Batting legends, India’s Sachin Tendulkar and West Indies’s Brian Lara, previewed West Indies’s tour of England, which marks cricket’s resumption after three months since all activities were halted in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Lara observed that the key for the Windies in the series would be to put runs on the board and give their bowlers a platform.

Tendulkar and Lara discussed the key players going into the three-match Test series, which starts in Southampton on Wednesday. The duo is impressed by captain Jason Holder, who was the key in West Indies defeating England at home last year.

England vs West Indies preview: Ben Stokes and Jason Holder set to lead cricket into the unknown

Tendulkar called the all-rounder an “underrated player – someone you’d love to have in the team.”

Lara weighed in: “The leadership of Jason Holder is critical. I was disappointed that he wasn’t made captain for a long time. You saw how it worked out handing over the reins to a young captain with Graeme Smith for South Africa. A young captain surrounded by experienced players who went on to do well.”

Tendulkar praised pacer Kemar Roach’s performances in the recent past: “He was fast when I first saw him; loved to hit the bat but has shown very good control while cutting down on pace.”

The Indian maestro said he was impressed with all-rounder Ben Stokes’s progress in the recent past. Stokes will be captaining England for the first time with Joe Root opting out of the first Test for personal reasons.

“He [Stokes] is someone who is going to lead from the front, we have seen that on a number of occasions,” Tendulkar said.

“He is aggressive, positive and when he has to be slightly defensive he is prepared to do that for the team. I always feel controlled aggression produces results and so far whatever I have seen, the aggression has been there but it is controlled. So this is what I think of Ben Stokes.”

Lara told Tendulkar that he expects runs from seasoned batsman Shai Hope, who is one of the mainstays for the visitors. A day earlier, the former West Indies captain said that Holder and Co don’t have what it takes to survive for five days and they need to apply pressure from the first session of the contest.

“Shai Hope is a Test batsman who I’ve seen flourish in ODI cricket,” Lara said. “The effectiveness of [Kemar] Roach and [Shannon] Gabriel will come in only when there are runs on the board.

“It will be a team effort if West Indies win this. Bowlers will have to do their job, batsmen have to score runs and fielders have to take their catches. Runs on the board, though, is something this team needs.”

Lara praised veteran England pace duo Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad and warned the batsmen to play them with caution.

“The ability of these two [Anderson and Broad] is that they always improve,” Lara said. “They are the key to England’s success. They have mastered the English conditions. The batsmen will have to build partnerships, rotate strike, keep out the good deliveries and punish the bad ones.”

Watch Tendulkar and Lara preview the England-West Indies series here: