On the eve of the West Indies historic bio-secure Test series against England, I thought it interesting to take a look back at the last time the Caribbean outfit had any good days in England.

 West Indies captain Jason Holder believes too much attention has been spent focusing on the possible deficiency of the team’s top order and backed the rest of the batting unit to pick-up the runs-scoring slack if needed.

Ahead of the start of the West Indies England tour, doubts have repeatedly been raised of not just the team’s top order, but the overall unit as well, as they prepare to stand up to an experienced English bowling line-up. Since a 2-1 defeat to England, on their last tour in 2017, West Indies have a batting average of 23.59 across 19 Tests.  Nor can the team take comfort in some of the showings during the recent intra-squad matches, which served as preparation for the series.  In the final warm-up, a top-five of Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, and Roston Chase found themselves reduced to 9 for 3 and 49 for 5.

“The runs don’t have to only come from the top order.  I think we are putting a lot of emphasis on the top order.  Yes, they probably haven’t lived up to the expectations but in general, it’s a team sport and we just have to put runs on the board,” Holder told members of the media during a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

“Personally, I don’t care, it’s just for us to put runs on the board and give our bowlers something to work with.”  

West Indies captain Jason Holder has listed England as heavy favourites under their home conditions but has backed the regional team to be highly competitive in the upcoming series.

The teams will be the first to return to international cricket amidst the COVID-19 pandemic when the series bowls off at 5:00 am (6:00 am ECT) on Wednesday morning.  This time around the battle for the Wisden Trophy will take place in unusual circumstances, as it will be played in a bio-secure environment completely free of fans and fast bowlers will not be allowed to put saliva on the ball to encourage reverse swing.

The unique conditions under which the series will take place aside, Holder believes one thing will remain the same, the England team has a formidable record on home soil.  They have not lost a Test in England since being shocked by Sri Lanka in 2014.  The West Indies will have to look much further back than that for success having not won in England since 1988.

“England are probably favourites, in their home conditions they are very, very strong.  They are a very strong side in their home conditions, and it is proven,” Holder told members of the media during a Zoom conference call on Tuesday.

“They have a really good track record at home.  So, we got our work cut out for us if we want to beat them.  England are not going to roll over and die they are going to come at us very, very hard,” he added.

“Those guys want to win just as badly as we do, so I’m expecting a keen contest and it’s a matter for us to dethrone England in their backyard, which is not going to be an easy task.”

The West Indies are the current holders of the Wisden Trophy after defeating the England team 2-1 in the Caribbean last year.  It was the Englishmen who won 2-1 when the teams last met, in England, in 2017.

 

 Former England quick, Devon Malcolm, recently recalled the result of reports he had the found the formula for legendary Windies batsman Viv Richards making their way to the ears of the batsman, during England's 1990 tour of the Caribbean. 

The Jamaica-born pace-bowler created shockwaves, at Sabina Park, after effecting the run-out of Gordon Greenidge and dismissing Richards twice in a crushing 9-wicket win for England, at the start of the series. 

The then 27-year-old bowler figured, he might be on to something, first dismissing the iconic batsman lbw and then having him clean bowled in the second innings.  A confident answer at a post match press conference had seen the young bowler dubbed 'the chemist' in the following day's reports.  With the second Test abandoned, Malcolm continued his good form in the third Test after claiming six wickets in a drawn match, which Richards missed.  But then, Richards returned for the fourth Test.

“When Vivy walked out on that field, I knew Vivy meant business,” Malcolm recalled on the Mason and Guest radio show recently.

“The very first ball I bowled to Viv Richards he put me out the park for six.  The second ball met the same fate, to be honest,” he added

“The first two he hit me for six, I thought, right, maybe a half a chance because it was the short boundary, Alex Stewart was under it and I thought straight down Alex Stewart’s throat, but they went just over his head, six, six," Malcolm said.

