England face tough selection choices on return to Test cricket

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The return of white kit and red balls to the England cricket side may be coming around a little too quickly for some, as the fury over the side’s bungled World Cup campaign still bubbles. In reality the tour of the West Indies is the perfect antiseptic.

Peter Moores’ ability to build on the 3-1 win over India, in what seems like a series from ancient history last summer, is vital to him keeping his job as head coach.

For fans, the sight of three debutants in the touring party provides substantial intrigue into the future of the side, while causing a few selection headaches for the management along the way.

Four men have a case to bat in the top three. Alastair Cook returns to open and captain the side, but who partners him and who enters at first drop is up for debate.

Adam Lyth, one of six Yorkshiremen heading to the Caribbean, is the firm favourite to open with the skipper in the first Test at Antigua after a county campaign chock-full of runs at the top of the champions’ order. A century in the season’s curtain-raiser in Abu Dhabi helps his cause too.

The return of Jonathan Trott, a winter tourist to South Africa with the Lions, stands as the alternative to Lyth as an opener. A full recovery from the stress illness he suffered during the last Ashes led to 1114 runs in just eight games for Warwickshire last season.

Gary Ballance’s out-of-sorts World Cup could see Trott displace the Zimbabwe-born batsman, despite the former’s impressive performance in Tests since his debut.

The other spot up for grabs is Moeen Ali’s all-rounder birth at number six. Adil Rashid would be the romantics’ choice six years on from his premature call-up to the international scene for the 2009 World T20, although Ben Stokes is his competition should the West Indies pitches not require spin.

In the bowling department, Stuart Broad and James Anderson are likely to be joined by Chris Jordan and Liam Plunkett, although the selectors would be wise to hand Mark Wood a first cap at some stage to learn more about him.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.