West Indies v England, 3rd T20, Barbados March 12, 2014

The Bell tolls for England


Ian Bell could use the final T20 match in Bridgetown as an unexpected audition for World Twenty20

Match Facts

March 13, Bridgetown
Start time 1400 local (1800GMT)

Big Picture

There could hardly be a greater gulf in expectations as West Indies and England meet for the last time before they head to Bangladesh for World Twenty20. West Indies have done enough to encourage expectations that they can put up a powerful defence of the trophy they won in similar conditions in Sri Lanka 17 months ago, whereas England's chances are held to be as poor as those of the football team heading for their own World Cup in Brazil in a few months' time.

England, after five successive T20 defeats, could turn to an unlikely saviour. Ian Bell has not played a Twenty20 international since January 2011, but expectations are high that he will take part in England's final warm-up match, even if his coach, Ashley Giles, has warned that he is not quite ready after being with the squad for only a few days.

England have been overcome by West Indies' greater weight of stroke in their defeats in the first two matches of this three-match series, and Bell, a slight figure with no penchant for six-hitting, is not about to change that, but he is regarded as one of England's most skilful players of spin, and that talent is in short supply.

We must wait to see whether Bell, called up to replace the injured Joe Root, can make good use of his experience -- almost 100 Tests and approaching 150 ODIs - in the shortest format, but for all his ability, his inclusion after being ignored so long seems to illustrate England's desperation for any sort of stability at the top of the order rather than a conviction that they have alighted on a new super-powered approach.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies WWWLL
England LLLLL

Watch out for

There is an ebullience about Darren Sammy, West Indies' captain, which wins approval from the neutral supporter. His unbeaten 30 from nine balls at Kensington Oval on Tuesday settled the second T20 and barring a reversal of fortune in the final encounter has ensured that he will lead the squad in Bangladesh in hearty frame of mind. If his batting can be potent, his bowling is vulnerable and his fielding inconsistent but West Indies have responded to his leadership in this form of the game.

What are we to make of the form of Alex Hales as he prepares for Bangladesh? Hales has had a disappointing six months, his rating for a time as the No 1 Twenty20 batsman in the world is hard to credit, and it is far from certain that Chittagong's slow turners will suit him. He showed hints of a return to form on Tuesday, but if England are to regain confidence in their top order, his resurgence would be the easiest way to achieve it.

Team news

With the series already won, it would be a surprise if West Indies gambled on the fitness of Sunil Narine for the final match. Far better to rest him for the matches that matter. Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher are still awaiting a chance in the top order and, as well as the top five have played, there must be a temptation to rest Dwayne Smith and give one of them some match time.

West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Dwayne Smith, 3 Marlon Samuels, 4 Lendl Simmons, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Andre Russell, 9 Krishmar Santokie, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Samuel Badree

Moeen Ali did not bowl in the second match and did not cover himself in glory with the bat; he seems the obvious man to stand down if England give Ian Bell a run. That switch might also lead England to strengthen their bowling by substituting Ben Stokes for the struggling Luke Wright. It is only conjecture, but now that the series is lost, why not give Chris Jordan a first international appearance in his native island? It would seem churlish not to.

England (possible) 1 Alex Hales, 2 Michael Lumb, 3 Ian Bell, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Jos Buttler (wk), 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Ben Stokes, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Chris Jordan, 11 Stephen Parry

Pitch and conditions

More of the same: a decent pitch for T20, with a hint of turn and uneven bounce, and boundaries that seem to shrink when West Indies are batting.


"We'd be naive and stupid to think that probably every team we come up against is not going to open up with spin against us.''
Ashley Giles, England's one-day coach, braces himself for the inevitable during World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.

