England v West Indies: Three Test series to begin on 8 July

Ben Stokes in action for England
Ben Stokes would captain England in Joe Root's absence
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A three Test series between England and the West Indies is scheduled to begin next month and the Exchange betting is open reports Max Liu...

"The market is up on the Betfair Exchange for the first of the three Tests that the teams are scheduled to play next month."

International Test cricket will return to the UK from 8 July when England play West Indies behind closed doors at Hampshire's Ageas Bowl in Southampton, subject to government approval.

The market is up on the Betfair Exchange for the first of the three Tests that the teams are scheduled to play next month. The second and third Tests will both be played at Old Trafford from 16 and 24 July respectively.

The two grounds were chosen for the Tests because they both have onsite hotels where players and officials can stay in a "biosecure bubble" that's designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The series was supposed to take place this month but has been rescheduled because of the pandemic. For the July matches, everybody involved will undergo a rigorous testing regime.

Betfair Ambassador Graeme Swann predicted last week, before the Test schedule was announced, that England's players would be raring to get back into action.

Trio decide not to travel

West Indies arrive in England on 9 June and will be based at Old Trafford for quarantine and training. They announced their squad for the tour today followed by the news that three players - Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul - decided not to travel due to concerns about the virus:

Stokes could captain England in Root's absence

England could be without their captain in one of the Tests, as Joe Root's wife is due to give birth to their second child. Root intends to be present at the birth and has no qualms about vice captain Ben Stokes leading the team in his absence.

"I could see him doing a very good job," Root said. "One of his great qualities as vice-captain and as a leader is he sets the example. The way he goes about training, how he wants to bowl in difficult circumstances, the way he stands up in different scenarios with the bat - he drags people with him."

West Indies defeated England 2-1 in their previous Test series in the Caribbean last year. England prevailed by the same score the last time the two teams met in this country in 2017.

We'll have expert analysis and betting previews of the Test series closer to the start date but, in the meantime, it's a massive boost for cricket fans to know that the sport is returning at the highest level in just over a month's time.

Test Matches: England v West Indies (1st Test) (Match Odds)

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Wednesday 8 July, 11.00am

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