Wow – what a surprise the result at Headingley was! That must be one of the biggest turn arounds in cricket history – it’s got to be up there!!
Including myself, no one gave the West Indies much of a chance and what they pulled off was just amazing – you’d have had it off if you backed them at 16/1!!
I watched all five days and was gripped from start to finish: Windies fought back, England did the same then declared, but only to be knocked off by West Indies again!!! No one left the ground that evening thinking the West Indies would knock off 322. This was Test Match cricket at its best and really was phenomenal to watch.
Shai Hope became the first person to score two back-to-back centuries in a first‑class match at Headingley, which was just superb!
To do it at such a grand old ground where, throughout history, the best players hadn’t managed to achieve such a feat really sums up how much of a special match this was. He was averaging just over 18 runs before this test and it’ll give him and his side a massive, massive boost.
I’ve got to mention Gabriel, who came in and lead the attack well, taking 6 wickets. They’ll have been pleased he was back after missing the first test and will be hoping he can take his good form into the decider.
I’ve never seen so many catches dropped and I tell you what, if they’d have held them, the West Indies would have killed the game off a lot sooner than they did!
Whether the West Indies can reproduce that performance at Lords is another question – they’ve got to go and back it up which is always hard. England will be wanting to come back strong and will be under a little bit of pressure to perform, which has set up the decider really nicely.
The home side go into this one unchanged and I tell you what, Westley needs to put scores on the board this time round. In the last ‘Tuffers Talks’, I emphasised that England’s 2,3 and 5 needed to put in big performances with the bat and with the added pressure from Ashes selection coming up, from a personal point of view, Westley really needs a good knock at Lords.
West Indies went into the second test as 16/1 outsiders, but on the back of their emphatic victory, they’re now 8/1 to win at Lords – England are still massively fancied though, at 2/7.
As phenomenal an achievement as it was by the West Indies, I have to be backing England again, especially at Lords, where they’ve always played well, losing only 8 Test matches since the year 2000.
Don’t get me wrong: momentum and confidence can make the world of difference in cricket, but I still fancy England – you’ve got to!!! But then again, no one saw that coming a mile off at Headingley did they – flippin’ heck!!!
If you win the toss at Lords then you’ll look to bat and get three or four-hundred on the board. The pitch turns there too – we all remember Moeen Ali taking 6 wickets against South Africa earlier on in the summer, so as the game goes on, it’ll be interesting to see how the pitch develops and at 7/2 to be the top wicket taker, I wouldn’t mind putting a few quid on Ali here.
Trying to pick a top run scorer is always tough and to be fair, England’s lower order is better than their top at the moment – it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that Bairstow, Stokes and Ali have got just as much chance as the likes of Cook and Root.
Stoneman will have been happy with his 52, Ali did well scoring 84, Woakes got a nice 61 and then at the top, Cook and Root’s records speak for themselves.
Cook has averaged 94.8 runs per test match at Lords since 2015, so 3/1 could be a nice price, but if you’re looking for a bit of value, then I reckon Stokesy at 6/1 is great value and would be my pick for the third test.
With The Ashes creeping closer and closer, we want the lads to gain as much confidence as possible in the build up and hopefully Joe Root’s England side can do so with a convincing win at Lords.
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