Sunny sky, good pitch and West Indies batting
For once, sunny skies greeted the cricketers as England took on West Indies in the final group match of the NatWest Series. The pitch has a greenish tinge but is expected to be good for batting, with perhaps some movement early on, no doubt the reason England put West Indies in to bat on winning the toss. A good crowd is expected, with 14,000 tickets having been sold in advance.
Although the result of this match has no direct bearing on Saturday's final at Lord's between England and Zimbabwe, a great deal of pride is still at stake. England are very keen to win this match and finish top of the group table, ahead of Zimbabwe. For their part, West Indies, set for elimination. will be determined to make their departure from the series on a high note and add to their solitary point, gained in their first encounter with England when rain stopped play with West Indies very much on top.
West Indies, though, are having to play without the talents of Brian Lara, whose long-standing hamstring strain requires a rest, and Ramnaresh Sarwan will replace him, making his one-day international debut; in addition Franklyn Rose comes in for Nixon McLean. For England, Paul Franks makes his debut on his home ground, replacing Andy Caddick, who is rested. The teams are as follows:
England: Marcus Trescothick, Alec Stewart, Andy Flintoff, Graeme Hick, Graham Thorpe, Nasser Hussain (capt), Craig White, Mark Ealham, Paul Franks, Darren Gough, Alan Mullally.
West Indies: Sherwin Campbell, Wavell Hinds, Chris Gayle, Jimmy Adams (capt), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Ricky Powell, Ridley Jacobs, Mahendra Nagamootoo, Nixon McLean, Mervyn Dillon, Reon King.