Root Return Strengthens England Cause

England look to Joe Root as they prepare for the second test against the West Indies.

West Indies batsman in action against England

England are up against it in their bid to regain the Wisden Trophy after going down to a four-wicket defeat in the first Test of their three-match series against the West Indies.

Nobody gave Phil Simmons’ men much hope as they were 25/4 to draw first blood but there was no fluke about their success as they were simply better in all departments, and it seems their success has been noted.

Having still been as big as 9/2 to win the second Test in the early pricing, the Windies are now 33/10* to take a 2-0 series lead, although they remain the outsiders with England expected to bounce back at 4/11.

There was a lot to like about the Windies’ performance at Southampton but there will be obvious questions about whether they can back that up, with a quick turnaround for the first of two Tests now at Old Trafford.

The Root of the Problem

England have questions of their own to answer, having suffered batting collapses in each innings, while their first innings total – not for the first time – was simply not good enough.

There are decisions to be made on the make-up of their side, particularly with Stuart Broad having voiced his frustrations after being omitted from the opening match.

Broad is not the only question mark but it seems as if Jos Buttler will keep the gloves at Old Trafford with the hope that he finds some semblance of form with the bat.

Runs have been the problem for some time, certainly on a consistent basis, but in the absence of the County Championship, there is no-one able to persuade the selectors they are the future.

However, the line-up will automatically be strengthened by the return of their star batsman and captain Joe Root following the birth of his second child. Following the batting order’s shortcomings in Southampton, there is every reason to think he could justify 5/2 favouritism to finish as England’s first innings top runscorer.

Root has a fantastic record at Old Trafford, having scored 595 runs at the venue, more than any other current player, with an average of 85.00.

The Yorkshire ace bagged 71 in the first innings in Manchester last summer, the only Test England have lost at Old Trafford in the last 12 matches there and is quite simply his country’s best batsman.

Brooks Could Shine at a Big Price

From a West Indies standpoint, one could argue you would be taking a big chance on anyone to top score, given the inconsistency of their batsmen and their previous struggles in England.

Only Shai Hope failed to make a meaningful contribution in either innings at the Ageas Bowl, although the top order has been an issue for some time, with the lower order bailing the Caribbeans out on far too many occasions.

Of the 33/10 joint-favourites on the basis of the first Test, Kraigg Brathwaite inspires a little more confidence given he top-scored in the first innings in Southampton, but managing just four in the second highlights his lack of consistency.

It may be worth taking a chance on Sharmarh Brooks at a tempting 13/2 to be his country’s top scorer in their first innings, as there was enough to like about his game in his first effort on the south coast. The Windies number four may have only scored 39 but he showed he had a cool temperament, played the short ball pretty well while he was able to punish the loose deliveries.

He could be forgiven one or two things as that match was only his fourth Test, and first outside the Caribbean, and there were bound to be some nerves.

It is promising to be another intriguing match with England still having plenty to prove, but with Root back in the mix, the hosts will be confident of levelling up the series and setting up a winner-takes-all clash next week.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

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