The Cricketer
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ENGLAND V WEST INDIES: TEST SERIES PREVIEW

Series starts with Edgbaston day-night Test

Pink ball, lunch at 4pm, lights on for the final session despite it being a perfect summer’s evening? Codswallop! But here we are, thrust into the future, for we mustn’t stand still in space and time as the world marches on.

I jest, quite looking forward to this truth be told. No idea what will happen, but that’s part of the fun, is it not? If the day-night spectacle attracts new fans to the sport, then jolly good.

Aside from the format of the piece, West Indies have not tasted Test series victory on these shores since Viv Richards captained his side to a 4-0 walloping of England in 1988.

Since England’s triumph in 2000 – which ended a run of 13 series without a win - West Indies have only secured one victory, in the Caribbean in 2009, England winning five with one draw.

There are not many voices out there giving the visitors a hope in this three-match Test series, but while this is uncharted territory for England, West Indies have played one day-night Test – a 56-run loss to Pakistan in Dubai - perhaps the pink ball will act as a leveler.

It is yet to be known if England will be asking Colin Graves to make a few choice words about the West Indies team before the series starts...

Stoneman set to make his Mark

All England want, is an opener to partner Alastair Cook, someone who can come in and average, say 35? Is that so much to ask?

But, alas, that is life. I’d quite like to star opposite Marion Cotillard in a Wes Anderson film and then marry her by a Canadian lake, but 'you can’t always get what you want'. The way things are going; I have more chance of opening alongside Cooky in November.

Surrey’s Mark Stoneman – averaging 59.14 in the County Championship this summer – is the next to strap in next to Cook. He has three Tests to pile on the runs and book his seat on the big fat bird to Australia.

With no disrespect to the West Indies squad, while a promising a series for Stoneman will be encouraging, it will not be something to get overawed by. If he fails, however, it will inevitably raise serious questions about his place in Test cricket.

Made of Stone: Mark Stoneman is next in line to try and sure up England's opening partnership

“A step into the unknown”

What to expect from the pink ball? Will it swing, will it go soft, will players be able to pick it in the air?

As Stuart Broad summed up earlier this week, this in many ways is a “step into the unknown”.

Likewise, we are not sure what to expect so we asked Sam Billings...

Billings talks day-night Tests

When will Woakes return?

Chris Woakes is back in the Test squad having recovered from a side strain sustained during the Champions Trophy. The Warwickshire man’s last Test came at Mumbai in December but has declared himself fit and would have been raring to make a return at his home ground.

Toby-Roland Jones’ place could be in danger with Woakes’ return, but with 10 wickets at 22.20 against South Africa, an omission would be harsh. Dawid Malan is yet to show any real promise in the five-day format, if that continues to be the case he could make way with the middle order all shifting up one.

Stokes, Bairstow, Moeen and Woakes would be a filthy quartet.

Woakes has recovered from injury but will not feature at Edgbaston

Will Mason Crane feature?

One Hampshire spinner exits, another enters. Crane has replaced his Hampshire team-mate Liam Dawson. There is no place for him in the Edgbaston XI but England are clearly intent on, at the every least, having Crane in and around the set-up ahead of the Ashes tour.

While a hooping pink ball being sent down by quicks under lights at dusk is bound to cause trouble, spin will have a role to play. In the round of County Championship matches under lights, Simon Harmer took nine wickets in an innings, 14 in the match as Essex defeated Middlesex at Chelmsford. In West Indies’ Dubai day-nighter, Devendra Bishoo claimed career-best figures of 8 for 49 as Pakistan were skittled for 123 in 31.5 overs.

Meanwhile Somerset’s Dominic Bess and Jack Leach have also been training with the team at Edgbaston as England keep tabs on future twirlymen options.

Crane Australia bound?

Conditions

Warwickshire chief executive Neil Snowball has commented that there will be no difference in terms of pitch preparation, with the objective nothing more than to produce a decent Test wicket.

The weather look set to be dry for the most part, with the set hours of 14.00 – 21.00 flexible to 13.30 – 22.00 from days two to five if any time is lost.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/2650236

Teams

England (confirmed): Cook, Stoneman, Westley, Root, Malan, Stokes, Bairstow, Moeen, Roland-Jones, Broad, Anderson.

One to watch: Roston Chase

West Indies (possible): Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich†, Jason Holder*, Devendra Bishoo, Alzarri Joseph, Shannon Gabriel.

*Miguel Cummins, Shimron Hetmyer, Raymon Reifer and Kemar Roach complete the 15-man squad.

Roston Chase is one to watch in the middle order. He has three Test centuries to his name – including a match-saving 137* against India at Sabina Park - and averages 48.53. In the warm-up matches against Essex and Derbyshire he posted scores of 50*, 81, 110*, 60*. Chase also sends down offspin to add another string to his bow.

Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels are notable absentees for West Indies, although those names could return for the white-ball series as differences with the Cricket West Indies look on course to be resolved.