Wicket! Billings st Hope b Hosein 2 (England 29-5)
Billings gives the spinner the charge and runs into some turbulence. This is so bad, it’s quite funny.
6th over: England 26-4 (Morgan 1, Billings 1) Morgan finally gets off the mark – with a nick! Close to the slip cordon (yes, there is one). And Sam Billings gets off the mark too, first ball, with a chop past gully. Good on him. That’s the end of the PowerPlay, or in this case the BitOfAShowerPlay.
Sam Billings is in…
… at 24-4, after five overs. Owing to previous passenger selection, he has to make a fifty here.
Wicket! Vince c Bravo b Cottrell 14 (England 24-4)
A slap to extra cover! The very next ball after the six, as with Roy.
Mid-5th over: England 24-3 (Vince 14, Morgan 0) There may be a case for a counter-attack here. James Vince, facing Cottrell, sees it and hits a four! Off his pads. And another, next ball – chopped away past backward point. And then a six! With a top-edged hook, but it was quite safe as fine leg was up. And then…
4th over: England 10-3 (Vince 0, Morgan 0) Morgan may still be there, but that doesn’t mean he can get bat on ball. He plays and misses for the fifth time in a row. Another maiden! And somewhere among the misses there was an on-pitch interview with Nicholas Pooran, who said “I was lucky, it hit my wrist and bounced up” before the connection failed. It’s all not happening.
Morgan not out!
So it could be worse for England: they’re not 10-4!
Mid-4th over: England 10-3 (Vince 0, Morgan 0) Morgan’s turn to play and miss. And then he’s given out! Caught behind, flailing – but he reviews right away…
3rd over: England 10-3 (Vince 0, Morgan 0) On the plus side, James Vince has time to play himself in, and Eopin Morgan has time to play himself into form. Vince, facing Cottrell, wafts outside off. And that’s a maiden! I don’t believe it.
2nd over: England 10-3 (Vince 0, Morgan 0) APOLOGY. We may have given the impression that this occasion would be quite different from the Ashes. Turns out, it’s just as bad!
Wicket!! Moeen Ali c Allen b Holder 0 (England 10-3)
You know those Moeen strokes that look as if he’s taking catching practice? This is one of them, caressed to the man at backward point. That’s a golden duck, and West Indies are running through England.
Wicket!! Banton c Pooran b Holder 4 (England 10-2)
Banton takes his cue from Roy: one fine shot, and out. Jason Holder bowls him a Test-match outswinger, he plays a Test-match poke, and Nicholas Pooran, at slip, takes a Test-match catch.
1st over: England 6-1 (Banton 0, Vince 0) So Jason Roy gets a hundred in the dress rehearsal and one scoring shot on the first night.
Wicket!! Roy b Cottrell 6 (England 6-1)
… then Roy swats him for six – and Cottrell swings one back in to send the stumps cartwheeling. First blood to West Indies! You can guess the celebration.
Mid-1st over: England 0-0 (Roy 0, Banton 0) It’s Sheldon Cottrell to Jason Roy. Is this a salute waiting to happen? Cottrell reels off four dots…
Both sides take the knee. “All they’re doing,” says Ian Bishop, “is reminding the world that we need equal treatment for everyone, particularly people of colour.” Amen to that.
Time for the anthems: not two of them, oh no, but three. The first is the anthem of Barbados, ringing out proudly now that it has just become a republic. The Queen needn’t worry too much as she gets a mention in anthem number two. And top of the bill is Rally Round The West Indies.
An email! Thank you, Andrew Benton. “Nice to see Moeen Ali back in a team that’ll suit him,” he observes. “And I love the Art Deco pavilion. Proper quality all round for this game.” Let’s hope so.
Mark Butcher, whose Air Miles must be as impressive as Sam Billings’s, is having a feel of the pitch. He reckons it has plenty of runs in it. “It’s biscuit-coloured,” he says. Yes, and quite old-school – Rich Tea.
Teams: Billings plays! Alongside three spinners
Both teams have gone with a radical mixture. Yes, it’s our old friends youth and experience. Sam Billings steps off the plane onto the pitch, and there’s a rare outing for Liam Dawson’s reliable slow left-arm.
West Indies 1 Shai Hope, 2 Brandon King, 3 Nicholas Pooran (wkt), 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Kieron Pollard (capt), 6 Jason Holder, 7 Fabian Allen, 8 Odean Smith, 9 Romario Shepherd, 10 Akeal Hosein, 11 Sheldon Cottrell.
England 1 Jason Roy, 2 Tom Banton, 3 James Vince, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Sam Billings (wkt), 7 Chris Jordan, 8 Liam Dawson, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Saqib Mahmood, 11 Tymal Mills.
“We were going to bat first anyway,” says Eoin Morgan. He’s changed his tune.
Toss: West Indies win and bowl
Eoin Morgan calls heads, it’s tails and Kieron Pollard fancies a chase.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago. It’s called England, and it is actually quite good at cricket – perhaps because it’s in the capable hands of an Irishman.
Hello, good evening and welcome to a new chapter in the history of English cricket. The ball is white, the game is short, the sea is green, the hosts are West Indies, the captains are Kieron Pollard and Eoin Morgan and there’s a completely different cast from the Ashes – with the possible exception of Sam Billings, who has taken four flights to make his way from Hobart to Bridgetown. If he is picked tonight, his challenge will be to Partey like he has some idea what time of day it is.
While England are still top of the ICC rankings despite not making the T20 World Cup final, West Indies have gone from world-beaters in 2016 to tenth in the table, below Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Over the past year they’ve played 22 completed T20 internationals and won only nine, whereas England have won 11 out of 17.
That said, West Indies are still pretty good at home, where eight of those nine victories have come – four of them in a triumphant series against Australia six months ago. And Morgan is without several of his regulars, from Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow to Jofra Archer. So my considered opinion is that this match could end in a win for either side.
Play starts at 4pm local time, 8pm GMT, and the forecast is fine – the Met Office app is promising both the sun and the moon, to make up for the missing stars. Do join me around 7.35pm GMT for news of the toss and the teams.