West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose believes the team should consider removing Shai Hope from the line-up against England, for his own good, after a brutal run of form has severely limited the player’s impact in the ongoing series.

Hope was among the few standout players when the team played England in the 2017 series.  In fact, his two finely crafted 100s played a critical role in the team turning the tables on England for a shock victory in the second Test at Headingly.

To say Hope has struggled since then, however, could only be construed as a massive understatement.  He has averaged below 25 in 21 Tests, with no hundreds and managed scores of 16, 9, 25 and 7 in the first two Tests against England.  With the final and decisive Test on the horizon, Ambrose believes some time out of the spotlight could be good for the 26-year-old, and that on the flip side, repeated failure could permanently damage the player.

"Something has gone terribly wrong for him since those two centuries at Headingley - he hasn't done anything really in Test cricket since then," said Ambrose recently told Sky Sports.

"He is a much better player than what he is showing at the moment and is obviously very low on confidence,” he added.

"Maybe in the next game we should rest him so he can regain some confidence. If you keep playing him and he keeps failing it will only get worse. You are going to destroy him if it continues like that.”

James Anderson believes both he and Stuart Broad deserve a place in England's strongest Test bowling attack.

Anderson was rested for England's victory over West Indies in the second Test at Old Trafford after Broad was omitted for the opening match of the series in Southampton.

Jofra Archer is available to return for the decider after missing out in Manchester following his breach of bio-secure protocols last week, while Chris Woakes, Sam Curran and Mark Wood will also be hoping to get the nod.

Anderson, 37, thinks England's two leading wicket-takers in Test cricket still merit a place in their best line-up. 

Asked if the days of he and Broad sharing the new ball are over, he said: "I really hope not. I think our record together speaks for itself.

"I really like to think that if we're both fit and England are picking their best bowling attack, we'd both be in that. Obviously, there will be moments in the future when we're not bowling together.

"It's happened already in this series and over the last two years, naturally through injury or resting.

"It's going to be different moving forward – I don't think we will play every game together, but I'd like to think that we've got plenty more games together in the future."

He added: "You always want to be in that best team. That's all I've ever tried to do, and it's the same with Stuart.

"We've only ever worked hard to be at the forefront of the captain and coach's mind when they're picking the side – we want to be the first two names on the team sheet.

"But all we can do is keep working hard, keep taking wickets – as Stuart did this week, he bowled brilliantly, especially after the disappointment of not playing in Southampton – so all we can do is keeping working hard and hopefully we get picked."

The third and final Test of the series against the Windies starts at Old Trafford on Friday.

Ben Stokes is becoming England's greatest all-rounder but must be looked after so he can reach his peak, according to James Anderson.

Stokes was influential as England squared the Test series with West Indies, scoring 254 runs with the bat while also taking two crucial wickets on a dramatic final day in Manchester.

It was his dismissal of Jermaine Blackwood just prior to the tea break that opened the door for Joe Root's side to push for victory, setting up a winner-takes-all showdown at the same venue this week.

The updated International Cricket Council player rankings have Stokes listed as the leading all-rounder in the world in the longest format, while seamer Anderson believes the 29-year-old is on course to surpass the achievements of the great Ian Botham.

England's all-time leading wicket-taker admits it is "amazing" to be in the same team as an individual who can make such a massive impact in all three facets of the game.

"It's hard to say how good he is, because it's hard to find the words. I saw Joe Root say the other day that we're in the presence of greatness and he's spot-on," Anderson said of Stokes.

"The fact that he could get into any team as a batsman, without his bowling and fielding, speaks volumes. His bowling is getting better and better each time he goes out there; he could get into a lot of bowling attacks as well.

"It's just amazing to have that talent in our team, and also to be able to watch it first-hand.

"After a week where he's pretty much done everything – chasing balls off his own bowling, batting most of the two innings that we had and getting wickets as well – it can take a toll. We've got to make sure we look after him as well, so we can keep getting the best out of him for as long as possible.

"He's certainly the best all-rounder I've ever played with - and I think he's becoming the best all-rounder that England have ever had.

"There's no reason why he cannot go on and be even better, too. With the bat, averaging in the 40s, with the ball in the 30s and then taking spectacular catches.

"It's incredible that we've got him on our team."

While Stokes starred in the second Test, Anderson was not involved. The 37-year-old was rested after featuring in the series opener in Southampton, where West Indies triumphed by four wickets.

