Preview: Depleted West Indies take on high-flying England

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson giving tips to the players ahead of the first of the two Twenty20 internationals against England at The Oval Getty Images

London: Sep 23, 2011

A vastly under-strength West Indies will contest the first of two Twenty20 Internationals when they face England at The Oval Friday.

For various reasons, West Indies are shorn of a number of first-choice players like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, the Bravo brothers, Darren and Dwayne, Adrian Barath, Lendl Simmons, Ravi Rampaul, and Sulieman Benn.

But West Indies captain Darren Sammy preferred to see the two matches as a chance to give some valuable exposure to some talented players.

“We will look to give everyone an opportunity to play as we build toward the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka next year, but this weekend is also geared toward winning,” he said.

He added: “We are missing guys who would normally be in the T20 set-up, but we have a young side and these guys look very confident and eager to step out at the Oval. Just like England.”

West Indies have won two of the three Twenty20 matches they have played against England at The Oval, but with so many leading players absent, no warm-up matches for the visitors, and the lesser experienced players are likely to struggle in autumnal English conditions, Graeme Swann’s side have been installed favourites to win both matches.

Sammy acknowledged that the English were enjoying a highly successful summer during which they claimed the World No.1 Test side status – but they too are missing a number of key players through injury and are also taking the time to blood a few new faces.

“We are coming up against an England team which is playing very well at the moment, but we are up for it,” he said.

The two matches were organised at this time for the England & Wales Cricket Board to make good on a television broadcasting agreement with Sky Sports that originally included the Stanford Super Series.

The matches have been crudely termed the Stanford Memorial Series, as the one-time Texan billionaire sits in an American jail awaiting trial on charges of fraud.

West Indies are likely to open with the uncapped pair of Johnson Charles and Miles Bascombe.

Marlon Samuels is expected to lead the middle-order batting and Danza Hyatt will be looking to take his explosive batting to the next level with the rest of the frontline batting likely to comprise a plethora of all-rounders like Sammy, Andre Russell, comeback-kid Dwayne Smith, Christopher Barnwell, the uncapped pair leg-spin all-rounder Nkrumah Bonner, as well as uncapped wicketkeeper/batsman Derwin Christian.

The bowling has some strength with Fidel Edwards is likely to spearhead the attack, with the uncapped pair of left-arm fast-medium bowler Krishmar Santokie and left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin waiting in the wings, and ICC Emerging Player-of-the-Year Devendra Bishoo to add some spice.

England, the reigning World Twenty20 champions, are being led for the first time by Swann, their champion off-spinner, but they will be without the services of regular T20 captain Stuart Broad and left-handed innovative hitter Eoin Morgan.

Craig Kieswetter, Jos Butler, Ravi Bopara, Ben Stokes, and Jonny Bairstow have all proven themselves on the domestic stage and will look to take apart the West Indies attack.

The home team’s bowling is well served with the likes of Swann, James Anderson, Tim Bresnan, Steve Finn, and Jade Dernbach at the heart of the attack. (IANS)


Teams:

England (Probable): Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Ravi Bopara, Jonathan Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann (c), Steve Finn, Jade Dernbach.

West Indies (Probable): Dwayne Smith, Miles Bascombe, Marlon Samuels, Danza Hyatt, Nkruma Bonner, Andre Russell, Derwin Christian (wk), Darren Sammy (c), Devendra Bishoo, Fidel Edwards, Garey Mathurin.


Time: 18.15 local (22.45 GMT)