Middlesex v West Indians, Tour match, Lord's June 13, 2012

Darren Bravo finds form in crushing win


West Indians 335 for 4 (Darren Bravo 112*, Smith 96) beat Middlesex 107 by 228 runs

With an influx of new personnel to their squad, West Indies can consider themselves far more England's equals in the forthcoming one-day series, if not even slight favourites given the power in the top order. That strength was on show during their one warm-up match ahead of the opening ODI, as they piled up 335 for 4 against Middlesex. Their performance included a welcome hundred from Darren Bravo and Dwayne Smith's 96 which showed they should not have to rest purely on Chris Gayle.

Gayle's return to the maroon strip was the initial focus at Lord's. In the second over he took consecutive boundaries off Robbie Williams and then launched Tim Murtagh for two sixes. With the Middlesex attack lacking Corey Collymore - a former West Indies team-mate of Gayle - and Toby Roland-Jones it was lightweight and Gayle looked set to take advantage. However, he did not quite middle his attempted flick over the leg side off Anthony Ireland and found deep midwicket on the shorter of the boundaries.

The backbone of West Indies' imposing total was a 156-run stand for the third wicket between Darren Bravo and Smith, while the end of the innings was given a kick by Dwayne Bravo - another player back in the squad after IPL duty - who sped to 40 off 21 balls in a fifth-wicket partnership of 73 in six overs. There is certainly no lack of boundary-clearing ability in the visitors' line-up which extends down to Andre Russell and Darren Sammy in the lower order.

Darren Bravo's innings was timely after a Test series in which he disappointed with 81 runs in five innings. He was not challenged by a weakened Middlesex attack - further depleted by the loss of Williams who suffered a suspected fractured collarbone while fielding - but neither did he let the opportunity to revive his confidence go to waste. The hundred - just his third in List A cricket - came from 110 deliveries in the final over of the innings and he closed out the 50 overs by striking the final two balls for sixes against Josh Davey. He provides an important foil to the more dashing blades elsewhere.

Smith - well known to English audiences after his spells in county cricket for Sussex - came within one blow of three-figures after an innings that hinted at a greater maturity in his batting than had previously been evident. Given the chance to bat at No. 4 with Marlon Samuels resting, he played himself in but still did not struggle to score at a run-a-ball, a rate he later increased before driving to mid-on searching for the boundary to reach a hundred. One of his two sixes went into the top tier of the pavilion; Gayle is not the only one who can comfortably clear boundaries.

There is suddenly competition for batting places. Samuels, West Indies' Man of the Series in the Tests, will return to the middle order so one from this side will need to make way. Another advantage for them is many of their batsmen are more than capable with the ball; Gayle, Samuels, Smith and Kieron Pollard all provide useful varieties of spin or medium-pace, one of the reasons the 50-over (and 20-over) format suits West Indies. In this match, though, their bowling was barely needed.

Middlesex's reply was all rather embarrassing. Three of the middle order - Paul Stirling, Neil Dexter and Adam London - fell to a variety of miscued pulls as Ravi Rampaul continued his nagging form from the Test series and Russell produced a lively opening spell. There was just time for Gayle to finish the game with two in three balls, both wickets met with his unique celebrations.

Eoin Morgan was not in the side despite his limited cricket so far this season and recent return to form with a 49-ball hundred in the CB40. Instead, he had a net on the Nursery Ground ahead of linking up with the England squad in Southampton on Thursday.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bryn on June 15, 2012, 15:45 GMT

    the windies are going to destory england in series, absolutel carnage awaits

  • Dummy4 on June 15, 2012, 2:49 GMT

    I think Chanderpaul should play at least two more full series in one-day internationals as a gesture of showing our appreciation for his contributions to West Indies cricket. However, I think that we need more guys like Dwayne Smith, Chris Gayle, the Bravo Brothers, Samuels, Pollard and company to build a cricket side for the next world cup in 2015. For test matches, we need need either Narsingh Deonarine or Marlon Samuels batting around Chanderpaul for the next two seasons. Honestly, I think in two years time, Chanderpaul will retire from international cricket.

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2012, 17:46 GMT

    this is mouth watering..i wish windies beat england by some margin

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2012, 16:23 GMT

    Gayle,2 Bravo's,Pollard,D.Sminth,Sammy, A. Russel & Samuels of course .... Windies a Top quality side after loong time.... love to see Caribbeans doing well in Cricket ...

  • Ali on June 14, 2012, 14:24 GMT

    this team would even be a better Test Team than what they played (with the addition of Roach of course) ....

    but as long as the batting is weak Sammy will be invaluable at 8... a strong 6 batsmen will mean : (1) Rhamdin can continue averaging 23 and be fine... and the bowling line up would be, Rampaul, Taylor, Roach and Fidel Edwards/Spinner ... with Tino and Sammy as cover for form/fitness of the pacers.

    so it is not in Gibson's interest, or Sammy's to pick a top order than can hold its own without help form the tail ....

  • Abdullah on June 14, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    Should be an awesome series!! WI look strong after a long time!! I really rate russell, he has the makings of a world class allrounder!! Bravo and Samuels to provide the stability in the middle order with the likes of Pollard, Gayle et al playing around them

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    Is this a sign of things to come?What a fascinating ODI series in the making! Wouldn't miss this for anything.

  • V.L on June 14, 2012, 10:25 GMT

    @jmcilhinney Its no secret that England are pathetic in ODI format. Regardless of the World XI team(err.. Eng XI) they field, WI will win it hands down! Gayle's return was just the impetus they needed and they finally got it. England are in BIIIIIIIGGG trouble!

  • Sean on June 14, 2012, 10:18 GMT

    The key question for the team selectors is do they only want Rampaul as pace attack or should he be partnered by at least one other genuine pace bowler along with Russel and Sammy and Narine. Is there room for Tino/Fidel the England ODI side will have far better batsmen. My side C.Gayle,D Smith, D.Bravo,M.Samuels,K.Pollard,DJ Bravo,D.Ramdin,R.Russell,D.Sammy,R Rampaul, finally T Best/S Narine based on the wicket. Samuels and Gayle are capable spinners and two new balls in England will favour pace more than spin.Simmonds does not make my side before Smith who has transformed his batting and opens in T20 with greater experience in England.

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    And I say drop Simmons and bring in someone like Samuels in middle order who could hold the innings together in case plenty of wickets fall all of a sudden. And the best way to utilize Smith is to make him open with Gayle. Wow ! Fireworks from both ends. And Gayle generally needs some time to settle down before launching his big shots. Smith would be the best option to accompany him as he scores quickly ! That would give Gayle the required time to settle down.

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