Stuart Broad, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes were the three seamers selected at Old Trafford last week, though with Jofra Archer and Mark Wood also available, Anderson acknowledged there is a serious fight to feature in England's best XI, which he expects to take the field in the decider.

"It's healthy competition but there are going to be some disappointed guys this week, three spot up for grabs and there's six or seven guys who could fill those spaces," he said.

"It's a good position to be in, because it shows we've got strength in depth.

"But I'm sure now we're in a position where, having rested guys and those that played this week, we can now pick our best thee going into this game wanting to win it."

Archer was excluded for the previous match due to breaching bio-secure protocols. However, he has served a period of self-isolation and returned two negative coronavirus tests, clearing him for action.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has reported racist abuse received by Jofra Archer on social media.

Archer was forced to sit out England's series-tying victory over West Indies in the second Test at Old Trafford after breaking COVID-19 protocols.

The fast bowler made an unauthorised trip to his Brighton home en route from Southampton – where the Windies took a 1-0 lead in the series – to Manchester last week.

After accepting a fine, understood to be in the region of his £15,000 match fee, and a written warning, Archer is available to take part in the series decider that begins on Friday.

In a column for the Daily Mail, the 25-year-old said he had endured an "extremely tough" week in relation to the fallout from actions that forced him to spend five days in isolation in a hotel room – a situation compounded by sickening online abuse.

"Some of the abuse I have taken over the past few days on Instagram has been racist and I have decided that enough is enough," Archer said.

"Since Wilfried Zaha, the Crystal Palace footballer, was abused by a 12-year-old online I drew a line and I will not allow anything to pass, so I have forwarded on my complaints to the ECB and that will go through the correct process."

A statement released by the ECB on Wednesday read: “The racist message was brought to our attention by Jofra Archer last week.

"We are supporting him and we have reported the message through the appropriate channels and authorities."

Archer thanked England captain Joe Root and vice-captain Ben Stokes for supporting him following his indiscretion but conceded he was unsure whether he would be mentally ready to compete in the third Test.

"I found I was struggling for motivation in the circumstances when it came to returning to bowling in the nets," he said.

"I spoke briefly to the doctor about how I'm feeling and also to Ben Stokes on Monday night.

"Ben tried to advise me on how to deal with being in the spotlight of international sport. He vowed to back me and support me.

"Now, I need to be 100 per cent mentally right so that I can throw myself into my cricket this week.

"There is a series to win, and after the win in the second match it's there for the taking. We have got amazing depth in the squad, especially now no one is injured, so many options and therefore to do justice to myself and the rest of my team-mates I have to be ready when called upon.

"I give 100 per cent every time I go out there and I don't want to go out on the field unless I can guarantee doing that."

Archer has taken 33 wickets at an average of 28.12 in eight Tests, including three five-wicket hauls. Since making his international debut last year, he has claimed 58 wickets in all formats.

Last November, he was racially abused by a spectator when England played New Zealand in Mount Maunganui. A 28-year-old man who admitted to the offence was banned from attending international and domestic cricket matches in New Zealand for two years.

Throughout the three-Test series, which is being played behind closed doors, England and West Indies players are wearing the "Black Lives Matter" logo on their kits.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has admitted there are some long conversations to be had about the composition of the team’s top order, ahead of the third and final Test against England.

Heading into the series, concerns had been raised about how the team’s top order would fare against an experienced England bowling attack.  So far, they have not proven to be unfounded.  With the exception of Brathwaite, the top team’s top three has failed to fire so far. 

John Campbell and Shai Hope have only managed to muster high scores of 28 and 25, respectively, so far this series, and failed to make it to double digits in two of four innings.  Though offering no confirmation, Simmons admitted it could be time for some changes.

“It’s something that we have to look at over the next couple days and decide which direction we go then,” Simmons told members of the media, via a Zoom press conference.

“They haven’t fired so we have to consider it (changes) over the next couple days,” he added.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons expects a fired-up Kemar Roach for the third and decisive Test against England after the pace bowler finally broke a long drought.

Roach ended the second Test with overall figures of 4 for 95 but that did not tell the full story.  Prior to that, the pace bowler, despite crafting excellent, economic spells, had failed to claim a wicket for the entire first Test. In fact, Roach’s dismissal of Ben Stokes ended a wicket drought going back to August 31, 2019, and lasting 521 deliveries, or 86.5 overs.

