England in the Caribbean – 23rd January 2019

A busy morning traveling to some of the island’s more popular beaches – but not for pleasure (!). Preview work before the first day of the series at the Kensington Oval with Matt Prior, Steve Harmison and executive producer Jon Norman, and not just the beaches. The exclusive Sandy Lane Golf Club was the last port of call with Matty P and Harmy both confirming their prediction of a 3-0 Test series whitewash for the tourists.

From one tropical paradise in Sri Lanka last year to another here in the Caribbean where rainfall and sunshine make for optimum growing conditions. It was impossible not to notice that the same houseplant which occupies a small corner of my desk at home is actually the size of a house at the entrance to Sandy Lane.

Joe Root confirmed during the afternoon that England were “still not in a position to name a 12” for the Test match although he looked, and sounded, like they still had at least 13 names in the hat for the starting XI. It is unlikely to happen but the reality for England is that, in order to fit in a second spinner and include Stuart Broad, they would need to move Ben Foakes from man-of-the-series in Sri Lanka to 12th man.

Their decision might have been made easier if, as looked likely at one stage, an injury or two had happened during the taking of the pre-tour squad photograph. The back row were required to stand on plastic chairs which produced plenty of slippage. Fortunately it all seemed to end without serious incident.

 

Two pitches were prepared for the Test and it appeared a decision was only made sometime in the morning today – about 24 hours before the start. And even then it was only precipitated by the TV crew’s need to install the stump cameras and microphone. To be honest, neither of them looked good. Bare patches had grass clippings rolled into them which suggests uneven bounce and spin as the sun and wind dry the pitch and grass blows away.

So – do England play a second spinner with Moeen Ali? Or bank on the seamers to do the damage before the match reaches the end of the fourth day, never mind the fifth?

Tonight a local chef has come to Holder’s House to cook us all a pre-match meal – flying fish, jerk chicken, rice and beans and macaroni pie. Doesn’t get more local than that.

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