West Indies out to maintain supremacy at Kensington fortress


Report and Photography by Akeem Greene in Barbados

Not often in recent years, well frankly, well more than two decades, that you associate West Indies being favourites in Test cricket, more so against a team ranked way above them.

An astonishing fact of history made them favourites against England prior to the first Test in Antigua, where England never won a Test, and the hard-fought draw on a flat pitch meant that the record remains fully intact.

 It is now over to Kensington Oval, Barbados, a fortress for West Indies, especially against England, who has only won three of their 16 Test matches there since 1930.

Seven members of this English tour party would remember the 381-run thumping they got in 2019,  To be fair, conditions are vastly different, and even West Indies’ skipper Kraigg Brathwaite has echoed Kemar Roach’s comment’s that pitch in Barbados looks a bit flat.

Veerasammy Permaul is set to play in Barbados

There are some patches of grass closer to the Malcolm Marshall end while the Joel Garner End has little to none, hinting that spin could seriously come into play.

Brathwaite hinted that left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, who went wicketless in Antigua, is expected to retain his spot given the conditions in Barbados, and the only possible change might be Kyle Mayers for probably Shamarah Brooks or Jermaine Blackwood.

Mark Wood’s injury and the management’s unwillingness to test Ollie Robinson after he seemingly recovered from a back spasm, means 25-year-old Saqib Mahmood will make his debut after Joe Root named his playing XI.

Noting they will miss the “90 miles per hour” ability of Wood, he felt it was still a great opportunity for a new player to make the most of the opportunity.

Root, conscious of the need to get wins, said they will “play the conditions” and they plan not to “take their foot off the gas” as they look to rewrite history.

England captain Joe Root is hoping his side can charter a winning course in the West Indies

England has won three of their previous 16 Tests in Bridgetown, most recently in 2004 – when their eight-wicket victory also put the seal on their only series win in the Caribbean since 1968.

On the other hand, Brathwaite said West Indies is proud of what they have achieved and once they continue to put in the hard work, they can safeguard the rich history.

West Indies have won back-to-back contests on this ground against England – in 2015, when a hard-fought five-wicket win squared the series 1-1, and famously in 2019, when Kemar Roach’s five wickets, Jason Holder’s double-hundred, and Roston Chase’s 8 for 60 put the seal on one of their greatest victories of all.

 From a personal standpoint, the skipper hopes to lead from the front and change the fortunes of having a best score of 68 in 12 Test innings on his home ground.

A full house is expected Wednesday, and a large number of those should be from the Barney army.

 The first ball is scheduled for 10:00h.

The Kensington Oval is expected to be transformed into an electric atmosphere over the next five days

West Indies squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (capt), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Joshua Da Silva, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Veerasammy Permaul, Anderson Phillip, Kemar Roach and Jayden Seales.

England XI: Alex Lees, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (capt), Dan Lawrence, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Foakes (wk), Chris Woakes, Craig Overton, Saqib Mahmood, Jack Leach

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