"As a young fast bowler, Viv Richards actually knew what the third ball was going to be.  So, I like a fool ran up and just pitched the ball up a little bit further.  It wasn’t a short ball I bowled, I pitched it up outside of off stump, a bit wide, and I tell you Viv Richards climbed into that ball so hard it hit off the cover boundary and bounced some 20 yards back on the field.  He actually said to me grass will never grow there again.  

“That over I remember he took me for about 18.  It was 18 so far and the final ball of the over, I pitched one up and Vivy just knocked it to extra cover run past me and said ‘that one should be another four man, but I hope the captain keeps you on.”

Malcolm did stay on, ending the match with disastrous figures of 0 for 142 in 33 overs, as the West Indies won the match by a crushing 164 runs and later claimed the series 2-1.  The bowler, however, has fond memories of the incident.

“That was one of the most expensive overs I have ever bowled in international cricket, but that was one of my most exciting overs because I thought I could have had Viv Richards out three times in the over.  Viv Richards wasn’t going to back down, I wasn’t going to back down.”  

 

 

Brian Lara has urged West Indies to "pounce immediately" and rattle England early on in their three-Test series.

The Windies great, formerly the all-time record run-scorer in Tests, believes his countrymen will struggle if matches go the full five-day distance.

But he sees West Indies as having the players who can impose themselves on their hosts, with the behind-closed-doors series starting in Southampton on Wednesday.

"They have to hit the road running and stamp their authority on England," Lara said in quotes published by the BBC.

"I don't think they can last five days, so they have to take these games in four days. They have to establish a lead and keep it."

Lara still holds the highest individual score in Tests - the 400 not out he scored against England in Antigua in 2004.

He knows what it takes to pick apart an England bowling attack, and West Indies' 2-1 series victory over the same opponents last year suggests the current breed can also more than hold their own.

Whether West Indies can be as competitive in English conditions as they were in the Caribbean remains to be seen.

"They have to be able to pounce immediately," said Lara. "England are not beaten very easily at home and are overwhelming favourites."

According to the 51-year-old Trinidadian, the tone for the series could be set on day one.

Lara said: "If they play good cricket on the first day of the Test series, show they have the mettle to perform against England, that's the key."

Ben Stokes will lead by example when he captains England against West Indies, says Dom Sibley.

With Joe Root absent from England's squad for the first Test in Southampton due to the birth of his second child, Stokes is to take charge for the opening game of the three-match series.

Sibley looks set to open the batting alongside Rory Burns as England return to action after a lengthy coronavirus-enforced absence.

"The boys are all raring to go. We've had the three-day warm-up which was good practice, we're all looking forward to getting out in the middle," said Sibley.

"[Stokes] is just going to do what he does, lead from the front, lead by example.

"His quality and energy on the pitch is a unique skill and presence. He'll just use that.

"He's someone the young guys look up to and will continue to do that regardless of whether he's captain or not."

Sibley scored his maiden Test 100 against South Africa in Cape Town in January and impressed on the tour, though he did not get chance to build on those displays prior to lockdown.

However, the 24-year-old – who revealed he has lost 12 kilograms over the course of the break – acknowledged the rest has been helpful.

"At the time I was raring to go and it's new for me to be playing for England, so I was buzzing to play every game," he added.

"But you've got to try and take it as a positive and to have a break after such a long winter was nice. To sit back and work out what I needed to improve on to keep doing well at this level, further my game.

"I'm trying to build on what I did in South Africa and hopefully contribute to a few wins. A few of us did quite well in South Africa, it feels like a lifetime ago but it's a case of trying to build on that and trying to score a few big scores in the series.

"I've been working hard during lockdown, it was probably needed to be fair. Over the winter I was carrying too much weight. I'm glad I'm feeling a bit fitter."

All of the upcoming matches will be played behind closed doors, though Sibley does not feel his game will be affected too drastically.

"If I could have had a choice, it's always a dream to play a Test at Lord's or at your home ground in front of a packed house," he said.

