England opener Rory Burns expects a “stiff test” from West Indies in next month’s three-Test series here.
While West Indies have not won a Test series here in 32 years, they are holders of the coveted Wisden Trophy after stunning England 2-1 in the Caribbean last year.
“The last time we played them they won, they’re certainly no slouches,” said Burns, who struggled in that three-Test series with 145 runs from six innings.
“Their bowling attack caused us a lot of problems – they’re very skillful and have got some pace. There’s a lot of good cricketers there and think it’s going to be a stiff test no matter what,” he added.
West Indies entered the series last year as massive underdogs but crushed the top-ranked England by 381 runs inside four days in the opening Test at Bridgetown, before winning the second at St John’s by 10 wickets, to reclaim the Wisden for the first time in a decade.
West Indies’ defence of the trophy will come amid testing circumstances, as they oppose England in cricket’s first-ever “bio-secure” series, with the United Kingdom battling the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Caribbean side will arrive by private charter next Wednesday, undergo a two-week quarantine at Old Trafford in Manchester while training, before heading to the Ageas Bowls in Southampton ahead of the first Test starting July 8.
All matches will be played behind closed doors and players will not be allowed to have contact with the public during the seven-week duration of the tour.
Strict isolation, social distancing and sanitisation protocols will be enforced.
England and Wales Cricket Board’s projects director, Steve Elworthy, said the facilities being utilised were more than adequate to accommodate the training requirements of both teams.
“England are looking to move into the Ageas in and around the back end of June in preparation towards the Test match,” he explained.
“When the West Indies come out of isolation at Old Trafford they will be brought inside the Ageas for some time too. It’s an incredible facility, with a full size training ground next to the main ground. We wanted them to be able to train, practice and prepare for the Test so having two full grounds available was key,” Elworthy noted further.
West Indies have increased their touring party to include a 14-man squad and 11 reserves, a move aimed at ensuring injury replacements are readily available and to allow for warm-up matches among themselves.