It was a shame in many ways. Obviously we’ll take the win – World Cup wins for England have been thinner on the ground than active follicles on Doug Bollinger’s head – but the crowd deserved a better spectacle really.
Before the game I thought it could be a humdinger. The West Indies have played some aggressive and attractive cricket so far this tournament, but today they simply weren’t at the races. It’s almost like their heads dropped when they lost the toss.
Yes the toss was crucial – a fantastic one to win – but the Windies might have stayed competitive if they’d batted sensibly and posted a half-decent total. Instead they played with little conviction and without much of a plan. They gave their bowlers no chance. 211 was never going to be enough.
I imagine we would’ve seen a totally different game had England batted first. The ball moved around at the start, and our batsmen would have been under considerable pressure. This might have been ideal preparation for later in the tournament. Instead it was all too easy.
Most importantly of all, had England batted first then Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan might have avoided the unfortunate and somewhat alarming injuries they picked up in the field. The word is that Morgan will be ok (it was just a back spasm), but the suspected hamstring strain suffered by Roy could be very bad news. He missed a few weeks with a similar injury not long ago, and hamstrings are notoriously difficult to shake off quickly. Poor Jason could easily be out for a month. In which case his World Cup will be over.
Although I’m tempted to get into an Alex Hales discussion here – I doubt anything would be more reassuring for the dressing room than the sight of a world class white ball opener fitting seamlessly into Roy’s spot – we all know that’s never going to happen. Instead England will have to pick Vince or Denly, and that means our batting order will be somewhat diminished.
The good news, however, is that the manner of this victory will only enhance the team’s confidence even further. The seamers bowled beautifully on the whole, and the chase was as fluent and nerveless as it gets.
I thought England might have a few awkward moments knowing that Morgan and Roy were on the treatment table, but Bairstow and Root looked completely unflustered. Granted the pitch turned into featherweight in the afternoon, but our batters never gave the Windies a sniff.
Joe Root, once again, was particularly impressive. The bloke’s just yum class. He makes it look so easy. And Chris Woakes also batted very well as the emergency No.3.
Seeing Woakes at 3 predictably started a conversation about whether he could bat at first drop in test cricket – playing purely as a batsman. Personally I think there are worse ideas, but it wouldn’t say much about the state of the first class cricket in England if we can’t find a specialist batsman capable of stepping up from the county circuit.
Have a great weekend folks. And let’s pray the rain stays away.