After a long wait, international cricket is finally back with the Wisden Trophy.
It is heroic of England to host such a series in the wake of a pandemic that has engulfed the world. Cricket fans should be grateful to the organizers and the players for taking this courageous step.
West Indies dominated England for 31 years from 1968 to 1999, when their pace attack whitewashed England on many occasions.
It was Nasser Hussain who turned the tide by regaining the Wisden Trophy in 2000 and retained it even after Brian Lara's record-breaking 400 Antigua.
The reverse dominance continued till 2014 but since then they have been on even keel.
At the outset England are World champions, they crushed South Africa 3-1 in their last Test series. The Three Lions are perceived to be the favorites in this Test Series.
West Indies, however, did beat England, 2-1, in the pair's last Test series.
They also defeated Bangladesh 2-0 and defeated Afghanistan in Lucknow, extracting life in Indian conditions. The Calypso, however, could not defeat a supremely talented Indian side.
West Indies' Pace Factory
Kemar Roach , Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Jason Holder make a wonderful quartet.
Roach has taken 71 wickets in last 19 tests and proved to be the thorn in the flesh for English batsmen last time out.
Holder proves to be a handful in seaming condition. Joseph and Gabriel can create breakthroughs and the latter can scalp openers with his pace.
No team likes to face this quartet of pacers.
England's Pace Attack
England is still relying on old warhorse James Anderson, who has taken 102 wickets in his last 21 matches. In English conditions he can be lethal.
Mark Wood with his pace can do wonders and Jofra Archer is a sensation.
Archer flopped in New Zealand but this break may have helped him to regain full fitness. Stuart Broad is likely to edge out Chris Woakes as the fourth seamer.
In the pace department, both sides are evenly matched
The Top Order
West Indies' top order's average of 21.23 is mediocre, to say the least. John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite and Shamarh Brooks hardly ring a bell.
Similarly England's top order frailties were exposed by Australia and New Zealand. Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope are too inexperienced.
Expect pacers from both sides to feast on the top order.
Absence of spinners
As the pitches are virgin in absence of county matches, the teams have no spinners worth their salt.
England has selected Dom Bess, who has played only four tests and is yet to prove himself.
On the other hand, West Indies is going ahead with Rahkeem Cornwall, who astounded the cricket world by taking seven wickets against Afghanistan in Lucknow.
The visitors have a slight edge in this department.
The Middle Order
The best batsman for West Indies for past couple of years has been Shane Dowrich. The Barbados-born batsman has scored 702 runs in this duration, scoring three centuries and seven fifties.
Shai Hope hit two centuries at Headingley in West Indies' previous tour of England . Holder can also chip in to score some crucial runs. In the absence of spinners, West Indies middle order is likely to do well.
England boasts of world class talents like Ben Stokes and Joss Buttler in their middle order. l, however, feel that the Windies quicks , especially Roach and Gabriel will get better of Stokes and Buttler.
Joe Root's absence will play a huge role for England. The star batsman has been a fulcrum for the Three Lions and his stability will be missed.
England has a decent tail as Archer , Broad and Woakes can bat but they will be missing Sam Curran.
West Indies has a long tail and only miraculous batting from Holder and Kemar Roach's defense can provide a saving grace.
We all know that application of saliva is not there so shine will go earlier than usual. As spinners are not there this may play a crucial role.
Secondly now there will be three reviews as local umpires are officiating. This will induce more referrals and bring excitement.
Players can be substituted if some one falls prey to covid, which happened at the Adria Tour (tennis) . This rule has taken away the pressure.
There will be no celebrations and the umpire will also not be handed over equipment like caps, shades etc.
This will change the environment and I am keen to witness a violation in the heat of the moment
The Rose Bowl induces runs if a batsman stays there.
It is the top order which will decide the outcome. If Rory Burns shows his doggedness, Pope proves his potential, England will win.
If Hope plays like he did last time against England and Brathwaite shows his tenacity, the match will swing in West Indies favor.
Set your time table and witness two middleweight boxers test their skill in empty stadiums but packed television audience.