Inspired by their victory in the Test series and the lone 20/20 encounter, West Indies captain Christopher Gayle told a press gathering yesterday that his team will be ready for whatever the visiting England squad throws, at them today.
“It does not matter what they put in front of us, we are ready for it. We know that Flintoff (Andrew) is a boost for England. In fact he would be a boost for any team but the guys are looking forward to playing again and a victory would boost our confidence greatly.”
“We will be going hard at them. Even though this is a new series with both teams starting from scratch, the guys are very confident following our win in the Test series and the lone 20/20 match and we are prepared to take anything they throw at us in the One Day Internationals (ODI),” said Gayle.
While concerns are being raised over the possibility of England’s skipper Andrew Strauss taking the field today, Gayle said that the injury to his hamstring was progressing well and he has felt no pain nor signs of discomfort in his few net sessions since his arrival in Guyana.
“Batting for me is not a problem at the moment. I have had a few net sessions since our arrival, apart from some work with the team’s physiotherapist and I have felt no discomfort whilst doing the former. In fact, the injury is progressing well.”
“I am not 100% fit, but I am looking forward to it. I was working with the physio’ and I plan to have a run around today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today) and see how it goes from there before making a decision. But having said that I must give credit to the guys for the way they played in my absence,” stated Gayle.
He added: “I think Ramdin (Dinesh) handled the team well in my absence, whilst the guys were very supportive of him on and off the field of play.”
Apart from welcoming the return of Gayle, who suffered his injury in the final Test in Trinidad, and who, along with Ramnaresh Sarwan has been a thorn in the flesh of the English during the Test series, the West Indies will be having the services of exciting all rounder Dwayne Bravo.
Sarwan has been brimming with confidence with the bat throughout the Test series where he was named Man-of-the-Series after amassing 626 runs with an average of 104.33, added to a career best 291 in the Barbados Test.
He carried the form into the lone 20/20, where he almost single-handedly led the team to victory and with an average of 44.17 in 141 ODI’s, the local middle order batsman who was once tagged the worlds best finisher, can continue to be a worry for the English.
Add former International Cricket Council (ICC) number one batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Bravo, Darren Sammy and to a lesser extent Ramdin and Lendl Simmons to the fray, and England would certainly be in for a daunting task at Providence.
One cannot count out the hard hitting Kieron Pollard who can be very useful with the bat in the lower order, as well as Nikita Miller and the bowlers Fidel Edwards and Darren Powell who have been a rock between victory for England and defeat for the West Indies in the Test series.
Edwards should be keen on continuing his battle with England’s Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood when the home team takes the field and along with Darren Powell, Sammy, Bravo and left arm spinner Miller, a battle can be anticipated between bat and ball in this fixture.
While a question mark lingers on Strauss’ availability to lead his side onto the fastest drying venue in the Caribbean today, the visitors would readily welcome the return of Flintoff who sustained a hip injury in the rescheduled third Test at the Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG).
Over the year, both Flintoff and Pietersen have been the backbone of the English team complementing each other with their batting and bowling.
Flintoff would be a key figure in the visitors’ line up for the limited overs matches as he can swing any game with either his batting or bowling and with valuable support in the batting department from former captain Paul Collingwood and Ravi Bopara, the West Indies will have their work cut out for them.
Wicketkeepers Matt Prior and Steve Davies compete for the spot behind the stumps, as they can both handle themselves well with the bat but Prior, who is the number one choice in the Test squad, should gain the nod ahead of Davies.
Dimitri Mascarenhas too can also tear any opposition apart with both the bat and ball while Ian Bell can be a thorn in any opposing team’s side for England, thus making things difficult for the West Indies.
Their bowling cupboard on this tour is not bare as they have fast bowlers in the caliber of Steve Harmison, Stuart Broad and James Anderson, along with Amjad Khan and Owais Shah, who can contribute with both bat and ball.
The action gets underway from 09:30hrs sharp, weather permitting, as there were dark clouds hovering over Georgetown last evening, but irrespective of this the venue is known to dry off quickly.
West Indies from: Christopher Gayle, Dinesh Ramdin, Lionel Baker, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Darren Powell, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Devon Smith and Fidel Edwards.
England from: Andrew Strauss, James Anderson, Gareth Batty, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Steve Davies, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Amjad Khan, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Adil Rashid and Owais Shah.