"Circumstances haven't allowed that to happen. I'd always choose to have a crowd in but maybe it might work to my advantage. It's not going to change how I play, I'm just going to do my thing."

International cricket returns when England and West Indies begin their three-Test series on Wednesday, albeit in unprecedented circumstances.  

Bio-secure venues minus spectators, home umpires, potential coronavirus substitutes and no saliva on the ball are just some of the consequences of attempting to play during a global health pandemic. It will be Test cricket, just not quite as we have come to know it.  

There will also be a noticeable change to England’s team, too. With Joe Root out due to the birth of his second child, Ben Stokes will captain the team for the first time.  

The opportunity to lead in a Test perhaps completes the circle for the all-rounder. An incident outside a Bristol nightclub in 2017 cost him the vice-captaincy, but he has rehabilitated his reputation through his actions, both on and off the field, to reclaim the position as Root's deputy. 

Now, at 29, Stokes is preparing to become the 81st Test captain for England. It is a one-off on this occasion, yet also a potential dress rehearsal for the future. Root is the same age as his team-mate but has been in charge since February 2017; the grind eventually takes a toll on all who fill the role – and the numbers suggest performances suffer with the added burden.  

Sitting fourth in the official Test rankings, England will be wary of asking their talismanic all-rounder to do too much. For now, though, this is an opportunity for Stokes to step in and demonstrate his capabilities as a captain (a role he has not filled in first-class cricket previously). 

He has been second in command, now it is time to take on the top job, albeit temporarily. 

A (RECENT) HISTORY LESSON

Stokes will be the 11th different player to lead England in the 21st century. The last three to take on the job – Root, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen – all started out with victories. 

Indeed, Michael Vaughan was the last skipper to suffer disappointment on his captaincy debut in the format, losing to South Africa at Lord's in July 2003. He was not aided by Nasser Hussain, the man who had stepped down prior to the match, dropping Graeme Smith when he had eight to his name. The left-hander went on to make 259 as the Proteas triumphed by an innings.

Mark Butcher stood in for a solitary game in August 1999, taking over with Hussain sidelined during the home series against New Zealand at Old Trafford. 

England drew that game but Butcher contributed just 14 runs in his two knocks during a weather-hit contest. He was dropped for the next game as England lost at The Oval to go down 2-1 in the series.

Cook was captain for 59 Tests – a record for England – while Michael Atherton (54), Vaughan (51) and Andrew Strauss (50) also made the half-century mark. Root's tally is at 39 and with a hectic itinerary mapped out over the next 18 months or so, dependent on any further complications caused by COVID-19, he will not have to wait too long to reach the milestone.

STOKES BY THE STATS 

To say Stokes is a key contributor for England is an understatement. His match-winning abilities with both bat and ball are hugely important as they bring balance to the XI. His presence means the attack can include five frontline bowlers without having to weaken the middle order. 

His overall statistics for Test cricket do not do justice to his talent. Stokes averages 36.5 with the bat in 63 Test appearances, yet he's recorded a mark of just over 47 across his 26 knocks since the start of 2019. 

Included is that unforgettable innings against Australia at Headingley last year, as he kept his side alive in the Ashes with an unbeaten 135. England chased down 359 on a fourth day that will live long in the memory for those who watched it, Stokes adding 73 with last-man Jack Leach – who contributed only a single to the cause – for company. 

The left-hander had already made a century in the previous Test of that series at Lord's, while earlier this year he hit 120 against South Africa in Port Elizabeth. 

Stokes passed 4,000 Test runs for his career during the series with the Proteas but now stands on the brink of another notable personal landmark.

He is just three shy of bringing up 150 wickets in the format. He posted career-best figures of 6-22 against West Indies in 2017, with his overall average against the men from the Caribbean a touch better than his career mark (31.09 compared to 32.68). 

