventure from pundits.  https://www.skysports.com/cricket/news/12080/11695248/jofra-archer-has-david-willey-liam-plunkett-and-tom-curran-in-world-cup-jeopardy-says-nasser-Hussain However, he hasn’t seen such public support from the current England bowlers which have guided England towards the World Cup as the favourites. 

Chris Woakes, David Willey, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and Tom Curran have been the players which have made up the core of England’s seamers attack over the last 3 years and all have different roles which they have all performed expertly. Woakes’ skiddy pace and bounce with his line and length makes him a strong candidate for the new ball alongside Willey’s left arm alternative which provides the opportunity for swing early on. Liam Plunkett has mastered the middle to death over spell with his height and his variations which have deceived many batsman aiming to score high off him.

Mark Wood showed in the recent West Indies ODI series that he can also take the new ball and bounce out opponents whilst Curran’s T20 exploits have aided his variations with cutters and his death over experience is second to none. The question on everyone’s mind is who gets dropped for Archer to come in, if they want him??

tom curran.PNG

In my opinion, I would bring in Archer for Tom Curran. Archer is a three dimensional player who can bat and bowl well as well as his fielding. Archer also has the versatility that he can bowl at any stage in the innings and be as effective as he would be starting or ending. He has been potent for Sussex with the new ball especially but he can cover Plunkett’s middle overs role with aplomb as well as bowling his deadly yorkers come the back end of the innings.

The shoo-ins for England are Woakes, Wood and Plunkett who have all performed admirably and superbly to cement their places in the cornerstone of England’s bowling attack. David Willey has only bowled his full quota of overs in the last 2 of 14 matches but specialises very well with the swinging ball in the opening overs and with his left arm option, he is a better alternative for England.

Curran would be terribly disappointed to miss out but he lacks the consistency on the International stage to take wickets at a regular basis unlike his fellow seam bowling partners. Jake Ball, Sam Curran and Chris Jordan have also been touted and used as options for England previously — could they be the outsider in the squad.

Hales

With the strength in ability and calibre in England’s batting line up, Alex Hales’ fantastic ODI record will see him originally sitting on the benches of England and a more than adept replacement should Bairstow, Roy etc run into a bad spell or get injured. It is the second spare batsman/all rounder spot which is definitely up for grabs and could twist and change up until the May deadline for the official 15 man squad. https://www.icc-cricket.com/news/1172161

Joe Denly took up the mantle in the West Indies but didn’t feature during the drawn series with his selection based upon the fact of his leg spin option. Liam Dawson held that role in the spinney Sri Lanka and performed well before injury curtailed his series and possibly his World Cup squad with only a home series against Pakistan and a one off match against Ireland left.

Pitches and conditions will be suitable to spin so having a player that can bat and give you a 6th bowling option along with Joe Root will be more than handy. Sam Billings is also being touted as a back up keeper with his runs coming recently in the T20I with an 87 against the Windies. http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/297628.html

Billings’ average of 22.58 with a high score of 62 shows his lack of conversions despite the potential being there. The spot is certainly up for grabs and I think it could be a spot if the ECB decide is best, that will change throughout the Royal London One Day Cup.

So with all my opinion made and my areas where I think England will be having some sleepless nights over – here are my squads for the World Cup, Pakistan ODI series and one off Ireland ODI.

World Cup Squad

Jonny Bairstow Jason Roy Alex Hales Joe Root Eoin Morgan (C) Jos Buttler (+) Ben Stokes Moeen Ali Liam Dawson Chris Woakes Adil Rashid Liam Plunkett David Willey Mark Wood Jofra Archer

Pakistan ODI 17man Squad

Resting Jason Roy + Adil Rashid

Jonny Bairstow Alex Hales Joe Root Eoin Morgan (C) Jos Buttler Sam Billings (+) Joe Denly Ben Stokes Moeen Ali Liam Dawson Chris Woakes Sam Curran Liam Plunkett David Willey Mark Wood Jofra Archer Jake Ball

Ireland ODI Squad

Resting Chris Woakes, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and Liam Plunkett

Jonny Bairstow Alex Hales Jason Roy Joe Root Jos Buttler (+) Sam Billings Moeen Ali Jofra Archer Adil Rashid David Willey Mark Wood Jake Ball Sam Curran

So with the upcoming World Cup approaching in under a months time, will England have a smooth preparation or will they be forced to change at the last minute. Comment below your thoughts on my squad preview and add your own squad as well and we will find out who is “top dog”!!

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

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Salt Vaults Towards England!

Phil Salt
After Sussex conceded a 79 run lead, 22 year old opener Salt sprinkled and smashed the ball to the boundary which alongside other opener Tom Haines gave Sussex a brilliant platform before he departed for 80 from 67 against Leicestershire.

It isn’t the first time that the aggressive, modern day style batting of Salt paid dividend for Sussex, this time in the 4 day format. Last year, Salt followed up a trailblazing 66 from 25 balls against Middlesex in the T20 competition with a sensational knock of 148 from 138 balls in the 4 day match against Derbyshire. Following Salt’s burst on to the scene worldwide, he was signed up for the PSL and the T10 league in Dubai where he performed well but not with the same kind of substance that saw him signed up. 

