England Name Squad for West Indies First Test

We were so devoid of cricket that we patiently sat watching a silent stream of a warm-up game with the kind of anticipation and interest reserved for a packed house at Lords. However, we are just days away from real cricket being back on our screens, and England have today named their 12 man squad, plus test reserves:


Squad:


Ben Stokes (Captain), Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (Wicket-Keeper), Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.


Reserves:


James Bracey, Sam Curran, Ben Foaks (Wicket-Keeper), Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Ollie Robinson, Olly Stone


This is a safe if unsurprising selection for England, with the selectors and coaches keeping faith with the likes of Joe Denly and Jos Buttler. You have to imagine that if either fail to make runs in the first test, their place could come under scrutiny considering Joe Root is set to return for the 2nd test, and fan favourite Ben Foakes is breathing down Buttler's neck.


Dom Bess has been rewarded with a place in the side following his impressive displays in South Africa where he took 8 wickets for 25. 75, with Jack Leach being held in reserve after battling illness all winter.


England could have brought James Bracey or Dan Lawrence into the team, Bracey having hit a top-scoring 85 in the warm-up and Lawrence coming off a winter where he averaged 98 for the Lions down under. However, both will need to wait patiently for their chance to shine with the senior team.


There's no place for Jonny Bairstow in the extended squad, the England keeper has battled technical issues for years now, and has not averaged over 35 in test cricket since 2016, and has averaged just 23 since the start of last year. With so much batting talent coming through the ranks, Bairstow may struggle to get back into the test side, and may be better advised to concentrate on his impressive white-ball form.


England have plenty of bowlers available for this series, and you have to imagine we will see some rotation with Broad, Anderson, Jofra, Woakes and Wood joining Ben Stokes in terms of fast-bowling. If the England team suffers any injuries they have injury-plagued Olly Stone in reserve, alongside Saqib Mahmood who flashed during the warm-up game.


Unless England throw a spanner in the works, it looks as though we'll see Zak Crawley play at #3 with Joe Denly replacing Root in the #4 position for England. There are questions around Zak Crawley's technique but his last three innings for England have been 66 and 24 at the Wanderers and a solid 44 at St George's Park, so it may be that he's just finding his feet and England will want to give players a fair shot to cement their place.


4 days to go!

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