A new era in English cricket will begin at Edgbaston on Thursday, with the first ever day/night Test match.
The decision to revamp the 140-year-old format shows the desire from administrators to keep cricket moving with the times, and the later start should see bigger crowds, and interest from all around the world.
It’s also a chance for Joe Root’s side to get used to playing under floodlights, ahead of the day/night Ashes match in Adelaide in November – and we could see a couple of new faces that might be lining up in Australia.
Opener Mark Stoneman will come in for the dropped Keaton Jennings, with the Durham man really struggling against South Africa in the series just gone.
He’s replaced by a former team-mate (though Stoneman now plays for Surrey) who has waited patiently for his chance – the 30-year-old will be the oldest of Alastair Cook’s 12 opening partners since the retirement of Andew Strauss in 2012.
While Stoneman is certain to start, uncapped leg-spinner Mason Crane could also make his debut here. The Hamsphire twirler may get a run-out in Australia, and the England management will be keen to give him as much experience as possible before being thrown into the bear-pit Down Under this winter.
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This match should give England a chance to experiment, up against a West Indies side who shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
Jason Holder’s men haven’t beaten a top eight side in a series since 2012, and not in England since 1988.
They haven’t even won a Test in England since 2000, and they’ll struggle against a Three Lions side that picked up momentum and form as the South Africa series progressed.
The pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place for Root ahead of this winter, with Toby Roland-Jones looking a fine third seamer alongside Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, and if Stoneman is able to cement his place at the top of the order, the new skipper will be very happy going into battle in Australia.
This match should be a formality – and only bad weather can stop England at 1.04 with Sportsbet.io.Teh