"He has been sitting on the sidelines but everytime he gets an opportunity he takes it. He's given the selectors a headache."
Darren Sammy, West Indies' captain, on the claims of Krishmar Santokie for a regular spot in the side.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 13, 2014, 20:22 GMT

    @Vinod_Fab on (March 13, 2014, 12:27 GMT) I've been wanting Buttler up the order for ages but today he and Morgan (Buttler in particular) looked out of sorts. I like the idea of our most powerful batsmen being given time to get in. Buttler and Morgan are different to Wright/Hales etc in that they have deft touches in them too

  • John on March 13, 2014, 20:13 GMT

    @Rally_Windies on (March 13, 2014, 13:12 GMT) Sammy often seems to contribute something with bat or ball and sometimes both , from the games I've seen him involved in. I dont follow WI cricket so cant comment on him hiding away but he was responsible for finishing the game the other day and the ODI match WI won , he dried up the runs when England were cruising. Maybe there's more than just coincidence in dry periods happening when Sammy bowls? If he is in a "shouldn't bowl"category then surely batsmen would get after him more? Even if he comes into the attack when the runs are drying up he still usually keeps it dry judging by the stats.

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2014, 18:10 GMT

    india will win the cup as there is no hope of them doing so....

  • ashok on March 13, 2014, 16:36 GMT

    WI are serious contenders for cup this year as well. Aussies vs WI and Ind vs Pak will definitely be a fun to watch...

  • Andy on March 13, 2014, 16:25 GMT

    @Asma Aziz - not the case. Building a side around a one-man maverick is not the way to go. You recall the games that Pietersen won, but have totally forgotten all the games he lost by playing a silly shot at the wrong time - which is why Bopara has a better average - and has taken wickets as well. Pietersen didn't fail "once or twice", he failed most of the time. Go look at the figures.

    Secondly, Pietersen's game is based on very fast hand-eye coordination and risky stroke selection, not conventional technique. Why is this significant? Because as he gets older, he will decline faster than those whose fundamental technique is superior. That decline is already in evidence in all three departments of the game. We've had the best of Pietersen, it was great to watch, but while we might have got another year or two out of him, sooner or later he'd have to go, and he's accelerated that process by being a difficult person to have around.

  • Roy on March 13, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    @Kitten Sammy's batting average in t20i is12 maybe 13 now scene the last game, Sammy had the opportunity to bat and bowl before Russell in both games and choose not too, in my view he's hiding.

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2014, 15:49 GMT

    Well, well, Pieterson should have been in the team. Those who are saying, England has a great future post-pieterson, giving reasons like Bopara performed better and so on. Well, on paper, Bopara might look better but no one , let alone Bopara, has the guts and strokes of Kevin. He is indeed a match winner and not performing once or twice does not change that status at all. Just like in Asia Cup final, Jaywardne though out of form, played awesome. You can never rule Kevin out. He will always be missed and Team England do not stand a chance at World T20 without him.

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2014, 15:39 GMT

    @Hira. Yes the west Indies batting order could be shuffled. However Samuel's position is perfect. You really don't want him to come in thinking about having to swing. Samuel's role is to stabilize the innings and he's doing that just fine. With regards to Sammy. He is not an exceptional captain but he works for now. The fact is that the regions best captain will not get picked. That's Jamaica's captain. He's head and shoulders above anyone else. If Sammy is ward his critics of his bowling must improve. Also fletcher should not be in the squad his present form does not qualify him a place. However I'd be happy if he proves me wrong

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2014, 15:37 GMT

    Santokie has given the selectors headaches ? What he has done is to shame them for not choosing him earlier. He has been our best t20 bowler for the past 3 years and they have consistently gone with Tino Best, Shannon Gabriel and others.

    Santokie is a smart bowler and I expect him to do very well.

  • David on March 13, 2014, 15:27 GMT

    England going nowhere fast. Bangladesh will be another humiliating experience for a weak, dispirited and inexperienced side. England's footballers have more chance in Brazil. All pain and no gain until a decent coach takes over. Giles is probably a good backroom support, but he doesn't have the gravitas of Flower or Fletcher. Players only have faith in a coach add long as he gets the results. Nothing has looked good for Giles since the semi final of the champions trophy.

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