16 July 2020 12:43
WEST Indies captain Jason Holder has a laser-like focus on the second Test against England, disregarding the opportunity the tourists have to make history over the next couple of weeks. Having won the opener at Southampton, the Windies have two chances at Old Trafford to seal a first Test series win on these shores in 32 years. No one has praised Ben Stokes more than me for the unbelievable things he has done on a cricket field over the last couple of years, but he could be even better by being ruthless with the bat — starting in this week's second Test. I can understand Stokes manoeuvring the ball at Headingley last year when he had just Jack Leach for company, but when England are in the ascendancy and are at a pivotal moment in the game, there is no need for him to be unorthodox or inventive. And twice in the first Test against West Indies, he again shuffled to off against the tourists' captain Jason Holder and twice got out trying to play to leg.
That ruthlessness from Stokes and Joe Root, England's two world-class batsmen, will be even more important in this second Test, because they will be fielding one of their more inexperienced top threes in recent times — namely Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley. I don't know whether Denly has been under orders but he is an attacking player in county cricket and if it has been his decision to bat differently for England, then he could well be regretting that now. England may have lost the first Test of the three-match series against the West Indies but they surely won hearts for their gesture during the first day after international cricket made a return after 117 days. The England squad wore training shirts with the names of frontliners on the back, to honour them for their battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. The cricketers paid tribute to their work and sacrifice during these tough times, a gesture that won many hearts.
The England and Wales Cricket Board has named the series the #RaiseThebat Test series. A remorseful Jofra Archer breached England's 'bio-secure' protocols by visiting his home in Brighton on Monday, leading to the fast bowler being withdrawn from the second Test against the West Indies. But England have now confirmed that after their four-wicket defeat at the Ageas Bowl in the #raisethebat series opener, Archer interrupted his journey to Emirates Old Trafford with a stop at his flat, contravening the strict health and safety measures agreed by both boards. Both teams have been living, training and sleeping in two 'bubble' sites, at the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford, put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Archer, who had been retained for this week's game in Manchester while James Anderson and Mark Wood were rested, added: "I have put, not only myself, but the whole team and management in danger.
So I think that period of training goes a long way to how we performed in that first Test," he added. West Indies had defeated England by four wickets in the first Test to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Jermaine Blackwood had played a knock of 95 runs in the second innings as Windies chased down a total of 200 to win the first Test. If West Indies manages to win or draw the series against England, the side will retain the Wisden Trophy. The second Test of the series will be played at Old Trafford from July 16. Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house.