Kraigg Braithwaite’s troops, who survived what would have been a shock defeat in Antigua with six wickets to spare, will be geared up for the 2nd Test in Barbados.
The Kensington Oval will be a welcome chance for the West Indies, who ran out deserved winners over England with their thrilling 3-2 T20I series success in January. On paper there is not much to separate these teams. However, the pitch in Barbados should prove far better for bowlers than the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground (SVRCG) in the dull opening Test.
Nkrumah Bonner was the shining star for the resurgent West Indies at the SVRCG. The Jamaican all rounder, who arrived at no.4, patiently hit 123 – his highest ever Test score – in the first innings, and followed that up with a solid unbeaten knock of 38 to frustrate the tourists. The majority of the batsmen in the 1st Test took advantage of the placid wicket, although arguably both bowling attacks were not firing on all cylinders.
Boundary hitting on the tight Kensington Oval will liven up the clash, and there is bound to be plenty of home support – something sadly lacking at North Sound in Antigua.
With fully vaccinated fans permitted to attend the 2nd Test, the Barbados contest should be brimming with noise and excitement from zealous fans.
Bajan Braithwaite, as skipper and a solid opener, will no doubt be producing the kind of fireworks that has sparked the ever-evolving West Indies back into business. He has a strong trio of Jamaican batsmen to add backbone. Left-handed opener John Campbell will be keen to improve on his insipid Antigua displays, Jermaine Blackwood was also disappointing at the crease so should be better, with Bonner in exceptional form.
Holder, the former captain and one of the heroes from the enthralling T20I series success on his home ground in Barbados earlier this year, is the player that the Windies have for years become over-reliant on.
Although Holder is always going to be an asset to the team, whether with the ball, bat and/or in the field, the West Indies have recently been a more collective team. There have been numerous players who have finished as heroes in one day matches, and this camaraderie team spirit has been the reason why the various West Indies teams have been improving.
The hosts are likely to go toe-to-toe with England in Barbados, but do have the slight edge as they are solid with both the bat and ball. In contrast, ailing England have room for improvement and their confident is deteriorating.
The West Indies have made no changes to the previous Test, with their priority to send the dangerous batting duo of Jonny Bairstow and Zak Crawley back to the pavilion for as cheaply as possible.
Experienced pacer Kemar Roach, who has captured 19 wickets from the past four home Test matches, is the key to West Indies bowling success. He confidently took four wickets in the 1st Test.
With Holder always chipping in, and others given the chance to play a starring role, the Kensington Oval pitch tends to offer bowlers plenty of assistance to grab scalps and send wickets tumbling. Young fast bowler Jayden Seales, who took four wickets across England’s 1st innings in Antigua, could turn on the style and make a real impact.
The invigorated West Indies seem ready to further re-establish themselves as a top team and continue their impressive unbeaten Test run against England, having last lost a Test series to their foes on home turf in 2004.
With Barbados offering the total opposite in terms of ambience, potential excitement and home support compared to last week’s dreary draw in Antigua, West Indies cricket appears ready to make a noise at the historic ground.
WI 2nd Test squad | Jermaine Blackwood (Jamaica, vice-capt.), Nkrumah Bonner (Jamaica), Kraigg Brathwaite (Barbados, capt.), Shamarh Brooks (Barbados), John Campbell (Jamaica), Joshua da Silva (Trinidad, wicketkeeper), Jason Holder (Barbados), Alzarri Joseph (Antigua), Kyle Mayers (Barbados), Veerasammy Permaul (Guyana), Anderson Phillip (Trinidad), Kemar Roach (Barbados), Jayden Seales (Trinidad)
8-12 March | 1st Test (Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, Antigua)
WI drew with England
England 311 (100.3 overs) & 349-6 declared (88.2 overs)
West Indies 375 (157.3 overs) & 147-4 (70.1 overs)
16-20 March | 2nd Test WI v England (Kensington Oval, Barbados)
24-28 March | 3rd Test WI v England (National Cricket Stadium, Grenada)
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