West Indies vs England 2nd Test Preview and Prediction: Who Will Take Series Lead?

Kraigg Brathwaite batting for the West Indies vs England.

After the first Test of the series at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium ended in a hard-fought draw, both the West Indies and England will be hoping to take a crucial series lead in Bridgetown. Both sides also have reasons to feel confident, at least in their batting, after their efforts in Antigua, but who will come out on top here? Read on for our full West Indies vs England 2nd Test preview and prediction:

West Indies vs England 2nd Test Preview and Prediction

Series So Far

Both sides came into the first Test low on confidence and with a great deal to work on. As a result, they may well have been relieved to find themselves playing on such a placid pitch, even if it ended up denying either side the chance to force a result. There were runs on offer, particularly once the new ball had been successfully negotiated. The England batting line-up, in particular, received a welcome boost after being given a torrid time by the Australian attack during a one-sided Ashes series.’
Embed from Getty Images

Johnny Bairstow, Zac Crawley and Joe Root all scored centuries, whilst Dan Lawrence made a quickfire 37 in the second innings as England looked to set up a declaration. For the West Indies, meanwhile, there were struggles in the top order, but Nkrumah Bonner made a fine century in the first innings before combining with Jason Holder to blunt England as they hunted a victory in the host’s second innings. How both sides will fare in more difficult conditions remains to be seen, however.

Expected Teams

Though they did not entirely convince, notwithstanding captain Kraigg Brathwaite making a solid half-century in the first dig, expect the West Indies to continue with the opening combination of Brathwaite and John Campbell. Bonner will continue at number three after his excellent showing in Antigua, with Shamarh Brooks likely to keep his place at number four, despite failing in both innings. Jermaine Blackwood also had a Test to forget, but has a fair amount of credit in the bank.

Kyle Mayers is an option to replace either Blackwood or Brooks, however. Jason Holder impressed with bat and ball. Expect him to bat at number six, with keeper-batsman Joshua Da Silva in at seven. He could use a score. Alzarri Joseph will bat at eight. He bowled well, but batted very poorly by his standards. Kemar Roach had a fine game and Jayden Seales impressed at points. Veerasammy Permaul struggled, but remains the first choice spinner for the West Indies.
Embed from Getty Images

Crawley’s century has probably guaranteed his place in the XI for the foreseeable future. Alex Lees, however, had a debut to forget. The pressure will be on the opener to perform. Root, however, looked comfortable at number three in scoring his 24th Test century in the second innings after a somewhat shaky start to the match. Dan Lawrence, meanwhile, had a solid enough game from number four. Ben Stokes had to bowl more than he would have liked and managed just 49 runs in two innings.

Bairstow, meanwhile, held England’s first innings together with his 140. He, and his side, will be hoping he maintains this rich vein of form. Ben Foakes made an assured return to the side, but Chris Woakes had a forgettable game with the ball. Ollie Robinson will return, which may see Craig Overton drop out of the side. Mark Wood will miss out, with Saqib Mahmood the closest England have to a replacement for his pace. Jack Leach’s spin impressed in Antigua and he will surely keep his place.

Key Player

Holder has been a fine servant to West Indian cricket over the course of his career, but he seems to save his very best for whenever England are the opposition. He was probably the pick of the West Indies bowlers in the first match, and twice batted obdurately to offer Bonner much needed support after the rest of the West Indian top order rather gave way. If he can contribute again with bat and ball, it may well give his side a real chance of getting the better of their visitors.
Embed from Getty Images

Lees may need to find a way to get a big score in this series if he is to keep his place in this side long term. The Durham batter averages only 34.57 in first-class cricket after 128 matches, which is notably lower than Rory Burns, who he has replaced in the side. Even with quality opening batters in such short supply in England, Lees likely does not have enough credit in the bank to end this series without a notable contribution. Particularly after failing twice on a batting-friendly pitch in Antigua.

Prediction

One rather suspects that the pitch in Bridgetown will have more on offer for the bowlers, particularly the seamers, than was the case in Antigua. If that is so, then it will surely favour the West Indies, particularly as England are almost certain to be without Mark Wood. England may have a slightly stronger batting line-up, with Root a class above anyone else on display, but the West Indies have the better bowling unit. And more often than not, it is bowlers who win Test matches.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images