It was a strange for the fast bowler, who starred for the West Indies team the last time the team’s met in the Caribbean, where he claimed 13 wickets, with one five and two four-wicket hauls.  Now that he has got the monkey off his back, however, Simmons expects more wickets to come, which would be good news for the Windies.

“It’s great to see him getting wickets, it’s been a while since I have seen him bowl so well and not get wickets,” Simmons told members of the media on Sunday.

“I’m glad he is back in the wickets that will just fuel his fire for the next Test match.”

The West Indies will play England in the decisive Test, at Old Trafford, beginning on Friday.

England talisman Ben Stokes has replaced West Indies captain Jason Holder at the top of the ICC Test all-rounder rankings as a result of his Old Trafford heroics.

Stokes was named man of the match after another magnificent performance in Manchester, where England levelled the three-Test series with a 113-run victory on the final day.

England's vice-captain made a brilliant 176 in the first innings and cracked an unbeaten 78 from just 57 balls on day five after being promoted to open, with Joe Root's side in need of quick runs before the declaration.

Stokes also took 2-30 on Monday after picking up a wicket in the first innings.

Windies skipper Holder showed some defiance with the bat before being removed by Dom Bess as the tourists failed to secure a draw after winning the first Test in Southampton.

Holder also drops a place to third in the bowler rankings, with New Zealand seamer Neil Wagner moving up to second behind Australia quick Pat Cummins.

Stokes can seemingly do no wrong at the moment and the 29-year-old is now officially the best all-rounder in the world ahead of the series decider at Old Trafford, which starts on Friday.

He is the first England player to top the all-rounder rankings since Andrew Flintoff.

With the West Indies faltering badly in their first innings to eventually fall to England in the second Test of the #raisethebat Series, I thought it interesting to look back at a game where the West Indies used their first innings to ensure a game that could have gotten away from them, didn’t.

It turns out that maybe the game would not have had a result anyway, but the West Indies weren’t to know that and their performance to pull themselves out of trouble, was memorable.

In December of 2008, a powerful New Zealand Test side could find no way past a game West Indies and interestingly, the tone for the fight the visitors would put up came from the bat of Jamaican pace bowler Jerome Taylor.

It was the first Test of a two-match series and the West Indies had long been missing the names of the cricketers that made them great.

Though those names, Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Malcolm Marshall, were no longer around, the proud legacy they left behind meant even this ‘watered-down’ version of the West Indies would not be pushovers.

The West Indies were sent into the field first up and despite three wickets apiece from Daren Powell (3-68), Fidel Edwards (3-91) and skipper Chris Gayle (3-42), things were off to a rocky start.

New Zealand would put 365 on the board on the first day, thanks to 95 from Daniel Flynn and 89 from Jesse Ryder.

No play was possible on day two of the Test and when the West Indies went to bat, the conditions for batting had changed.

Still Gayle was at his aggressive best, slamming 74 from 103 deliveries to get the run chase off to a rollicking good start. However, Sewnarine Chattergoon (13), Ramnaresh Sarwan (8), and Xavier Marshall (20), did not stay very long.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, however, would bat with, of all people, pacer Jerome Taylor, to give West Indies a chance at staying in the game.

Before Taylor came to the crease, Chanderpaul, who would eventually make 76 from 200 deliveries, lost the services of Brendan Nash for 23 and Denesh Ramdin for five.

Now he was batting with the tail, the score was 173-6. Even with a day rained out, this game could have been over in a jiffy.

But Taylor wasn’t in the mood to give up the ghost and scored an almost run-a-ball century, slamming 17 fours and three massive sixes, to end on 106 from 107.

Nobody else scored a run and so the West Indies crept, or rather, blasted their way to 340, a deficit of just 25.

Rain made sure there was no play on the fourth day and much of the fifth day, with New Zealand, 44-2 in their second innings before the game came to an end.

But Taylor’s batting made sure there was little chance of New Zealand running away with the game and provides an example of some of the heroics current West Indies coach, Phil Simmons, will be hoping to see with today’s batsmen when the team meets England in the decider of the #raisethebat Series.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons can no longer ignore the top-order batting of Shai Hope, who has failed to come off with the bat in four innings of the #raisethebat Series for the Wisden Trophy, currently ongoing in England.

Hope had scores of 16 and nine in the first Test the West Indies won by four wickets in Southampton before scoring 25 and seven in a 113-run defeat in Manchester.

Hope, since scoring back-to-back hundreds against England in 2017, has only managed to get past 50 on four occasions, even as he faced the music 39 times.

