It’s only been a couple of days since the first Test reached a conclusion that was pretty satisfactory all round. England got the win they were after, reasonably comfortably in the end, while the West Indies again proved that they’re becoming more competitive and harder to beat. And us? We managed to blag a free book off our favourite cricket journalist (apart from Michael Atherton of course – we bloody love him).
England are likely to be unchanged for the second Test. The batting takes care of itself – Ravi Bopara isn’t fit enough to come back into the squad, so Jonny Bairstow will get another opportunity to try and stake his claim for the remainder of the summer. The only question is around the third seamer role currently occupied by Tim Bresnan.
In case you didn’t know, Bresnan has now played twelve, won twelve at Test level. It’s important to remember this, because if you don’t state it every single time you talk about Tim Bresnan, people might think you were foolish. As opposed to just being horrendous at presenting cricket on television.
While Bresnan did a reasonable enough holding job in the first Test, it wasn’t one of his more dynamic bowling performances. Add to that a duck with the bat and the Steven Finn fanboys are once again out in force, calling for their man to finally force his way back into the side. In truth, that would still be a big surprise – at Trent Bridge the ball should wobble about a fair bit, plus Graham Onions is a more natural replacement for Bresnan – so we fully expect Timbo to have made it played thirteen, won thirteen by next week.
The West Indies acquitted themselves pretty well at Lord’s but at some cost. The promising Shannon Gabriel suffered a back problem and is already back home sunning himself. Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach also seemed to struggle with their fitness at various points, particularly on the final day. Indeed, it’s fair to ask if they were ever fit enough to start with. Expect to see more of Marlon Samuels’s half-hearted off-spin then, if only to keep the over rate up.
The same old problems for the West Indies will still be in evidence at Trent Bridge – the substandard top three and the unbalanced side caused by the necessity of fitting in Darren Sammy as captain – and there simply aren’t the resources to fix them. Nevertheless, the tourists can certainly look to get more out of what they do have. In particular Darren Bravo is due a big innings, preferably one that doesn’t involve running out a number of batting partners.
In terms of changes, we expect to see Ravi Rampaul come in for Gabriel, while Shane Shillingford and Deonarine are likely to be enjoying the belated British summer from the sidelines. If Roach or (more likely) Edwards aren’t fit to take their places, then the West Indies will need to find a decent quick bowler to take the new ball. Certainly not a substandard one averaging nearly 50 runs per wicket.
England to win, with greater ease than at Lord’s. Tino Best to threaten the windows, but only because they looked at him funny. Tim Bresnan to have worked his way into thirteen wins from thirteen games. Ridiculous!