England seek the knock-out blow
Match factsThursday May 14 - Monday May 18
Start time 11.00 (10.00GMT)
England's home season was launched in the most emphatic of styles at Lord's with a 10-wicket win, but now that Chris Gayle has confirmed the impression that West Indies were not entirely at the races, the value of that victory has been somewhat diminished. England, however, will not worry about factors beyond their control. Their first priority is to produce another convincing display at Chester-le-Street to regain the Wisden Trophy.
While England's bowling performance last week gained close to full marks, the batting was less convincing as only Ravi Bopara produced a stand-out innings from the top order. Graeme Swann's runs were a welcome bonus, but the batsman can't rely on the lower order to bail them out every time. Kevin Pietersen is in need of a score, while Paul Collingwood will be motivated by a rare home Test appearance.
Another home-town lad is Graham Onions, fresh from his seven wickets on debut at Lord's, and the locals will expect more of the same. West Indies certainly seem ripe for the taking - conditions are tough and their attitude hasn't won many admirers - but it would be careless in the extreme for England to underestimate them. It's unlikely that Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul will all fail twice again. If they do, however, England shouldn't have too many problems completing stage one of the summer.
Form guideEngland WDDDD
West Indies LDDDD
Watch out for...
Kevin Pietersen has never been as anonymous as he was at Lord's. A first-ball duck and very little to do in the field almost left you saying "Pietersen who?" and he won't like that. He didn't let up in his back-slapping encouragement of his team-mates, but he wants to be at the centre of success and with tougher challenges around the corner England need an in-form Pietersen.
It is often difficult to tell much from the body language of Chris Gayle, but how desperate West Indies are to level the series could well be shown by the early mood of their captain. His pre-match revelations will do nothing to boost team morale and if the captain doesn't want to be there, what hope for the rest of the side? If he fields first, in cold, blustery conditions he will have to do more than stand at slip with his hands in his pockets, and if he gets the chance to bat first the leading role must come from his bat.
Jerome Taylor wasn't at his best at Lord's and the tourists need all their key players to step forward over the next five days. At the time Taylor's pace was seriously down, but if he and Fidel Edwards fire together they can create real problems for England. His 5 for 11 at Sabina Park is still fresh in the memory, but that is now more than three months ago. It's time to show it wasn't a fluke.
Ian Bell and Ryan Sidebottom have been added to the winning eleven from Lord's, but neither is expected to be recalled yet as England stick with an unchanged team. However, their presence in the squad means no one can rest on their laurels even after an impressive performance. Tim Bresnan, restricted to seven overs on debut, should get another chance but the feeling is he'll be the first for the chop when changes are made.
England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Ravi Bopara, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Stuart Broad, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Graham Onions, 11 James Anderson
Dale Richards, the opening batsman, has flown home with a shoulder injury so any changes in the top order are unlikely even though Devon Smith keeps throwing away his promising starts. West Indies might feel it's worth a gamble on one of the uncapped quicks in Nelon Pascal and Andrew Richardson, or they could opt for the all-round skills of Darren Sammy who would add accuracy with the ball and depth to the batting. Lionel Baker would be the man to step aside.
West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Devon Smith, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Lendl Simmons, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Brendan Nash, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Sulieman Benn, 11 Fidel Edwards
Umpires: Steve Davis (Australia) and Asoka de Silva (Sri Lanka)
Pitch and conditions
As usual, the forecast changes by the day, but the first two days have a reasonable chance of staying fine although the weekend is more uncertain. There's a cold wind, too, so West Indies will need all those sweaters. After taking a few years to settle down, Chester-le-Street is now a solid all-round wicket which rewards batsmen and bowlers.
Stats and Trivia
"To be honest with you, there's a possibility I might give it up - I will be giving it up, shortly."
Chris Gayle serves notice of his impending resignation, assuming he isn't pushed first
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo