West Indies v England Tests: Shai Hope, Ben Stokes and the other key players

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Ben Stokes will be key for England in the three-match series.

Fresh from a maiden series win on Sri Lankan soil, England will now turn their attentions towards the West Indies as they get ready to take on the Caribbean side in the three-match Test series.

The Windies, meanwhile, come into the series on the back of away losses against India and Bangladesh and will be looking to get back to winning ways on their home turf.

Ahead of the first Test at Bridgetown, we take a look at three key players from either side who could make the difference in the series.

WEST INDIES

Darren Bravo

The top-order batsman is back in the Windies Test setup after more than two years in exile. The classical batsman has not played a Test since November, 2016 due to a row with Cricket West Indies but his return could provide the stability the hosts need in the batting department.

The left-hander has eight tons to his name in 49 Tests with a healthy average of 40 and he will be eager to reestablish himself in the international arena in the upcoming series.

Bravo returns after more than two years out.

Bravo returns after more than two years out.

Shai Hope

The wicketkeeper-batsman has long been hailed as the next West Indies superstar after a promising start to his career. However, his career had seemed to stagnate a bit before he bounced back with a resurgent 2018.

He played some sensational innings in the ODI formats in India and Bangladesh and will be looking to add to his two Test tons. Hope showed his prowess against England with a century in both innings in Windies’ win at Headingley in 2017.

Hope is starting to fulfil his early promise.

Hope is starting to fulfil his early promise.

Gabriel Shannon

His career has been hampered by injuries at times but fast-bowler Shannon Gabriel has been coming into his own recently. The leader of Windies’ new-ball attack, Gabriel has been a consistent performer of late, especially in home conditions.

He picked up a record 13-wicket haul against Sri Lanka at St. Lucia last year, which are the best-ever figures by any bowler in a Test match held in the West Indies.

With a wicket tally of 120 after 40 Tests at a strike-rate of 52, Gabriel will be the hosts’ best bet against the formidable England batting line-up.

Gabriel will be the leader of Windies' bowling attack.

Gabriel will be the leader of Windies’ bowling attack.

ENGLAND

Rory Burns

The opening batsman from Surrey was thrust into the spotlight in Sri Lanka following Alastair Cook’s retirement and gave a good account of himself in the three-match series.

A proven and consistent performer in the County Championship over the years, Burns will once again take guard in the opener’s role for England in the Caribbean alongside Keaton Jennings.

He is looking in good form at the moment after his 68-run knock in the warm-up game against a Windies Cricket XI at Cave Hill.

Burns has had a promising start to his Test career.

Burns has had a promising start to his Test career.

Ben Stokes

His 2018 was marred with off-field controversies but all that is now behind Ben Stokes as we enter 2019. The star all-rounder has wasted no time in establishing his place back in the England setup following his international exile and played a decisive role in the team’s historic Test win in Sri Lanka.

One of the few premier all-rounders in world cricket, Stokes is looking in good rhythm with both bat and ball based on the tour game showings. He will be desperate to make headlines for all the right reasons this year and Windies would be the perfect place to start.

Stokes will look to take 2019 by the scruff.

Stokes will look to take 2019 by the scruff.

James Anderson

The all-time leading wicket-taker in the Test format when it comes to pacers, Anderson will be looking to make his mark in what could possibly be his last tour of the Caribbean.

The England veteran barely made an impact in Sri Lanka with just one wicket in two Tests before he was dropped for the decider. However, in the Caribbean he will have the benefit of being able to bowl with his favoured Duke balls and that will light up the eyes of the Lancastrian.

In his only previous Test series with the Duke ball in West Indies, Anderson picked up a total of 17 wickets at an average of just 18. He will be looking to match that showing, if not better it this time around.

Anderson is lethal with the Duke ball in hand.

Anderson is lethal with the Duke ball in hand.

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