THE NUMBERS GAME

So, is captaincy a hindrance or a help? Considering his importance to the team, England will be loathed to overburden Stokes, a factor that would be considered when deciding if he is the right candidate to replace Root for more than just the odd Test. 

Ian Botham - another great all-rounder - did not prosper during his stint as captain. His 12-Test reign saw him average a meagre 13.14 with the bat (his career number finished at 33.54) and ended with a pair during the 1981 Ashes. Freed of the responsibility as Mike Brearley took over, Botham produced a series of blistering performances to make sure England retained the urn, including an innings at Headingley comparable to Stokes' knock.

Kevin Pietersen, meanwhile, also found it a difficult role during his three matches in charge. The best player is not necessarily the ideal candidate. 

"The entertainers and the guys that have to carry that mantle in the team sometimes aren't the best captains, and sometimes struggle with the extra added pressure," Pietersen told talkSPORT.

"You get looked at completely differently. Responsibilities change, communication changes, the way in which you carry yourself in the dressing room changes. It's a difficult place to be. I struggled with it: I absolutely hated it, and I was rubbish."

Root has seen his batting output slip considerably since taking on the added responsibility. Having averaged 52.8 in his first 53 Tests, the right-hander has since made 3,005 runs at 42.9 in his games as captain. Good, but not great.

Vaughan too suffered a drop, averaging 36 in his 51 Tests in charge, compared to 51 for the rest of his career. Cook, however, improved during his tenure, going up from 44.6 to 46.6, as did fellow opener Atherton (35.3 to 40.6).

England will have to work out if the risk is worth the reward in terms of Stokes becoming captain, considering what he means to the side. At least the series opener against West Indies will offer a potential glimpse into the future. 

West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach believes the absence of England captain Joe Root and changed batting line-up, ahead of the upcoming series, could serve as a double edge sword for the Caribbean team.

Root will miss the first Test of the series to be at the birth of his second child and the pacer could face only two of the top six in a batting line-up he dominated in the Caribbean last year.  Newcomers Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, and Ollie Pope are set to join the line-up in Southampton along with Joe Denly, who played the second and third Tests of England's Caribbean tour last year.

“It’s different conditions now, we are in England this time around.  I see England has also made some changes to their batting line-up so it’s all about assessing each batsman and following-up their weaknesses and exploiting them,” Roach told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Sunday.

“Of course, I would love to have the same batting line because it’s what we got used to for the last few series but there are a few changes so it’s all about sticking to the game plan,” he added.

“A Test match without Root, the fantastic stats he has, is going to be a bit of an advantage for us.  He's one that keeps the England batting together, he's done fantastically for them for the last couple of years,” he added.

"Without him, it is a bit of an advantage for us, but also a little bit of a disadvantage because there are some new guys coming in that we obviously have to work out and see what their weaknesses are and try to exploit them. So it goes 50-50, but once we get stuck in and hit our straps and put the balls in the right area I think we stand a very good chance of going out there and performing well."

Key Windies strike bowler Kemar Roach believes young pace bowler Alzarri Joseph can have a decisive impact against England in the upcoming Test series.

Roach and Joseph are expected to form part of a four-pronged bowling attack that also includes the returning Shannon Gabriel and West Indies captain Jason Holder.  The quartet did well on home soil last year when the team secured a 2-1 win over England and the Wisden trophy.

On that occasion, it was Roach that played a starring role with the ball, but Joseph provided plenty of support with a 10-wicket haul for the series and gave the England batsman plenty to think about.  Ahead of the upcoming series, Roach believes his young teammate is even better this time around.

“Once he sticks to his game plan and has confidence in himself, I don’t see why he can’t do very well in this series,” Roach told members of the media.

“He’s a fantastic talent and we all know what he is capable of,” he added.

“At a young age, he is enthusiastic, very good, and always willing to learn.  He has improved significantly in my eyes and I think he has a great future for the West Indies.”

