Saturday, April 13

Joe Root seeks England series win to leave ‘very difficult’ winter behind | England in West Indies 2022

ORne final Test match of the winter for Joe Root and his England team begins on the spice island of Grenada on Thursday, offering a chance to reset the oft-repeated statistic of one series victory in the Caribbean since the 1960s before the actual reset begins under new management this summer.

England swept a broom through the squad before this tour, dropping two champions in the process, and have endlessly talked up collaboration and progress during the two stalemates in Antigua and Barbados, but their winter remains winless to date. With no full-time managing director or head coach as yet – Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood are only the respective interims – the true blueprint for this side is yet to reveal itself.

As such, and for all the runs the batters have finally harvested from the two sleepy surfaces thus far, everyone in the setup – players and support staff – could do with a performance and, ideally, the newly minted Richards-Botham trophy heading to Lord’s next week. Even Root, the great survivor of the Ashes recriminations, has no certainty whether he will remain as captain when regime change occurs, even if his desire for him to do so remains undimmed.

“I don’t think it puts any pressure on me,” Root said when asked about this. “I think I’m the right man to take the team forward. [But] if the head coach comes in and thinks differently, that’s fine, that’s his decision. While I’m in this position, I’ll do everything to make this team as good as I possibly can.

Also Read  The last phone boxes: broken glass, cider cans and – amazingly – a dial tone | Society

“The thing that is in my control, is helping this team put in a really strong performance and win this series, which would be a phenomenal achievement; not many teams have done it,” the England captain added. “Off the back of a very difficult winter, it would be a great way to round things off and start this year.”

Grenada’s cricketing heritage is not as deep as other Caribbean countries, a population of 112,000 providing just six of the 385 men to play for West Indies. The sport is visible, however, with local games being played in St George’s this week and the hulking great National Stadium, built with help from China before the 2007 World Cup, hosting its first Test match since 2015. Root has happy memories from that match , when he became the first English batsman to score a Test century on St George’s Day in a nine-wicket victory.

EnglandLees, Crawley, Root (capt.), Lawrence, Stokes, Bairstow, Foakes (wk), Woakes, Overton, Leach, Mahmood.

West Indies (possible): Brathwaite (capt.), Campbell, Brooks, Bonner, Blackwood, Holder, Da Silva (wk), Joseph, Roach, Permaul, Permaul, Seales.



Teams for third Test


England Lees, Crawley, Root (capt.), Lawrence, Stokes, Bairstow, Foakes (wk), Woakes, Overton, Leach, Mahmood.

West Indies (possible): Brathwaite (capt.), Campbell, Brooks, Bonner, Blackwood, Holder, Da Silva (wk), Joseph, Roach, Permaul, Permaul, Seales.

Thank you for your feedback.

Clouds can tumble down the neighboring hills at short notice for swing and there is talk of more life in a pitch that had grass on it with 24 hours to go, such that Root indicated that Matt Parkinson wouldn’t come in as a second spinner before England named their XI. It will be Jack Leach and the fast-mediums, with Craig Overton replacing Matt Fisher and Chris Woakes offered a reprieve thanks to Ollie Robinson making it a hat-trick of absences.

Three weeks on from suffering a back spasm in the solitary warm-up match, and after an Ashes tour marred by conditioning issues, Robinson’s latest setback raises yet more questions about his battle with fitness. Root wasn’t inclined to expand on whether there is an underlying issue here – and no scans have been done – saying it was one for the (rarely on-record) medical staff.

With Jofra Archer, Olly Stone and Mark Wood among those also missing – the latter seeing a consultant about his elbow this weekend amid talk of surgery – Robinson’s issues aren’t just about his own efforts, but may see the new MD and head coach take a view on England’s husbandry of their fast bowlers more broadly. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad – two bowlers with unimpeachable credentials as regards preparation, yet back home on the golf course – are starting to look like the exceptions here.

“On the wickets we’ve had, it would have been nice to throw the ball to Mark Wood occasionally,” Root replied, when asked if he’d like to have been able to call upon either Anderson or Broad during this series. “That extra bit of pace would have served us well. And his skills from him with the reverse swinging ball.”

Though Fisher will now wait until his summer back at Yorkshire to press claims for a second cap, having learned plenty about how hard bowling outside of England can be, Saqib Mahmood has the chance to show he can back up an impressive debut in Bridgetown that saw him floatingly transcend conditions. The 25-year-old looks hungry to succeed and, though not the same pace as Wood, could turn out to be the biggest plus from the tour.

More broadly the hope is that an enticing contest bubbles up at a time when a raft of draws have led to some remarkably knee-jerk fears about Test cricket. There is a more legitimate question about its health in the Caribbean – whether it is like the bleached coral found off the coastline that once dazzled so brightly – but West Indies have a proud captain in Kraigg Brathwaite and are open about a goal to ensure England’s past struggles in the Caribbean rumble on.

“We want to finish strong and keep that record intact. It would mean a lot for the Caribbean people,” said Brathwaite, leader of a Test side which knows a thing or two about the kind of upheaval their visitors are wrestling with this winter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *