West Indies vs. England 1st Test: Joe Root’s side aim to build on their winning momentum
England skipper will name his team shortly before play starts in Barbados
West Indies vs. England 1st Test
- When: 23-27 January
- Where: Kensington Oval, Barbados
- Daily start time: 2pm GMT
- TV channel: live on Sky Sports Cricket
England begin in earnest their preparations for this year’s Ashes series today as the first Test of the year begins in the West Indies.
Having ended a successful 2018 with a resounding 3-0 series win in Sri Lanka, England will look to build on that victory in Barbados.
Today’s opening day of the first Test started at 2pm (UK time) at the Kensington Oval.
Three’s a crowd
Questions remain about the best batting order with England deploying three different No.3s in the Sri Lankan series, but captain Joe Root downplayed the importance of settling on a regular batsman in that position.
“We have to manage expectations and understand that it might not be the top four who score the bulk of the runs,” he told the BBC.
“We have a very strong middle order and the wickets we have played on have generally been difficult at the start, putting pressure on the top order. As long as we are scoring enough runs to win games of cricket, that is the important thing.”
Big year ahead
With the 2019 Cricket World Cup starting in May, the opportunities for England to hone their Test skills ahead of the start of the Ashes series against Australia on 1 August are limited. After the three Tests in the West Indies, there is only a four-day Test against Ireland before they line up against the Aussies at Edgbaston.
Against Sri Lanka, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow all had a go batting at No.3. England won’t reveal who will get the nod against the West Indies until shortly before play starts when Root – and coach Trevor Bayliss – have assessed the conditions.
England are the favourites to win the series against a West Indies side whose only success in Test format in recent years has been against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Nonetheless, England have managed only a solitary series win in the Caribbean in the past half a century. A second would be a perfect way to start the year.
“The way we played in Sri Lanka, if we can transfer a lot of that into this series we’ll be really pleased by the end of it,” said Root. “It would be great to carry on that momentum… a strong message in the dressing room is that our full focus is on this tour, to make sure we are doing everything we can to win this series.”
Windies can’t wait
A home series against England is always special for West Indies cricket, with the tourists’ travelling support adding numbers and noise to stadiums that in recent years have struggled to put bums on seats.
“I love playing against England - it’s probably the most enjoyable series for me as a West Indian,” said captain Jason Holder. “We need to be a lot more consistent and put together all facets of the game. The results we’ve had against England show what we can do when we put our minds to it.”
1st Test squads
- England Test squad: Joe Root (Yorkshire, captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Joe Denly (Kent), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Keaton Jennings (Lancashire), Jack Leach (Somerset), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire); Mark Wood (Durham)
- West Indies Test squad: Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph Kemar Roach, Jomel Warrican, Oshane Thomas (cover for Joseph)
West Indies vs. England fixtures
- 23-27 January 2019: 1st Test at Kensington Oval, Barbados (2pm)
- 31 January-4 February 2019: 2nd Test at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua (2pm)
- 9-13 February 2019: 3rd Test at Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium, St Lucia (2pm)
One-day warm-up match
- 17 February 2019: Vice Chancellor’s XI vs. England (2pm; Three Ws Oval, Barbados)
One-day international (ODI) matches
- 20 February 2019: 1st ODI at Kensington Oval, Barbados (3pm)
- 22 February 2019: 2nd ODI at Kensington Oval, Barbados (3pm)
- 25 February 2019: 3rd ODI at National Cricket Stadium, Grenada (1.30pm)
- 27 February 2019: 4th ODI at National Cricket Stadium, Grenada (1.30pm)
- 2 March 2019: 5th ODI at Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium, St Lucia (3pm)
International Twenty20s (IT20)
- 5 March 2019: 1st IT20 at Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium, St Lucia (8pm)
- 8 March 2019: 2nd IT20 at Warner Park, St Kitts and Nevis (8pm)
- 10 March 2019: 3rd IT20 at Warner Park, St Kitts and Nevis (8pm)