Two inconsistent teams square off in a three-match Test series which is a part of the World Test Championship (WTC) 2021-23 cycle. Both West Indies and England are at the bottom end of the WTC points table. This is the third series of the cycle for both West Indies and England and both sides are yet to even win one.
West Indies played Pakistan in August last year and drew the two-match series 1-1. However, they were outplayed by Sri Lanka and lost 0-2. Meanwhile, England lost two out of the four Test matches at home against India before getting thrashed 0-4 in the Ashes down under. England have an abysmal win percentage in this WTC cycle (9.25%) while West Indies are a tad better at 25%.
Moreover, it is going to be a battle between two fragile batting line-ups. Batters from both sides have been pretty inconsistent. Joe Root is the only batter from both sides who averages over 50 and all the others have an average of under 35. Hence, it is going to be a test for both batting line-ups against the Dukes ball and both teams have decent bowling attacks.
The last time England toured the Caribbean for a Test series, they lost 1-2.
Head to head record heavily is pretty neck and neck
As far as head to head record is concerned, West Indies are ahead with 58 wins. Meanwhile, England have won 51 games and 51 encounters have ended in a draw. However, since the start of 2011, England have the advantage as they have won eight games. Meanwhile, West Indies have won five and two games were drawn.
England’s recent troubles in Test cricket
England have struggled big time in the longest format since the start of 2021. The Joe Root-led side began 2021 with an impressive 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. They backed that up with a big win against India in Chennai in the first Test of the four-match series. But since then, almost everything has gone downhill. They have lost 10 out of the 14 Test matches since that win in Chennai, including a couple of losses against India at home. They were shoddy in the Ashes recently and will be desperate to turn things around.
West Indies have named a 13-man squad for the first Test. While the bowling attack is likely to comprise of the likes of Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph and Jayden Seales along with left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul. Kraigg Brathwaite, Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers and Joshua Da Silva will be the premier batters.
On the other hand, England will be without their veteran fast bowlers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, both of whom have been dropped for the tour. Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson are likely to form the pace attack while Jack Leach might be the lone spinner. Alex Lees might be in for a Test debut as he could open the batting alongside Zak Crawley. Joe Root is set to bat at No. 3 while Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow will be key men in the middle-order. Ben Foakes is going to don the gloves for England this series.
It’s almost even stevens ahead of the series and it is going to be tough to pick an outright favourite heading into the first Test match. England are slightly ahead with odds of 1.20 to win this game. West Indies have their betting odds placed at 2.10.
Who will win the Man of the Match?
Jason Holder has been in prime form and he has a fabulous record at home in the last four years. Since the start of the year 2018, the seam-bowling all-rounder has returned with 64 wickets at an average of 16.40. With the bat, he has scored 917 runs while averaging 39.86. He could be a strong Player of the Match contender.