England started a vital ODI series against the West Indies with a 15-run defeat in Antigua. That narrow defeat means that the tourists must win the remaining two games of this three-match series if they are to come out on top.
In truth, it’s vital that they do. This England team need to rediscover the winning groove after a disastrous winter tour of Australia, and they need to do so as soon as possible. The best way to do that? Turn this series on it’s head and win 2-1.
So with two games left to play, lets take a look at a couple of players who can galvanise a comeback victory in this series for England and a duo of players for the hosts who might prevent them securing a much-needed win.
Broad is captaining the side for this ODI series, so he will naturally play a key role in any England turnaround.
Typically, Broad will open the bowling for this England team and in doing so he must set a strong early precedent against the aggressive West Indies opening duo of Kieran Powell and Dwayne Smith. In the first ODI he did that pretty well and whilst he was largely economical in his first spell he was lacking that spark needed to pick up wickets.
England could also do with his experience at the death. They conceded 116 runs in the final 10 overs of the first ODI, with Broad bowling just one of them.
Whilst the Anitguan wicket is much more suited to slow bowling, as captain, perhaps Broad should have taken more responsibility in the latter stages of the innings? His team-mates will be looking to him to do exactly that in the second ODI.
It would be fair to say that if any England player didn’t deserve to be on the losing side in this contest, it was ODI debutant Lumb. The Nottinghamshire left-hander made a magnificent start to his 50-over career with a swashbuckling 106 to put his team in an excellent position, which they then failed to capitalise on.
And whilst we’ve already discussed the significance of setting a positive early precedent with the ball, it is just as vital that England do the same with the bat.
Lumb hit seven fours and two sixes in his knock and his concentration was unwavering throughout the innings. He scored quickly, with his 106 coming from 117 balls, and if he can play a similar innings in the second ODI then it’ll surely be the bedrock of a strong England performance, and from their point of view, a much-needed victory.
Named man-of-the-match in the first ODI, the West Indies skipper Dwayne Bravo looks to be in fine fettle. His knock of 87 not out was crucial to the hosts’ victory, as he punished some sloppy England bowling in the last 10 overs.
It was a superb innings from Bravo in which he initially played studiously but accelerated through the gears late on with some aggressive shot-making.
He’s a hugely experienced player and a specialist in this format of the game, so England must find a way to prize him out early on second time round. If they don’t, as we’ve already seen, Bravo has it in his locker to take the game away from any side.
Bravo is also a very capable bowler and someone the West Indies will look to bowl line and length, frustrating and containing the opposition batsmen. He’s also a very canny operator, and his slower ball in the first ODI to get rid of Jos Buttler was inspired, turning the game his team's way. If he continues to make key contributions at crucial times, then it could be another tough day for the tourists.
Whilst the aforementioned Bravo timed his innings in the first game, Sammy strode to the crease and looked to play aggressively from the very first ball he faced.
That’s in his nature as a batsman and when he gets it right, as he did in the first ODI, the results can be pretty devastating. Sammy struck 61 from just 36 balls in that knock, including five fours and four towering sixes.
Like Bravo, Sammy will punish any wayward bowling and after England gave him a couple of freebies early on, he looked well set to increase the scoring rate and give his team a fighting chance of victory.
Sammy has skippered the side in the past and is one of the most experienced players in this West Indies squad. Shot-making like that, which he has already showcased, can establish fantastic momentum at the end of an innings and doing that again in the second ODI looks to be the West Indies’ best chance of wrapping this series up early.