Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid spared England’s blushes as they avoided their worst-ever Twenty20 total – but the West Indies are firm favourites to draw first blood in their five-match series in Barbados.
After being invited to bat first on a pitch that showed signs of variable bounce, England lurched to 10 for three then 49 for seven as their batting woes from the Ashes transferred to the Caribbean.
But Jordan, playing at the ground where he grew up, and Rashid put together a 36-run stand as England limped to 103 all out with two balls unused – in the process avoiding setting a new low T20 score.
The benchmark remains 80 against India at the 2012 World T20 in Colombo, but this was a disappointing first outing for a much-changed side without the likes of Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes following the Ashes.
Sam Billings was selected six days after finishing the Hobart Test following a marathon journey to Bridgetown – one of only five survivors from the side that were beaten in the T20 World Cup semi-finals by New Zealand – while Liam Dawson made his first international appearance since October 2018.
Billings was soon strapping his pads on after a dreadful start that saw Jason Roy, fresh from a 36-ball ton in England’s only warm-up, cleaned up by Sheldon Cottrell, who celebrated with his customary salute, while Jason Holder induced the edge of Tom Banton before Moeen Ali loosely drove the next ball to backward point.
Two maidens followed before James Vince cast off the shackles when Cottrell erred with his lengths but the left-armer had the last laugh when England’s number three tamely drove to cover and by the time Billings was stumped after being beaten on the outside edge, the tourists had collapsed to 29 for five.
Liam Dawson was run out after being sent back by Morgan, whose 29-ball 17 came to a tame end when he chipped to cover. Barbadian-born Jordan was impressive as he and Rashid kept England afloat, clearing the boundary rope on three occasions.
Jordan holed out for 28 off 23 balls but Rashid’s deft touches took England beyond three figures. They did not make it much further, though, with Jason Holder once again taking two wickets in two balls – Rashid the last to go for 22 – to finish with format-best figures of four for seven as England were skittled in 19.4 overs.