– first ODI on today in Antigua
For very different reasons, two of the game’s most destructive batsmen will be missing. Chris Gayle’s absence is injury-related – and West Indies will have everything crossed he is fit for their World T20 defence – while England are beginning life permanently without Kevin Pietersen.
Play is set to commence at 09:30hrs. The last time England were in the Caribbean, Pietersen was the Player of the Tournament at the World Twenty20; now they will be putting their faith in the likes of Eoin Morgan, Joe Root and Jos Buttler to sparkle in the middle order. Even without Gayle, West Indies are not short on power in their top order with the likes of Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo and the improving pair of Kieran Powell and Kirk Edwards.
Sunil Narine did not have a huge impact in the one-day series in New Zealand – taking three wickets from four matches – and was left out against Ireland, but there are plenty of reasons to play him here. England’s record against unorthodox spin (and often spin of any sort) in limited-overs cricket is far from impressive.
This is a rare chance for Stuart Broad to take charge of England for more than a few days. But not only will his captaincy skills be key, he is now the attack-leader in the limited-overs formats. England do not have many bowlers who can change a game in a spell: Broad is one of them. How he uses himself around the various fielding restrictions will be interesting to watch.
With no Gayle, Smith will likely open the batting as he did against Ireland where he scored a brisk half-century. West Indies could well be tempted to take the pace off the ball against the England line-up.
West Indies (possible) 1 Dwayne Smith, 2 Kieron Powell, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Kirk Edwards, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Dwayne Bravo (capt), 7 Darren Sammy, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Jason Holder, 11 Nikita Miller
If England’s warm-up match is anything to go by – and you would think it would be – the only uncapped player they are set to blood is Alex Hales. He opened alongside Luke Wright in against the Vice Chancellor’s XI; the other candidates to open would have been Michael Lumb and Moeen Ali. However, Eoin Morgan missed training with a knee problem and if he is ruled out, Moeen could earn a debut.
England (possible) 1 Alex Hales, 2 Luke Wright, 3 Ben Stokes, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad (capt), 10 Chris Jordan, 11 James Tredwell
Pitch and conditions
Expect the ball to be going through knee height, rather than chest height. That, with a few exceptions, is the way these days in the Caribbean. The forecast suggests a chance of rain, but nothing that looks terminal.
Stats and trivia
The last time England played a match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, the contest lasted 10 deliveries before the 2009 Test was abandoned due to a dangerous outfield. England’s only previous ODIs at this ground came during the 2007 World Cup when they lost both matches.
Since January 2013, West Indies have hit 145 sixes in 28 matches (an average of 5.18 per game) while England have hit 89 in 26 matches (an average of 3.42 per game) but both teams have won the same number of matches (11) in that period.
Ravi Bopara, if selected, will play his 100th one-day international.
“I don’t want to say this is preparation for the Twenty20 World Cup, because these are three one-day internationals – and we have the 50-over World Cup round the corner.” Dwayne Bravo
“The warm-up match was the first 50-over match I’ve captained, so it was good to get one in before the internationals.” Stuart Broad (ESPNcricinfo)
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