The 23-year-old Joseph made his debut for the West Indies as a 19-year-old against India in 2016.  He has since then, however, been plagued by injury issues but heads into the England Test in good shape.

“I’m looking forward to playing with him and in years to come, i’ll probably be at home and watching him lead the West Indies bowling attack.  So, I think he has a great future and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can produce.”

West Indies batsman Shamarh Brooks insists the team has no need to fear a powerful England bowling attack, ahead of the upcoming series, once they are willing to apply themselves at the crease.

A lot of the talk so far heading into the England versus West Indies match-up has centered on worries about how the regional team’s often inconsistent batting line-up will fend off an explosively quick Jofra Archer and an experienced England bowling line-up.

The first team’s batting performances in the recent intra-squad preparational matches would not have done much to inspire confidence.  In the final warm-up, a top-five of Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, and Roston Chase subsided to nine for three and 49 for five.

“Some of us got the opportunity to bat at the crease but having said that, it’s still a batsman and bowlers game.  Our bowlers bowled well, especially in the second practice game.  I think they came with a different level of intensity in the last game and it showed in terms of us losing wickets.  That’s the game sometimes but we are still backing our preparation to bring success in the series,” Brooks told members of the media.

“Spending time at the crease will be key, as long as we apply ourselves and spend some time out there it will get easier,” he added.

“Not to put down the England bowling attack but we need as a batting unit to stand up in this series and I know it will make a difference,” he added.

The West Indies are about to play against England in England for the Wisden Trophy and we at SportsMax thought it may be interesting to look back at the best performances from the Caribbean side in that country.

The West Indies lead England in head to heads, 57-49, with 51 drawn games between the teams.

The teams began to play for the Wisden Trophy in 1963 and since then have won the series 14 times to England’s 10, though this year’s hosts have been dominant recently, save for last year when the West Indies wrested the trophy from them in a 2-1 win. There have been three drawn series since 1963.

But performing in England has always been tough and good performances there have always been counted at a premium, living in the memories of batsmen, bowlers and fans for a very very long time.

Here are the performances that stand out in my mind, tell me if you have others you remember. Comment on these performances on Facebook or Twitter, I wouldn’t mind the trip down memory lane.

 

Best XI West Indian performances in England

 

Allan Rae and Frank Worrell lay into England (The Oval 1950)

Centuries from Allan Rae and Frank Worrell helped the West Indies to win their first series against England in England.

The West Indies would end up winning the series 3-1 but that was set up from the first innings of the first Test where, electing to bat first, Rae bat for five hours to score 109, while Worrell, batting at number three, did the same to score 138.

The West Indies would go on to score 503, before limiting England to 344 and 103 to win by an innings and 56 runs.

 

Sobers goes on show, Charlie Griffiths works up a head of steam (Headingley (1963)

Sir Garfield Sobers scored 102 against England at Headingley as the West Indies won the fourth Test of their 1963 series against England, setting up a first-innings total of 397, which quickly turned into a 223-run lead thanks to Charlie Griffiths’ 6-36. The performances set up a 221-run victory and the series would end 3-1 in favour of the visitors.

 

Lance Gibbs turns Old Trafford on its head (Old Trafford, 1966)

In 1966 Lance Gibbs was the greatest spinner in the world and England crumbled at the feet of his twirling in the first Test of their series. Following on from Garfield Sobers’ 161 in a first innings at Old Trafford where the West Indies scored 484, Gibbs’ 5-37 left England flapping at 167 all out. The follow-on didn’t go any better for the hosts, with Gibbs bagging 5-69 from a marathon 41 overs of bowling. The West Indies would go on to win that 1966 series 3-1.

