The men from the Caribbean , trounced 2-0 in the recent Test series in England will have revenge on their mind when they meet the hosts in three 50-over games. The Calypso boys will be beefed up as they welcome back cricketers who were on IPL duty.
What was a fragile top order during the Test series is now suddenly a power packed line up with the return of Chris Gayle, fresh from the resolution of matters with the WICB, and will lead the batting line-up. He comes into this match as the Orange Cap holder from the recently concluded IPL and will be eager to make his point, when he finally represents his country, a full 14 months after he last did so in the World Cup quarter-finals last year.
His partner will most likely be young Johnson Charles, who showed a lot of promise in his last series against Australia. Lendl Simmons is another opening option, and he will have an edge over Charles, due to his experience. The middle order packs a punch, and what’s heartening is that most of them are in good form. Darren Bravo scored a century against Middlesex in a warm up game, while Dwayne Smith got 96. These two will have Marlon Samuels, West Indies’ most successful batsman of the Test series (Runs – 386, Avg – 96.50), Kieron Pollard and Denesh Ramdin, who also made a hundred last week in the wash out at Edgbaston.
Dwayne Bravo is also back, after helping Chennai to the runners-up spot while hard hitting all rounders Andre Russell and Darren Sammy will provide impetus in the lower order. Ravi Rampaul and Sunil Narine complete a team, replete with batting and bowling options, and for the first time in a long time, almost all of them being in form.
England on the other hand, are dogged by a series of off-field issues regarding retirements and scheduling, with Swann being the latest to criticize the scheduling of series by the ECB. In the next 12 months, England are the team who play the maximum number of international matches, and against top teams, where resting players may not be an option. They go into this series as underdogs, despite dominating the Test series. Their entire order has to be revamped from their last series against Pakistan, with ace batsman Kevin Pietersen no longer available, the opening duties may once again fall to Craig Kieswetter. Ian Bell has been recalled to shore up the middle order, which will feature Trott, Bopara and Morgan and bowling all rounder Samit Patel, all proven players, but none setting the form books ablaze. The only department where England score over the visitors is the pace bowling department, and I believe their best chance will be on a seaming wicket. On paper, Windies should whitewash England in my estimation, but games are not won on paper.