About the Match
The second test match between England and West Indies will go down in history as one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of cricket. The West Indies were thoroughly outplayed in the first test, made to look like amateurs in fact, and then promptly put in a batting performance that even their most ardent supporters could have dreamed of. Can they continue that same success in the third test against England or was it another false dawn in West Indian cricket?
Jonny Bairstow had sounded a warning ahead of the second test about how England tended to take their foot off the pedal after a big win but it just seemed like a player saying the politically correct thing. There was no chance that the mighty England was going to be caught out by this West Indies team?
Maybe Bairstow knew that there some serious cracks in this England line-up that could be exposed under pressure. Going into this series England decided to trial three top-order batsmen in their search for a settled lineup ahead of the Ashes.
Those three players, Tom Westley, Dawid Malan and Mark Stoneman have now had three innings each and only Malan has totaled over a hundred runs. Tom Westley currently has a best of 8 and a total of 19 runs.
No disrespect to the West Indian bowling but the Aussies are going to be a lot harder to face for this trio putting pressure on the rest of the batting. Cook and Root have piled on the runs whenever they have got in, as have Stokes and Ali down the order.
The end result for England is that they still do not have a settled lineup just a few months away from the Ashes.
The English bowling has been fantastic for the most part. Jimmy Anderson has 10 wickets to his name, Broad 7 and Ali 5. Toby Roland-Jones was left out of the last match for Chris Woakes but that may have harmed England more than they bargained for.
Woakes scored some useful second inning runs but was very ineffective with his bowling never really looking like taking a wicket.
We expect England to take the same playing eleven for the third test as well and hope that its players are able to lift themselves up.
The second test match required a fantastic chase on the last day from the West Indian batsmen but they could have easily been chasing a much smaller total had they held all of their catches. 7 catches were dropped in total by the West Indies and this makes their win all the more remarkable.
The batting saw a resurgence in fortunes thanks to Kraigg Braithwaite and Shai Hope. Both the players could have had two centuries each in the match, a feat that eventually Braithwaite fell short of by 5 runs.
It remains to be seen what knock-on effect does this performance have on the other batsmen. Currently, Shai Hope has 284 runs to his name, Braithwaite 269 and Blackwood 181. The next best after these three is Roston Chase with 59 runs to his name, Kieron Powell with 58 and Jason Holder with 54.
The West Indies will need more than just their two gun batsmen to keep scoring the runs if they are to succeed consistently. That being said, anyone who saw Shai Hope bat in the last test match would think twice about betting against him scoring runs.
He never looked troubled even as the ball was moving around and he was up against arguably the greatest England new ball attack in their history.
An opportunity for the West Indies may also lie in exploiting England’s batting fallibilities. The return of Shannon Gabriel gave their attack pace and incisiveness and made Kemar Roach more effective as well. Both of these bowlers are a handful and could rip out 4-5 quick England wickets on their day.
It is something that the West Indies will depend on because the backup bowling lineup of Holder, Bishoo and Chase does not pose much threat to the batsmen. We believe that for the West Indies to compete and maybe even dream of winning this third test match, their bowlers need to step up and put in the performance of a lifetime.
Pitch and Conditions
The last test match at Lords saw a pitch that was turning square by the end of the match and really brought the spinners into play. Presumably, the groundsman would have had more time to prepare the pitch and so a more traditional kind of surface can be expected. That means some movement up front, excellent batting conditions for the majority of the test and some spin from the fourth day on.
The weather is forecast to be clear and excellent for cricket over the first day but rain could interrupt the match from the second day onwards.
We have seen too many one-off great performances from the West Indies to bank on them so fast and thus backing England is the smart play here.
England to win