Holder, Stokes in focus in England-West Indies series

KSW Desk

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England And West Indies players. Pic/ICC

Dubai, July 7: Cricket is set to return after forced break due to global pandemic of Coronavirus with hosts England to take on West Indies in the first Test of the three matches series on Wednesday.

Captains Jason Holder of the West Indies and Ben Stokes of England head into the opening match of their three-Test series as the top two all-rounders in the ICC Test Player Rankings, as well as the top-ranked batsmen from their respective sides.

Holder, only the second West Indies player after Sir Garry Sobers to hold the top spot among Test all-rounders, has a career best 473 points going into the Southampton Test. The 28-year-old from Barbados has been at the top since January 2019.

Stokes, who is skipper for the opening match as Joe Root will be away for the birth of his second child, is on 407 points. Stokes would be looking to work his way up in the points aggregate during the series and emulate compatriot Andrew Flintoff, the last England player at the top of the Test all-rounders’ list, in May 2006.

Holder is in 35th position among batsmen with Shane Dowrich, Roston Chase and Kraigg Brathwaite ranked from 44th to 52nd places. Shai Hope, currently in 64th position, would be hoping to move up by striking the kind of form that saw him score twin centuries to win the Leeds Test three years ago. Holder is also their leading bowler, in third position, with fast bowlers Kemar Roach (11th) and Shannon Gabriel (19th) others in the top 20.

Tenth-ranked Stokes is England’s leading batsman in the absence of Root, while their next highest ranked batsman is Rory Burns in 33rd position – back after injuring himself playing football. Formerly top-ranked James Anderson leads the bowlers in eighth position with Chris Woakes (23rd) and Stokes (26th) just outside the top 20.

England, currently on 146 points, would be aiming to overtake New Zealand (180) to third position in the ICC World Test Championship points table while the West Indies would be hoping to garner their opening points having previously lost 2-0 to table leaders India. England drew a five-Test series 2-2 against Australia and won a four-match series 3-1 against South Africa.

Each series of the WTC is worth 120 points, distributed evenly over the number of matches in a series. The points range from 60 points for each match of a two-Test series to 24 for each match of a five-Test series. The top two teams at the end of the league will play the final to decide the champion. ( Courtesy ICC)