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England v West Indies: Crofty’s Third Test Preview

Legendary former West Indian fast bowler and AOC’s new columnist Colin Croft says the tourists need to restore some pride in the final Test of the series at Edgbaston. 

West Indies have it all to do to win the third Test at Edgbaston. Losing again is not all that important in the grand scheme of things since the West Indies have been losing so regularly, almost exclusively, since relinquishing the title of the world’s best side to Australia back in 1995. But there is at least one thing they can regain.

The West Indies have been derided, publicly and privately, as being no more than a collective rabble of sporting people rather than a good sports team and surely will want to come away from this series with more positive feedback than the opinion that they are simply cannon fodder for opponents.

The tourists could regain some respect for their cricket, their overall progress, even their organisation, with an excellent showing at Edgbaston. How this will happen is another matter altogether. Can they do it? Only time will tell, but already English minds are progressing to the forthcoming series with South Africa with dangerman James Anderson being rested for the final encounter of the series.

The West Indies have felt the loss of Chris Gayle and their batsmanship needs all the help it can get in counteracting the swinging deliveries that their batsmen succumbed to at Lord’s and Trent Bridge. The batsmen simply have not coped, whether it was at wintry London or the barmy climate of Nottingham!

Their bowlers have struggled too, and with the loss of Kemar Roach – something that I had, unfortunately, foretold because the strains and stresses were much too much for this young man to cope with – the West Indies’ bowling situation has become as worrying as that of their batsmen. Ravi Rampaul might survive in the side, but he is nothing more than a trundler, very ordinary, not one to make batsmen quake in their boots.  With Roach gone either Fidel Edwards or Tino Best, or perhaps even both, will come in for Edgbaston. They will have to up their bowling game considerably to succeed.

Sunil Narine, the young Trinidad & Tobago offspinner who has confused batsmen in the IPL and in ODI cricket with his knuckle balls and doosras is rumoured to be making his Test debut in Birmingham. That would not be a bad idea at all, but is it worth it? At least England would have something less ordinary to face! His aura and mystery precede him and 34 first-class wickets at a meagre average of 11.88 sets him apart from all of the present day West Indian bowlers, if not all bowlers in the world. He is indeed a prodigy!

On the other hand eight ODIs, two T20Is and six first-class games is not much of a history. Should the West Indies then, when the rubber is already dead and the Wisden Trophy restored to England, unveil their only real secret weapon to save face in a series that is already lost? That is quite a difficult question and decision! One would suppose that Narine was called up for his prowess in the shortened forms of the game, given his recent history. However, giving him an initial Test outing, given the circumstances, really is a touch and go decision. High wire stuff!

Meanwhile, injuries to two fast bowlers from the original touring party in Shannon Gabriel and Roach worry me greatly.  Suffice it to say that something seems to be very wrong with either the way these players are being trained or the equipment that they use.  Too many of them are being injured!

Click here to read Following On: From Chris Gayle To Chris Gayle

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