Stokes brought down to earth but England's batting fires

England XI 379 for 8 (Morgan 95, Roy 79, Root 71, Stokes 61, Levy 4-100) beat UWI VC XI 262 (Walton 121) by 117 runs

What a great leveller this game can be.

A few days after becoming the most expensive overseas player in the IPL's history, Ben Stokes saw his only complete over of England's first warm-up match in St Kitts thrashed for 23 by a 20-year-old playing only his eighth List A game.

To be fair to Stokes, who had earlier made a half-century, the 20-year-old is some talent. Shimron Hetmyer, the former captain of the West Indies side that won the Under-19 World Cup, timed the ball beautifully and, having clipped Stokes' first ball for six over square leg, laced a couple of boundaries through the off side before finishing the over with a pull over mid-wicket for another six. Two wides and a no-ball completed the picture and meant that, at that stage, Stokes' last 10 deliveries in an England shirt against Caribbean opposition - going back to Carlos Braithwaite's four sixes - had cost an eye-watering 47 runs.

Under normal circumstances, none of this would warrant much attention. Even the best endure bad days, after all, and warm-up days like this exist to help brush off the rust. All recent evidence suggests that, come the big occasion, Stokes will be the man England rely upon.

But coming, as it did, a few days after Stokes' auction success, it demonstrated the pressure that he will be under every time he steps on to a pitch these days. He can no longer be considered a promising allrounder in the developmental stage of his career; he is a world star whose every move will be studied and followed. There will always be great expectation; there will always be scrutiny. His life has changed and it may not all be for the better.

Still, with four of their top five making half-centuries and a final victory margin of 117 runs, Stokes' tough over was a minor blip in a generally satisfactory day for England.

It showed how far they had come since they last visited St Kitts. At that time, less than two years ago, they were still reeling in the aftermath of their wretched 2015 World Cup performance. During their match against a St Kitts Invitational XI, it was announced that Paul Downton, the managing director of the England teams, had been sacked and the coaching staff were informed, ominously as it transpired, there would be no further changes "while they were on tour." Peter Moores was subsequently sacked the moment England returned.

They are a much-changed white ball side now. It's not just the personnel that is different, though the absence of the top run-scorer and wicket-taker in their ODI history (Ian Bell and James Anderson respectively) is notable, but that the mentality has changed. Remarkably, given how poorly they performed in the most recent global ODI event, several bookies make them favourites for the Champions Trophy to be played in June. It seemed unthinkable in April 2015.

It's not hard to see what their resurgence has been built upon. Their uncompromisingly aggressive batting helped them race to 239 for 2 at the 30-over mark here and, with Joe Root and Eoin Morgan well set, it appeared a world record List A score might be achievable. Only one side in history (Surrey against Gloucestershire at The Oval in 2007) have ever reached 450 in a List A game and there seemed every chance England could become the second.

As it was, they scored a relatively modest 140 from the final 20 overs of the innings despite nearly 100 in the final 10. With the balls softer and the pitch slowing, timing the ball became more difficult and it took some muscular late hitting from Stokes, who was dropped three times in an innings that become more fluent as it progressed, and Liam Dawson to take them above 350.

Still, with Jason Roy looking in sublime form - he did not field due to a hand bruised by a succession of tough fielding drills but is not a serious injury concern - and runs for Root and Morgan, England could be well satisfied with this work out for their batsmen.

Only Sam Billings, who was brilliantly caught at point, and Jos Buttler, who played-on attempting to force the pace, missed out but both are likely to have another chance on Monday. Billings, in particular, probably needs to take every chance with Alex Hales potentially returning imminently.

The bowling was less impressive. While Steven Finn, who had not taken a wicket in any form of cricket since September despite having racked up some air miles, all but ended the match as a contest with wickets from the second and fourth balls of the second over of University of West Indies Vice-Chancellor's XI reply, there were times when Morgan seemed to lack the options required to stem the flow of runs.

Not for the first time, the edge offered to the side by the extra pace of Mark Wood was sorely missed. Chris Woakes (rested) and David Willey (injured) were also missed, but it may be upon Wood's seemingly fragile ankle that England's Champions Trophy hopes rest.

That the UWI side made over 250 was largely due to the excellence of Chadwick Walton. A good enough player to have represented West Indies in two Tests - albeit during the Floyd Reifer period of captaincy when the best players were unavailable due to a disagreement with the board - he was also part of a record Caribbean List A score only a couple of weeks ago when he made a century as Jamaica amassed 434 against Trinidad and Tobago in the Super 50 competition. He has played a few ODIs, too, and made it into a full strength Test squad as a reserve keeper.

At one stage, he thrashed Dawson (who was otherwise admirably frugal) for three successive sixes, while Liam Plunkett was hit for the shot of the day: a straight driven six that thundered back over the bowler's head.

Such things will happen in limited-overs cricket. As Jermaine Levy, the latest man to concede 100 in a List A match, will tell you: modern white-ball cricket is very much a batsman's game.

UWI VC XI 2nd innings Partnerships

1st10CAK WaltonAA Jangoo
2nd0CAK WaltonAT Alleyne
3rd70CAK WaltonSO Hetmyer
4th81CAK WaltonCO Burton
5th23CAK WaltonT Chanderpaul
6th9CAK WaltonCK Pennyfeather
7th1CAK WaltonK Pierre
8th22CAK WaltonKJ Harding
9th14KJ HardingOC McCoy
10th32JJ LevyKJ Harding