England Test Series vs. West Indies - Players To Watch
The 2019 test cricket year gets into full swing on January 23rd as England take a trip to the West Indies. As the rest of us back home shiver in the midst of winter, Joe Root whisks his men to the Caribbean for a three-Test series.
England finished the old year in fine fettle with the team attracting praise and positive vibes though question marks remain over whether this sparky bunch can turn their talent into consistency. Meanwhile, the West Indies went some way to restoring their jittery Test confidence as 2018 drew to a close though they’re still capable of an almighty crash. The Windies remain dogged by fall-outs and conflicts between players and cricketing authorities.
It’s a massive year for UK cricket with the World Cup being hosted in England and Wales from late May through to July, and the Ashes will follow later in the summer on home soil. So who should you be keeping an eye as the cream of the cricketing crop look to set down an early marker for the selectors ahead of the summer’s two big tournaments?
Ones to watch – England
Stone has burst onto the world stage and unsettles batsmen. The man newly dubbed as ‘Ferrari’ thanks to his pace has been clocked delivering at 92mph in televised white ball matches and his first-class cricket record stands up to scrutiny. Plenty reckon his zippy deliveries will be suited to overseas wickets this winter. The 25-year-old Warwickshire fast bowler was part of the one-day international and Test squads in Sri Lanka last autumn and positioned himself nicely for the likely shakeup to the English side ahead of the World Cup.
The skipper leads the side with an unassuming authority and is beginning to show signs he’s maturing into the captain’s role. The West Indies Test series will be another step on that learning curve for the Yorkshire lad so it’s worth keeping a close eye on his progress out there as a barometer for what’s in store for the rest of 2019.
Away from leading the side, Root is in the elite class of batsmen in the world. The 27-year-old is often hailed as a 'modern' batsman such is his ability to combine attack with defence.
Foakes only made his Test debut during the Sri Lankan series but he’s already a shoo-in for the England middle order. The 25-year-old lad from Essex already looks a solid and dependable member of future Test matches. His batting in that debut may have been a surprise to some but he scores runs quickly and looks to be a safe pair of hands as wicketkeeper when in the field.
One of the best all-rounders in the world, Stokes looks set to go galactic in 2019. A vibrant presence on the pitch, the 27-year-old possesses the rare ability to change the course of the game given his exceptional stroke play and dazzling brilliance with the ball in his hand.
Bringing a fundamentally attacking mindset to the field of play, Stokes leads others by his example. English cricket loves a big brash all-rounder in a Flintoff/Botham mould and if he can steady himself this year he has every chance of following in those huge footsteps.
Ones to watch – West Indies
Speaking of Stokes, West Indies all-rounder Carlos Braithwaite is almost as famous for smashing the England man for four straight sixes at the WorldTwenty20 final in 2016 as he is for any recent exploits. But the man from Barbados showed spirit and leadership during what was at times a difficult 2018 for his team. Braithwaite can be explosive and settles himself in at the wicket for some long scoring stints.
Holder was ruled out of the Windies’ most recent tour in Bangladesh but if fully fit he’ll play a key role in this series. Holder has been in good form for a while both with the bat and the ball and has a solid batting average to go with his right arm medium fast deliveries. He and Kemar Roach will be put up to break through what’s a strong England top order, particularly when a new ball comes into play.
25-year-old Brathwaite will be at the vanguard of the West Indies batting order and he's is an experienced campaigner who combines good defence with big scores once he’s settled in front of the stumps.
Brathwaite is a decent off-break bowler who has been in pretty good form during the last couple of years. He tends to anchor the West Indies team and enables others to play around him. Alongside Shai Hope, he’s one-half of the two pillars who will test the England bowlers.
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