England kicked off their tour of the West Indies this week, and will go into the three-test series anticipating a comfortable series win.
The two warm-up games against a St Kitts & Nevis Invitational XI have become rather farcical at times, as it became clearly apparent that the local islanders were not quite up to scratch as an opponent – as this scorecard from the first game highlights.
But these fixtures have given the England players a good opportunity to find some form before the main event begins on April 13th; with Alistair Cook, Joe Root and Ben Stokes in particular looking like they’ve found their feet in the Caribbean. An injury to Stuart Broad has dampened the mood slightly, however.
England’s Record in the Caribbean
The Three Lions have dominated the West Indies in recent times, having only lost one test series to their opponents in the past 15 years. That defeat did come the last time that England visited the Caribbean in 2008/09 however, and so it cannot be discounted – although that particular tour was beset by as many off-the-field problems as on it.
Prior to the new millennium, the West Indies dominated England on home soil, led superbly as they were by the destructive bowling of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh and the devilish strokeplay of Brian Lara.
Fast forward to the present day, and you have two teams in transition. For England, the sacking of managing director of the ECB, Paul Downton, and the vultures circling above head coach Peter Moores should prompt the Three Lions into winning form.
With a shake-up of English cricket predicted to follow under new chairman Colin Graves, who has already said there will be ‘inquiries’ if England don’t win the series, it is fair to say that the players are playing for their international futures.
That motivation, plus the fact that the West Indies are shorn of their best talents due to their involvement in the Indian Premier League, should point the finger at a comfortable series triumph for England.
With all of the evidence stacking up, it would take a punter of steel not to back an England series win. On any given day, a full-strength West Indies side packed with the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons and Sunil Narine could give Alistair Cook’s men more than a run for their money.
But the fact that they are hundreds of miles away competing in the IPL, and Chris Gayle is set to miss the whole series through injury, suggests that it’s England’s series to lose.
It’s well worth backing the Three Lions to put their World Cup misery behind them.