 

Lloyd, Boyce take over the Oval (The Oval, 1973)

Cllive Lloyd scored 132 in the first innings of the first Test at The Oval in 1973, but that was just part of the story of the way the West Indies dominated made their way to a 158-run victory and a 2-0 series win against England. Keith Boyce only played 21 Tests for the West Indies over the course of four years but in 1973 England had no answer to him. Lloyd’s Innings proved the catalyst fo the West Indies’ 415-run first innings byt then Boyce returned to bag 5-70 to restrict England to 257 and give the visitors a decided advantage. The West Indies would quickly score 255 before Boyce was back at it again, taking 6-77 on the way to dismissing England for 255.

 

VIV Richards shows complete dominance (Trent Bridge, 1976)

Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards is a name that really needs no introduction and England would feel the brunt of his brutality on many occasions. In 1976, the West Indies won a five-Test series in England 3-0, but Richards was dominant from ball one. Batting at his customary number three in the first Test of the series, Richards would help the West Indies to 494 runs in a first innings where he slammed 232. When England responded with 332 in their first innings, the West Indies needed to score quick runs so they could declare with enough time to bowl England out a second time. Richards obliged with 63 and even though the match ended in a draw, the performance of the Master Blaster.

 

Gordon Greenidge puts his name in the Lord’s book in emphatic style  (Lord’s 1984)

The second Test of a series against England at Lord’s had a number of brilliant performances from both teams. England’s Graeme Fowler had scored a fighting 106 in his side’s 286. The low total was brought about by Malcolm Marshall’s special bowling performance of 6-85. That bowling performance was superseded by Ian Botham’s 8-103 to help restrict the West Indies to 245. In the second innings, England declared on 300-9 thanks to Allan Lamb’s 110. Chasing 341 in the second innings, Gordon Greenidge eclipsed all those performances with a sparkling 214 not out, as the West Indies romped to 344-1 in just 66.1 overs. Larry Gomes got a front seat to the action, scoring 92. The West Indies would go on to win the series 5-0.

 

Malcolm Marshall leaves England a little short (Lord’s 1988)

From the lates 1970s until the mid-1990s the West Indies could depend on one part or another of their team to pull them out of tough situations. In the second Test of their 1988 Wisden Trophy series against England, they were up against it early with Gus Logie’s 81 helping the West Indies to just 209. But Malcolm Marshall proved that any total could be enough, destroying England with 6-32 and leaving the game well balanced and maybe giving the West Indies a slight advantage.

Gordon Greenidge’s 103 gave the West Indies a good lead headed into England’s second innings and despite Allan Lamb’s 113, Marshall’s brilliance meant they never got close. The West Indies won by 134 runs and Marshall took 4-60 to end with figures of 10-92.

 

The Ambrose and Walsh show take over Trent Bridge (Trent Bridge, 1991)

The West Indies conveyor belt of fastbowlers had begun to run dry by 1991 but they still had the services of Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Andrew Walsh and Curtly Ambrose. And while they would lose the Wisden Trophy to England that year, there was one Test at Trent Bridge where Ambrose and Walsh reminded the world of the great days of fastbowling and pointed to what would become the most successful opening bowling partnership in World cricket for the next 10 years. In the first innings, led by Graeme Gooch’s 68, England scored 300 all out, but it would have been a much higher total had it not been for 34 overs from Ambrose that yielded 5-74. The West Indies would go into the second innings with a healthy 97-run lead, thanks in large part to Viv Richards’ 80. When England bat again, Walsh made sure the West Indies would not have much to chase, bagging 4-64. In that England second innings, Ambrose had 3-61.

 

Richie Richardson plays anchor role (Edgbaston, 1991)

Richie Richardson had the reputation for being an aggressive batsman, who hooked and pulled his way out of trouble for the most part, but at Edgbaston, in 1991 a different type of batsman was called for. England had been dismissed for 188 courtesy of Malcolm Marshall, 4-33, and Curtly Ambrose, 3-64. But the West Indies were in trouble with the bat as well, with Chris Lewis running rampant for England with 6-111. Standing in the way though, Richardson, recognizing that wickets were falling all around him, faced 229 deliveries to score 104, his strike rate of 45.41, unusually low for his aggressive nature. The innings helped the West Indies to 292 and set up a seven-wicket win  

 

Lara’s 179, Hooper’s 127 keeps things even against England (Kennington Oval, 1995)

With the six-Test series tied at 2-2 headed into the final game, the West Indies, a team in decline by 1995, needed to make sure they did not lose.

