England have painful memories of their last two trips to Antigua — from the Stanford fiasco of 2008 to the abandoned Test a few months later — but it is here today that they will seek recuperation after the horrors of Australia.
A very different England to the team that failed in the Ashes will take to the Sir Viv Richards Stadium, which now includes a statue of the great man himself, for the first of three one-day internationals.
It may seem low key compared to Australia but there is much at stake for those who survived the post-Ashes cull. One-day coach Ashley Giles, for one, can cement his position as favourite to take over Andy Flower’s vacated Test role with an impressive showing both on this tour and in the World Twenty20 that follows. England have prioritised that tournament in Bangladesh by bringing their Twenty20 team here.
Stuart Broad will captain England in a one-day international for the first time today. ‘This is about winning these three ODIs,’ he said. ‘But the skills relevant in these games in the Caribbean will be relevant too in Bangladesh; there will be a focus on spin and our death bowling.
‘There’s a change in mindset to push our score beyond 130 after the first 30 overs to take pressure off the guys at the end. ‘We’ve got world-class players in our middle order but you can’t expect them to get us to 300 every time.’
England are waiting to see whether Eoin Morgan can recover from a knee injury that kept him out of practice yesterday.
Even if Morgan is declared fit, there might still be a debut for Moeen Ali if England decide the pitch needs a second spinner to back up James Tredwell.
Ravi Bopara, meanwhile, is set to become the 18th Englishman to make 100 one-day international appearances.
The welcome news that Jonathan Trott, who is now said to have been suffering from ‘burnout’, will be fit to start the season with Warwickshire was greeted with caution by Broad.
‘It’s great to hear that Trotty is going to pick up a bat again, and the thing for him is not to put too much pressure on himself,’ said Broad. ‘It’s way too early to talk about playing for England again. He’s got to take it one step at a time.’
The same applies to England after their Australian nightmare, but their first step forward will hopefully come today.
ENGLAND (probable): L Wright, M Ali, B Stokes, J Root, E Morgan, J Buttler (wkt), R Bopara, T Bresnan, S Broad (capt), C Jordan, J Tredwell.
WEST INDIES (probable): D Smith, K Powell, K Edwards, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo (capt), M Samuels, D Ramdin (wkt), D Sammy, J Holder, R Rampaul, S Narine. – Daily Mail