West Indies vs England, 1st T20: Date, Time, TV Info and Preview

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West Indies vs England, 1st T20: Date, Time, TV Info and Preview
Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

Before the recent Ashes debacle, England's players would probably have viewed this tour of the Caribbean as the opportunity to top up their tans, sample a few cocktails and maybe even take the pedalos out for a late night spin.

But with the scars from their Ashes mauling still oozing, the trip to Antigua and Barbados became the start of, what is known in the NHL as "an organisation reset." Basically back to square one.

The first hurdle was negotiated positively with Stuart Broad's men edging a tightly contested ODI series but with the Twenty20 World Cup imminent and the one and only Chris Gayle returning for the Windies, the intensity will be turned up a notch for this trio of T20s.

Let's take a look at the prospects of both sides in the series opener.

 

Venue: Bridgetown, Barbados

Date: Sunday, Mar. 9, 2014

Start time: 2:30 p.m. local time, 6:30 p.m. GMT

Weather: Mostly sun with occasional clouds and a maximum temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit is predicted by bbc.co.uk/weather.

TV Info: Sky Sports 2 (UK)

 

Overview

One thing is for sure, after facing the same moustache-clad, serial sledging Baggy Greens for almost six months, England's players will have been delighted to face some different opposition. And it showed with some enthusiastic performances sealing a closely fought ODI series 2-1.

That said, the West Indies could have easily won too and the switch to cricket's shortest format, probably their strongest suit, means Ashley Giles' charges will be in for a big test of their patched-up side.

The current T20 World Cup champions boast a vastly experienced line-up that includes serial IPL veterans Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, the two Dwaynes, Sunil Narine and, of course, Chris Gayle. 

With the man who hit 175 off 66 balls waking up from his winter hibernation and sanding down his mighty bats in preparation for the World Cup and IPL, England and attention-lacking spectators better watch out.

Stuart Broad's men pack plenty of firepower themselves although it was more of a water pistol calibre than AK47 against Australia, where they comprehensively lost all three T20s.

But on paper, even with injury worries over Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan, batsmen like Jos Buttler, Luke Wright, Moeen Ali, Ravi Bopara and Michael Lumb are all capable of hitting a long ball and will be aware that some eye-catching performances over the next few months could put them right in the mix for England's next Test squad.

An injury to Joe Root, sustained at the start of his century-making innings in Antigua, has led to him flying home, but Ian Bell has answered an SOS and might have to play Root's role of anchoring the middle of the innings.

However, England's most glaring weakness is with the ball. Jade Dernbach goes for 8.42 runs an over in T20 Internationals. Tim Bresnan seems to have lost pace. Harry Gurney and Chris Jordan are inexperienced at this level. And I fear for Stephen Parry if he gets matched up with Gayle.

Stuart Broad's penchant for taking early wickets and James Tredwell's reliability could be crucial if the visitors are going to give themselves a chance.

 

Last meeting and head to head record

The men from the Caribbean won the last clash between the sides by 15 runs in the Super Eight stage of the 2012 World Cup. Rapid half-centuries from Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle helped the Windies register 179 which, despite a brutal 71 off 36 balls from Eoin Morgan, proved too much.

Historically, the sides have met nine times with the West Indies leading 6-3 overall.

 

Form (latest left-to-right)

Both sides are in dreadful T20 form, relatively speaking. The Windies just managed to square a recent series with minnows Ireland after being soundly beaten by both Pakistan and New Zealand. While England have won just two of their last eight games.

West Indies: WLLLLLWW

England: LLLWLNLW

 

Squads

The West Indies named the same squad for this triple-header as they have for the World T20. Kieron Pollard remains absent due to a knee injury.

 

West Indies (from)Darren Sammy (capt), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.

England's team for these T20s will be comprised from the general squad they selected for the whole Caribbean tour. Joe Root has returned home with a broken finger and Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan are struggling with injuries.

 

England (from): Stuart Broad (capt), Eoin Morgan, Moeen Ali, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Michael Lumb, Stephen Parry, Ian Bell, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Luke Wright.

 

Players to watch

Chris Gayle grabs the headlines but Sunil Narine is the West Indies' not-so-secret weapon. The off-spinner is ranked as T20's No. 1 bowler in the world, according to the ICC Player Rankings, and he boasts an incredible economy rate of just 5.90 from his 22 international appearances in this format. As Ireland found out in their two recent clashes, the Trinidadian, who went for 28 runs in total over both games, is very hard to get away.

Sooner or later Luke Wright needs to step up to the plate. Having played 49 T20 internationals, the all-rounder has shown glimpses of form, most noticeably his 99 not out against Afghanistan but an overall average of 19.28 and just 17 wickets with the ball is a disappointing return. But a starring role in the Big Bash League, where the 29-year-old scored 288 runs at a strike rate of over 144.00, indicates that he is capable of performing on big stages.

 

Prediction

Who will win?

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There isn't much to separate the sides but with T20 matches often being decided by fine margins, both teams should pick up a win in the series. However, the Windies possess greater experience, a more settled side and will be buoyed by the return of Chris Gayle, thus should edge this opening tussle.

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