International Cricket will usher in it’s new normal in less than 12 hours time when the West Indies put their Wisden Trophy on the line at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton at the start of the first game in their three test series.
The game which bowls off at 5 in the morning Jamaica time tomorrow will be the first to be played since International Cricket went into lockdown 115 days ago when England cut short their tour of Sri Lanka and headed back to the UK under orders from the Government.
Both teams have been for the most part been living in a bio secure environment as they prepare for the series, in the case of the West Indies they have been living in the bubble since arriving in the UK.
Two intrasquad games and hours of practice sessions have brought Jason Holder’s team to this point where the Captain can say confidently his team has done everything could have done to be ready.
Which eleven takes the first for the West Indies is still anybody’s guess but the captain says he and the management staff have learned from experience not to name the team overnight.
There are a number of firsts that will occur in this series, one of the keys norms that will be missing from this game is players applying saliva to the balls to keep the shine, something that Holder says will take some getting use to.
West Indies captain Jason Holder.
The West Indies has not won an away test series against a top team since 1995 in New Zealand and they have not won a test series in England since Sir Viv’s team won the five test series 4-1 in 1988 when only two members of this current squad were born.
Shannon Gabriel was only four months old and Kemar Roach was only two months old.
Meanwhile former West Indies captain, Ramnaresh Sarwan believes the biggest challenge the West Indies will have to overcome on the tour is mental.
Sarwan, who played 87 test matches says the bio secure environment in which the team has been kept since arriving in the UK could become a bit unbearable for professional athletes who are use to their own space and movement when on tour.
But he says once they can adjust that’s a large percentage of the battle won.
Much has been made of the bowling on both teams with England showcasing their best pair of fast bowlers in James Anderson and Stuart Broad who between them have over a thousand wickets.
Sarwan knows them only too well in 2009 the Guyanese recorded his career-best score of 291 against Anderson and Broad so he is in the best position to advise the West Indies batsmen how to approach them.
That’s former West Indies Captain Ramnaresh Sarwan