“I am concerned. He has now gone some four innings without a score and in contrast to how he played over the last four months, five, six months in the other formats, I am concerned about his form and we will be sitting down and chatting about that,” said Simmons.

The coach, who was speaking in a press conference after the West Indies defeat by England in the second Test at Old Trafford, was referencing Hope’s phenomenal year with the bat as an ODI player.

In Hope’s last 10 ODI innings, he has scored three centuries, and three half-centuries, including 115, 51 and 72 in his last three innings against Sri Lanka earlier this year.

Simmons has said it was too early to decide on whether or not Hope would be dropped for the third Test or if another role in the batting line-up would suit him more.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons is disappointed that batsmen in his team have not converted good starts into big scores, blaming that fact on defeat to England in the second Test of the #raisethebat Series at Old Trafford on Monday.

According to Simmons, half-centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite, 75, Shamarh Brooks, 68 and 62, Roston Chase 51, and Jermaine Blackwood, 55, were missed opportunities.

The five half-centuries were scored in totals of 287 and 198 as the West Indies lost by 113 to hosts England, 469-9 declared and 129-3 declared, with an hour left to play on the fifth day and despite a rained-out third day.

“We had five or six half-centuries and no conversions. It is something that we have been talking about a lot and nobody has taken up that opportunity in this game yet again, so it is disappointing,” said Simmons.

The England victory tied the #raisethebat Series for the Wisden trophy at 1-1 leaving Friday’s game at Old Trafford as the decider.

“I think we have to do something different, we just lost a Test match. We have to add to things done in the first Test match and subtract from some of the things we have done in this Test match. I think it is critical that our batsmen carry on and make big hundreds,” said Simmons.

Ben Stokes’ bruising 78 from just 57 deliveries took the second Test at Old Trafford away from the West Indies, who, with 214 runs in arrears and eight England wickets to try and get, had the slightest of chances on day five.

Stokes slammed four fours and three sixes to lead England to 129-3 from just 19 overs of batting. The innings gave England two things, runs and time.

It made sure they got 85 overs to bowl at the West Indies, as well as a fair number of runs to act as a buffer in case they couldn’t get 10 wickets.

Speaking about the innings, West Indies coach, Phil Simmons, said he was not surprised, but he was disappointed because the West Indies got a chance to stop the carnage early out.

When Stokes was on 29, John Campbell, fielding at deep extra-cover, floored a chance off Shannon Gabriel, that may have changed the course of the game.

“The thing about him is that we know he can do that. And if you go out and drop him within six balls of the start, well then you’ve got problems then,” said Simmons.

“I think it was our doing that he got the opportunity to go on and show what he’s made of and we know what he’s made of.”

England, thanks to an all-round bowling performance would go on to win by 113 runs, bowling out the West Indies for 198, with Shamarh Brooks, 62, Jermaine Blackwood, 55, and Jason Holder, 35, the main contributors.

The #raisethebat Series for the Wisden Trophy now lies at 1-1 with the series decider on Friday at the same venue.

Joe Root praised Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes after the duo were influential in helping England level the Test series against West Indies.

Stokes followed up his knock of 176 in the first innings with an unbeaten 78 that allowed England to set up the opportunity to push for victory on the final day, as he added quick runs on the fifth morning.

The all-rounder then picked up two wickets - including crucially ending Jermaine Blackwood's resistance on 55 - as West Indies, chasing an unlikely 312 for victory, were bowled out for 198.

Root acknowledged match-winning contributions are becoming a common occurrence from his vice-captain, telling Sky Sports after the triumph at Old Trafford: "It doesn't surprise me.

"You watch how Ben goes about his business in practice whether it be practice, fitness or anything, he leads the way in many respects.

"He seems to want to keep getting better and better and we're seeing those results out on the field as well.

"It's great for a lot of the younger guys to see that, you've got to put the hard yards in, he certainly does that and we're starting to see that feed into the rest of the team, which is a great place to be."

Broad had boosted the home team's hopes on the final morning of the second Test with three top-order wickets, having also previously produced a devastating new-ball burst in West Indies' first innings.

The seamer was a surprise omission from England's line-up for the opening Test in Southampton - a game West Indies won by four wickets - but, asked to lead a new-look pace attack, he seized his opportunity in Manchester.

Broad had spoken publicly about his disappointment at missing out at the Rose Bowl, with Root not surprised to see him go out and back up his words on the field.

"You always expect that from Stuart. Generally, when he says something, he goes out there and produces a performance to back it up," Root said. 

