Daren Ganga joins Nikhil Naz to pick a fantasy team for the first England-West Indies Test in Southampton (6:54)
England v West Indies, First Test in Southampton
Our XI: Kraigg Braithwaite, Rory Burns, Shai Hope, Ollie Pope, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Jason Holder, Dom Bess, Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph, James Anderson
NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates.
Captain: Ben Stokes
It’s a Test match and on sheer probability on opportunities to get points, Stokes is the way to go. As a top-five batsman and an impact bowler, Stokes has to be there. This is the first time he is captaining at this level, and he would be keen to prove himself. Since January 2018, Stokes has 1627 runs at 37.83 and 52 wickets at 30.38. He also scored 41 and an unbeaten 33 in the warm-up fixture.
Vice-captain: Jason Holder
Holder is arguably the world’s best Test allrounder at the moment. His bowling average of 14.22 since the start of January 2018 is the best in the world, and he has 53 wickets to go with it. With the bat, he is the second best for West Indies since 2018, scoring 680 runs at an average of 42.5. Holder is also a great player of spin and that might come in handy in Southampton.
James Anderson: It would be a risk to leave out Anderson. When West Indies visited England in 2017, Anderson took 19 wickets and struck every six overs. He might get those useful bowling points if he can break open a brittle top order.
Ollie Pope: Pope is back to his favourite position at No. 6 and has been reaping the rewards. Since his comeback in 2019, Pope has scored 376 runs at an average of 62.66 with one century and three fifties from eight innings.
Kemar Roach: Roach is seven wickets away from getting to 200 Test wickets, and he is back against his favourite opponents – last year, he picked up 18 wickets at 3.88 at home, striking once every five overs. Roach also has an exceptional record against left-handed batsmen (34 wickets at an average of 19 since January 2017), and it would be an interesting battle against the likes of Rory Burns and Stokes at the top of the order.
Dom Bess: A surprise inclusion ahead of Jack Leach, Bess had an impressive warm-up game, and the slow nature of the Ageas Bowl pitch might suit his style. Bess had a five-wicket haul against South Africa earlier this year and can score some valuable runs at the end too.
Alzarri Joseph: Another key bowler in the West Indies lineup, Joseph’s pace and accuracy could be a surprise factor for the inexperienced English batsmen. Joseph took six wickets in the warm-up game.
Points to note
The pitch at Ageas Bowl has not witnessed much cricket of late. If the practice match was an indicator, it should be a slow track.
Historically spinners take a wicket every 55 balls compared to the 68 balls taken by pacers.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo