Cricket lovely Cricket

At Lord’s where I saw it

Cricket lovely Cricket

At Lord’s where I saw it

Yardley tried his best

But Goddard won the Test

They gave the crowd plenty fun

Second Test and West Indies won

Lord Beginner

June 29, 1950 is one of the most memorable years in Windies cricket — an emphatic 326-run victory over England at Lords.

It was a year noted Trinidadian historian, journalist, and socialist C.L. R James could in legal parlance, say, “I rest my case.”

James, the legendary writer, reportedly said before then, West Indian independence and national consciousness would not be shaped until they had beaten England in their backyard at the game the English had invented.

Fast forward to today, Windies last played international cricket in February-March against Sri Lanka, where they were beaten 3-0 in the ODIs and won 2-0 in T20Is.

Now, with a two-month break, the Windies are all set for the tour of England in a three-Test match series in the summer.

However, given the outbreak of COVID-19, one cannot tell whether the series will see the light of day.

England Cricket Board (ECB), however, is pretty much optimistic that the tour can go ahead in July.

They are planning to restore their training sessions and are set to re-start what may be described as a cold summer.

Will the Windies be ready after such a long layoff from the game?

Fitness issues

The major concern is whether the players will regain the required fitness before the series begins?

In the real world, it isn’t easy. Yes, players have been given the plans, and they will be doing their fitness drills at home, but one can’t gain match fitness by merely working out at home.

This is Test cricket, the highest level of the game.

However, being professionals, one expects players to be ready and not gun-shy in demanding situations.

The players are left with no choice but to adapt quickly to the new normal.

Assembling the team

Another difficult task which the Windies will face is the link-up of team members. Windies comprised of 15 different countries from which the players are drawn.

Since all the international flights within the Caribbean region are currently suspended, the logistics personnel will have a nightmare of a job.

With different conditions in different countries, one will have to wait to see how this all pans out.

Practice matches

Windies were due to play a couple of 4-day games before their first Test match. Now, the chance of getting practice games before the matches seem difficult.

You can’t immediately step in to play Test cricket after a two-month break and perform effectively at the highest level — yo-yo test, anyone?

Empty stadiums

If the Test series get underway, one thing for sure, the teams will be playing in front of empty seats. Yes, there will be no crowd to cheer the teams on.

This is part of the new normal that obtains today, no thanks of course to COVID-19.

The last time these two teams met, Windies beat England 2-1 at home.

This time, the teams will play in England’s backyard — in English conditions. The ball will be swinging and seaming on the English pitches.

Conditions here are quite different in England from the Caribbean, so look for a lot of hopping and skipping by some players.

It will be tough going, especially for the young guns, but firing on all cylinders, they must if they want to be counted among the greats.

ICC World Test Championship

Moreover, the matches are part of the ICC World Test Championship. Every match counts. England has played two series while the Windies has played only one series so far.

Both teams have an equal chance to make it to the top 2 positions.

Today, Windies ranks 7th while England sits in 4th position.

As the matches are part of the ICC World Test Championship, Windies must do everything to win those 120 points.

Yes, it is a demanding task, but not impossible.

With the current circumstances, one doesn’t know the fate of the series as yet. Will the series go ahead? Will the ICC World Test Championship move on as planned? The answers to these questions will be answered soon.

The coming days will be particularly important as far as the series is concerned. With England set to resume its training sessions, the ECB will make some important announcements in the upcoming days.

CWI will also make a formal announcement of the squad once the tour is confirmed.

Hold your horses, will you?

Jawad Zahid/Nigel Bell, Contributor

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