England’s cricketers are raring to go for a reduced summer fixture list, with West Indies this week confirming their tour for July.
English cricket has enjoyed a largely impressive 12 months, which of course included the 50-over World Cup success as well as Test and T20 series’ victories in South Africa at the start of 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic though had threatened to decimate this summer’s international plans, but England’s players can at least look forward to taking on the Windies – who are available at
13/2* to win next month’s first Test.
The three-Test series will start on July 8, with the first Test at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, followed by two Tests at Old Trafford, starting on 16 July and 24 July.
Three West Indies Players Opt Out
Three of the West Indies’ squad – batsmen Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo and all-rounder Keemo Paul – have opted out of travelling, but a squad touring party is assured to leave the Caribbean.
England opener Rory Burns certainly feels that Joe Root’s men will be tested and will need to be mentally and physically ready for the series.
The most recent Test series between the sides highlights the point in case, with the Windies beating England 2-1 in the Caribbean 18 months ago.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Burns warned: “Their bowling attack caused us a lot of problems. They’re very skilful and they’ve got some pace.
“They’ve got a lot of good cricketers there and it’s going to be a stiff test no matter who comes.”
The Surrey left-hander is not certain of starting the first Test, having been forced to sit out the South Africa series with an ankle injury.
Burns picked up the problem during a warm-up game of football, with suggestions England’s management have now stopped the traditional kick-about prior to matches.
The 29-year-old added: “That was really my first injury of any note in my career and so to pick it up at a time when you feel like you’re developing and moving along in the right direction, it was quite frustrating.
“The ankle is strong. I would’ve been able to start the county season, if that had gone ahead on time. It’s nice to be back now, have a bat in my hand and get back to it.”
Dom Sibley, who scored his maiden century against the Proteas, and Zak Crawley opened the batting in Burns’ absence.
Fit-Again Burns to Return
But it’s believed the selectors will go with the fit-again Burns when England return to five-day action next month, with Crawley potentially being asked to bat at three. England are
1/2 to claim the first Test’s Highest Opening Partnership.
If that is the case, then Jonny Bairstow could slip out of the equation having lost his place after the first Test defeat to South Africa.
The Yorkshireman batted at six, scoring just one in the first innings and then nine in the second, as England crashed to a 107-run defeat.
Bairstow believes he can fight his way back into England’s Test plans though, the 30-year-old saying in a recent interview that he feels he will come into his prime in the “next two years”.
*Odds quoted correct at time of writing