Three Tests will be played on Thursday at different corners of the world. In England, Australia will be looking to maintain their lead in the Ashes series after a hard-fought draw at Lord’s. Across the Arabian sea, Sri Lanka are on the verge of another memorable Test series win over a major nation; the Kiwis looking to do what South Africa couldn’t earlier in the year.
Meanwhile in the Caribbean, two explosive pace attacks will go head to head when world No1 India look to get the better of West Indies in a two-Test series. It’s the same Windies who stunned England earlier in the year.
Jofra Archer concussed Steve Smith out of Lord’s and now the Leeds Test. Otherwise, all top four Test batsmen in the world would have been in action on Thursday.
Even so, the three who will take the field on Thursday will have a lot of their minds, especially since they are captains as well.
Joe Root is not in a comfortable position, either as batsman or captain. The top-order stroke-player has seen his Test average steadily decline from above 50 to now in the 48s. A change in his back lift has made Root a prime target for lbw and bowled. So there’s that.
Plus almost the entire top six, or seven, of England’s batting line-up is in a constant state of shuffling. No one knows who should bat where and that greatly contributed to a Test series defeat in the Caribbean and now a 1-0 deficit in the Ashes.
Kiwi captain Kane Williamson had a horror Galle Test against Sri Lanka. Not only did he make 0 and four in an ultimately heavy defeat to the hosts, Williamson’s bowling action was also reported after the game.
After the high of an impressive World Cup campaign, the struggles in the first Test would be tough to swallow for the Kiwis. However, the second Test will be played at the P Sara Oval, a quicker pitch which should suit New Zealand’s style of play.
Which leaves us with Virat Kohli and his Indian team who will look to assert their No1 status at the start of their Test Championship. The Windies are a genuine threat at home, as England found out the hard way earlier in the year when they were shot out for 77 during a 2-1 series defeat.
Kohli has his own set of problems, although they are problems of plenty. Old guards Wriddhiman Saha and Ajinkya Rahane are fighting to stay relevant as challengers Rishabh Pant and Rohit Sharma fight for limited seats.
Also, the Windies are guaranteed to test India’s batting resolve on quick surfaces with the help of the extra zippy Dukes balls, like they did against the Englishmen. Since it’s a two-Test series between India and West Indies, 60 points will be on the line for each game, which means even the slightest mistake will set teams back a long way in the championship race.
Root, Williamson and Kohli are icons of our era. All three are truly great batsmen and inspirational captains. They have unique challenges facing them on Thursday. And given their record, you back all three to come up with a winning solution.