After a series buildup in which the West Indies were tagged as favourites by many, pretty much everything that could have gone wrong for them did go wrong. In cold, blustery conditions England’s oft-maligned batting lineup put a very decent score on the board and the tourists collapsed after a bright (but somewhat agricultural) start.
Just for a change, all the talk going into this game was about Kevin Pietersen and the effect that his absence would have on England. Unfortunately for KP they looked largely undisturbed without him, with Ian Bell slotting in at the top of the order and playing the sort of innings that he’s often threatened in the one day game but rarely delivered. His 126 was a mix of superb shots, excellent running and a little bit of luck. With Bell having made 23, Ravi Rampaul was convinced there was a thin edge through to the keeper, something which umpire Richard Kettleborough (and Hot Spot) disagreed with.
While no-one else made it to 50, England kept the scoreboard moving along serenely as Trott, Bopara, Morgan and Bresnan all made contributions before Kieswetter and Broad provided some impetus for the final overs. While Bell was obviously the standout performer, it was the sort of team effort that coaches love (although the feedback on Twitter was somewhat mixed – you’re obviously a difficult lot to please).
The same can be said in the field, with wickets being shared between all the bowlers and the fielding being very good in difficult conditions. Tim Bresnan emerged with the best figures (4/34) but again, it was a team effort with no weak link for the West Indies to look to exploit.
One of those days for the West Indies. Unfortunately, when you’re not a great side those days seem to come around quite often. The pre-match loss of Gayle was a huge blow while the injuries picked up by Darren Bravo and Andre Russell were the icing on the cake. The fielding was lethargic and sloppy – there were a number of overthrows and umpteen examples of singles being turned into twos – and the bowling wasn’t anything special. Sunil Narine again appeared to be anything but mysterious. After some debate in the office, we eventually decided that the opposite of mysterious is ‘a storyline from Neighbours’, although we’d rather have ‘long term unemployed’ on our CV than ‘Neighbours storyline spinner’.
There were some bizarre dismissals with the bat for the West Indies as well. Darren Sammy managed the rare feat of getting bounced out by Graeme Swann while Narine managed the even rarer feat of actually being caught by Iron Gloves Kieswetter. As the rain began to set in the West Indies batsmen seemed to be chasing the Duckworth/Lewis target, whilst also conspiring to lose wickets in bundles. From the moment Kieron Pollard was brilliantly caught by Eoin Morgan the game was over. Unfortunately we just had to hang around through a couple of hours’ worth of rain (and footage of a day in the life of Ian Botham) before the end could be officially confirmed.
Game two is at The Oval on Tuesday. England are likely to be unchanged, unless they want to mix the bowling up and give Jade Dernbach another opportunity. For the West Indies, there could be any number of changes. If Gayle is fit he’ll come in at the top of the order, while Russell and Darren Bravo must both be very doubtful. After being hyped up before the series starts there’s a very good chance that a makeshift tourist side will be blown away again, particularly if they put in such a lacklustre effort in the field.
There were a few other things we felt we should comment on. Firstly, Eoin Morgan seems to have abandoned his comedy Irish jig batting stance and gone back to something much more static. This can only be a good thing, and he looked in pretty decent nick before getting himself out in a slightly ridiculous fashion, playing on to Marlon Samuels.
Secondly, this is the fifth consecutive ODI in which an England opener has made a century. Even without bothering to do any research, we can probably say that this has never happened before.
And finally, we’d like to say sorry for this preview in which we definitively stated that betting on Ian Bell to make a century would be foolish. In response, James’s advice for the second ODI is to “bet your house on Bell to make a double hundred. At least.”
[Editor’s note: 51allout is not responsible for any gambling losses incurred as a result of our low quality predictions.]