A first Test draw labelled as a success is the same old spin from the England management in response to selection favours, and the second Test now looks a must win. 

England’s draw with the West Indies allegedly contained more positives than negatives for the touring side so expect a roaring success in Bridgetown if the spin is to be believed.

We preview the second Test here.

Same old England

England will line up at the Kensington Oval with a draw under the belt from the first Test in Antigua, and yes while there were some positives to note, they should be addressed individually. Joe Root continued his fine run of form that should surely lead him to be considered the best batter in Test match cricket currently with his rivals Kane Williamson, Virat Kohli, and Steve Smith all going well over a year since recording a Test century. Root’s hundred was, of course, as good as the rest of them, which is now too many to count, and it is every England fan’s hope that this run of form can remain intact for the rest of their days supporting the side. Johnny Bairstow, brilliantly once again,  scored a hundred fresh on the back of his glorious ton in the Ashes and you’d have to think that he has finally cemented his position as one of the first names on the team sheet after being overlooked on so many occasions. Zak ‘creepy’ Crawley was another with runs to his name and in a top order that has been a little shy in the scoring department in the last few years, it was more than welcome to see.

However, there has to be a huge admission here that while indeed there were runs, albeit on a flat deck, England’s bowling was more Saturday cricket than most leagues up and down the country. Who knew that leaving out two of the most successful pace bowlers in test cricket history wouldn’t lead to a flurry of wickets and the birth of a new generation of England’s pace attack? Ben Stokes was to play the role predominantly of a batsman in Antigua, before actually finishing the Test match with figures of 3 for 66 from his 41, yes forty-one, overs – including a staggering 28 overs in the first innings.

Of course, it would be unfair to spell out these facts without stating that the Antiguan wicket was as dead as they come, at points it nearly made the deck at Rawalpindi for the Pakistan v Australia Test look spicy. Which once pointed out can be dismissive of the successful batters and forgiving for the weak bowling attack. But the truth is that if England want to move into a new era without James Anderson and Stuart Broad then something needs to look and feel differently, which it didn’t in Antigua. Coming away with the draw could be a positive result for England if they look to Barbados with more courage and dare.

Pitch perfect

If Root and his men are given a pitch with a little more juice this week in Barbados it will be interesting to see who they look to replace Mark Wood with, the Durham man was ruled out of the Test through injury and will instead likely sit with Ollie Robinson on the physios table while enjoying the delights of Caribbean cricket. Saqib Mahmood is the obvious pick but with the England selectors seemingly unable to be second guessed at the moment, then it’s anybody’s shout. While a fruitier pitch would mean something for the bowlers, the batters will be secretly hoping for another flat one, although lively or not there will no doubt be opportunity for Root to make his presence known in the middle and he is unsurprisingly the favourite to lead the run charge for England in the first innings at 13/8. The two form men from Antigua follow in the market with Bairstow and Crawley 7/2 and 4/1 respectively.

When looking at the win market, it looks like England are to be believed in their new brand of daring cricket and are the 19/20 favourites, while the hosts are at 21/10. If we are to suffer the same ill fate as the Sir Viv Richards stadium then a draw at 7/2 would look a monster price, but like every cricket fan up and down the land, we can all say a little prayer to the groundsmen in Barbados – please don’t make us suffer again.

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