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England v West Indies preview: The second Test

It’s all eyes on Old Trafford for the next five days, as the second of three Tests to decide the Wisden Trophy begins.

The winds of change?

England need to respond immediately, with two wins out of two necessary if they are to regain the trophy. It’s a relief, then, that Joe Root is back in the action; the skipper will undoubtedly add further solidity to what remains an inexperienced top 4. Joe Denly has been dropped from the squad for the second Test, meaning that Zak Crawley is set to retain his place in the side.

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While the six other batting spots and Dom Bess’ place look decided, exactly who will make up England’s seam attack is unclear. We do now know that Jimmy Anderson and Mark Wood are being rested – understandable given their recent injuries – with Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, and the uncapped Ollie Robinson all in England’s 13. Stuart Broad was conspicuous by his absence down in Southampton, and the side’s defeat there will have done him no harm at all on a personal level. His inclusion now seems likely, as does Jofra Archer’s once again, with a battle for that third seamer spot on the cards. Curran offers variation, Woakes will be very dangerous with the new Dukes ball, and Robinson’s extra height could suit the Old Trafford surface.

Possible England XI: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root (c), Stokes, Pope, Buttler (wk), Bess, Curran, Archer, Broad

Windies look to pick up where they left off

There was very little about the West Indies’ performance at the Ageas Bowl that will have concerned Jason Holder. Perhaps they drifted a little during the fourth day, when Stokes and Crawley were together, but otherwise, they were brilliant.

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Shannon Gabriel and Holder inspired with the ball, while Jermaine Blackwood’s exceptional second-innings knock took them to a tight but deserved victory. With that in mind, it seems unlikely that the tourists will look to change too much. Their coach, Phil Simmons, has already called for the Windies to look ahead: ‘Right now that Test match is history. We’ve got to be thinking about what we do from Thursday to Monday’. Clearly, there is little danger that Holder’s men will be allowed to dwell on their previous success. The West Indies are here to win, make no mistake about it.

Prospects

England certainly have what it takes to come out on top in Manchester. They will need to be more clinical than they were last week, but there is no reason for us to lose faith. Being clinical in cricket is all about converting; if England can turn starts into big scores chances into catches, they will be well placed to level things up.

Fingers crossed for a dry enough five days, and for another enthralling Test match.