West Indies vs England: First Test Preview

Cricket ball sits on pitch

England arrive in the West Indies as firm favourites to win both the first Test and the series overall, but history suggests the task facing them is not as straightforward as that.

The West Indies are a side that have improved tremendously in recent times, but seem to be perpetually knocked back by player availability issues and internal problems.

West Indies vs England | 23 - 27 January | Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados 

To Win Match
West Indies 9/2
Draw 6/1
England 1/3

West Indies 
The West Indies have gone back to the partner that brought them to the dance by looking to make the most of their fast-bowling stocks, on pitches that have been curated for pace after years of slow and flat pitches in the Caribbean.

Darren Bravo earns a recall to the Test squad after a long time in the international wilderness. Despite the recent good form of both Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer, Bravo will be the only batsman in the squad starting the series with an average above 40.

Skipper Jason Holder has blossomed into a genuine all-rounder, with vast improvements in his batting turning him into a real lower-order threat along with being one of the more consistent quicks in the Windies set-up.

Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach troubled England on their own patch not so long ago - and the pacemen can expect support from either Alzarri Joseph or uncapped quick Oshane Thomas.

Jomel Warrican is the only frontline spinner in a squad that also includes spin-bowling all-rounder Roston Chase.

Uncapped batsmen John Campbell and Shamarh Brooks are unlikely to both be deployed in the first Test.

England
England have brought a squad to the West Indies that is very similar to the one that overcame Sri Lanka away late last year.

Promising young quick Olly Stone was forced to withdraw from the group, which has afforded Mark Wood the opportunity to return to the Test squad alongside veteran quicks James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

In a bid to prolong his career in the ultimate format, Broad has trialled a new bowling action and bagged a hat-trick in a warm-up game, suggesting the paceman is onto something.

Keaton Jennings bought himself some time in the England team with some runs in Sri Lanka - and looks set to reprise his new partnership with Rory Burns.

Joe Root will be under pressure to show that he can consistently deliver big runs while leading the England team.

Verdict: England 1/3
The match is unlikely to end in a draw, given both sides' batting fragility. England's all-round quality should give them the edge.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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