Although it may not be such an explosive and exciting event as in years gone by a West Indian tour of England will always stir cricket fans into a state of some expectation. The Windies team coming to these shores has certainly taken a rather rocky route, and the exclusion of Chris Gayle is (in some respects at least) a sign of the continuing malaise at the heart Caribbean cricket. A tour victory would obviously heal a lot of wounds whilst convincing the fans the board are correct in their decision-making, but more realistic is a good performance showing promise for the future.
There are some interesting selections in the home squad, with the injury to Ravi Bopara meaning a call-up for Jonny Bairstow, the Yorkshire wicketkeeper-batsman, and Samit Patel being left out after featuring in Sri Lanka. As always the form of James Anderson at Lords will be crucial to the overall success of the squad but the decision to drop Patel is indicative of the change in emphasis from turn to swing as they play under potentially heavy English skies, and the West Indian batsmen were limited in their preparation time due to bad weather in Hove.
Obdurate veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul sustained a minor blow to the hand in that game but will be fit to play at Lords, according to the team management, and the likes of Shiv, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy will need to be at the top of their game to guide some of the less experience players through a difficult set of tests. Disruption in their build-up caused by the IPL has meant Marlon Samuels was late joining the squad, but if they can get it together and Fidel Edwards continues to recover well from his back injury there is every chance Lords will be an interesting contest.
The bookies don’t seem as optimistic that it will be close, though, with England 3/5 with BWin to win the test, compared to Ladbrokes offering 8’s on the Windies and Bet365’s best price of 5/2 on a draw. In terms of who might fill their boots with the potentially easy West Indian bowling on offer, StanJames offer Jonathan Trott as 7/2 favourite to be the top English batsman, with Ladbrokes having 3/1 on Chanderpaul leading the way for the tourists. Hopefully the poor preparation of the visitors won’t have as big an effect on the outcome as is expected, but if England do romp home to an easy victory at least the fans will be delighted.