So…what do England face?

I promised my reader last time that this next post would concentrate on the West Indies side and to help your understanding, dear reader, as the cricket develops.

Whilst England’s record in the Caribbean of late has been poor {as we saw last time} the WIndies sides of recent years are no longer the threat of yesteryear. And I go back to the Oval in 1963 when my interest in cricket was first kindled – to tell you that it seemed that there was not a team on earth to rival the WIndies in their pomp and prime and I hope to come across some of those heroes in the coming weeks.

Ok, the opportunities provided by the Stanford organisation seemed to offer some form of revival but at the shorter form of the game – and yes, WIndies have done well in those formats, but it was too good to be true. The efforts were not pushed towards the longer game, so it is wonderful that it’s still going.

So what went wrong? Unlike any other test side, the WIndies are not one country but several and I suppose whilst the team was prospering, there’s no need to make any changes to structure or strategy but once things deteriorated after the stars retired, then differences started to appear and disharmony as each board, or groups of boards, went their own way. Add in the effects of globalisation and the increased exposure of other sports or opportunities and cricket failed to address this. (ECB please note!)

And great admiration and thanks to the WIndies for visiting England in 2020 during the pandemic to keep the game alive; and England found that they were no pushover. This could well be the case in the Caribbean over the next few weeks.

Who do we face? The chosen squad is a mixture of experience and up-and-coming players with some names of previous series and recent matches not chosen (so far?). A number of the squad are the wrong side of 30 (approx half) whilst of the youngsters there is a potential debutant in Anderson Philip.

Leading the side will be Brathwaite a veteran of 74 tests, over 4,000 runs but at an average of just over 32. Promise not quite fulfilled and a better bat than the average suggests. Supported by Blackwood as vice captain (43 tests, 2200 runs and an average of just over 30)

Other experienced players include ex-captain Jason Holder (2400 run and over 130 wickets) and was once the leading all rounder across all nations. Roach with some 68 tests and 230plus wickets provides the rest of the experience base.

The remaining eight squad members have a total of 81 tests between them but some promise:

Bonner – 9 tests, 500+ runs at an average of over 40 (the best in the squad)

Brooks 8 tests and Campbell 15 have similar averages in the mid-20s and are supported by da Silva (wicketkeeper) with 11 tests and an average of just under 25. Joseph with 17 tests and 40 wickets provides bowling support while Permaul, Mayers and Seales are just starting out on their test careers – the last named being the most promising I hear.

A mix of age, experience, youth and promise – in essence I suppose not too different from the new look England side. And given the chance, a bit of luck could provide good contests.

But with all this data, one aspect I’ve overlooked is the old adage that the game is 90% mental attitude and 10% skill. And the question to ask, is how many mental scars England have left in their baggage from the Ashes? The first and last balls of the series (Burns and Robinson) still haunt me – and I wasn’t even anywhere near Australia – and showed the lack of mental application at the start and the desire to step aside at the end.

Let’s hope for better memories over the next five weeks!

I started this post in a cold, grey damp England but I thought some pictures from Antigua make for a better look. So, here goes…

Leigh on Sea, UK?
St Phillips Antigua

There will be more sunny pics to come, I’m sure! 🤣

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