T20I series preview: England Vs Windies
For once England have steered clear of safe bets like Luke Wright and opted to look at the future…
Does anyone besides the sponsors and television companies care about this series? The non-match going fans and commentators don't think so and have dubbed it the Stanford Memorial Match or the Contractual Obligation Series, but as far as the two squads are concerned, the answer is a definite yes.
For England Jonathan Bairstow, Scott Borthwick, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales and Ben Stokes and for the West Indies Miles Bascombe, Nkruma Bonner, Johnson Charles, Derwin Christian, Garey Mathurin and Krishmar Santokie are afforded the chance to light up the skies.
It also gives the coaching staff of both teams an opportunity to put the next generation under the microscope without the stakes being too high. They can always declare it non-event if things don't go their way.
While the situation has been forced on the visitors due to some of their players' commitments in the Champions League, England have opted for youth. In the past the selectors used to go for safe bets like Gareth Batty, Amjad Khan, Michael Lumb, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Luke Wright when their big-name players were missing. But they are finally seeing the light and are now looking to the future. They've even ignored Alastair Cook's recall pleas.
Bairstow (21), Borthwick (21), Briggs (20), Butler (21), Hales (22) and Stokes (20) are all just out of the teens, but here they have a chance to impress and give the selectors a nudge for future tours.
England's biggest test will be in the batting department as they usually struggle to produce competitive scores even when they have the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan. Bairstow proved against India in the final ODI that he is a bright prospect, but will he be able to do it again? Will Hayles, Stokes and Buttler cope when they don't have one of the experienced players at the other end to guide them?
Craig Kieswetter and Ravi Bopara will probably play the most crucial roles for England in the two games. They are the ones who will need to spend the most time at the crease if the hosts want to post good totals.
It's a different story when it comes to the bowlers as besides the injured Stuart Broad, England have their first-choice bowlers with stand-in captain Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn and Samit Patel all in the squad . The bowlers have been consistent throughout the summer and are likely to be the difference between victory and defeat.
The West Indies are just as short on international caps. Darren Sammy, Fidel Edwards, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Smith are seasoned campaigners while Devendra Bishoo, Christopher Barnwell, Danza Hyatt and Andre Russell have played a handful games.
Bascombe, Bonner, Charles, Christian, Mathurin and Santokie are in the same shoes as Buttler, Briggs and company. It will be case of who will handle the pressure the best.
Neither Samuels or Smith have made much of an impact in their previous Twenty20 matches, but the Windies need the duo to perform to give the rookies a platform to build on.
Captain Sammy has always been a decent performer in T20s and it will be good to see a fully fit Edwards once again running in at full pace.
<b>Key Men</b><br><i>England:</i> With so many players missing, <b>Ravi Bopara</b> will be the elder statesman in the England batting line-up. He was their top run scorer during the five-match ODI series against India, hitting 197 runs at an average of 65.66. What is even more impressive is his strike rate of 101.54. The two matches will give Bopara another chance to nail down a permanent spot in the England team.
<i>West Indies:</i> As is the case with England, the West Indies' batsmen are also very inexperienced and everyone will be looking to <b>Marlon Samuels</b> to keep things together. He is not the ideal Twenty20 player by all means, but he has been in and around the team for a long time.
<b>Head-To-Head Results</b><BR>May 2010: West Indies won by eight wickets at Providence<br>June 2009: West Indies won by five wickets at The Oval<br>March 2009: West Indies won by six wickets at Port of Spain<br>June 2007: England won by five wickets at The Oval<br>June 2007: West Indies won by 15 runs at The Oval
<b>Prediction</b><br>Both sides have inexperienced batting line-ups so it's likely that the game will be decided by the bowlers. You can't look past Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Jade Dernbach and Steven Finn to win a game for you.
<b>Squads</b><br><i>England:</i> Graeme Swann (capt), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Scott Borthwick, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Samit Patel, Ben Stokes.
<i>West Indies:</i> Darren Sammy (capt), Christopher Barnwell, Miles Bascombe, Devendra Bishoo, Nkruma Bonner, Johnson Charles, Derwin Christian (wk), Fidel Edwards, Danza Hyatt, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Dwayne Smith, Garey Mathurin.
<b>Fixtures</b><br>First T20I: The Oval, 23 September<BR>Second T20I: The Oval, 25 September
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