Finding a consistent partner for captain Alastair Cook at the top of the order has been one of England’s toughest puzzles to solve in the Test arena since the retirement of Andrew Strauss.
As a result the focus will once again be on Jonathan Trott’s contribution next to his skipper, as the tourists look to close out a series win against the West Indies in the third Test, staged at Bridgetown, Barbados.
A previous stalwart of the line-up which brought about Ashes glory Down Under in 2011, albeit at number three, it’s hasn’t been such plain sailing since his return to the side.
Following 18 months away from the Test scene due to a stress-related illness, the Warwickshire right-hander’s inclusion as an opener has brought about mixed results.
Two ducks have contributed to an average score just shy of 16 runs over four innings in this series, though there was serious encouragement during his knock of 59 in the first innings at St George’s last time.
The technique which established him as one of the world’s best a few years ago, was back in flashes at least.
Owing to the toils of one of the bluntest West Indies attacks in recent memory, backing the South African-born batsman to clock up successive first-innings half-centuries at 2/1 looks fresh.
Being 1-0 up already thanks to a nine-wicket triumph in Grenada, England know the 2/1-rated draw for the Bridgetown Test will seal the series victory, and given the lifelessness of the previous two pitches, this result holds most appeal for Barbados.
This is backed up by England’s overall record on the island, where they have won three and drawn seven of their previous 14 Tests.
England selectors should keep faith with all-rounder Moeen Ali in the third Test despite his run-out in St George’s, as his off-spin proved a valuable source of wickets, taking four over the match.
On a Bridgetown track which has been baked like a potato, the influence of spin could be key, with Moeen tantalisingly priced at 5/1 to be the top 1st innings wicket taker.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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