West Indies v England, Twenty20 International, Port-of-Spain March 14, 2009

Strauss must assert authority at top of the order

Match facts

Sunday March 15
Start time 2.00pm (18.00GMT)

Big picture

A lot has changed for England in the five-and-a-half months since they were rolled and humiliated for 99 and deprived the riches of then-saviour, now pariah, Allen Stanford. Back in November England were playing for an unprecedented US$20 million. Now they're seeking just pride and respect, neither of which will pay for a new car or house, but those two cashless entities are craved by a sport and country who went cap in hand to a grinning face of fraud. Therapists call it closure, and England need to draw a line under the past and get their cricket back on track.

It will not be easy. They lost 1-0 in the Test series to a team they were expected to beat by at least two Tests, and they remain a side without a formal coach, whose bowling attack has groaned and creaked on unforgiving pitches. The biggest challenge for Andrew Strauss tomorrow, however, is himself: he hasn't played a one-day international for England since the World Cup two years ago, when he was horribly out of form, and it's three years since he pulled on a Twenty20 shirt. His remarkable Test form counted as a genuine plus for England, but whether he can translate that into ODIs remains to be seen. He is not the Marcus Trescothick-replacement that England crave, so there could be an opportunity for Ravi Bopara - who creamed his maiden Test hundred in Barbados - to shift up the order and get England off to the flier they so often fail to. Dimitri Mascarenhas also seems certain to play. Oddly ignored since last June, he is the only England player to have jumped ship to the IPL and was effectively dropped in place of Samit Patel, who has paid the price for his continued portly stature.

For West Indies, they welcome back Dwayne Bravo, who has been injured for six months, along with three members of the Superstars who walloped England for US$20 million last November - Andre Fletcher, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy. Their captain, Chris Gayle, remains injured however and England, too, are shorn of experience with both Paul Collingwood (stomach bug) and Andrew Flintoff unlikely starters.

Form guide (most recent first)

West Indies AWWWL
England LTWLW

Watch out for …

Keiron Pollard Still just 21, Pollard was last Thursday named the one-day player of the year by the West Indies Players' Association. He cracked 174 against Barbados in the regional four-day competition two weeks ago, and although he has yet to reach fifty in nine internationals so far, his Twenty20 strike-rate promises an explosive future at 160.71. Young, powerful and incredibly exciting.

Ravi Bopara Two fifties against India late last year confirmed his promise; three other low scores reiterated the feeling of frustration for someone so clearly gifted. His sublime Test hundred at Bridgetown, however, ought to have given him the confidence to play the game his own way. His thrilling happy-hooking against Fidel Edwards signalled a man content to take on the opposition, and England urgently need him to do just that.

Team news

Collingwood looks likely to miss the Twenty20 with a bug, while Flintoff is expected to be rested. Flintoff flew home and missed the fourth and fifth Tests with a hip injury, but England are confident he will play some part of the forthcoming one-day series. Meanwhile Gayle is out of Sunday's match with a tear to his hamstring, sustained while running the single to bring up his first innings hundred in the final Test, with Denesh Ramdin taking over the captaincy. West Indies do, however, welcome back their inspirational allrounder Bravo after a six-month injury lay-off.

West Indies (possible) 1 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 2 Andre Fletcher, 3 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 4 Kieron Pollard, 5 Lendl Simmons, 6 Denesh Ramdin (capt, wk), 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Fidel Edwards, 11 Sulieman Benn

England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Ravi Bopara, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Owais Shah, 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Dimitri Mascarenhas, 8 Gareth Batty, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Amjad Khan

Pitch and conditions

The small matter of 5090 runs were ground out at the Queens Park Oval in the teams' first innings alone last week. The arena has yet to host a Twenty20 International but runs should not be hard to come by; the match is being played in the afternoon, not evening, so there will be no evening assistance for the bowlers. The weather is expected to be fine, though there is a chance of a shower and changeable conditions in the afternoon.

Stats & Trivia

  • West Indies and England have met eachother twice in Twenty20s (not including Stanford-named matches), each side winning one apiece.
  • England have won six and lost eight matches in their Twenty20 history. West Indies have tied two (both versus New Zealand) and won three of their ten matches.
  • Andrew Strauss hasn't played a Twenty20 since 2006 and averages a measly 17.00 from three matches.

Quotes

"It is always fun hitting sixes and I love it. I think the best thing about cricket is scoring runs and hitting big sixes so if I get the chance I'll try to do that."
Dimitri Mascarenhas promises to hit big and long

"I think the reason why India have gone through the roof is because of the Indian Premier League. After missing out last year, there is no way we can get up there if we don't play."
There's more to the IPL than money according to Kevin Pietersen

Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo