|West Indies v England, first Test|
|Venue: Kensington Oval, Barbados Dates: 23-27 January|
|Coverage: Are living text commentary and The Cricket Social on the BBC Sport web set and app|
At final, it has arrived.
We comprise been talking about 2019 for so prolonged, a year wherein England comprise a dwelling World Cup followed by an Ashes sequence. It will be the wonderful year in England’s cricketing history and they also are going to hope that it turns out to be their most profitable.
It begins right here in Barbados, with the major of three Tests in opposition to West Indies. As I score your hands on over the well-known passe Kensington Oval, I’m able to survey some of England’s key protagonists and can’t support nonetheless marvel how the following three hundred and sixty five days will play out for them.
Will Trevor Bayliss, in his final year as coach, bolt off into the sunset having achieved a out of the ordinary double?
Can Stuart Mighty, for so prolonged an England shoo-in, comprise a profitable tour of the Caribbean and nail down that Ashes philosophize?
Will James Anderson support going after the check with of Australia? He looks to be to be like so fit, there looks no reason why he can’t.
For captain Joe Root, who no doubt stamped his authority on this crew all around the three-0 rob in Sri Lanka earlier than Christmas, will this summer present some redemption after that rotten tour down under final iciness?
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In the meanwhile, England’s vital focal point is on a success within the Caribbean. Even supposing West Indies comprise been so inconsistent for a range of years, England restful comprise a though-provoking unlucky portray right here.
Of their previous two tours, they’ve won most productive one Test. The final day commute, a 1-1 sequence plan, marked the tip for every batsman Jonathan Trott and, at final, coach Peter Moores.
Realistically, this trio of Tests is the final chance for some of this crew to stutter their worth within the longest create earlier than the Ashes begins.
England’s most productive a good deal of Test earlier than they meet Australia at Edgbaston is a four-day match in opposition to Eire at Lord’s. By that time, they are going to want their Ashes crew sorted.
Doubtlessly the most urgent points get the head three. Rory Burns must stutter he can kick on and create nice scores; Keaton Jennings wishes to stutter he is as upright in opposition to seam as he is in opposition to breeze; and Jonny Bairstow must trace he has the methodology – and self-discipline – to address his promotion up the repeat.
The rest of the batting repeat looks though-provoking settled and the choice England comprise earlier than Wednesday is on the create-up of their bowling ******.
Unusually, there are two pitches, aspect by aspect, willing and willing to walk. The Caribbean, and in particular Barbados, is suited to nice lickety-split bowlers who can exploit any uneven soar that can attain in gradual within the sport, so Mighty – who took a hat-trick within the outlet warmth-up game – would possibly possibly furthermore fair restful play.
With that being the case, England potentially want to attain to a choice between the all-spherical talents of Sam Curran, who will be priceless with the Dukes ball, or the second breeze option of Jack Leach.
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Root’s men will face a West Indies aspect that remain a shadow of the wide crew that dominated the the rest of the field within the Eighties and early 90s.
Their captain Jason Holder is a ambitious identify and their bowling can comprise some tempo about it, nonetheless they are inexperienced – no longer one player has extra than 50 caps.
Shai Hope, the architect of their nice rob at Headingley in 2017, has no longer kicked on, nonetheless he’s going to at least comprise some batting toughen within the form of the recalled Darren Bravo.
Certainly, the change in fortunes of the West Indies crew mirrors the very a good deal of perspective to the sport that I no doubt comprise chanced on since arriving in Barbados.
On old trips right here, you would possibly possibly perchance no longer comprise a dialog with a local with out talking cricket. The immigration officer at the airport, the cab driver, the man within the bar – there used to be most productive one matter when England had been on the town.
That’s no longer the case any extra, though I’m told that with life on the island getting busier, locals merely flip their attention to cricket noteworthy later than they archaic to. The hope is that the Kensington Oval will be blessed with masses of dwelling toughen attain Wednesday.
We already know England followers will be packed in. The number being quoted is somewhere within the space of 9,000 and as well you would possibly possibly perchance’t transfer in Barbados for crimson faces and sunburnt legs.
A day commute to the West Indies is a gigantic occasion for any cricket fan, even if those that comprise arrived will get a noteworthy-modified Kensington Oval to the one where Michael Keeping bowled that ferocious over to Geoffrey Boycott in 1981.
Back then, noise bellowed from the rickety passe stands ,the band played, spectators danced and men in loud suits shouted at the gamers. Now, Barbados is dwelling to a no doubt trendy stadium, even if there remains an opening in which you would possibly possibly perchance survey the palm bushes swaying.
Either methodology, England’s travelling followers will restful be greeted by a swimming pool and rum punch.
My recommendation to Alastair Cook…
Talking of those travelling from England, I’m anticipating welcoming a brand original colleague to the BBC cricket crew for the final two Tests of the sequence.
I no doubt comprise told the newly retired and newly knighted Sir Alastair Cook to include an empty notepad and though-provoking pencil. Even England’s all-time leading Test bustle-scorer has to beginning within the support of the be taught room as he learns the ropes as a broadcaster.
Cook is a gigantic excellent friend and I’m anticipating working with him. If he applies himself to radio within the same methodology he loved batting, he’s going to be a natural.
Assuredly, gamers contemporary out of the dressing room are reluctant to criticise their passe mates or give too noteworthy away in regards to the crew. It will be my job to coax what wishes to be some spell binding perception from the ragged skipper.
Jonathan Agnew used to be talking to BBC Sport’s Stephan Shemilt.