It’s a fact that not just some of the build up to this series and first Test has been focused on England’s selection, rather, it all has. How England can deal with that is anybody’s guess.

We hardly need to dwell on the notable admissions from England’s selectors of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, but if we are to piece together a likely outcome of the Test then it needs to be addressed.

Elephant in the room

England will line up at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium with both James Anderson and Stuart Broad remarkably missing from their line-up. Two of the finest bowlers England have ever produced are arguably still at the peak of their powers and after a disappointing tour of Australia for the England team, senior management have made the remarkable decision to drop the two experienced pacemen. It was news that shocked the cricketing world and there will be eyes all over the world watching on to see how this pans out.

The whole series has been marred by this elephant in the room and any success or failure will be intrinsically linked to that decision, which appears to have come from the interim managing director of the England team, Andrew Strauss. However, it looks like failure may be more likely than success particularly after England’s sole warm up match in Antigua saw Ollie Robinson stumble off the pitch with a back injury. This, combined with Mark Wood’s selection doubts, will be cause for grave concern to the England camp.

This will be a strange series for England fans with such drama ensuing in the background. There’s no doubt that some will want to see this decision vindicated with a heavy loss despite being diehard fans, but such is the esteem that most hold Anderson and Broad, who have shared 944 wickets in 126 Tests together, in.

Runs on the board

England have, as mentioned, had just one warm up game for this tour and that came against a Cricket West Indies Presidents XI. Despite their worries and woes in the bowling department the concern will also be with their batters. Having been an out of sorts batting unit for some years now, England need to find their right batters and in the right order. The warm-up game saw Johnny Bairstow make some runs, in the form of a century, and Dan Lawrence has also hit some form. These are two world class players on their day, but the problem has been that they’re confidence players. However, if they can hit form at the right time leading into a series, then they can shoulder a fair share of batting responsibility.

Like so many Tests in recent times the winning side is likely to come from the one that is able to get those all important first innings runs on the board. With Joe Root hopefully extending his purple patch, England may only need supporting roles to go with him and be in a strong position to win the Test.

As for a full result the West Indies can be backed at 7/4 while England are slightly shorter at 11/10. A draw between the two sides looks unlikely on the face of it but given a little more thought, it is quite plausible that with both sides having a weak bowling attack and being bat heavy, then we could find ourselves in a situation where the concrete deck of Antigua is a friendly place to find yourself with a stick in your hand and the batsmen could dominate the fixture at 10/3.

Whatever happens, this Test is going to offer a lot of clues to the future and some of the England players on this tour will be mindful that this could be their last chance to continue wearing the English cap.

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