NOTTINGHAM, England, CMC – Embattled West Indies will wrap up a strife-filled two-month tour of England here today, hoping they can finally break out of their wretched slump with a win in the lone Twenty20 International at Trent Bridge.
The tourists have been riddled by injuries, harassed by late spring rain but most of all, completely outplayed by a confident English unit in both the Test and One-Day International series.
Their only win on tour has come in a warm-up one-day match against a weakened Middlesex side at Lord’s, hardly a result to take comfort in.
Today’s T20 against the reigning World champions will therefore take on significant value for the Windies as they seek to leave the tour with something to show for their efforts.
Head coach Ottis Gibson said while the results had been disappointing, his side would be focussing on putting a solid game together.
“For us it’s just trying game after game to get the right balance in the team and to try and win a game …,” Gibson told reporters.
“Obviously the T20 format suits us. England are still the World champions so we look forward to Sunday and the T20 as well.”
West Indies will back themselves to upset England, especially with several of the Indian Premier League stars in their side.
Big-hitting left-hander Chris Gayle topped the run charts with over 700 runs while mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine was voted Man-of-the-Series for his 24 wickets. All-rounders Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels, Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo all campaigned in the cash-rich league and will bring their experience to today’s encounter.
However, Gibson cautioned that his players needed to play hard cricket as there was a huge gulf between the IPL and international T20s. “Not only have they noticed [the different in quality] but it is quite noticeable,” Gibson noted.
“The IPL [is] four overs and in each IPL team you have the four overseas [players] and a couple of good Indian players. It’s not the same as playing against an international attack. In international attacks mostly there are usually no weak links and it’s high intensity.”
He added: “They’ve noticed the difference and they all still prefer to have the maroon of the West Indies on so they’re all enjoying being around the international setup. We’re all working on trying to move our cricket forward.”
Following a 0-2 loss in the three-Test series, West Indies entered the one-day series with the tag of favourites but suffered comprehensive losses in the first two matches, before the final game on Friday was rained out in Leeds.
Neither the Windies batting nor batting has fired but Gibson said it was in the bowling where adjustments needed to be made.
“Looking at all the players we have and we have got quite a few all-rounders … fitting all of them into one XI is a challenge and therefore if they all play we have to understand that different people will have to do different roles in terms of our bowling,” he explained.
“The batting we’re not really too concerned about even though we haven’t really made the big scores we expected to make but the bowling – getting 10 wickets and restricting teams to manageable totals – that’s something we have to look at.”
As usual, much attention will centred on Gayle who gave a taste of his explosive ability with two fours and five sixes in a whirlwind 53 in the second ODI last week,
“He’s always been that top billing and it’s good to have him back. We all enjoyed having him around. It’s just a shame he got out at the time when he did,” Gibson said.
England, meanwhile, are bubbling with confidence following their domination of the Windies in the preceding Tests and ODIs.
Captain Stuart Broad, however, admitted they were wary of the threat posed by the Caribbean side especially with Gayle back in the fold.
“They’ve got some world-class players in the Twenty20 format. It’s hard to look past Chris Gayle as one of the best Twenty20 batsmen in the world,” Broad noted.
“We know the dangers that they pose. We can take momentum from the one-day success and the Test success we’ve had against them, and also the form the Twenty20 side have shown in the past year or so.
“We’re playing some good cricket and we want to build on that.”
ENGLAND – Stuart Broad, Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann.
WEST INDIES – Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo (vice captain), Tino Best, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.