GRAMGiven the timing, it’s impossible not to contrast the five-game Twenty20 series between England and the West Indies that begins in Barbados on Saturday with England’s other five-game series that has just concluded. Aside from the badge on the tour players’ jerseys, the contrast is almost complete and, having watched their compatriots crumble under the intense pressure of the Ashes, the white ball team can enjoy having very little to show for it. to face. As Eoin Morgan said on Friday: “I think the whole journey is one where the development of our game is more important than winning the series.”
Long sandy beaches, warm weather, and the famous carefree spirit make the Caribbean the ideal place to escape your troubles, but it’s the West Indies that have fresher scars to heal. The day after England’s fifth Test against Australia reached its ignominious conclusion in Hobart, Ireland won the decider of a three-match ODI series in Kingston. Home team captain Kieron Pollard later admitted he was “hurt, and very hurt”. Meanwhile, Sunday will mark three months since England eliminated them 55-5 in the first match of a miserable defense of their Twenty20 World Cup title.
As with many great teams in the sport, while other teams looked at their successful formula and improved upon it, the West Indies fell into the trap of assuming the same approach would continue to work and had no answer when, unexpectedly, it didn’t. Since winning four of five against Australia in July as they prepared for the World Cup, they have lost eight and won just once, against an even more unlucky Bangladeshi team and by just three runs. They are currently ranked 10th in the format, just above Zimbabwe and Nepal. England, despite the disappointment of losing in the World Cup semi-finals, is up.
This will be a different West Indies team than the one England thrashed in Dubai in October, and of the 16 players in their squad, 10 were not involved in the United Arab Emirates as anything more than travel bookings. “It’s a tough situation if we had the same World Cup squad, but we’ve got a lot of new faces and a lot of guys who want to make an impression and be a part of the team going forward,” Phil Simmons, West Indies’ coach said in chief this week. “So I think from that point of view it’s not as difficult as it seems.”
England have some familiar faces in their group – including Jofra Archer, who will not play but trained with the squad on Friday and even did a few bowling in the nets, albeit very slowly and mostly with his left arm – and lesser known ones like such as Harry Brook, George Garton and David Payne who have yet to play any international cricket, as well as Phil Salt who, having spent much of his childhood in Barbados, should feel particularly comfortable here.
Everyone will have their sights set on a spot on the plane to Australia this October, and with players from multiple formats resting after the Ashes and Liam Livingstone missing at least the first match due to non-Covid-related illness, most will get the chance. to shine, even if Morgan insisted that “I think for this tour he’s really looking beyond the [next] World Cup”.
England’s first match in that tournament, in a group that also includes 2021 finalists Australia and New Zealand, comes precisely nine months after the first match in this series, a period that is likely to be marked by smooth developments.
“We know our guys play very well in Australia,” Morgan said. “Looking at our strongest team, or our tactics, our strategy, makes us feel a little more comfortable than planning conditions where we might not go in as one of the favourites. We know what works in Australia, so the method we’re trying to implement will be very, very similar to the method we’ve used.”
It’s hard to know if even more international cricket is the last thing England needs at this moment of self-imposed destitution, or if it could provide the ideal tonic. “We’re going to try to go out there and have fun, play with a smile on our face,” Morgan said. “If we have fun, we hope that other people will enjoy watching us play.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism