5 talking points ahead of England’s clash with the West Indies
England meet the West Indies at the Hampshire Bowl on Friday.
England continue their World Cup campaign against the West Indies on Friday at the Hampshire Bowl.
Here, Press Association Sport assesses the key issues ahead of the match.
Watching the skies
Nobody expects to bathe in endless sun at any time in England but even the gloomiest of predictions has been outstripped in recent days. With a tricky run-in featuring Australia, India and New Zealand in their last three group games, Eoin Morgan’s side will be desperate to get points in the bank ahead of time, and washouts, or rain-shortened contests, are unlikely to work in their favour.
With Jos Buttler passed fit, the only real decisions to make involve the composition of the bowling attack. England went with one spinner last time out but will be minded to return to their usual two unless the pitch demands otherwise. New father Moeen Ali is ready to reclaim his place and could come in as a straight swap for injury doubt Mark Wood. If seam is the order of the day, Tom Curran is in line for a first outing of the tournament.
Will the real Adil please stand up
Adil Rashid has been England’s leading wicket-taker in the four-year period since the last World Cup, breaking partnerships and sweeping up tails for fun. Things have been different in the tournament so far, with just two wickets at an average of 71 and the second highest economy rate in the team. A shoulder injury from the start of the summer has been a problem and head coach Trevor Bayliss has suggested he needs overs to rediscover his best form.
Keep it short
Both teams are blessed with pace options, with Jofra Archer and Mark Wood both hitting 95mph against Bangladesh and Ben Stokes happy to play enforcer if Wood misses out. Meanwhile, Oshane Thomas, Andre Russell and Shannon Gabriel are all keeping up the best traditions of Caribbean quicks. Batsmen in each dressing room can expect a barrage of bouncers and those who deal with it best may well find themselves on the winning side.
While many of his contemporaries are enjoying the cricket from the comfort of the media box or the commentary booth, the 39-year-old Jamaican is still teeing off for his country. He has yet to make a definitive statement in what promises to be his lap of honour in 50-over cricket, but England have often brought out the best in him. In the last one-day series between the teams earlier this year he clattered a world record 39 sixes, smashed two centuries and scored at a strike-rate of 134.17. Bowlers beware.