England vs West Indies – 3rd Test – Match Preview
With the series seemingly wrapped up, England will look to add another home, Test clean-sweep when they tackle West Indies in the third Test, starting tomorrow at Edgbaston Birmingham on June 7, 2012.
The build up to the game has been highlighted by various off-field issues, most noetab being the exclusion of James Anderson. While the news should hardly be an alarming one, considering the dominance of the home side in the opening two games, but its public ramifications have certainly caught the English management off guard.
Ian Botham, ex-captain, has openly criticised the move in his column, while Anderson himself was disappointed to miss out, claiming that such rotation could result in a possible loss of form. The loss is a concerning one for Warwickshire, which could possibly see an effect on ticket sales, after investing substantially on rebuilding their ground.
The first hint was given by Andrew Strauss before chief selector, Geoff Miller, confronted the media with the omission. However, it further took Andy Flower to clear the air regarding the state of the player, who had suffered a minor injury during the second Test win at Trent Bridge.
Flower pointed out that the decision was necessary, keeping in mind the workload throughout the year. Stuart Broad could be also inline to miss out, which then leaves the hosts without two of their deadliest new-ball exponents.
However, they have plenty of resources at their disposal with the likes of Steven Finn and Graham Onions in hot form this domestic season. Finn’s limited exposure at Test level typifies the success of Anderson and Broad, where the player’s stats – 53 wickets at 26.9 – are impressive in terms of getting a reckoning in any team.
Onions’ rise in recent times is largely attributed to his ability to control the new ball and make use of favourable home conditions. His last international game came back in 2010 but has been a deserving candidate for a national team spot.
While it will be Kevin Pietersen’s last game for a while, following his retirement from the other two versions, one hope that Jonny Bairstow steps up a gear after being caught wanted against the short ball. Ravi Bopara, his direct competitor, made a successful return from injury with a century for Essex in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition.
Barring a few tinkering to the bowling composition, England have enough firepower in their ranks to emerge as likely winners. Their record at this ground is promising – winning 6 of the last ten Tests.
Windies’ built up has also been highlighted by off-field dramas. Chris Gayle was finally inducted into the limited-overs squad but will miss the final Test. While everyone in their rank, from head coach Ottis Gibson to opener Adrian Barath, is seeking consistency, it is hard to see that notion coming to the foil.
The top order has offered little so far, and in the practice match against Leicestershire, only Adrian Barath managed to show some form with an unbeaten half-century. The player also claimed that pride is at stake for his side and the team is determined to avoid a clean sweep. Barath also expressed delight after Anderson was omitted from the final game.
All eyes will be closely set upon Sunil Narine’s first Test appearance. The T20 famed spin bowler has been a mystery for most of the batters, and his battle with a few Englishmen could be the highlight of the match – another possible attraction for fans to turn up in numbers. However, the English conditions will be an altogether different test for the 24-year-old.
The Edgbaston pitch is a newly laid track but offers little bounce when compared with other grounds; however, it will lend turn in the final couple of days, while the weather is set to be a constant threat.