#NewsBytesExplainer: England's probables for the first Test against West Indies
England recently named a 30-member training squad as a lead-up to the first Test against West Indies, which will begin on July 8. The squad, that comprises a mix of youngsters and marquee players, will live and later train behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl ahead of the three-match series. Here are the players who could brace England's XI in the first Test.
The likes of Zak Crawley, Dominic Sibley and Joe Denly bolstered England's top order in the series against South Africa, earlier this year. Regular opener Rory Burns is also back in the Test frame after recovering from injury. Skipper Joe Root could be tempted to play Ollie Pope, who slammed a blistering ton in the third Test. Notably, he averaged 88.67 in the series.
England will have the services of perhaps the greatest all-rounder in modern day cricket, Ben Stokes. He would like to replicate his recent performances against the Caribbeans. Sam Curran will be expected to complement Stokes throughout the series. Yet another bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes will also vie for the spot. Interestingly, Moeen Ali has announced his availability for the Test series.
Stokes is the only all-rounder to have racked up over 800 runs and scalped 20 plus wickets in Test cricket, last year. Also, Moeen Ali is the world's leading wicket-taker (17) at the Ageas Bowl, which is the venue for series opener.
Of late, England have struggled to find a mainstay wicket-keeper for the Test side. There has been a toss-up between Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler for the particular role. While Buttler kept wickets in the South Africa series, Bairstow hasn't played as a wicket-keeper since The Ashes, Ollie Pope may also get a go-ahead for the role following his impressive performance against New Zealand.
Both Bairstow and Buttler have been undergoing a lean patch in Test cricket, lately. In 2019, Bairstow could muster only 334 runs from 19 at an average of 18.55. The latter struggled as well, having aggregated 502 runs at 25.10.
England's fast bowling contingent has the back of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Jofra Archer will further complement the duo with his rapid pace. Mark Wood and Craig Overton may also be considered for selection. The hosts have a decent stock of spinners, with Jack Leach and Moeen Ali. Meanwhile, uncapped spinners Amar Virdi and Matt Parkinson are also in line for a spot.
Squad: Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Dominic Bess, James Bracey, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Ben Foakes, Lewis Gregory, Keaton Jennings, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Amar Virdi, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.