West Indies vs England 1st Test : Preview and Predicted Playing XI
West Indies and England are all set to renew the test rivalry when they go up against each other in the first test of the three-match test series starting from Wednesday, January 23 at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Both nations have gone head to head in 154 test fixtures, with the men from Caribbean leading the scoreline at 55-48, with all other 51 fixtures ending in a draw.
In case of matches played in West Indies, the scoreline favours the home team with 25-14. While at the Kensington Oval, out of 15 tests, the home team has won five, while the visitors have managed to grab honours on three occasions.
The last time these two teams faced off in a test series, the English hosted the Windies in August 2017, and it were the men from England that won the series by a margin of 2-1.
The English side previously visited West Indies in April 2015 for a three-match test series and the final clash of the series was played at Kensington Oval, which the hosts won by five wickets and squared the series 1-1.
The hosts have had one of the worst years on the field and are coming into this game on the back of four consecutive test defeats, two each against Bangladesh and India. Though they will take some confidence from their previous home series against the Tigers, which they won quite convincingly by 2-0.
Meanwhile, this will also be their last test series before the start of the ICC Test Championship, and they will aim to get all their blades polished ahead of the much awaited tournament set to begin right after the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup.
Shimron Hetmyer, with 222 runs was their best performer in the recent test series against Bangladesh, while Roston Chase impressed everyone during his stint against India, and the team will except both of them to come out with a few big knocks against England.
Kraigg Barithwaite, who scored two back to back hundreds at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and Sabina Park during Bangladesh's tour in July 2018, along with Shai Hope, who is considered their most consistent performer, will be expected to get the team off to a decent start.
With the ball, skipper Jason Holder is expected to lead from the front as he was their key wicket taker with nine wickets in their previous fixture against Sri Lanka at this venue.
Among the spinners, Jomel Warrican was quite impressive against Bangladesh with eight wickets in two games and he might be a surprise package for the visitors.
Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel also played key roles during their last series as they rattled Bangladesh with their effective yorkers and these two will be expected to provide the early breakthroughs for the team.
Expected Playing XI
Jason Holder (C), Kemar Roach, Shane Dowrich (W), Jomel Warrican, Shannon Gabriel, Oshane Thomas, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Roston Chase and Shimron Hetmyer.
On the flip-side, England are going through a tremendous run in this format and are coming into this series on back of five consecutive wins in their last five tests, including a clean sweep in the three-match series against Sri Lanka and two wins against the mighty Indians.
The visitors boast a strong batting unit with Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Ben Foakes scoring big runs for them.
Root has 6,508 runs to his name at an impressive average of 50.06, while Buttler is coming off a good outing against Sri Lanka, and these two will pose major threat to the Windies bowlers.
Ben Foakes topped the batting charts with 277 runs against the Lankans, while Bairstow got past triple figures in his previous outing, and both these will be backed by the team to perform a similar role against the Windies.
Moeen Ali claimed most 18 wickets in their previous test series against Sri Lanka, while Adil Rashid is their second best bower when it comes to spin, and these two will be expected to trap the Caribbeans with their variations and consistency.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad are considered to be the biggest threats for any teams when it comes to pace. Meanwhile, this will also mark Anderson's third visit to this ground and he has taken ten wickets in the two tests that he has played here. He, along with Broad, will expected to use their experience and exploit the conditions.
Expected Playing XI
Joe Root (C), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (W), Moeen Ali, Ben Foakes (W), Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Rory Burns, Keaton Jennings and Jonny Bairstow.