England had scored 454 thanks to Graeme Hick’s 96 and despite Curtly Ambrose’s 5-96. Replying, the West Indies scored 692-8, building a lead of  238 to make sure the game could not be lost. The total is still the biggest without featuring a double-century from a batsman, but there was still much brilliance on show. Brian Lara for instance, scored a masterful 179 from just 206 deliveries, slamming 26 fours and a six. But Lara didn’t have to do it alone, with Carl Hooper scoring 127, skipper Richie Richardson, scoring 93, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, scoring 80, and Sherwin Campbell scoring 89. As a team, that was probably the last time the West Indies showed complete dominance with the bat in England.

 

Shai Hope becomes an immortal at Headingley (Headingley 2017)

Still a growing team, the West Indies unit that went to England in 2017 were expected to be thrashed and they were. While the defeat in the three-Test series was only 2-1, and the a result came down to the final Test, the truth is the teams were world’s apart. In that second Test though, the West Indies learned they could not only compete, but they could win in England. Ben Stokes had scored a century to prop up England’s first innings at 258, as Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach with four wickets apiece gave West Indies real hope. Then Kraigg Brathwaite with 134 and Shai Hope with 147, pushed the West Indies advantage, the innings ending at 427. England were up against it but batted well to score 490-8 and give the West Indies a serious total to chase. Again, Brathwaite and Hope were on show. Brathwaite fell for 95, agonizingly close to a second century in the match, but there was no stopping Hope, who was unbeaten at the end, scoring 118to lead the West Indies to 322-5 and a famous victory.

England have opted not to recall Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali for their first Test against West Indies, but Dom Bess does make the 13-man squad.

Test cricket returns on Wednesday when England meet the Windies behind closed doors in Southampton in the opening Test of a three-match series.

Ben Stokes will captain the side for the first time as regular skipper Joe Root has left the team bubble to attend the birth of his second child.

Sam Curran, who has been battling illness, is the only other player to miss out from the XI that faced South Africa in Johannesburg in England's last Test in January.

The squad for the West Indies Test also includes Rory Burns, James Anderson and Jofra Archer - who were missing at the Wanderers due to injury - and spinner Bess, who played earlier in the South Africa series.

There is no recall for either Bairstow or Moeen, neither of whom are included on the nine-man reserve list, which does feature Curran.

Bairstow has not played since scoring a combined 10 across two innings against South Africa in the first Test of that series last December.

All-rounder Moeen has not featured in the five-day game since the 2019 Ashes having opted out of England's three tours since, though he was named in the 30-man squad that has been training in preparation for the Windies series.

Uncapped pair James Bracey and Dan Lawrence - both of whom scored half-centuries in the intra-squad match this week - are on the reserve list too along with bowling options Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood and Ollie Robinson.

Vasbert Drakes says the pace of former sprinter Chemar Holder can make a fierce West Indies attack even more potent in the Test series against England.

Uncapped 22-year-old Holder was named in the touring party following some outstanding domestic performances for Barbados Pride in the West Indies Championship.

The Barbadian gave a demonstration of his huge potential back in 2016 when the Windies won the Under-19 Cricket World Cup and could make his senior debut during a three-match series in England, which starts behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl next Wednesday.

Former West Indies fast bowler and assistant coach Drakes has helped to nurture Holder's talent and thinks he can cause England problems if he is given an opportunity.

Drakes told Stats Perform News: "I've known Chemar from a young age, he went to school with my son, Dominic, and they have come through the system together and been part of the group of West Indies Emerging Players.

