5 talking points ahead of England v West Indies

06 September 2017 04:54

1. The Lord's Splodge

Move over, Slope; it's time for the Splodge. A fungal phenomenon commonly referred to as 'fairy rings' has taken root on the square at the home of cricket and duly deposited a prime example just short of a length at the pavilion end. Both captains found themselves answering questions about it at their pre-match press conferences, neither apparently too concerned. Fairy rings are often in evidence on club squares at this time of year and rarely appear to bear any consequence in reality. This one is in an unmissable spot and, unless a final cut and roll obliterates all evidence overnight, it will if nothing else present a handy target for the bowlers.

2. Westley in a spot

Splodge or not, England's aspiring number three Tom Westley is in a bit of a corner after his four successive single-figure Test scores. The experts have identified a potential flaw in his technique to boot, collectively pointing out that Westley's habit of aiming across his front leg leaves him a hostage to lbw misfortune - and he has gone that way twice in his last three innings. An Ashes position remains vacant, with captain Joe Root resistant to moving from number four again - but whether Westley fits the bill is in significant doubt, with one more audition remaining.

3. Pressure on Root's England again

England have already emphatically recovered their composure once this season under their new captain, after losing the second Test of a series. At The Oval against South Africa, they responded to a 340-run trouncing at Trent Bridge to go back in front by a margin of 239 on the way to a 3-1 series success. Root can pin some hopes on the galvanising effect of the capital again, after last week's shock five-wicket defeat at Headingley.

4. Ashes calling for Roland-Jones

England have sprung a minor surprise by recalling Toby Roland-Jones, at his home ground, in place of Chris Woakes. The latter was brought straight back into the team in Leeds but - despite batting well there at number nine - could take only two wickets at the cost of 122 runs. Roland-Jones can boast 14 wickets in his three Tests to date, having filled the Woakes role in successive victories over South Africa and the Windies. It is hard to see how both can play in the same team in the near future, unless other frontline seamers are injured - and after edging the vote at Lord's, Roland-Jones has emerged as a plausible Brisbane rival to Woakes.

5. Windies' time at last?

Great Jamaican fast bowler Michael Holding has noted, in the aftermath of the tourists' series-levelling win in Leeds, that they have 'turned 40 corners in the last 10 years'. He for one appears yet to be convinced then that the glories of years past - when he and others were in their pomp - are suddenly about to return, courtesy of Jason Holder's inexperienced team. Nonetheless, they have given themselves an opportunity - after a first Test win in this country since 2000 - of consolidating to pull off a shock series success.

Source: PA