"He's led the attack brilliantly this week and, as we've always said, you feel like he's got a lot of cricket left to play in him.

"Once he gets that ball in his hand, there's always that spell in him that can turn a game. He did that this week."

Stokes cut short his 15th over in West Indies' second innings due to an apparent fitness issue but insisted afterwards he was fine. The series finale starts on Friday at the same venue.

"The body just started to get quite stiff," he said to Sky Sports after being named player of the match. "I said to Broady, 'My body is starting to get quite stiff, what do you reckon?' and he just said to stop.

"I remember three or four years ago against Pakistan I had the same thing and ended up blowing my calf, so I didn't want to take that risk."

Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes rounded off magnificent individual performances to fire England to a series-levelling second Test win over West Indies by 113 runs.

The hosts, 1-0 down following the opening game of the three-match rubber in Southampton, needed quick runs in order to set a substantial target with enough time to bowl the Windies out, and star all-rounder Stokes duly obliged in a stunning assault.

When the declaration came at 129-3, Stokes – promoted to open – had bludgeoned an unbeaten 78 from 57 deliveries to stand alongside his mammoth first-innings 176.

It meant the tourists required 312 for victory, a target that soon became nominal after Broad (3-42) ripped through their top order.

Shamarh Brooks (62) and Jermaine Blackwood (55) struck stylish knocks in a 100-run stand for the fifth wicket, but the irrepressible Stokes (2-30) bounced out the latter, setting up the England attack for a relentless push towards victory after tea.

The West Indies are in danger of losing the second Test in #raisethebat Series at Old Trafford, in Manchester.

At lunch on the final day, the West Indies have already lost their openers and Shai Hope with just 25 runs on the board but more importantly, still with 74 overs to face and 287 runs to get.

England only batted for 11 overs of the morning session as Ben Stokes went into limited-overs mode to help them push their lead to 311 before a declaration 11 overs into the day.

Stokes was unbeaten on 78 off 57 balls as England declared on 129-3, giving the hosts 85 overs to bowl out the West Indies and tie the three-match series at 1-1. They will have two new balls to get the victory.

Any result looks possible on the final day — as was the case in the first Test in Southampton last week, when the Windies won by four wickets after chasing down 200 for victory.

West Indies' aim will likely be survival, though, with the victory target of 312 unlikely.

Stokes smashed two sixes over long-off as the big-hitting allrounder and England captain Joe Root put on 53 runs in the first 43 balls of the morning before Root was run out for 22 — effectively sacrificing his own wicket to get Stokes back on strike.

Now alongside Ollie Pope (12 not out), Stokes still had time to slog Jason Holder down the ground for another six, pushing the lead past 300, before Root called them back in.

By then, England had made 92 runs off 66 balls.

The second new ball will be available for England after 80 overs.

John Campbell, 4, was the first to go, going caught behind off the bowling of Stuart Broad, while his opening partner Kraigg Brathwaite was trapped on the crease off the bowling of Chris Woakes for 12.

Shai Hope’s struggles with the bat have also continued as Broad got a delivery to nip back at him, taking the top of off stump, with the batsman hapless after his decision to play back to a fullish delivery.

Roston Chase, yest to score, and Shamarh Brooks, 2, are the batsmen at the crease.

West Indies batsman Shamarh Brooks has admitted it was crucial for the team to bat as long as possible, as the battle for the second Test raged on, during the fourth day on Sunday.

Chasing a sizeable 469 and with one day rained out, the Windies needed at least 270 to ensure England did at least bat again.  A battling knock of 68 from 137 balls by Brooks went on a long way in ensuring the team got to 287, on the back of a devastating new-ball spell from England pace bowler Stuart Broad.

Brooks also featured in two key partnerships.  He paired with opener Kraigg Brathwaite for 76 runs and with middle-order batsman Roston Chase for 43.  With England back at crease, 219 runs ahead, but two wickets down thanks to impressive late evening bowling by Kemar Roach, all eyes will be focused on how many runs the team will feel is needed to feel comfortable before putting the West Indies back in to bat.

“Yesterday being rained out we knew it was a crucial day lost in this Test match.  We knew the situation was just having to come today and bat for as long as possible,” Brooks told members of the media, via a Zoom press conference, at the end of the day’s play.

“Yes, it is England's game and we knew that saving the follow-on was important but the more time that we batted today is the harder it made it for England to get a result out of this game,” he added.

 

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