The inaugural series between England and West Indies began in sunny conditions in the impressive grounds of King Edward’s School.
England had built a new younger squad after the 2006 World Cup and were hoping to improve on a 5-0 series defeat to India in the Midlands last year.
West Indies who took part in their first World Cup in 2006 were undertaking their first overseas series.
England won the toss and decided to bat. New captain Matt Dean came in at the fall of the first wicket to join Andy Powers. Together they added 263 against a determined bowling attack and an athletic fielding side. It was a dream start for new captain Dean. After a contained start he scored heavily through mid-wicket and with boundaries hard to come by he ran impressively with Powers. They romped along at eight an over during the middle of the innings and then gradually accelerated. When Dean was bowled by the persistent Tremaine Forte for 115, Luke Sugg immediately kept up the tempo with a quick-fire 27 off 17 balls. During this time Andy Powers maintained the intensity of his innings scoring all round the wicket but especially in front of and behind square on the leg side. The relative scarcity of lofted drives showed both a lack of bounce in the bowling and Power’s determination to play a long innings.
After playing on for 179 he returned to much vocal appreciation from a sizeable crowd.
Faced with the daunting task of amassing 392 to win at more than eight an over, West Indies were initially bogged down by a tight opening spell from Heindrich Swanepoel and Nathan Foy. Ulric Andrews and Ricardo Manning stood out among the visiting batsmen with Cheryl Grifith adding a dogged 18 in 65 minutes to hold the innings together. Andrews 46 in 40 balls included 5 boundaries and the left-handed Manning with 49 in 68 balls played some of the most attractive shots of the day in particular a classy drive though mid off for four.
England’s support bowlers acquitted themselves well with totally blind debutant John Garbett returning the impressive figures of 8-0-51-1.
In the remaining two matches England will be looking to improve the tidiness of their bowling.
In a competitiveness match played in excellent spirit the West Indians impressed everyone with their excellent outcricket. Mention should be made of the tall Tremaine Forte who led the attack and finished with the best figures in the match of 8-0-60-3.
Man of the match awards were presented at a dinner provided by the school immediately after the match. The management and players from both sides are indebted to the school for their wonderful hospitality and use of their magnificent facilities.
B1 : Nathan Foy 16 & 8-0-33-1
B2 : Matt Dean 115 & 1-0-5-0
B3 : Andy Powers 179 & 8-0-51-1
The second match takes place tomorrow (Monday) at Moseley C.C. at Streetsbrook Road in Solihull.