England captain Andrew Strauss has warned his side to expect more difficult days ahead as they seek to wrap up a series victory over the West Indies.
Strauss’ men go into the second Test, which gets underway at Trent Bridge today, with a 1-0 lead in the three-match series after a five-wicket win at Lord’s. But the West Indies took England, the world’s leading Test side, into the fifth day at Lord’s and twice made them stumble in pursuit of a victory target of 191.
“It was very hard work [at Lord’s] and that’s always the case with Test cricket,” Strauss told Sky Sports. “Often it’s hard work to get on top of the opposition and to nail that final nail in the coffin. The West Indies put up a really good fight. There have been times when they made life difficult for us and we were relieved to a certain extent to get over the line and win, but we’re also aware we have to do it again this week if we want to win.”
While Strauss ended his 18-month wait for a Test century in the first-innings, Alastair Cook (79) and Ian Bell (63*) saw England to victory after they were in trouble at 57 for four in the second-innings. The first Test was also a personal triumph for seamer Stuart Broad, who took 11 wickets in the match.
“That target was tricky and there was a time when we were under a bit of pressure and Alastair Cook and Ian Bell dealt with that very well, and that’s very important.”
West Indies ponder changes
While England decide whether to alter their seam attack after all-rounder Tim Bresnan managed just one for 144 at Lord’s, the West Indies will be forced into at least one change.
Fast-bowler Shannon Gabriel, who took four wickets on debut at Lord’s, was subsequently ruled out of the rest of the series with a back injury. His absence could see the return of fellow quick Ravi Rampaul, who would have played at Lord’s but for a neck problem.
“Last year-and-a-half Ravi has been the guy who always takes wickets with the new ball for us,” said West Indies captain Darren Sammy. “The way Kemar Roach is bowling and the inclusion of Ravi it could be a very good combination for us.”
The tourists could also recall off-spinner Shane Shillingford after the Dominican was left out at Lord’s, despite taking 10 wickets in his previous Test against Australia on home soil in Roseau last month.
But Sammy said he could return as the West Indies look to improve on a record of just two wins in their last 31 Tests.
“Most definitely, we’ll consider playing Shillingford. Looking at our attack, playing on flat pitches over the last year or so, a spinner has always been in our line-up.”
“The West Indies put up a really good fight. There have been times when they made life difficult for us and we were relieved to a certain extent to get over the line and win the opening Test at Lord’s.”
“The way Roach is bowling and the inclusion of Rampaul it could be a very good combination for us. We’ll consider playing Shillingford and looking at our attack, a spinner has always been in our line-up.”
“We wouldn’t have won the first Test against the West Indies without the lights. I think that the fourth day was a prime example of why lights should be used in Test cricket. There’s a good case for using them now.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2012.