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England v West Indies: The key talking points ahead of the third Test

England v West Indies: The key talking points ahead of the third Test
© Reuters
Keaton Jennings and Jonny Bairstow have the chance to return to their preferred roles but there is doubt over Ben Stokes' involvement.

England head into their third Test against the West Indies with the series already gone after heavy defeats in Barbados and Antigua.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the issues at play in St Lucia.

Lifeline for Jennings

Keaton Jennings
Keaton Jennings is back for the third Test (Ricardo Mazalan/PA)

Keaton Jennings must have feared for his prospects at Test level after being dropped for the second time in his career last week. Now, after a three-day defeat and a breakneck change of selection policy, he is back in the saddle.

He has had precious little time to deal with technical frailties outside off stump but he does have two Test centuries to his name already. If he can somehow make another big score, the Lancashire batsman might be at the beginning of a new chapter.

Bairstow back behind the stumps

Jonny Bairstow
Jonny Bairstow regains the wicketkeeping gloves he craves (Jason O'Brien/PA)

Jonny Bairstow only lost the wicketkeeping gloves after an untimely football-related injury but Ben Foakes' stunning efforts in Sri Lanka looked to have settled the issue for the foreseeable future.

With Foakes becoming the fall guy for England's back-to-back routs, the old order has been restored. A sound showing behind the stumps and solid contributions with the bat could firm up Bairstow's spot heading to the Ashes.

No such thing as a dead rubber

Trevor Bayliss, left, and Joe Root
Trevor Bayliss, left, and Joe Root will be desperate to finish the series on a high (Mike Egerton/PA)

After experiencing the elation of a 3-0 whitewash win in Sri Lanka in the first part of the winter, England will be desperate to avoid a matching scoreline in defeat.

There may not be anything tangible to play for, with the points-based World Test Championship not kicking into gear until the summer, but there is plenty riding on this game. The West Indies want to underline their renaissance and achieve a feat last seen in 1986, while England's players have Ashes places to fight for.

Wood to make his Mark

Little has gone right for Joe Root's side since their arrival in Barbados, but there is a chance that the stars could be aligning for one of their number: Mark Wood.

The Durham seamer was not even in the original touring party, arriving as an injury replacement for Olly Stone. Now, he will make his first Test appearance in eight months on a pitch that is renowned as the fastest in the region. If there was ever a time for the rapid paceman to restate his case at this level, St Lucia could be the place.

Being gentle with Ben

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes in training in St Lucia (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Nobody is more important to the balance and equilibrium of the Test team than Ben Stokes. If you need a reminder about that, look no further than the most recent Ashes series.

The bruised right heel that has been bothering him in recent days might not be dramatic enough to keep the workaholic cricketer out of a Test match – he took a full part in training across all three disciplines – but England must still be careful.

If he plays then captain Joe Root must not bowl him into the ground, no matter how willing he is. There is too much crucial cricket ahead in 2019 to risk a Stokes breakdown when the Wisden Trophy is already gone.


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England bowler Ben Stokes celebrates taking a wicket during the Test series with West Indies on January 23, 2019
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