England will be looking to bounce back from the shocking defeat handed out to them by West Indies at Sabina Park when the 2nd Test starts in Antigua on Friday.
The tourists look set to make at least one change with the patient Owais Shah likely to come in for Ian Bell, the rest of the batsmen – with the obvious exception of Pietersen – will hang onto their places but only because the selectors opted not to bring any more batting cover on tour, a decision they might now be regretting after last weeks debacle. Surely if this where a home Test Match Alastair Cook would be out as well, although in fairness to him Collingwood only seems to make runs these days when he’s in last chance saloon – neither could complain if dropped. The bowlers look like they will hang onto their places for this test at least, the under fire Panaser and the innocuous looking Harmison look set to cling to their slots. Whilst he was economical Sidebottom never looked like taking a wicket either. Parts of the outfield though resembles more of a beach than a cricket ground with sand covering the bowlers run ups in particular. This would make it even more hard going for the pacemen – surely England wouldn’t be bold enough to try two spinners.
The West Indies have made three changes to their squad with the injured Dale Richards, offspinner Amit Jaggernauth and the out of form Xavier Marshall all been left out, in going against the policy of not changing a winning team they have drafted in Ryan Hinds and Lendl Simmons. All rounder Hinds is currently the in form player in domestic 4 day cricket with a batting average just shy of 84, whereas England don’t need reminding about Simmons as he got 282 against them in England’s final warm-up in St Kitts. Marshall has paid the price for a poor run of form which goes back to the New Zealand series. Simmons will either take his number 4 slot or he could open the batting in place of Devon Smith meaning a slight reshuffle of the batting order.
West Indies, from – Gayle(C), Baker, Benn, Chanderpaul, Edwards, Ryan Hinds, Nash, Powell, Ramdin(WK), Sarwan, Simmons, Devon Smith, Taylor.
England, probable – Strauss(C), Cook, Shah, Pietersen, Collingwood, Flintoff, Prior(WK), Broad, Sidebottom, Harmison, Panesar.
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