Salt is a traditional modern day batter who can play admirably 360 degrees (his switch hit against South Africa in 2017 was incredible) but unlike many he has not curved his aggressive and counter attacking style in the longer format which has produced enough runs to see him flirting with the opportunity of an England call up. Now it may look unlikely especially with Salt batting in Division 2 and his lack of exposure to facing a higher calibre of bowling that he may contend with on International duty, but the young batsman is one of few currently around rubbing salt into the opening bowlers wounds!

His record of 2 hundreds and 4 fifties in First Class cricket will no doubt need to be improved to be in serious contention of higher honours but he has shown in glimpses that he is capable of producing consistent high scores at a quick rate. With Sussex currently leading by 219 runs at Lunch at eight down, it will be interesting to see how Leicestershire cope in a tricky chase – will Salt add to his single First class wicket?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO44819

 

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Dawson Dawning on the World Cup!

Liam Dawson

Liam Dawson. Since his surprise selection in the Twenty 20 World Cup squad in 2016, he has been in and out of the team and used sparingly by England over the past two or so years. But, with the World Cup approaching could some a late burst of form stand him in with a chance or will he continue to be the fringe player of England. 

The Hampshire spinning all rounder has featured in 3 Test matches for England where he featured twice away in India (2016) taking 2-129 and then featuring at the start of Joe Root’s  (2017) reign against South Africa where he took four key wickets but made a pair. His home Test debut was too be his last one up until now and unless he shows improvement in 4 day matches, England will look to him as a back up One Day player. His last T20I was February 2018 against New Zealand in the Tri Series and has played 6  T20I matches for England. Dawson recently featured in the opening 2 Sri Lankan away ODIS where he showed good form with the ball in the rain affected matches taking 1-26 from 6 overs. This couldn’t be his transformation into the side as a side strain ruled him out of contention for the rest of the series and seemingly the World Cup out with him.

But, after re-joining the Peshawar Zalmi for this year’s Pakistan Super League, Dawson began to find that performance level from the recent Sri Lanka ODIS. The 29 year old featured more heavily with the bat and showed his all round ability scoring 169 runs in 8 innings including a match winning 52NO. His bowling was tight and economical with 3 wickets @ 55.56 but at an accurate 7.26 economy rate, helping Peshawar make the finals. 

 http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8679/report/1168840/islamabad-united-vs-peshawar-zalmi-21st-match-pakistan-super-league-2018-19

Dawson is clearly behind the leading two spinners in Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid and is unlikely despite good PSL form to obtain a World Cup Spot. However, with his T20 reputation growing, will England take their chance with the all rounder who has shown (at times) that he can be valuable to the International side?

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/sport/amp/cricket/45861329

What if Moeen Ali or Adil Rashid get injured and are ruled out, is Dawson the shoe in? Will he make big strides in the early first class season? Can he make the T20I World Cup squad for Australia? He has shown he has the potential but he needs to maximise it and quickly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cricket 19

Root bowling

Following last week’s teaser of a new console Cricket game, today England Cricket Twitter page confirmed the new game with the title of Cricket 19 with Big Ant Studios. This game is subjected to be released in May of this year, so well before the Ashes start and just before the beginning of the Cricket World Cup. Just the fact there is a new Cricket game to spend hours playing is simply fantastic and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I will link in the two videos with some analysis and the link of the information from the England Cricket website. Enjoy your days and week and I will be back at some stage next week.

https://www.ecb.co.uk/news/1087746/big-ant-studios-to-deliver-cricket-19-the-official-game-of-the-ashes

 

Express pace Wood to chop down some stumps in Windies?

Mark Wood. A promising player that so far his international career hasn’t taken off due to predominately longer term injury and less match time in 4/5 day formats. He has pace – 90mph+ to be precise and has bounce that can frighten any top order batsman around the world. He has 156 first class wickets at an average of 27.83 and 8 five wicket hauls. His impact for England has come mainly in shorter formats with ODI being his stronger suit. Yet, going into 2019 his place at the Cricket World Cup looks in doubt due to his lack of match time and the better form from the likes of Tom Curran, Olly Stone and David Willey. Speculation before and during the 2017 Ashes series didn’t prove to be the case as he didn’t feature. At the age of 29, Wood’s playing days are shortening due to his various injuries and something needs to click for such a promising player.

His call up to the West Indian Test Series comes as Warwickshire’s Olly Stone flies back home with a stress fracture in his back. Stone has had limited opportunity on the International stage with his debut series coming in Sri Lanka (October 2018) and impressed with his pace and heavy bounce in the ODI series. Wood comes in as a like for like replacement but his lack of match practice in the Test arena might mean he plays as a back up seamer.

However, Wood brings a new dimension to West Indies which England should take advantage of with his old and new ball skills alongside his quick pace which will test the inexperienced West Indies batsmen. Whilst, England might not use Wood to change a winning formula, this will be Wood’s chance to show he can be an England Test fast bowler in a permanent position. He has the attributes but not the performances in the arena to show his worth to the side.

Away from Wood, England will be faced a tricky challenge with West Indies making wholesale changes to fix a losing team. But, England’s impressive form in Sri Lanka most notably with their spinners leaves them favourites in similar away conditions to make it 2 on the bounce.

Wood’s chance has come and he will be sure to make the most of it as his International selection hangs in the jungle. To read more articles cricket related, revisit the site and comment below whether Wood will start in West Indies?