West Indies host England in the first of three one-day internationals (ODIs) in Antigua on Friday as the tourists look to get back to winning ways again after a demoralising winter Down Under.
However, stand-in captain Stuart Broad will be leading an under-strength touring team against the Calypso Kings, who are always a hard proposition to beat on home soil.
And so this promises to be a fascinating three-match series between the eighth and fifth-ranked teams in the world at present, according to the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI rankings (via ESPNCricInfo).
What: West Indies vs. England
Where: Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, Antigua
When: Friday, Feb. 28, 1.30 p.m. GMT/ 9.30 a.m. local time
Live Stream/TV info: Sky Sports 2, 1 p.m - 10 p.m., highlights 12 a.m. - 1 a.m. and Sky Sports 1, 3 a.m. - 4 a.m.
West Indies: Dwayne Bravo (captain), Darren Bravo, Kirk Edwards, Jason Holder, Nikita Miller, Sunil Narine, Kieran Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Marlon Samuels, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith
England will not have to bowl at Chris Gayle in the upcoming ODI series with the West Indies: http://t.co/OtBA8wBvcR— ESPN.co.uk (@ESPNUK) February 23, 2014
England: S Broad (Nottinghamshire—captain), E Morgan (Middlesex—vice captain), M Ali (Worcestershire), R Bopara (Essex), T Bresnan (Yorkshire), J Buttler (Lancashire), J Dernbach (Surrey), H Gurney (Nottinghamshire), A Hales (Nottinghamshire), C Jordan (Sussex), M Lumb (Nottinghamshire), S Parry (Lancashire), J Root (Yorkshire), B Stokes (Durham), J Tredwell (Kent), L Wright (Sussex)
West Indies: A bit of a mixed bag from the Calypso Kings in this form of the game over the course of the last three months, starting with a narrow 2-1 loss in India last November, followed by a creditable 2-2 draw in New Zealand last month and then a one-off victory over Ireland on Sunday.
England: The tourists have only played Australia in their previous eight completed ODIs both home and away since September, winning just two of those contests to slip down to fifth in the ICC rankings.
Marlon Samuels: The 33-year-old is due to make his return from a wrist injury that ruled the influential all-rounder out of his country’s ODI series in New Zealand before Christmas in Friday’s opening match.
And given the eye-catching form that the graceful Jamaican has displayed for the men from the Caribbean since being recalled to the side in 2012, ironically against England, Samuels’ presence in the home team’s lineup could ultimately make the difference between them winning and losing.
Eoin Morgan: With interim coach Ashley Giles opting to bring a relatively inexperienced squad with him to West Indies, much as ever will rest on the shoulders of their star batsman from Middlesex.
The adopted Irishman’s excellent form with the bat was one of the few positives to take out of the recent 4-1 series loss in Australia and as the finisher in the team, the 27-year-old must continue to display his characteristic ice-cool temperament when the pressure is on at the death if England are finally to get back to winning ways.
Weather: We are expecting a low of 23 degrees Celsius and a high of 27 degrees Celsius, with some cloud and a 10 per cent chance of rain, for this opening contest of the series.
Pitch: The last ODI to be staged on this ground was back in June 2011, when the home team easily overcame India by 103 runs after being put in to bat and setting the tourists 250 to win, with all-rounder Kieron Pollard top scoring with 70.
However, impressive bowling from paceman Andre Russell and leg-spinner Anthony Martin, who shared seven wickets between them, restricted India to just 146 all out with still 11 overs remaining at the end.