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Windies give England a chance to solve issues.

THE first Investec Test between England and West Indies will start at 9.30am prompt - Eastern Caribbean Time.

Anyone curious a little further west in Jamaica about how their team may be faring against England, and the pink Dukes, will have to set the alarm an hour or so earlier.

Whatever the interest levels in Bridgetown and Kingston - and recent forays across the Atlantic suggest they could be sadly limited - there will be a very different body-clock experience for the players themselves in Birmingham next week.

There was an era, of course, when the arrival of West Indies tourists needed no temporal gimmickry to whet the appetite.

Since the turn of the century, though, no West Indies team has been successful on a Test trip here - and more than one set of tourists has barely hinted at the ability to match England.

It is fair to say though that - despite their 3-1 win over South Africa - England will begin a series which follows uncomfortably quickly with a decent set of their own issues to address.

They apply almost exclusively to a batting order propped up by mainstays and a powerful lower middle but bereft of any solidity alongside Alastair Cook at the very top, then at number three and five for good measure.

Whatever the personnel settled upon, the Ashes opportunity of a lifetime will be knocking hard for incumbents with a favourite's chance of making the runs they need to get on the plane to Australia in October.

Standing between them and the concourse, as well as the initial day-night variable, is a pace attack staffed by the returning Kemar Roach, an able but often fragile Shannon Gabriel, Miguel Cummins and young speedster Alzarri Joseph.

Yet none has a Test average under 30 - Cummins' is above 40, in fact - so if there is to be a tight series, collective improvement is non-negotiable.

James Anderson has 500 wickets perhaps in his sights too before the end of the campaign.

That would be a handy CV benchmark to fly down under with this winter - but there will be reason for proper celebration only if England duly complete a victory over the Windies that is universally anticipated, and en route settle a few worrying imponderables surrounding their batsmen too.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:50CAR
Date:Aug 12, 2017
Words:377
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