England 1.30, the draw 5.10, West Indies 10.50
In the first test at Lords, the West Indies made things harder for England than many pundits, myself included, had expected. The home side suffered a nervous start to the fifth morning as they chased a victory target of just under 200 but with solid performances from Cook and Bell, the win was comfortable enough in the end.
The climax to the game therefore underlines the strength in depth that English test cricket has at the moment and if players such as Pietersen or Trott fail, there will invariably be somebody taking responsibility for the batting, even if it goes right down to Matt Prior at number seven.
The crucial difference between the two bowling attacks is that England possess an ability to swing the ball that is lacking among the West Indians. Historically, Trent Bridge was always a haven for swing bowlers but since the ground was remodelled and the new Radcliffe Road Stand unveiled, the ball has moved around more than ever before.
This has also meant that the home of Nottinghamshire county cricket has become a happy ground for England too and three wins out of their last three games here have been by big margins.
The Teams: England
There are unlikely to be any changes in England’s line up for this game and although Tim Bresnan is the man under most pressure, he should be more suited to conditions at Trent Bridge.
Yorkshireman Bresnan is also the home side’s lucky mascot having won all of the twelve tests that he’s played in and while that statistic alone isn’t reason for selection, it makes him much harder to drop.
The Teams: West Indies
The West Indies have been forced into at least one change after promising fast bowler Shannon Gabriel was ruled out. There could be a like-for-like replacement with Ravi Rampaul stepping in or alternatively, spinner Shane Shillingford would bring more variety.
There are rumours that Chris Gayle might be included after his early exit from the IPL and while it would be an unlikely surprise, the reintroduction of Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan would give the Windies a desperately needed boost.
Key Man: West Indies
It’s obvious that Shivnarine Chanderpaul is the vital player as far as run scoring is concerned but to win matches, the West Indians need 20 wickets no matter how many their batsmen compile.
If they are going to succeed in the bowling department then the man most likely to impress is Kemar Roach. The 23 year old Bajan showed pace and hostility at Lords and if he can find swing to add in the mix, he could be a serious handful for England’s batsmen.
Key Man: England
I’d pencilled in Stuart Broad for this game but the all-rounder peaked a test early and took the wickets that I’d earmarked for Jimmy Anderson. At Trent Bridge, swing will aid Broad’s natural pace and bounce and he will be even harder to deal with here.
Furthermore, this is the 25 year olds’ home ground and while his outings in a Notts shirt are limited these days, when he does perform here at county level he is nothing short of devastating.
If the West Indies had got either Alastair Cook or Ian Bell early in their second innings at Lords the result could have been very different. As such, those 10.50 odds on a Windies win are extremely good value and if everything ‘clicks’ they have a chance here.
However, I feel that England will be even stronger: Bresnan and Swann should come into the game more and produce a more fearsome bowling attack while this current English batting line up has arguably more strength in depth that at any other point in history.
Best Bet: England to win at 1.30