England must learn lessons more quickly in the West Indies
Losing an ODI match to the West Indies is no big deal in isolation, especially with a Twenty20 team picked essentially to warm up for the World Cup later this month. Nothing can be read too much into the result in terms of England’s chances in Bangladesh and they remain 10/1 chances with Coral.
But what must be really worrying coach Ashley Giles and captain Stuart Broad is not so much that they were beaten in the first game of a three-match series in Antigua, but the manner of that defeat.
England have developed a horrible habit of getting themselves into strong positions and then giving it all away. They did it on a regular basis in Australia and they did it again on Friday, not once, but twice, both with the ball and the bat.
Reeling at 45-4 after 16 overs, the West Indies were able to recover to a decent, if gettable, 269-6 after 50 overs, thanks to some late innings fireworks from Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy.
In reply, England could hardly have wished for a better start from Michael Lumb and Moeen Ali, both making their international debuts in this form. Lumb struck 106 off 117 balls and was ably supported by all-rounder Ali with 44.
At 180-2 and more than enough overs remaining, it all looked a bit of a stroll, but it was the same old, same old story as England faltered in the final assault and ended up 15 runs shy.
Broad claimed later that England had performed really well for 80 of the 100 overs and would learn quickly from their mistakes, but we’ve heard all that before – they remain prone to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
And while the tourists can point to the absence of Alex Hales (thigh) and Eoin Morgan (knee) as valid reasons for not being at full throttle, the West Indies were also without several of their regulars, including their brilliant talisman Chris Gayle.
There isn’t much between these sides (Coral bet 10/11 each of two in the second game on Sunday) and England, probably more motivated not to lose the series with a game to spare than the hosts are to wrap it up, may well edge it.
The pitch is expected to be more conducive to spin as the week goes on, so though Tim Bresnan was England’s top bowler in the first match, it’s worth sticking with James Tredwell, who bowled really well for figures of 1-23 from his ten overs, at Coral’s 11/4.
England’s middle order found Sunil Narine (2-36) difficult to get away and the West Indies chief tweaker again looks worth backing at 7/4.