Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 July 2020

Joe Root wary of 'formidable' West Indies bowling attack

Visitors will rely on Jason Holder, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel during three-Test series

England captain Joe Root takes part in a fielding drill during a training session at Trent Bridge. Getty
England captain Joe Root takes part in a fielding drill during a training session at Trent Bridge. Getty

England captain Joe Root said his batsmen must prepare well if they are to succeed against a "formidable" West Indies bowling attack in the upcoming three-Test series.

West Indies will be relying heavily on their pacers in England to defend the Wisden Trophy which they won after triumphing 2-1 at home in 2019.

Root said England can't afford to lower their guard against an attack which features three bowlers – Jason Holder, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel – who are among the top 20 in Test rankings.

"We are very aware of the skill West Indies have and what they will bring to this series," Root told BBC Sport.

"One thing that stood out was how formidable their bowling attack can be. It is really important we prepare well and we are ready for all of that."

Holder is also the top ranked Test all-rounder, followed by England's Ben Stokes, and West Indies head coach Phil Simmons had predicted their rivalry would light up the series.

"Jase is one of the most well-respected guys in international cricket," Root said. "He took the job at a young age and we are starting to see him at the peak of his career.

"He comes across as a very good bloke. I am looking forward to chatting to him from a social distance."

Root said he would miss the series opener in Southampton from July 8 should it clash with the birth of his second child. Vice-captain Stokes will take the reins in his absence.

Manchester will host the last two Tests of the series which will be played behind closed doors in a bio-secure environment.

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Meanwhile, Surrey's Amar Virdi is optimistic he can follow in the footsteps of fellow Sikh spinner Monty Panesar and break into the England Test squad.

Virdi's selection in England's 30-member training group for next month's home series against West Indies coincides with a debate on representation of the minority community in English cricket.

"Growing up I watched [spinners] Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar bowling, that was inspirational to me," Virdi said.

"Monty, obviously, because he looks similar to me. In the community I am from we are a minority in a lot of industries. So when you do see someone progressing and doing well in the field you are in it really motivates you and shows you that you can do it."

Left-arm spinner Panesar played 50 Tests for England between 2006-13 before mental health issues effectively derailed his career.

Virdi is behind Jack Leach, Dom Bess and Moeen Ali in England's spin pecking order but still fancies making his Test debut against the Windies.

"I definitely want to be playing in the first Test and I want to be in the squad," said Virdi, who has 69 wickets from 23 first-class matches.

"If I didn't want to do that I probably shouldn't be here."

Updated: June 27, 2020 01:30 PM

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