England play it safe with team selection; Moeen Ali returns but James Tredwell misses out

Cricket

England opted not to play a second spinner in Adil Rashid or James Tredwell to partner the returning Moeen Ali as the second Test against West Indies got underway on the tiny island of Grenada.

There had been uncertainty over the fitness of Tredwell prior to the start of the match, but captain Alastair Cook confirmed at the toss, which was delayed due to rain, that Tredwell had been passed fit for selection. That means that the decision to play just Moeen as a frontline spinner on his return from a side strain was purely tactical.

Moeen had proved his fitness in a County Championship game for Worcestershire last week - although bowled just 11 wicket-less overs in a 10-wicket defeat - and only joined up with the Test squad on Saturday. He delivered a single over prior to the lunch break and unsurprisingly looked a little rusty.

Moeen's inclusion does give England the luxury of a batting line-up that includes either Ben Stokes or Jos Buttler at number eight, and Stuart Broad - who, despite his recent woes with the willow does possess a Test century - at number 10. They perhaps could have omitted Stokes or Jordan in favour of Tredwell or Rashid, but that would have been harsh on both players, particularly the former. Moeen could have even been promoted to open at the expense of Jonathan Trott to make room further down but that would have been unusually radical and just isn't England's way.

However, the decision could come back to haunt them as the Test progresses. The ground in Grenada, which is hosting just its third Test, typically favours spin bowling. In the games that have been played here, both Tests - the last saw Bangladesh defeat a West Indies side weakened by a player strike with 18 of the 20 wickets falling to their spinners - and in the regional first-class competition, that has overwhelmingly been the case, although it is hardly atypical for pitches in the Caribbean nowadays.

Geoffrey Boycott, speaking on Test Match Special, certainly didn't think much of the decision, just as he didn't about the reluctance to start the match anywhere close to the scheduled start time. After an initial, and understandable delay due to rain, spectators were treated to the sight of sunshine but no play as the umpires and ground staff opted to keep the covers in place in anticipation of yet more rain. It never really materialised and West Indies faced 15 testing overs to reach a postponed lunch on 36 for two. Devon Smith - who became the first Grenadian to play a Test at home - was out for 15 after deciding against reviewing a caught behind decision that later replays suggested that he perhaps hadn't hit.