West Indies go into the final Test of their three-Test series against England looking for their maiden win on tour at Edgbaston.
West Indies have not won a Test on English soil since Jimmy Adams’ team beat Nasser Hussain’s back in June 2000 at Birmingham. Courtney Walsh was the star for West Indies in that game, picking up eight wickets and helping his team win by an innings and 93 runs.
England, who have consolidated their position at the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings, have rested James Anderson, their star performer, for the match.
Andy Flower, England’s coach, explained that this decision was taken keeping in mind England’s heavy workload over the coming months. England play four Tests, 14 One-Day Internationals and four T20 Internationals.
Things only get tougher thereafter as the side heads to the sub-continent, first to defend their World T20 title in Sri Lanka before a tour to India, comprising four Tests, two T20Is and five ODIs.
England, 2-0 up in the three-match series, have capable seam bowling reserves in Steven Finn and Graham Onions, both of whom could feature in the Test if the selectors decide rest Stuart Broad.
Andy Flower, the director of the team affirmed their goal was to look ahead after having wrapped up the series. “We came into this series with one goal, and that was to win the series,” he said. “I’m not intending to demean the importance of this Test, but since we won the series already, our priority does now shift to the South Africa series.”
Flower likened Anderson’s position to that of a thoroughbred racehorse. “Would you enter your prize horse in every race through the year? You wouldn’t. You would target the races you want to win,” he explained. “We’ve won this race already. I understand why Anderson is disappointed, but it is beneficial to him in the long run.”
Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, warned against thinking life was about to get any easier for a top-order. In the second innings of their nine-wicket loss at Trent Bridge, the West Indies top order collapsed to 61 for six.
“We haven’t made any substantial runs for people to be resting on their laurels,” said Gibson. ”We still have batsmen that have to prove they can play cricket in these conditions. Steven Finn has had a very good stint in Test cricket since he’s come on board, Graham Onions made his debut against West Indies in 2009 and got five wickets at Lord’s.”
West Indies, who’ve won just two of their last 32 Tests, suffered a blow when Kemar Roach, their most hostile fast bowler, was ruled out of the tour with a shin problem last week. He has been replaced by Sunil Narine, who could make his Test debut on Thursday after starring for champions Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League. But even Narine could do with some runs to bowl against.
Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, hinted that Narine would be played. “Everyone is calling him the ‘mystery’ spinner and he could come in and make an impact for us,” said Sammy. “England is a difficult place for spinners to make their debut, but he has a lot up his sleeve and we’re backing him to make an impact. Hopefully, this is the start of something that could be a great Test career.”
Another worrying aspect for West Indies is the form of Kirk Edwards , whose nightmare continued when he was out for a fourth duck of the tour against Leicestershire last weekend. Edwards has managed just 20 runs from eight innings and West Indies may decide there is little to be lost in selecting either Narsingh Deonarine or Assad Fudadin instead.
England (Probable XI): Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss (capt), Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonathan Bairstow, Matt Prior (wk), Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, Graham Onions and Steven Finn.
West Indies (Probable XI): Adrian Barath, Keiran Powell, Narsingh Deonarine, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Sammy (capt), Ravi Rampaul, Sunil Narine and Fidel Edwards.