England vs West Indies 2nd Test: Joe Denly dropped, Zak Crawley to bat at three

England has confirmed that batsman Joe Denly has been left out for the second Test against West Indies, which starts on Thursday in Manchester.

Denly, who averages 29.53 in 15 matches, couldn’t capitalise on his chance at the Southampton Test, losing wickets cheaply in both innings for just for 18 and 29.

Captain Joe Root returns from paternity leave at Old Trafford and will bat at four, with Zak Crawley moving up to number three. 

Star batsman Root missed England’s four-wicket defeat at Southampton in international cricket’s return from lockdown last week after attending the birth of his second child.

Root’s return means Ben Stokes reverts to vice-captain – Stokes became England’s 81st men’s Test captain when he led the side in Southampton and the first all-rounder to take on the role since Andrew Flintoff.

He has now rejoined the squad, with West Indies needing just one win from the two remaining Tests of the campaign at Old Trafford to clinch a first series win in England for 32 years. 

Now at 1-0 down with just two matches to play, there is far less margin for error. Joe Denly appeared to be the most likely candidate to make way for Root. Denly was twice out cheaply at Southampton, with fellow batsman Zak Crawley making 76 in a second innings where England’s loss of five wickets for 30 runs proved more pivotal to the result than their controversial decision to omit veteran paceman Stuart Broad.

England must avoid defeat or will suffer a first home series loss to West Indies since 1988.