The Kensington Oval will be the scene of the first match of the three-Test series between the Windies and England, as both sides begin their first Test assignments of 2019. Windies arrive into this series on the back of two Test defeats in Bangladesh, a 64-run defeat in Chattogram followed by a crushing innings defeat in Dhaka. Nevertheless, they will be boosted by the return of captain Jason Holder, who enjoyed a sensational 2018. The hulking all-rounder led from the front across the year, averaging 37.33 with the bat and just 12.39 with the ball, as he collected 33 wickets from just six Test appearances before a shoulder injury brought his year to a premature end.
Eyes will also be focussed on the recall of Darren Bravo after more than two years in the wilderness. With 49 Test caps to his name, alongside eight hundreds at an average of exactly 40, Bravo is a welcome addition to a batting line-up that was all at sea in Bangladesh.
Bravo is just one of a number of additions to the Windies squad, with young tearaway Alzarri Joseph back in the reckoning having recovered from a stress fracture that eliminated his presence in the side over the course of 2018. The Bridgetown crowd may also witness two new Test debutants, with Jamaica’s John Campbell, and Barbados’ Shamarh Brooks in the Windies squad.
The visitors will begin the first Test looking to build on a sparkling run of form. A 4-1 series win at home against India last summer was followed by a historic 3-0 whitewash against Sri Lanka, their first series win in Asia since 2012.
With dominant performances across their three Tests in the subcontinent, plenty of names in England’s squad merit a place in the playing XI. Nevertheless, there are bound to be a few changes from the line-up that emerged victorious in the final Test in Colombo, with three spinners unlikely to be required in Bridgetown. With luxury of bowling options at their disposal, England will be able to mix and match their line-up depending on the conditions on offer across the series.