North Sound (Antigua), March 8 (IANS) England, under skipper Joe Root, will be hoping for a turnaround in fortunes when they take on the West Indies in the inaugural Test of the three-match series at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium later on Tuesday, knowing that some much-needed points in the ICC World Test Championship standings are at stake after the Ashes debacle.
Both England and the Kraigg Brathwaite-led home team currently occupy the bottom two places on the WTC standings, with the West Indies eighth and England one rung below following a 0-4 drubbing during the Ashes series in Australia.
The Caribbean side most recently featured in Sri Lanka towards the end of last year, where they were comprehensively beaten 2-0 in the two-match series in Galle. England didn’t fare any better as they only managed to hold on to a draw in the fourth Test at Sydney, losing the other four by big margins.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) acted swiftly, showing the door to coach Chris Silverwood and leaving out experienced seamers Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad for the tour of the Caribbean. But their problems have been compounded on the tour with pace bowler Ollie Robinson succumbing to a shoulder injury and set to miss the first Test.
The two teams will battle it out for the newly-created Richards-Botham trophy, named after West Indies great Sir Vivian Richards and England star Sir Ian Botham.
The last time the teams had met, pace stalwart Stuart Broad had picked up 10 wickets for the match as England won by 269 runs in Manchester to ensure they registered a 2-1 series triumph over the West Indies in 2020.
Broad was named ‘Player of the Series’ for his 18 wickets during the three Tests, while all-rounder Ben Stokes topped the run-scoring charts with 363 runs at an average of 90. West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite managed two half-centuries during that series, while experienced all-rounder Jason Holder picked up 10 wickets.
“We’re really excited and ready for the upcoming Test Series against England. This is going to be an amazing three weeks of cricket. It’s extra special too that we’re playing for the new Richards-Botham trophy, a fitting tribute to these two great men. We want to be the first team to get our hands on it and celebrate with our fans,” said Brathwaite to ICC ahead of the Test.
“I’m very grateful to get the opportunity — and hopefully this can be a real start of change in our performances. It’s a real chance to start getting back to where we need to be, which is one of the leading teams in Test cricket,” said England skipper Root.
West Indies squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Joshua Da Silva, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Veerasammy Permaul, Anderson Phillip, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jonny Bairstow, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.