England v West Indies, 1st Test, Lord's May 16, 2012

Low expectations for West Indies


Match Facts

May 17-21, Lord's
Start time 1100 (1000GMT)

The Big Picture

The days when a West Indies series began with the expectation they would inflict a blackwash are long gone. Now they begin a series with many expecting they will be whitewashed. Unless weather intervenes, anything other than an England cleansweep is likely to be viewed as a missed opportunity.

There are valid reasons for that. England are at home in early season conditions against a West Indies team that have been hindered by rain and late arrivals during their preparation. Despite a difficult winter, where they lost four out of five Tests, England remain a formidable team with arguably the strongest pace-bowling resources in the world.

Yet, perhaps West Indies are not being given their due. Between the politics and batting collapses there have been a few signs that this team are starting to gel under the leadership of Darren Sammy. The 2-0 defeat against Australia looked comfortable for the visitors last month but they were tested on many occasions. In Fidel Edwards, Kemar Roach and Ravi Rampaul, West Indies have a strong trio of pace bowlers. If only they could put consistent runs on the board. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, despite being the No. 1 Test batsman, should not have to do it all on his own.

For England's standing in Test cricket - where they remain No. 1 by the skin of their teeth - they need to dominate this series. Not all the players have hit the ground running in the County Championship this season, notably the openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, and that could provide an opening for West Indies. Ultimately, though, the depth of the home side should prevail.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

England WLLLL
West Indies LDLDL

Watch out for...

James Anderson was named England's Player of the Year on Monday and is now rivalling Dale Steyn as the leading pace bowler in the world. If he stays fit, Ian Botham's England record of 383 wickets is within his sights and he will expect to boost his tally against a flaky West Indies top order.

Darren Bravo has a huge part to play alongside Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the middle order. His twin fifties against England Lions in Northampton gave an English audience the first glimpse of his huge talent, but West Indies need him to convert into three figures on the Test stage - a skill he has already shown at the top level.

Team news

Unless the hosts decide to be really bold and select five frontline bowlers, Jonny Bairstow will make his Test debut at No. 6 to become the 13th father-son combination to play Tests for England. Then the only decision is who supports Anderson and Stuart Broad. Tim Bresnan may just be leading the race ahead of Steven Finn and Graham Onions.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Jonny Bairstow, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 James Anderson

Ottis Gibson has hinted at a four-man pace attack for West Indies with Shane Shillingford, the offspinner, missing out despite his impressive comeback against Australia. There have been some niggles in the camp over the last week and Ravi Rampaul did not take a full part in training on Wednesday. Narsingh Deonarine is the man in possession at No. 6 but his late arrival may count against him.

West Indies (probable) 1 Adrian Barath, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Kirk Edwards, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Marlon Samuels, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Fidel Edwards

Pitch and conditions

Chris Adams, the Surrey team director, was highly critical of a Championship pitch at Lord's earlier in the season. It has been tough for Mick Hunt, the groundsman, with all the wet weather around but there is rarely a concern about one of his Test strips. At Lord's it is often a question of looking up, not down. If it is cloudy expect help for swing bowling.

Stats and trivia

  • West Indies have not won an away series against anyone other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in 17 years

  • They have not won a Test at Lord's since 1988 when Malcolm Marshall took 10 wickets in the match

  • England have churned out hundreds at Lord's in recent years; since 2006 they have hit 24 with Kevin Pietersen scoring five, while Alastair Cook and Matt Prior have three apiece

  • This is the first Test for new MCC chief executive Derek Brewer

For a full stats preview click here


"I'm excited about the challenges ahead, to come out at Lord's again, and I'm hoping we will all show what we're capable of this summer."
Andrew Strauss looks forward rather than back

"Pressure could make you crumble; pressure could make you rise above your expectations - and I know Strauss is a strong guy mentally."
Darren Sammy has no doubts about Strauss

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on May 17, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    @PADDA on (May 17 2012, 07:15 AM GMT) Easily pleased then I guess

  • Varun on May 17, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    My teams (although a lot of these players are unavailable):

    ENG: Strauss (c), Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Bairstow, Prior (wk), Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson

    WI: Gayle, Powell, Sarwan, Darren Bravo, Chanderpaul, Nash, Ramdin (wk), Sammy (c), Roach, F Edwards, Narine

