Ball One – Ian Bell then eh? Back in the ODI team and playing beautifully for a century, a rare feat for England player in one day cricket. Has he established himself (again)? With KP out of the picture, one has to think that Belly has a chance, though he won’t often face as anonymous an attack as this West Indian line-up. The jury – as so often with Belly – is still out.
Ball Two – What has happened to Dwayne Bravo? There was a time when he was a fast-medium wicket-taker, but what we saw today was a military medium trundler doing little more than propelling the ball to the other end. If England’s batsmen missed the fielders more often, he’d have gone for a lot more than the 55 his nine overs cost.
Ball Three – Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan, like Belly looking to cement their places in the XI, failed to convince, both getting starts, but neither going on. Morgan looked less mannered at the crease, the squat less pronounced, the eyes more level – the wonders of a score or two in county cricket – but he’s still not the cocky young man who hit the ball to all parts when he was introduced to the game.
Ball Four – Dwayne Smith is the kind of batsman who always disappoints, no matter how many he gets. Blessed with immense power and a fine eye, he can hit boundaries at will, but often gives it away with misjudged shot selection and the kind of lack of attention to detail that saw him all but run out dawdling as a throw came in. There’s always a player or two like this around every international squad, but the West Indies seem to have more than their fair share – Keiron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and even Chris Gayle could be accused of the same failings.
Ball Five – I get as annoyed as anyone about “bad” light preventing play, but I cannot agree with the umpires insisting that play continue through heavy rain for more than a reasonable five minutes to see if it’s real rain or just a squall. Though rain presents problems for the bowlers and fielders, it’s more troublesome for batsmen who must contend with a wet wicket and the difficulties of sighting the ball through curtains of water. And a batsman has only one chance – miss a straight one in those circumstances, and it’s the long walk back.
Ball Six – If the West Indies did not enjoy the conditions, their lack of intensity was clear once the ball started to misbehave a little. England’s intensity (as one would expect from the team that Andy Flower built) never dropped and they ran out comfortable winners in what became a disappointing contest. England will consider it a job well done; West Indies have some work to do.
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