England Vs West Indies Test Series .
Test Played at Rose Bowel, Southampton , England, 8 July -12 July
England 35/1 in 17.4 overs .
Summer rain, a very usual feature of English cricket allowed only 17.4 overs cricket at Rose Bowel of Southampton. A new look England under stand in captain Ben Stokes winning the toss and electing to bat crawled to 35/1 staving off pace and seam of Caribbean quartet Roach, Gabriel, Josef and Holder. The test promises to be a battle of pace against two relatively untested batting units. However, more than the contest it is a sigh of relief that competitive cricket returned.
CORONA pandemic COVID-19 locked cricket and cricketers indoor almost four months since mid march 2020. Many bilateral series were suspended. Fate of ICC World T20 and Asia Cup is hanging in the balance. ICC had created fresh guidelines and some protocols for the return of competitive cricket. The tourists arriving few weeks earlier stayed in mandatory 14 days quarantine. The stadium, ground , dressing rooms were treated thoroughly making these infections free. The rival teams were made to stay in different hotels cutting out possibilities of mingling and interactions. Restrictions were imposed on use of saliva on the ball , celebrations of bowlers after getting wicket , pushing back close in fielders and wicket keepers and few other provisions . However, all that cricket loving millions were eagerly awaiting the return of competitive cricket.
We all know that cricket is Oxygen for cricket loving millions across the world. For some it is like Nasal Canola for Cricket lovers as Cricket now is a Electronic media accessible object of entertainment.
Badly COVID impacted England chose least affected West Indies as the first opponent for resumption of competitive cricket . West Indies players had options of not agreeing . Fortunately most excepting few agreed .
West Indies is a traditional rival of England . There are so many sweet memories of England West Inies glorious moments of cricket. The players of Caribbean Islands play carefree cricket for fun . Weeks , Walcott ,Worrell, Headley , Hall ,Grifitth, Kanhai , Greendge, Haynes, Lloyd, Richards, Lara , Marshall ,Roberts , Holding , Wales are admired and adorned around the sporting world like Pele , Vava , Didi , Tostao, Garincha , Ronlado, Rivelino and Neymer.
The sky turned grey on the day of the match . There were some talks how England will approach the series. England will have to play 6 weeks over the next 7 weeks.Three of them will be against a comparatively stronger opposition Pakistan. On top of that English Captain Joe Root was unavailable for personal reasons. England opted for Ben Stokes as captain. The batting resources became thinner as Baierstow and Moeel Ali were also not included . England off course has the luxury of great bowling resources in the English condition. They had challenge of choosing three from fearsome five Anderson, Broad, Archer , Wood and Woakes . Of them Anderson –Broad are tried and tested pair having won several tests on twin appearance. Yet England planned teasing and tormenting West Indies batting with sheer pace of Archer and Wood. Broad was left out after 51 tests played on trot. Off Course Stokes himself is no less useful with the ball. . On the other hand West Indies went with four front line pacers Roach, Gabriel, Josef and Holder. Hence a war of speed and pace were on display.
West Indies is defending their 2-1 series win when the two teams last met . However, West Indies did not win any test series from England since 1988 when the great Sir IVA Richards led team won last.
England won the toss and surprising all Stokes decided to bat under heavy sky. Play started three hours behind schedule for wet outfield. Gabriel struck the first blow disturbing the furniture of English stumps Sibley in his very first over. English innings got a shock. Roach and Gabriel were bowling at pace and were moving the ball prodigiously. There were lot of playing and missing. Another wicket at that stage could open the fragile not too deep English batting. However, Rory Burns and Joe Denly survived proving spell of Josef and Holder. When play was called off for the day after 17.3 overs home team could crawl to 35/1. The unstable thirst for keen tussle of bat and ball remained unquenched .
More rain interruptions are in the forecast . However , if the second day permits more overs the match will take shape indicating the direction it will be heading .
RJ Burns, DP SibleY, JL Denley , BA Stokes, JC Buttler, Z Crawly, JJ Pope, DM Bess, M Wood , J Archerand J Andesron.
West Indies :
Jermine Blackwood, Kraige Braithwaite ,John Campbell, Shamrah Brooks, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Shane Dorwich, Jason Holder, Ajari Josef, Khemar Roach and Shanon Gabriel.
BDST: 0107 HRS, JUL 10, 2020