England in the Caribbean – 20th February 2019

The two pitches laid out for the 1st and 2nd ODIs look like ‘belters’. Devoid of any live grass, completely unlike the Test pitch, they appear to be purpose-built for run-scoring. Having said that, there has only been on 300+ total in the last 10 years at the Kensington Oval (by England) so who knows?

All the dead grass and heavy rolling can sometimes lead to a deadly lack of pace and slow pitches are not conducive to quick scoring. England will play two spinners no matter what, so they should be – as always – well balanced with Stokes and Woakes providing the all-round seam positions, but the West Indies will limit their batting if they include both leg-spinner Nerandra Bishoo and off-spinner Ashley Nurse.

Jason Holder, however, can do no wrong at the moment – other than in the eyes of the ICC. The West Indies captain engaged beautifully with a group of aspiring schoolchildren and the Kensington Oval and even had to be encouraged to stop when the official time was up. He might be ‘enjoying’ the positive media time after three years of mostly woe, but who could blame him for that? He is authentic, real and plausible. Most people of that disposition enjoy doing ‘work’ which is innocent and rewarding. And he loved it.

Also ‘loving it’ are the birds in the breakfast room. Never has the place been quite as full in their lifetimes (apparently) and they have long since abandoned any fear. The waitrons have long since abandoned any effort to shoo them away so now it is up to the diners to protect each others’ food while on the hunt for coffee. The pigeons, as always, rule the roost – or the muffins at any rate.

Game on. Roy: Bairstow, Root, Morgan, Buttler, Stokes, Moeen, Woakes, Rashid, Plunkett, Wood. Number one ranked team in the world. Unlike the Test series, this should be straightforward… (?)

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