There is little doubt that Twenty20 cricket is Windies’ domain, and it showed that with a clinical display against England on Saturday. But with five One-Day Internationals lined up, the first of which begins on Tuesday at Old Trafford, there’s equally little doubt which side enjoys the format more.
England has won six of its last seven ODI series, including a 3-0 drubbing of Windies in the Caribbean in March. Windies, meanwhile, hasnt won a series since 2014. Thats why it is languishing at No. 9 in the International Cricket Council ODI rankings, didn’t make the cut for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in England and Wales, and could miss on direct qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, also in the United Kingdom.
Only the top seven teams, and the host, as per the cut-off date on September 30 are guaranteed entry. Unless the West Indies beat England 5-0 or wins 4-0 with a no-result/tie the two-time World Cup winner will need to take part in a qualifying event next year to participate in the marquee event.
Cricket West Indies’ decision to bury the hatchet with its star players might have come a few series too late for it to have an effect on the rankings but for the long-suffering fans of the team, it’s better late than never.
Chris Gayle, set to play his first 50-over game since the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 quarter-final, showed a glimpse of what he can do on Saturday. Much will depend on how he and Evin Lewis translate their T20I form into ODIs. Shai Hope — the highest run-getter in the Test series in England across both sides — will also be a key cog.
Similarly, the bowling too has received a boost with Jerome Taylor returning to the side. Jason Holder, the captain, will need to lead the way once again, and ensure that Alzarri Joseph, the 20-year-old quick who has been cooling his heels since a wicketless outing in the Edgbaston Test, hits the reset button.England, though, will be prepared. The fans were denied a proper ICC World T20 2016 final rematch with the selectors resting Ben Stokes for the T20I, but the talismanic all-rounder is back for the ODIs. There’s already been a bit of needle between him and Windies in the red-ball game, but with Marlon Samuels also back in the ODI set-up, more fireworks — be it batting, bowling, or otherwise — can be expected.
Jason Roy working himself back into form with Surrey could see him displace Johnny Bairstow in the playing XI. That England can afford to do so speaks volumes of its batting depth, with Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali providing more than sufficient firepower.
Its bowling is also likely to have more bite in the ODIs. It was Liam Plunkett who ensured Windies didn’t post a score in excess of 200 after a strong start in the T20I, and it’s worth remembering that he is England’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs this year. Meanwhile, the bowler that’s third on that list, Chris Woakes, will be watched keenly. He looked rusty in the Headingley Test and England all but admitted it was a mistake to rush him back into the side after a long injury layoff. But with the Ashes looming, regaining rhythm will be crucial.
All in all, the Windies will be hard-pressed to pull the rug from underneath England’s feet.
England:Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes.
Windies:Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Miguel Cummins, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder (capt), Kyle Hope, Shai Hope (wk), Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Kesrick Williams.