"I have done some one-to-one coaching work with him and he's got some good attributes, good skill sets. He's a hard worker and used to be a sprinter, he was a 400 metres runner and also competed in the 1500 metres.

"When he gets it right, he's consistently in the high 80s [miles per hour]. The only way to find out if he's ready is to throw him in at the deep end against England.

"He would have played against England A team last year and would have gone to England the year before that as part of the Emerging Players group, so he would have had the experience of bowling in those conditions."

Kemar Roach was among 12 members of the Windies squad who Drakes worked with before they flew out to England for the first international cricket since the coronavirus pandemic brought the vast majority of sport to a halt.

Roach was man of the series when West Indies won a Test series against England in the Caribbean last year and Drakes, who was assistant coach for that 2-1 triumph, says he can make a big impact again.

Asked if Roach will be the spearhead of the attack, he replied: "Absolutely. One of the things he did well last year was he took early wickets.

"Without giving away too much methodology in how to deconstruct the opposition gameplan and counter them, Kemar Roach has the ability to take early wickets, releasing the ball from wide of the crease and moving away from batsmen - particularly the right-handers.

"His track record against left-handers is phenomenal and England have some left-handers. Kemar and Jason [captain Holder], they set the tone along with [Alzarri] Joseph and Shannon Gabriel can be a threat with his pace and uncertainty he creates.

"It will be interesting to see if that combination can work as it did in the Caribbean."

England all-rounder Sam Curran will return to training this weekend after testing negative for COVID-19.

Curran pulled out of an intra-squad practice match in Southampton, which ends on Friday, as he was suffering from sickness and diarrhoea.

The 22-year-old was tested for coronavirus on Thursday and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealed he has been given the all-clear.

Curran has been self-isolating in his hotel room at the Ageas Bowl but is set to re-join his team-mates ahead of the first Test against West Indies, which starts next Wednesday.

He will be tested for COVID-19 again on Sunday along with the rest of the England team and management group.

Kyle Mayers missed out on a century on the final day of the West Indies’ four-day intra-squad match at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, running out of partners, while Shannon Gabriel picked up four wickets in a low-scoring draw.

With the first day and a part of the second a wash-out, the West Indies intra-squad game came down to a one-inning affair and by necessity, a draw.

There were two points of interest with the bat, none of them coming from the usual suspects.

On day three Joshua Da Silva scored an unbeaten 133 as Jason Holder’s XI recovered from 120-5 on Tuesday to post 272 against the bowling of Preston McSween, 3-28, and Chemar Holder, 2-35.

There was also a wicket apiece for Oshane Thomas, 1-24, Keon Harding, 1-69, Markino Mindley, 1-32, Anderson Phillip, 1-16, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 1-32.

Da Silva formed good partnerships with Raymon Reifer, who scored 22, and Alzarri Joseph, who scored 38. On Wednesday, only Sunil Ambris, with 25 managed a score in the double digits.

In fact, the next best scorer for Holder’s XI, who faced a team led by his vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite, was the extras column, with 43 runs going a-begging.

In reply, Brathwaite’s XI scored a paltry 178 all out, the only bright element of the innings coming from Kyle Mayers, who scored an unbeaten 74, running out of partners before he could get to three figures.

But Mayers failure to get to three figures wasn't for a lack of effort. He was savage, scoring his 74 from just 56 deliveries in which he clubbed three sixes and nine fours.

Shannon Gabriel was the pick of the bowlers for Holder’s XI, showing himself to be somewhere back to full fitness with an impressive bowling performance of 4-42.

Kemar Roach, 2-25, Holder, 1-21, Joseph, 2-64, and Reifer, 1-21, also got in on the action.

The West Indies are in preparation mode for the #RaisetheBat series against England, with the first match of a three-Test affair slated to begin on July 8 at the Rose Bowl in South Hampton.

The team will then play in two games at their Old Trafford base on July 16 and 24.

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