International cricket returned after the coronavirus shutdown earlier this week with England hosting the West Indies in the opening Test of the #Raisethebat series at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
With no fans at the stadium, it would have obviously been a different experience for the players as well as the viewers watching on the television sets.
However, the match did not disappoint and barring the first day, which was largely hampered by bad weather, the game provided plenty of excitement, particularly for the visitors, who eventually won the Test by four wickets on Day 5.
Three talking points from the Test:
West Indies’ overall display: West Indies bowling has been one of their key strengths over the past few years, but they have quite often been let down by their batting. However, they came up with an assured display on both fronts at the Ageas Bowl and it was more of a collective batting effort in the first innings as they took a healthy 114-run lead over England, who were all-out for 204.
With 200 to chase in the second innings, the Caribbean side experienced a pretty disappointing start with three wickets going down in the space of 27 runs while opener John Campbell went off the field with a foot problem. The middle order, however, managed to stem the collapse and Jermaine Blackwood stood out with his 95 from 154 balls . His patience was commendable, given he is naturally an aggressive player.
Umpiring: Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, ICC recently permitted the change which would allow the use of local umpires in test matches. Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth have been part of the elite panel of ICC Umpires since 2011 and 2013 respectively, but they had a disappointing time officiating an England test match for the first time.
As many as 22 reviews were made over the course of the Test Match. Nine of them were overturned. The visitors were undoubtedly the beneficiary of the Decision Review System, given they were able to have seven umpiring decisions overturned. The duo will be hoping for a much better performance in the second Test at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
Stuart Broad’s exclusion: Broad’s exclusion from the first Test came as a huge surprise, given he has been one of England’s most consistent wicket-takers despite his advancing age. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood were preferred ahead of him due to their additional pace, but the pair bagged a combined tally of only five wickets through the test match.
Archer managed to redeem himself in the second innings with some handy runs and three key wickets, but Wood did not make much of an impact. Broad was obviously gutted with his exclusion and he will be determined to prove a point at Old Trafford. It is highly likely that he will be picked ahead of Wood. Broad had previously not missed a home test match since 2012.