England and the West Indies prepare for battle on the Subcontinent

Updated: November 12, 2012

England and the West Indies are both ready for action on the Subcontinent, as they begin Test series against India and Bangladesh respectively.

Alastair Cook leads England into a new era following the retirement of former opening partner and captain Andrew Strauss. It has been a natural progression for Cook who was always touted as the next England captain, following his debut against India in 2006. At 27 Cook has surpassed most batting records for England, and has already amassed over 6500 runs at an average of just shy of 50. There is no question he has established himself as the best opening batsman in the world, however with the captaincy responsibilities, and a new opening partner in Nick Compton, it remains to be seen if he can continue to reproduce that form carrying more burden.

Compton at 29, finds himself at Test level for the first time in his career, and is a very accomplished player with good experience on Subcontinent wickets. For so long he has lived in the shadow of his grandfather, Dennis. He now has a chance to write some of his own legacy.

Jonathon Trott slots in at 3 for England, the perfect Test player in that position. He puts great  value on his wicket, is capable of occupying the crease for long periods of time, and possesses superb powers of concentration.

Kevin Pieterson returns to the team following his problems, which thankfully have been resolved. KP is a world class player and a match winner. His contribution will be vital if they are to have their first series win in India since 1985. Bell, Patel (who fills an all round role), and Prior all make up the middle order. On the slow pitches that they will be greeted with, the top 7 are capable of big runs.

Taking 20 wickets is what ultimately wins you a Test match, and in Swann, Broad, Bresnan, Anderson and Finn, they have one of the most balanced attacks in world cricket. The workload will be tough, especially in the searing temperatures, however they will know that if they are to get back to the summit of world cricket, they have to win Test matches away.

India have said farewell in recent times to many of their top batsman due to retirement. The likes of Dravid and VVS Laxman have moved on, and it looks likely they will be followed at the end of the series by the greatest of them all Sachin Tendulkar. Over 3 decades and 190 Test matches, “The Little Maestro,” has made a mockery of the best bowling attacks in the world. His statistics are staggering in all formats, however more poignantly in Tests he has scored 15533 runs at an average of over 55 with 51 hundreds. The England bowlers will know that at 39 his reactions wont be the same however a farewell century or two will be part of his mindset. Sehwag, Gambhir, Singh and Kohli are all class players with the bat, while Khan and Singh will now how to exploit local conditions with the ball.

It is an exciting prospect, with little to separate the two teams. I expect home advantage might just give India the edge.

The West Indies will be looking to build on their morale boosting win in the recent World 20/20 Cup, when they take on Bangladesh in the 2 Test series. In recent times they have performed much better in the longer format, and with the return of Chris Gayle, they look a more balanced team. The Bravo brothers, Chandapaul, Gayle and Narine are all names that will need to be counted if they are to repeat their feat achieved last year when the beat the hosts 1-0.