It’s do or die for the West Indies if they want to stay alive in the series. They’ll have to take every ounce of “positive” energy harnessed from the first Test and convert it into something extraordinarily gutsy, says ANT SIMS.
Rumours of England’s exceptional prowess have been greatly exaggerated, or so it seemed in the first Test anyway. While the conditions weren’t entirely in their favour, the hosts seemed somewhat wilted as they plodded along and, thanks to Stuart Broad’s handywork, the West Indies were rolled over and England emerged heads held high and in chest-thumping glory.
With a 1-0 lead and wealth of pace options to choose from, Andrew Strauss’s men hold a firm advantage over a rather average West Indies side. Add to that Trent Bridge’s swing-friendly conditions and the table is set in very much the same way as the first Test at Lord’s.
The only thing that’s different this time is that England know what to expect. They know that Kemar Roach, when pumped up, can be aggressive, sneering and threatening. They know that Shivnarine Chanderpaul will, as always, lay his life on the pitch to guard his wicket and that they will have to work to get him out.
They also know that the West Indies, despite all their shortcomings and failures, won’t just roll over and play possum. This is because, even though they really shouldn’t, they see every little glimmer of hope as a positive step forward and seem intent on milking it as far as they can, even if that means Chanderpaul attempting to bore their opponents to death.
Never has there been a better time for players like Adrian Barath and Darren Bravo to prove themselves and shake off their jitters, which have plagued and bogged them down. There is a series to save and West Indies are desperate for somebody to step up and support Chanderpaul with even just an ounce of vigour shown by the man from Guyana.
While the batting line-up certainly has a lot to prove, it will be equally important for Roach to keep his focus. He was feisty and fierce for brief periods in the first Test, but he has to keep his cool. The paceman conceded 18 no balls in the first Test, a luxury the Windies simply cannot afford.
There's no chance of rain spoiling the party as the sun has been spotted in the UK and it all looks set for five days of cricket, if West Indies can last that long. With bright sunshine forecast, throughout, the batsmen should have the advantage. Even though Trent Bridge is never completely flat, if the top order can survive the new ball and knuckle down, there should be some big runs on offer.
West Indies have never lost a test at Tent Bridge, but they have not played there since 1995. England, though, last lost at Trent Bridge in 2007 against India and, having won 19 of their 56 matches played here, the home side will be firm favourites as the tourists face an acid test.
Some good news for the Windies is that Ravi Rampaul is fit and will play in place of Shannon Gabriel, who has been ruled out of the series with injury. Fidel Edwards might also drop out in place of Shane Shillingford, providing them with the spinning option they lacked in the first Test. DM
Players to watch:
Adrian Barath – The little man from Trinidad made his Test debut in Australia in 2009 in seriously Testing conditions. The West Indies were in all sorts of trouble and, after being forced to follow-on, Barath defied the odds and scored 104 on debut in Brisbane. His team is not in quite such dire straits this time around, but he’s got a really chance to make the top batting spot his own. He showed some promise at Lord’s in the first innings, with a really gritty 42. Focus, determination and support by those batting with him will be key for Barath to come good.
Kevin Pietersen – after a stellar performance at the IPL, KP has found himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the last week. He flopped in the first Test and he was fined by the ECB for an outburst about Sky pundit Nick Knight on Twitter this week. But KP has never been one to let anything get him down. In fact, he thrives on adversity.
Photo: England's Alastair Cook sits with James Taylor (L),Tim Bresnan (2nd L) and Ian Bell (R) on a roller during a training session before Friday's second cricket test match against the West Indies at Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Philip Brown.