  • G on May 17, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    Always makes me smile whenever an article states this England attack is arguably the strongest in the world you get loads of people outraged at such a comment - wake up! It's not the 90's anymore lads, England are #1 in the world, and the main reason for that is the ability of our bowling attack to consistently restrict sides to under 300 in any set of bowling conditions. First you said Jimmy could only take wickets when it swings - Australia, UAE, Sri Lanka. Then you said Broad was over-rated - decimated India, wickets in UAE as well. Then we have Tremlett unfortunately injured but still has aussie batsmen waking up in the middle of the night in a sweat, and Bresnan who has won every single test match he has been in who can swing it and take wickets on dead tracks. Finn who is still very young but over 50 test wickets, and then there are many top quality quiicks in reserve. Face facts, England are now a top side and are going to be a top side for years to come

  • Mr on May 17, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    If people want to dip into statistics to compare the Eng SA bowling attacks, you cant really use the ICC player rankings for the top 3 pace bowlers. Englands wickets over the last 2 years have been spread between mainly 6 bowlers (Anderson, Broad, Bresnan, Swann, Tremlett, Finn) with Swann 2nd in the list. SA have been spread between only 3 (Steyn, Phillander, Morkel). The conditions and amout of games are factored by the ranking system, but players will fall in the rankings when they dont play as often for their side.

  • John on May 17, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    ElBeeDubya/SachBro - No doubting Steyn's quality been top of the ICC rankings for a long time but I'd like to ask where it is that Steyn has been winning test matches in unhelpful conditions or in SC?According to the test records table SA haven't played a test match in SC for over 2 years and yes he was immense in the test they won in India but what about the test they lost If he was that great how come he made no effect on the 2nd test in Ind where he took 1-115? So if you're saying Steyn is a killer in SC please tell me where/when?And if SA are miles above England with their bowling attck why are they not winning the team more matches? In the 2nd test vs Australia late last year when the full strength SA bowling attck had Aus 145-4/165-5 and still could not defend a 300+ score on own turf? I'm not saying Eng have a better bowling attack but if it is worse it is marginal. I'm quite happy with our bowling attack Not that this was supposed to be a go compare thread for Eng/SA bowling

  • Andrew on May 17, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    Remember, what goes up must come down ... The WI of the 70-80s came down ... Aus of the 90-00s came down ... who will rule the 10s and 20s ... England ... South Africa ... Australia again? ... England have had a dimal time in the sub-continent ... India at England and Australia ... South Africa had mediocre home series against Australia and Sri-Lanka to go to rain-hit New Zealand a 3-0 became 1-0 ... and Australia wrapped up an up and down 2-0 against the Windies ... So the 4 major contenders are closer than ever and no-one has been able to take the bull by the horns and dominate recently.

  • Richard on May 17, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    @Greatest game So , England's pace attack is " nowhere near the top. Really " Really ? Would this be the same pace attack that really contributed to the last Ashes victory(ies) and that pretty much really demolished India last year ? Oh , who are the current really top ICC-ranked test team ? Why , England ! Yes , REALLY

  • John on May 17, 2012, 8:31 GMT

    @sawifan on (May 17 2012, 01:17 AM GMT) Dwayne Bravo's stats aren't all that impressive at test level. Gayle is much better but his stats (on recollection) were around 42/43 which is similar to Strauss and I think it's quite funny that Strauss is seen as a weak link whereas Gayle is seen as a saviour.Someone even said that it's about recent form but in test format Gayle's last inns was either 0 or 9 and he has not played for a while either. Shiv and Darren Bravo are key and maybe those who are saying about Nash and Sarwan doing ok in Eng county cricket have a point.

  • Ridwan on May 17, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    "James Anderson was named England's Player of the Year on Monday and is now rivalling Dale Steyn as the leading pace bowler in the world."

    My word, does your bias know no limits. Anderson is a lovely bowler, even brilliant at times...but why oh why do we want to belittle all his achievements by trying to compare him to Steyn, who has been the number 1 test bowler for a few years now?

    England is a vary solid team but to be honest, they have punched well above their weight. No real superstars, just a good solid bunch of triers. That doesn't mean they are any less of a team, just shows what a solid unit they are, without relying too heavily on 1 particular player

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    God here it goes again...Eng;and bashing...forget looking at bowling ranking points and look at the bigger picture and look at what Anderson, Broad & Bresnan have been doing to opposition batsmen over the past couple or so years, they've been decimating them match after match....Don't get me wrong, the SA pace attack is excellent, Steyn a top drawer opening bowler as is Anderson, but Broad is a far better all-round bowler than Morkle, and Phillander, whilst he's made an excellent start to his test career is still rather an unknown quantity, and from what I've seen of him during the winter looks no different than countless other seamers plying their trade in county cricket...His wickets look to come from dreadful batting techniques against a seamer as opposed to out of this world bowling.....Trust me, come the end of August you'll see why England had, have & will still have the best all-round bowling attack in world cricket....Imitation is the best form of flattery ;)

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