The day is finally here – England vs West Indies First Test Match. This match marks the resumption of international cricket after almost four months. The sport was on a hold for more than a quarter due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic outburst.
With Ben Stokes leading the Team England and West Indies captain Jason Holder, the toss has been delayed due to unexpected rains. Also, this is the first ever match in the history of cricket where there’d be no audience.
This is the first ever match where Stokes will be leading the team as Joe Root stayed back home as he expects his second child. Once Root leaves the hospital, he will have to observe a seven day quarantine before joining the team to ensure he has no symptoms of Covid-19. The second Test begins on July 13 at Emirates Old Trafford.
However, with ICC’s new guidelines keeping the pandemic outburst in mind, this England vs West Indies Test observes some new rules and regulations. Let’s have a look at what’s changed:
- Saliva on the ball isn’t permitted, so how’s that going to affect swing is a bit unknown. Players can use sweat though, and England have brought back the sweatband in fashion
- But what if the players apply saliva on the ball out of habit? “Two official warnings will be given in each innings before any 5-run penalty is applied,” the ICC says. “Should saliva be used, the umpires will clean the ball before play resumes.”
- There are three reviews per innings available in Test cricket for now
- We’ll have non-neutral umpires in Test cricket for now. Richard Illingworth and Richard Kettleborough are officiating this first Test
- There are provisions for Covid-19 replacements during a Test match — very similar to concussion replacements. Match referee will approve the nearest like-for-like replacement.
- There’s an additional logo allowed on the cricket kits until the end of 2020-21 season
- And lastly, there will not be any crowd. We’ll try to make this blog noisy instead!
It is 13:30 in Southampton, England, and the covers are finally coming off. Fingers crossed, it stays that way. The toss can happen any time now as the first ball is scheduled to be bowled at 14:00 hours. Wondering if rain conditions influence the pitch, field, and each team’s skipper’s decision.
Although, Southampton has a history of taking turns. In the last Test here against India, Moeen Ali, who isn’t a part of the England playing XI squad, had a match-haul of nine wickets.
This Test match will be played in a bio-bubble environment, following the above-mentioned rules. In a practice match, the Englishmen showed a new way of celebrating after taking a wicket, as high-fives, hugs, wild head rubs are not going to be a thing. It’ll be interesting to see a new way of playing cricket, especially with no audience to cheer.
Another interesting fact – Both the Windies and Englishmen will be wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’ logo on their Test shirts as a gesture to spread the message after the brutal death of George Floyd due to racism.
The current status – England have won the toss and chose to bat.
West Indies (Playing XI): John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich(w), Jason Holder(c), Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel
England (Playing XI): Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Denly, Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes(c), Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler(w), Dominic Bess, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, James Anderson
Mad Over Cricket shall keep you posted with live updates, highlights, and remarkable moments about the match. How excited are you for England vs West Indies Test match? Mention your thoughts in the comments below.