England in the Caribbean – 8th February 2019

Few islands in the Caribbean extend the hand of welcome and friendship quite like St.Lucia. Not only have the people from the Tourist Board offered to provide all our transport on the island for the next nine days, but they hosted a function in TalkSport’s honour at the St.Lucia Yacht Club having arranged a ridiculous sunset.

Local media were also invited and they weren’t about to miss the opportunity to have their photographs taken with Steve Harmison and Darren Gough. “So, are they famous cricketers?” the function host asked me. “I’m not so big on cricket but they are lovely people!”


She did, at least, know who Darren Sammy was. The most famous cricketer to have emerged from St.Lucia and, of course, the patriarch of the national stadium. It’s in stark contrast to the Kensington Oval in Barbados which has run out of stands, suites, gates and other things by which to honour their heroes, but Sammy was (and still is) a much finer cricketer than people give him credit for – and he captained the West Indies in all three formats including a win-loss record of 28:17 in T20s and a World Cup win.

The stadium was purpose-built for the 2007 World Cup and is functional if, as with several others in the region, a little ambitious with its seating. Even the 8000 traveling England supporters will only half fill it. But St.Lucia Cricket has also over-extended the hand of friendship by providing us with two commentary boxes AND and a corporate suite for the Test match.

 

On the way back from the stadium to our residence in Rodney Bay (10 minute drive and almost the same jogging, given the roads) is one of the finest road cuisine sites in the country. J’s ‘Wrap Citi’ isn’t just a clever play on words, the rotis are cause for salivation from 50 metres away. Once you’ve had your first, it doesn’t matter how far away. I’ll still be thinking of the curried chicken roti in Cape Town next month.
 

Affable vice-captain Jos Buttler doesn’t seem capable of ‘bristling’ but he came as close as he can when asked about coach Trevor Bayliss’ assertion that the batsmen may be ‘confused’ by their aggressive tactics in ODI cricket: “I can’t agree with that,” he said, obviously aware that his words might make headlines the next day. “It’s about playing the situation and conditions, getting it right on the day. I think we’re all capable of batting the right way for the right format.”

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