Stuart Broad and Joe Denly in mix for England as Windies ponder lively surface in Antigua

Ajit Vijaykumar 18:38 30/01/2019
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Stuart Broad should walk right back into England team.

The focus will be on England’s selection and the pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium as they look to bounce back from the Barbados thrashing and get some belief back into their cricket that has been shaken violently by West Indies.

The second Test in Antigua starts on Thursday and pressure will be on England to not only raise their game but match the clinical performance of the Windies, who outplayed the visitors in all departments in the opener.

As good as the Windies were in Barbados, England received ample criticism for being too cheeky with their selection, picking all-rounder Sam Curran ahead of proven seamer Stuart Broad and selecting the unreliable leg-spin of Adil Rashid instead of the stable left-arm spin of Jack Leach.

There are numerous headaches in the batting departments as well with the poor form of opener Keaton Jennings adding to the seemingly never ending woes of the Englishmen at the top of the order.

Here we take a look at the talking points for both teams heading into the Antigua Test.

BROAD AND LEACH FOR CURRAN AND RASHID

Broad and Anderson should team up again.

Broad and Anderson should team up again.

There is no point having extra batting options if the bowlers can’t pick up 20 wickets cheaply. England learnt that the hard way as the Windies first blew Joe Root’s team away for 77 in their first outing before plundering 415-6 in 103 overs. Add to it their score of almost 300 in the first innings and you can see how badly England’s bowling plans were exposed on a pitch where the Windies bowlers didn’t allow the visitors to cross 250.

Seamer Stuart Broad should find his way back into the team after the below-par bowling effort of left-arm seamer Curran. Broad’s height should also help him get more out of the Antigua surface. Left-arm spinner Leach in for leg-spinner Rashid is also a no-brainer as the former offers control while the latter bowled just nine overs and went for more than six an over in the second innings.

DENLY TO DEBUT?

Opener Jennings looked all at sea in the opening match, uncomfortable with both short and full balls. His partner Rory Burns made an inspiring 84 in the second outing so has pretty much nailed down his spot.

The only other player in the squad who can come in is Joe Denly, who is yet to play a Test. The Kent batsman has more than 10,000 first-class runs and will offer a right-left combination at the top with Burns.

He batted for a long duration at the nets in Antigua and should get a look in for the second Test. There is speculation the England management might bench keeper Ben Foakes, ask Jonny Bairstow to wear the gloves and have both Jennings and Denly. However, that would be unfair on Foakes who was the star of the series win in Sri Lanka.

WINDIES LOOK TO GO ALL OUT

Oshane Thomas (r) with Shannon Gabriel.

Oshane Thomas (r) with Shannon Gabriel.

Reports have emerged of the West Indies considering preparing a lively surface for the second Test. Given Jason Holder has genuine pace in his arsenal, it might not be the worst idea as Ben Stokes is the only bowler in the England side able to crank it up and he would still be recovering from bowling 50 overs in the first Test.

Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach offers a cutting edge to the Windies line-up and they have added tearaway quick Oshane Thomas to the squad. If Alzarri Joseph makes way for Thomas, the Windies will look to bombard England with sustained spells of short-pitched bowling.

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