Second Test preview: England vs Windies

England

In their own backyard, an England side sporting three of the world's top five bowlers must deliver indomitably against a West Indian outfit without a series win in a long, long time.

England won the first Test, yes, but will have to do it again in far more convincing fashion if they are to be considered truly the world's best.

Opportunity knocked for them to clinch the Lord's opener inside three days, at the very least three and a bit, but the killer instinct lacked.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul's expected defiance can only be used as an excuse for so long. While the clash in London was something of a pacesetter for the remainder of the series, Nottingham must witness all out dominance from Andrew Strauss' men.

This is a side, after all, as many as six spots higher than their opposition in the Test rankings. In the cutthroat business of international competition, there can be no wasted opportunity, especially for a side needing to make up for plenty of inadequacy against Pakistan and Sri Lanka earlier this year.

In their own backyard, an England side sporting three of the world's top five bowlers must deliver indomitably against a West Indian outfit without a series win in a long, long time.

The exact personnel to do so, though, hangs in the balance. Winning combinations are there to be stuck with, indeed, but testing the bench strength is equally as important. Tim Bresnan was ordinary at Lord's. It wouldn't be misplaced in benching him for Steven Finn or Graeme Onions. The former is brimming with confidence on the back of a solid run in ODI and county cricket, while it's high time the latter be tested at international level again.

Conditions at Trent Bridge are sure to swing. James Anderson and Stuart Broad are sure to prove that – who the perfect pick to complement the new-ball duo needs finding out, and soon, before South Africa arrive.

This Windies series is the starter; South Africa's visit the maincourse. To trump a Proteas outfit mere decimal points their subordinate in the Test rankings, England's attack must be a settled rather than evolving combination come July-August.

The batting is sorted, with only Jonny Bairstow requiring a second chance to impress after a rather empty debut. Andrew Strauss has vanquished the proverbial monkey from his back after ending a lengthy 18-month wait for his 20th century. A 21st would put to bed doubting murmurings. Kevin Pietersen, meanwhile, has fresh opportunity to hang another big knock over one-hit wonder Nick Knight's credentials.

If anything is going to test the home side, it'll be the opposition attack. The West Indians have been quick to admit that their batting is a work in progress, but coach Ottis Gibson sees his bowling ranks as an immediate threat to England.

Kemar Roach is the cornerstone; Fidel Edwards the support act. Third would have been Shannon Gabriel, but a back injury has sent him home. Gabriel's injury has come as something of a blessing in disguise. The rookie was never going rip the heart out of the England batting.

His replacement, Tino Best, might do. The charismatic Best is the type of cricketer to blow hot or cold. A first test in three years certainly presents the ideal platform to bury past demons. A Yorkshire recruit a couple of seasons ago, the fast bowler will sport a sound enough knowledge of English conditions this time of year despite his late arrival this week. Ravi Rampaul, neck ailments permitting, is also in line for selection.

The Windies are not going to sacrifice a batsman, but will be eager to get spinner Shane Shillingford in on the action. He performed well in the Caribbean, stifling Australia in slow conditions. Trent Bridge won't turn much, but extra bounce and his high-arm action will bring a welcome edge to an otherwise one-dimensional, right-arm seam attack.

Gibson identified the upcoming limited-overs leg as his side's biggest opportunity to upstage England. This remains. Lord's, stretching a fifth day and going down to the last five English wickets, was more because of England's rust than Chanderpaul and Roach's doing. It takes more than just two men to win a game, though.

The gel, the unity, the collective gusto is steadily trickling back into Windies cricket. It won't come to completion in this series, but another fifth-day finish and one or two big performances from the fringe players will go a long way.

<b>Key Men</b><br><i>England:</i> 11 wickets and a Man of the Match performance into the series already, <B>Stuart Broad</B> returns to his home ground and the scene of last year's match haul of eight, including a historic hat-trick, against India. The seamer has spoken a big game this week, insisting Trent Bridge will bring out his best. We await the talk becoming walk.

<i>West Indies:</i> This category is so often the home of Chanderpaul, but a big showing from <B>Darren Bravo</B> will settle questions once and for all. In a caldron of swing, against Anderson and Broad, it doesn't get any tougher.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><BR>May 2011: First Test: England won by five wickets at Lord's<BR>May 2009: Second Test: England won by an innings and 83 runs at Chester-le-Street<br>May 2009: First Test: England won by 10 wickets at Lord's<br>March 2009: Fifth Test: Match drawn in Trinidad<br>February 2009: Fourth Test: Match drawn in Barbados

<b>Prediction</b><br>The Windies fight or flight inclination will be tested consistently. One wants to back the underdogs to get it right, but alas. England for the win, but hopefully one as close if not tighter than Lord's.

Online betting firm <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Sky Bet</b></a> have England at 2/7 in the <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>betting</b></a> for the second Test. Visit Sky Bet for the latest <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>cricket betting</b></a>.

<b>Probable Teams</b><br><i>England:</i> Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson.

<i>West Indies:</i> Adrian Barath, Kieran Powell, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Denesh Ramdin (wicketkeeper), Darren Sammy (captain), Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Shane Shillingford.

<b>Dates:</b> 25-29 May<br><b>Morning session:</b> 11:00-13:00 (10:00-12:00 GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 13:40-15:40 (12:40-14:40 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 16:00-18:00 (15:00-17:00 GMT)<br><b>On-field umpires:</b> Aleem Dar and Asad Rauf<br><B>Third umpire:</B> Marais Erasmus<BR><b>Match referee:</b> Roshan Mahanama

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