West Indies seek serious scalp
Saturday, June 16, West End
Start time 1045 (0945 GMT)
The one-day leg of West Indies' tour was widely expected to be the point when the tourists become truly competitive against England. For many they are the favourites, such is the firepower they can now call upon. With the IPL complete and disputes between players and the WICB at a cease-fire, Saturday's XI could feature seven changes from the side that played the first Test at Lord's.
It is essential West Indies take something away from this tour; so far their only plus points are the return to form of Marlon Samuels, Tino Best's Edgbaston rampage and Denesh Ramdin's ability to bat with a note in his pocket. They held Australia to a 2-2 draw in the Caribbean and now need to take 'progress', 'positives' and the excuse of being a developing side and turn them into an ODI series win - something they haven't achieved against anyone other than Zimbabwe or Bangladesh (by whom they were whitewashed in 2009) since beating Sri Lanka in April 2008.
They may have caught England at a good time. Kevin Pietersen's retirement not only removes a destructive, in-form player from their line-up but returns England to experiment mode - Ian Bell, should he be passed fit, is set to open the batting and needs to forge a partnership with Alastair Cook. Without Pietersen, England look a touch lightweight; their big guns lie in the bowling department and they are tasked with picking off West Indies' beefier batting line-up.
Form guide (most recent first)
West Indies: LWTWL
Players to watch
He's back: Chris Gayle, whom Ottis Gibson has described as the best one-day batsman in the world. Few would disagree with West Indies' coach. Blessed with an outrageous hitting ability but transferring from the flat tracks of the IPL to the seaming conditions of England is a challenge that will take more than hand-eye co-ordination to overcome.
The spotlight in the England team turns to the recalled Ian Bell - offered another chance in ODIs and given the backing of England team director Andy Flower that he is part of the plan for the 2015 World Cup, there is great pressure on Bell to maintain the structure England have put in place for their one-day XI. His failure could spark another major rethink - though after a knock on the chin in practice, England could yet be forced to rejig anyway.
West Indies' side will bear little resemblance to that which began the Test series. They are stronger for it, with Lendl Simmons and Chris Gayle returning to open the batting and Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard back in the middle order. England may decide to leave out one of their few big-hitters, Jonny Bairstow, in order to field a four-man pace attack, with Tim Bresnan occupying the allrounder's role.
West Indies (possible) 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Dwayne Bravo/Dwayne Smith, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Andre Russell, 9 Darren Sammy (capt), 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Sunil Narine
England (possible) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steve Finn
Pitch and conditions
The forecast isn't brilliant so expect ODI conditions only found in England, with the new ball offering plenty and the totals limited by the bowler-friendly environment. That considered, James Taylor had no trouble in smashing an unbeaten century for Nottinghamshire against Hampshire on the same ground in murky conditions last month. His final 90 runs came off just 32 balls.
Stats and trivia
- Before the match, the two main stands at West End will be renamed - one after Shane Warne, Hampshire captain from 2005 to 2007, and the other after the late Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, who captained Hampshire to the 1961 County Championship.
- Ian Bell averages 42.88 in ODIs in England, compared to 28.64 abroad.
- Chris Gayle has played 51 Twenty20 matches for four different teams since he last played for West Indies.
"If you hit it just over the boundary or just over the stands it is still six. Maybe if they were counting runs differently for the amount of rows back, then Chris Gayle would definitely win that contest."
Darren Sammy, West Indies captain, discusses the English media's preoccupation with how far Gayle hits the ball
"I don't think he is special. The kid has hardly played a lot of first-class cricket. He's young and inexperienced. Spinners usually need a few years to mature and bowl well. In the IPL batsman had no time to look at him and Indian pitches always slow-turn so everything was in his favour there."
Geoffrey Boycott on West Indies' "mystery spinner", Sunil Narine
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo