It’s all to play for between England and the West Indies! A fiery spell of bowling late on Sunday evening from Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes opened the door for a famous England victory in the second test between the sides, and now it’s all-or-nothing for both teams in what will be a tantalising third and final match at Old Trafford, starting on July 24.
You could argue that England go into it in better shape. They will take the momentum from the second test, and with key players finding some form last time out they could hit their peak in the third. The Windies, meanwhile, have injury concerns over the impressive Alzarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel, who was hobbling around the Old Trafford outfield for much of the game.
England take the momentum
It’s true to say that England probably would have won the second test but for the rain-hit Saturday, which wiped out all of the day’s play. Joe Root’s men were, at that point, more than 400 runs ahead and sensing blood, with the Windies already a wicket down in their innings.
The day-long downpour gave way to bright sunshine on Sunday, and with the Old Trafford pitch flat and largely lifeless, the Caribbean outfit were able to bat for most of the day – with Kraigg Brathwaite and Shamarh Brooks in typically obstinate form, accumulating 143 runs between them from more than 300 balls. The former occupied the crease for the best part of five hours.
But Broad and Woakes found a spark with the new ball, picking up five wickets between them for the cost of 45 runs, and that destructive spell changed the whole complexion of the match.
An embarrassment of riches
While momentum in sport is absolutely crucial, there is also plenty to be said for having a fit and firing squad at your disposal. Root now has that headache that all cricket captains and selectors love – an embarrassment of options in the bowling department heading into the third test.
Broad and Woakes have already shown their worth, while James Anderson will surely come into contention on his home ground – he even has his own stand named in his honour at Old Trafford. The extra pace of Mark Wood will come under consideration to, as will Jofra Archer, who has bowled well on this wicket in the past.
As for Windies skipper Jason Holder, if Joseph and/or Gabriel aren’t fit to play the third test after such a short turnaround from the second, he has problems. His namesake Chemar Holder is in the squad but is yet to make his test debut, while the other seam-bowling option – Raymon Reifer – only has one test appearance to his name. The captain may turn to the spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, but that would put extraordinary pressure on himself and Kemar Roach to take wickets.
And so England go into the decisive third test as hot favourites with Royal Panda at odds of 1.73, with the Windies the underdogs at 8.10. Consider the odds on the draw at 2.72 – there is plenty of rain in the weather forecast for Manchester this weekend.
Whatever you bet on, enjoy the England vs West Indies third test and don’t forget that our prices are subject to fluctuation. Please check Royal Panda sports betting for the most up-to-date odds.