Ladies and Gentlemen. We have a deciding Test match on our hands. It’s all we could have hoped for pre-series. Are you looking forward to it?
This final match of the series could be a good old fashioned humdinger – although I expect much will depend on the fitness and general energy levels of the Windies fast bowlers. If Roach, Gabriel, and Joseph are raring to go then it could be another close contest. If, however, their morale is low and they’re collectively knackered after the second Test then it could be an easy ride for England. We shall see.
The big question is which bowlers England will select for the final XI. One could make a strong case for any three (or four) of Anderson, Broad, Archer, Wood, Woakes, and Curran. However, there’s a slight danger of overthinking this. In fact, I half suspect that England will overthink it themselves and end up leaving out a spinner (which would make me want to hurl my iMac out of the window).
Although much will depend on conditions, I think England should just keep it simple by selecting their three seamers with the greatest skill and pedigree. And that, for me at least, means Anderson, Broad, and Archer. The latter sneaks in because every side needs some genuine pace and his ceiling is sky high. Jofra will also have something to prove and apparently he’s been bowling absolutely rapidly in practice.
The potential curveball, however, is the fitness of Ben Stokes. He’ll certainly play as a batter but will he be able to turn his arm over too? Personally I suspect he’ll be fit to bowl if and when England are absolutely desperate for a wicket. But if he’s not really needed then Root won’t risk him. This seems like an entirely sensible strategy to me.
I’ll try to keep the blog updated the best I can over the next five days. However, sadly I probably won’t be able to produce daily reports this time. After a relatively quiet lockdown I’m now absolutely inundated with work. And, as a freelancer, I can’t really turn it down. However, please feel free to keep the discussion going in the comments.
You’ll also notice that our friends from Conversful have returned. See that little green icon in the bottom right hand corner of the page? This facility lets you start a realtime conversation with other readers on the site. We’ll see what the take-up is.
Enjoy the game everyone. Personally I’m expecting England to win. But we’ve been miserably wrong before!