By Ravendra Madholall
The third and final test between England and West Indies is promising to be pulsating when the actions get cracking from Friday.
England, not only have home advantage, but whipping West Indies by 113 runs in the second game also boosted their confidence tremendously.
West Indies, though, will be hoping to rekindle their form having snapped up a four-wicket victory to begin the series on a winning note.
With the series levelled 1-1, great intensity is expected for the prestigious Wisden trophy at the same venue where the penultimate test took place. England showed excellent form in both departments of their game after two batsmen recorded centuries and notably they declared in both innings.
Their leading cavalier all-rounder Ben Stokes claimed the man-of-the-match award after his sterling contributions: 176 and 78 not out while he collected three wickets. Opener Dom Sibley batted well to make 120.
Even though they had an altered lineup from the first contest, leaving out veteran fast-bowler James Anderson and another talented quickie James Wood, England found back momentum with their seasoned campaigner Stuart Broad. Broad was surprisingly excluded for the opening test but made a good impression to help win the match.
They would have missed the service too of Jofra Archer, who could not have played in the victorious fixture owing to a Pandemic breach, but he is set to play in this final encounter which should enhance the quality of the bowling setup.
West Indies failed to fire in all cylinders and were beaten. Unlike the first test when the pacers made a mess of England’s batting, they badly lacked enthusiasm and eagerness in the second game.
As much as the bowling looked unimpressive, the batting form by several experienced players is worrying some. Batsman Shai Hope is inconsistent and didn’t come good as yet while opener John Campbell is also in poor form. Head coach Phil Simmons stated that he was “concerned” with their form and will make changes for this crucial final showdown.
“(Campbell and Hope’s form) is something that we have to discuss over the next couple of days, and make a decision as to which direction we go there,” Simmons said. “You’re right, they haven’t fired, so we’ve got to take that into consideration.
Simmons, a former West Indies all-rounder also told Cricinfo that his batsmen need to convert those attractive half-centuries into hundreds.
“We’ve had five or six half-centuries (in this Test) and no conversion. It’s something that we’ve been talking about a lot, and no one has taken up that opportunity in this game, yet again. It is disappointing,” he stated.
Having seen the failures of Hope and Campbell, the Caribbean unit is likely to be changed for this crucial showdown.
Campbell’s Jamaican compatriot Nkrumah Bonner might get a shot while the bowling will see changes as well. Their ace seamer Shannon Gabriel doesn’t look 100 percent fit in the second match and West Indies would call on youngster and uncapped Chemar Holder or bring in off-spin all-rounder Rakheem Cornwall.