Windies eye fresh start against confident England
ST JOHN'S, Antigua, CMC:
West Indies will attempt to turn the page on their recent ordinary form and make a bright start to their first series of the year, when they take on favourites England in the first One-Day International (ODI) of a three-match tour here today.
The Caribbean side enter the contest at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium with a pretty dismal record in recent months, with just a single win in their last seven outings and four in 14 ODIs last year.
Not surprisingly, they lie ninth in the ICC one-day rankings, a factor that caused them to miss out for the first time on qualification for this year's Champions Trophy.
In contrast, England are ranked fifth, and arrive in the Caribbean with just four defeats in their last 16 outings. They will also be seeking to reinforce their recent dominance over West Indies, which has seen them win every bilateral series over the last 10 years.
West Indies captain Jason Holder told reporters yesterday that while there was a gap between the two teams, his side would be focused on executing and making consistent steps forward as they sought to rebuild.
"They are ranked higher than us. We've obviously got some way to go in terms of catching up and going up in the rankings," Holder pointed out.
"We just want to tick off our process boxes in terms of what we set out to achieve as a group. Our main thing is to be a lot more consistent than we have been in the past, and I think once we do that, we could be moving in the right direction."
Reset from disappointment
Holder said the series against England would mark a reset for West Indies, as the side attempted to put the recent disappointments behind them, especially in the wake of the Champions Trophy debacle.
And with the 2019 World Cup looming in the distance, the 25-year-old all-rounder said his unit was aware of the need to string together strong performances, but stressed that the process began with a productive outing against the English.
"We're not in the Champions Trophy [but] it gives us more time to reflect, gives us more time to get things in order in moving forward and then we look obviously towards the World Cup," he explained.
Holder put the Tri-Nations struggles down to inexperience and said this could be only addressed by continuing to play together a unit.
"I think one of the major factors which hurt us probably was the inexperience, and it's just a situation where the more cricket we play together, I think the better we become."
What West Indies lack in experience, they will make up for in talent with the likes of Evin Lewis, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope, Rovman Powell, Jason Mohammed, Alzarri Joseph all with less than 10 ODIs included in the 13-man squad.
WEST INDIES: Jason Holder (captain), Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope (wkp), Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Kieran Powell, Rovman Powell.
ENGLAND: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wkp), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.