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Preview by Andrew McGlashan
June 6, 2012
June 7-11, Edgbaston
Start time 11.00 (1000GMT)
The Big Picture
Despite this series having been decided last week there have been plenty of talking points in the lead-up to the final Test at Edgbaston. Kevin Pietersen's retirement from limited-overs cricket (his choice for ODIs, forced for T20s) heads the list, followed by James Anderson being rested and, from West Indies' point of view, the call-up for Sunil Narine which puts him on the verge of an eagerly anticipated debut.
The series has provided some periods of hard-fought Test cricket but, ultimately, England have had too much depth for West Indies. They overwhelmed the visitors on the third evening in Nottingham with a six-wicket burst led by Tim Bresnan which left West Indies no way back. It raised questions about how far West Indies have really come and they do have a major issue with sustaining performances over five days. Yet their recovery was never going to be easy.
If the weather allows enough overs England will expect to complete a cleansweep but Andrew Strauss would like a more complete display. In both games the batting has not made the most of strong first-innings positions to really ram home an advantage. Better teams would not have allowed England off the hook.
All eyes will be on Pietersen - now purely a Test player - but, obviously, he has nothing to prove. That is not the case for Jonny Bairstow who has another opportunity to make life tough for the selectors ahead of the South Africa series. Ravi Bopara is back from injury and scoring runs for Essex so the challenge is Bairstow's to keep him at bay.
Form guide(Most recent first)
West Indies LLLDL
Watch out for
England's record against mystery spin is poor, you only have to go back to Saeed Ajmal earlier this year, so the prospect of them facing Sunil Narine for the first time is a fascinating one. Conditions will not be in Narine's favour, but the home side's batsmen will have to base their planning on video evidence. Narine's first-class average is an astonishing 11.88 (after six matches) and although that needs to include caveats about the quality of some of the opposition, his impact at ODI level suggests he will not be an easy prospect.
Steven Finn has made no secret of his frustration at waiting on the sidelines this season so it may be an idea to give him some space if Graham Onions beats him to replacing Anderson. Since losing his place during the 2010-11 Ashes series Finn has only made two further appearances both against Sri Lanka; at Lord's (when Anderson was injured) and in Colombo (when Broad was injured). If he does get another opportunity it could be another short stay in the team but there remains plenty of time for him to forge the long Test career fully expected of him.
There remains a chance England could rest Stuart Broad along with Anderson, but if that is not the case it becomes a straight decision between Finn and Onions for the bowling slot. Finn is the next man in line, but Onions' county form - where he has recently taken 11 in a match against Lancashire - makes a compelling case.
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 Steven Finn
West Indies will need to ponder a few changes. Narine is favoured to replace Shane Shillingford (despite being Roach's replacement in the squad) while either Tino Best or Fidel Edwards will partner Ravi Rampaul. The top order will need a shuffle, too. Kirk Edwards, for his own well-being, needs to step away from the spotlight. Narsingh Deonarine is likely to bat No. 6.
West Indies (probable) 1 Adrian Barath, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Narsingh Deonarine, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Tino Best, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Sunil Narine
Pitch and conditions
The forecast, sadly, is not good for large portions of the Test. Thursday appears especially dicey with heavy rain forecast (which also arrived to impact the practice days) so it could be a frustrating experience. Pitches at Edgbaston produce excellent Test cricket and if the cloud cover stays around the pace bowlers will find particular encouragement.
Stats and trivia
"This was one of those occasions where an opportunity presented itself and we all think it's prudent that we take the opportunity with Jimmy and hopefully that will allow him to be fresh for the rest of the summer and beyond."
Andrew Strauss takes a familiar line when asked about Anderson's rest
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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