Their one-run defeat under the Duckworth/Lewis Method courtesy of coach John Dyson’s terrible miscalculation on Friday was a heart-wrenching manner in which to lose but with little time to recover, West Indies’ mental strength will be severely put under the microscope when play gets underway at the National Stadium at Providence at 9.30 am.
Dyson’s error after bad light brought the D/L Method into play, potentially robbed the Windies of a confidence-boosting victory but more importantly, it gave the beleaguered England side the break they so desperately craved after failing to win a match on their Caribbean tour up to then.
Captain Chris Gayle told reporters yesterday the team had been hit hard by the manner of the loss but stressed they were also trying to refocus with four matches left in the series.
“I spoke about trying to clear our minds as quickly as possible because we have a long way to go in this series,” Gayle said
“It’s only the first game but we have a very important game tomorrow again and we have to try and get back into winning ways.”
He added: “To be honest, it affected us badly because every game we want to win. It really hurt us.”
“It was a case that actually for a long while the players were very, very depressed after losing that game. It’s a mind thing. What I said to the guys was ‘it’s how well we can bounce back from these sorts of situations.”
“Messages were being sent out to the batters. Batters who were into bat next were aware of the situation,” Gayle explained.
“We sat down there together and we checked it and double checked it but we didn’t double check it with any matchreferee or any other person.
The messy end to the match overshadowed several outstanding performances which Gayle will hope can be replicated today.
Rookie opener Lendl Simmons, in only his ninth ODI, batted maturely for his 62 and the 21-year old Kieron Pollard, like Simmons with only nine games under his belt, played a fine counter-attacking knock of 42 from 36 balls and claimed two wickets with his innocuous slow medium bowling.
West Indies’ greatest worry will be a bowling attack that is led by the out-of-sorts Jamaican fast bowler Daren Powell whose five overs on Friday cost 27 runs.
He mysteriously made the final XI before the steady 24-year old Montserratian seamer Lionel Baker but it will be hard to see him reclaiming a place for the second match, especially after his inertia in the Test series.
Experienced England all-rounder Paul Collingwood said the win had lifted the side’s confidence and they were now more upbeat ahead of the second match.
“In whatever circumstances, we’ll take a win. As we all know it’s been a long, hard winter for us and we were looking to get that win just to boost the morale a bit,” the former one-day captain said.
“We’ve put in a lot of hard work and effort, whether that is on the pitch or in training, but we haven’t been getting the results sometimes you deserve and obviously that affects confidence a bit.
“When you win it does boost your morale, and we hope that’s the catalyst to bigger and better things. But it’s only one game, and we’ve got a few important games coming up – and tomorrow is now a big game for us.”
England are likely to be still without their inspirational all-rounder Freddie Flintoff who is still nursing a hip injury.
SQUADS: WEST INDIES – Chris Gayle (captain), Denesh Ramdin, Lionel Baker, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Nikita Miller, Keiron Pollard, Daren Powell, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Devon Smith.
ENGLAND – Andrew Strauss (captain), James Anderson, Gareth Batty, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Steven Davies, Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Adil Rashid, Owais Shah, Amjad Khan.