England vs West Indies 3rd Test match preview
England will be looking to whitewash the West Indies when the two sides meet at Birmingham after their previous wins at both Lords and Trent Bridge put them 2-0 up in the series. The tourists will look to secure a consolation victory in what has been a largely inconsistent series for Sammy’s men. The West Indies have shown an abundance of grit and determination in certain sessions but have not been able to grind out a good all round performance to really threaten this England side. The West Indies will now have to hope that the changes in the England side will unsettle the winning mentality and if this happens, the tourists could be heading into the one day series with a morale boosting win.
The opening partnership in Strauss and Cook oozes stability and confidence from the middle, and the two certainly have built a formidable opening stance in this strong England line up. Strauss has bounced back after poor recent form and his 141 in the first innings at Nottingham showed the critics that he is as good as ever at the crease. Cook is just as reliable and he is a very calming influence, and this is imperative if the team ever comes under batting pressure. This opening partnership is as good as any in world cricket and the West Indies will have to break it early to have any chance in the third test. Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell slot into the middle order with Pietersen providing the flair and aggression whilst Bell lends a nice blend of technical ability and reliable stability which is crucial when the batting ship requires some steadying. Johnny Bairstow has failed to stamp his authority on proceedings and is yet to prove his credentials and with Ravi Bopara pushing him for a place, the pressure will rise for the Yorkshire batsman.
The English bowlers have performed brilliantly throughout this series and the two main pace men James Anderson and Stuart Broad have not disappointed. Anderson will be rested for the final test and the selectors will probably have the visit of South Africa in mind as they try and maintain the fitness of their key men. Tim Bresnan will again feature and he has been England’s lucky charm, as every time he has played in a test England has won. He has performed excellently and has a knack of extracting reverse swing in the dying moments of a test match. Swann makes up the attack and we all know what his attributes are: he can turn the ball in every way possible.
The West Indies top order is the exact opposite of England’s. It has been a shambolic showing at times and the inexperienced batsmen have thrown their wickets away whilst undoing all the good work by their bowlers. The Windies’ top 4 have managed to scrape an average of just 203 runs in 8 innings of cricket between them; this is simply not good enough at international level. The England bowlers have been ruthless in taking advantage of poor shot selection and execution, but Bareth and Bravo dug in and produced a couple of fifties. Marlon Samuels has provided some glue in the batting line up, but it has been Shivnarine Chanderpaul who was once again the outstanding performer for the West Indies. He became the latest entrant to the 10,000 run club and can bat for hours without any lapse in concentration whatsoever, he is an amazing talent at the crease.
The West Indies bowling attack has been good, but the England batting performance has handled them very well indeed. Ravi Rampaul has worked extremely hard in patches whilst the West Indies team physiotherapist, C.J. Clark, has conceded that Kemar Roach will play no further part in the tour due to a shin injury. Sunil Narine has been named as his replacement and is uncapped at test level. He has managed to bag himself 24 wickets in 15 matches in the IPL but he will have to adjust his game to the added endurance that test cricket demands. The Windies will have to be more consistent across the team if they hope to cause an upset and avoid a series whitewash before they head into the ODI series.