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Preview: Test Series: England vs. West Indies - prediction, team news, series so far

Sports Mole previews the 2024 first Test match between England and the West Indies, scheduled to get underway on Wednesday at Lord's Cricket Ground.

After relinquishing the T20 crown last month, England will return to action this week, but now in the red ball format, kicking off a three-match Test series against the West Indies on Wednesday.

Following this opening Test at Lord's, the second match will take place at Trent Bridge from July 18 to 22, and the third and final Test will head to Edgbaston scheduled for July 26 to 30.

Match preview

England's James Anderson reacts on July 31, 2023© Reuters

While Test cricket lovers will be looking forward to a full five days of action between these cricketing rivals, there has been a fair amount of rain predicted between Wednesday and Saturday.

These two will face each other in this format for the first time since the West Indies defeated England 1-0 in a three-match series at home in 2022, and this match will also mark the end of an era with James Anderson set to take his final bow in Test cricket.

Now 41, Anderson will bring the curtain down on an incredible career, during which he earned 188 caps and became England's all-time leading wicket-taker with 700 Test scalps. The paceman was forced to call it quits after Three Lions' management made him aware that they want to focus on younger pace bowlers leading up to the 2025-26 Ashes tour.

Amid Anderson's swansong, though, there is still a Test match to win here at Lord's and a three-match series to consider in the broader context. Over the last five years, England have played seven Tests at the Home of Cricket and have only managed two wins, against New Zealand and Ireland, along with three defeats and two draws.

Rob Key's team selection suggests that the English selectors are very much focused on out with the old and in with the new, seemingly setting up for the start of a new chapter – Bazball 2.0, perhaps.

West Indies batsman Kraigg Brathwaite in action against England on March 20, 2022.© Reuters

Meanwhile, while England will bid farewell to one of their greatest fast bowlers of the current generation, the West Indies are preparing to welcome back one of their favourites in Jason Holder.

In an interview with the media last week, Holder explained that the Windies' sensational victory over Australia in January reignited his passion for Test cricket, and he now aims to help his team achieve their first series win in England since 1988.

Throughout history, the West Indies and England have faced each other 163 times and the Windies have won 59 matches, England have won 51, while 53 matches ended in a draw. On English soil, the West Indies have achieved 31 wins and suffered 36 defeats against the home team, with 22 matches resulting in a draw.

Like their opponents, the side from the Caribbean have made wholesale selection changes, and this three-Test tour of England presents a young West Indies team, featuring 10 players with fewer than 10 Test matches, an opportunity to improve upon their recent record in this part of the world.

With only one warm-up match against a County Select 11 under their belt in the lead-up, predicting the West Indian lineup is a little challenging, but it appears they will field a strong side built off the back of some genuine fast bowling.

Team News

England bowler Shoaib Bashir after taking a wicket against India on February 24, 2024.© Reuters

Rob Key raised a few eyebrows with his selection for this tour by opting to drop both Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes, handing Surrey 23-year-old Jamie Smith a maiden Test call-up with the gloves.

Smith's county teammate Gus Atkinson, who has made 12 appearances for England in white-ball cricket and was unused on the tour of India, is also set to make his debut for the Three Lions in the red-ball format.

Chris Woakes returns to the starting 11, marking his first Test appearance since earning the Player of the Series honour in last summer's Ashes, and offspinner Shoaib Bashir makes his home debut following his three Tests in India earlier this year.

As mentioned, the Windies have also made sweeping changes for this tour, with Alzarri Joseph being the sole player transitioning from the shortest format last month to the longest, serving as vice-captain and their star bowler.

One notable decision was the exclusion of opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul, despite his involvement in West Indies' historic Test victory in Australia in late January this year. He ended that two-match series as the second-highest run-scorer for the tourists, amassing 160 runs at an average of 40, behind captain Kraigg Brathwaite who scored 196.

England squad: Ben Stokes (c), Harry Brook, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Zak Crawley, Chris Woakes, Dan Lawrence, Ben Duckett (wk), Jamie Smith (wk), Dillon Pennington, Gus Atkinson, James Anderson (first Test only), Matthew Potts, Shoaib Bashir

West Indies squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Alick Athanaze, Kirk Mckenzie, Mikyle Louis, Zachary McCaskie, Jason Holder, Kavem Hodge, Kevin Sinclair, Joshua Da Silva (wk), Tevin Imlach (wk), Alzarri Joseph, Gudakesh Motie, Jayden Seales, Jeremiah Louis, Shamar Joseph

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We say: England to win

Both these sides are in a notable transition phase and this first Test - weather permitting - will likely give us a clearer indication of what to expect from these new-look sides for the remainder of the series.

The West Indies are definitely a side on the up over the last year or so, but their record in England over the last three decades has been very poor and we feel they will need this first match to settle into a rhythm.

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England's James Anderson reacts on July 31, 2023
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