Reports of the death of Caribbean cricket were, it appears, greatly exaggerated. The tourists’ excruciating collapse in the first Test at Edgbaston – losing 19 wickets on the third day in Birmingham – had all and sundry penning their final obituary. But the Windies dragged themselves from their death bed at Headingley to record one of the greatest upsets in Test history; and in the process, improbably levelling the series. Not even the raising of Lazarus was that dramatic!
The stakes are high for both teams
The tourists’ five-wicket win in Leeds was pure, nerve-jangling box office, and when the teams reconvene at Lords this Thursday, much depends on which of the two have recovered from the emotional rollercoaster they both endured.
England haven’t lost a home series to the Windies since 1988 and, with the Ashes looming, defeat this summer would represent a significant blemish on Joe Root’s embryonic captaincy. The tourists meanwhile haven’t won a series against anyone since they beat Bangladesh three years ago, and success in Blighty would be an incalculable boost for a side so bereft of confidence.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 29, 2017
Hope then springs eternal for the Windies, but it is not reflected in the betting: England (3/10) are overwhelming favourites to exact prompt revenge and win at Lords. The tourists are way back at 8/1 to record back-to-back Test wins, while what ultimately would feel like a deeply unsatisfactory draw is 9/2.
Jimmy Anderson’s five wickets at Headingley tantalisingly leaves him three short of becoming only the sixth bowler ever to claim 500 international scalps. No-one has taken more Test wickets (81) at Lords than the Lancashire swinger and he’s 9/2 to emerge as the best bowler in the first innings at the home of cricket.
However, an interesting subplot to this week’s game could yet see Stuart Broad overtake his long-standing team-mate as Lords’ most prolific bowler. The 31-year-old has taken 75 wickets in Tests at the game’s most iconic ground, and the Notts seamer is 11/2 to eclipse Anderson and make the most first innings inroads.
The shortest priced Windies bowler is Kemar Roach
The Barbadian has six English wickets to his name this summer, including four in the first innings in Leeds, and is 7/1 to pick up in London where he left off in Leeds. The erratic but dangerous Shannon Gabriel is 15/2 to do the most damage when the tourists bowl first time round, while spinner Roston Chase, the Windies’ leading wicket taker in the first two Tests with seven, is priced at 8/1.
History could also beckon at Lords for Alastair Cook. The England opener has amassed 1,818 runs at Lords during his career, and should the Essex man enjoy a prolific third Test, he could surpass Graham Gooch’s all-time record of 2,015 in north London. He needs 198 runs to etch his name into the Lords record books, and should he achieve that, the left-hander will also go above Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardene in the all-time list of Test run scorers.
Bangladesh defeats Australia, West Indies defeats England. Lesson: nothing is impossible.
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) August 31, 2017
Cook is England’s top run scorer against the tourists this summer. He is 9/2 to post the biggest first innings individual total, but as it was prior to the first two Tests, Root is the favourite at 7/2. Fresh from his Headingley century, Ben Stokes is 9/1.
The standout batting performance for the Windies in Leeds undoubtedly came from Shai Hope, with a century in both innings; the first player ever to achieve the feat in a first-class match at the home of Yorkshire cricket. Hope is 13/1 to top score in the first innings at Lords this week, but it is his fellow Headingley centurion Kraigg Brathwaite who is the shorter priced of the pair at 12/1.