When the players of England and West Indies walk out onto the lush Ageas Bowl pitch on Wednesday it will be a landmark moment for international cricket after a 117-day hiatus.
It will also be a milestone in the career of England’s talisman Ben Stokes as he captains the side for the first time in the first Test against West Indies, starting July 8.
The circumstances will be surreal with the Covid-19 pandemic meaning no fans will be present in the bio-secure environment — the only sounds being the thump of leather on willow, the chit-chat between the players and some piped-in crowd effects.
Once the strangeness of the ‘new-normal’ sinks in, however, an intriguing series looks on the cards between the sides ranked fourth and eighth on the ICC’s Test list.
With England captain Joe Root missing for the birth of his second child, Stokes will get to pit himself against West Indies counterpart Jason Holder. Holder, embarking on his 33rd Test as captain, is first on the ICC’s all-rounder rankings while Stokes is second.
Full schedule of England vs West Indies Test series
1st Test – July 8 to 12 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton (From 3:30 pm IST)
2nd Test – July 16 to 20 at the Old Trafford in Manchester (From 3:30 pm IST)
3rd Test – July 24 to 28 at the Old Trafford in Manchester (From 3:30 pm IST)
Full squads for England vs West Indies, 1st Test
England: Ben Stokes (C), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
West Indies: Jason Holder (C), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach.
Where do they stand in the World Test Championship table?
The upcoming 3-Test series will carry a total of 120 points with 40 points for a win, 20 for a tie and 13 for a draw.
England will be looking to overtake New Zealand and reach the third spot as they are just 34 points behind the Kane Williamson-led side. England have 146 points from 2 series so far in the World Test Championship cycle.
West Indies, on the other hand, will be hoping to open their account after losing a 2-Test series 0-2 to India last year.
Where can I watch the England vs West Indies Test series live on TV in India?
Sony Six and Sony Six HD will provide live television coverage of England vs West Indies Test series in India.
Where can I watch the England vs West Indies Test series live?
Sony Liv will provide the live streaming for England vs West Indies online in India.
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