Captain Jason Holder has stressed the “clinical” execution of bowling plans as his inspired West Indies seek to build on their stunning Test series win with further success, when they face world number one England in the opening One-Day International of the five-match series here Wednesday.
The hosts find themselves up against a powerful England side unbeaten in their last nine series and with 22 wins in their last 29 ODIs, and rightfully already installed as favourites to win the ICC World Cup at home later this year.
And with a batting lineup which boasts the likes of captain Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy, Holder warned the Windies bowling group needed to be on their toes in the series.
“I think we’ve got to be very, very clinical in terms of our bowling,” Holder told reporters here Wednesday ahead of the contest at Kensington Oval.
“England pack a heavy punch in terms of their batting order. They bat very, very deep and they’re the top-ranked side for a reason, so we’ve got to be really precise with our bowling plans and make sure that we execute our plans and restrict them to as little as possible.”
He continued: “I think the way one-cricket has gone in the last couple of years, 300, 320 is almost a par score so we’ve got to be very, very strict with our plans and make sure we restrict England.”
West Indies will boast a relatively inexperienced attack which feature the likes of quicks Oshane Thomas and Sheldon Cottrell, along with left-arm spinner Fabian Allen, who among them have played only 14 ODIs.
It leaves Holder and fellow seamers Kemar Roach and Carlos Brathwaite to provide the bulk of the experience, with leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo the main spin option.
Holder also pointed specifically to the Windies death bowling as an area which needed improvement in the coming matches.
“It’s obviously been an area we’ve had some trouble with in the past and we’ve had long discussions about what we want to do in terms of our plans,” he explained.
“And it’s very, very simple: keeping a very clear mind at the top of your mark and not being double-minded. I think that’s one of the things that have probably hampered us in the past – just having a clear mind at the top of our mark – and executing and committing to our plans.”
Written off before a ball was bowled in the three-Test series, the Holder-led unit went on to crush England in the opening two Tests, to recapture the coveted Wisden Trophy for the first time in a decade.
A similar challenge now lies before the hosts in the shorter format. They have not beaten England in an ODI series in 12 years and their last victory over their opponents on Caribbean soil came 21 years ago.
Further, the Windies are without an ODI series win in five years, their last success coming in against once lowly Bangladesh in the Caribbean. They are also currently ranked ninth in the world only above lightweights Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland.
But Holder said the Test series triumph had provided important momentum, and the return of veteran opener Chris Gayle had also strengthened the squad.
“We’re pretty confident coming into the game. We’ve obviously had some momentum in this series from obviously winning the Test series, and we’ve got some experience within the dressing room,” the all-rounder pointed out.
“We pack a pretty heavy punch with how [our teams stacks up]. A guy like Chris is coming back into the team and we’ve got Carlos (Brathwaite) at the back end and we all know what these guys can produce. I’m really excited by the challenge.”
Not for the first time, the Windies are being viewed as underdogs but it is a label Holder says they did not mind.
“[Underdogs] is not a bad tag to have – obviously less pressure on us and more pressure on them,” he noted.
“We’ve just got to go out there and play the cricket we want to play and execute whatever plans we come up with within the dressing room.”
WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, John Campbell, Ashley Nurse, Carlos Brathwaite, Nicholas Pooran, Sheldon Cottrell, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas.
ENGLAND – Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.