England suffer heavy defeat in opening T20 against the West Indies
England’s Twenty20 tour of Barbados got off to a false start after they were bundled out for 103 before the West Indies reached a meagre target with nine wickets and 17 balls to spare.
After being asked to bat first on a tricky pitch with inconsistent bounce, England lurched to 10 for three then 49 for seven as their Ashes batting woes transferred to the Caribbean at the outset of this five-match series.
Lower-order batters Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid spared England’s blushes as they avoided a new record-low T20 total but the duo’s efforts barely papered over the cracks, with the Windies rarely troubled in their pursuit.
Jordan top-scored for England with 28 from 23 balls and was one of only four batters to make double figures in a much-changed line-up for the tourists, without the likes of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes after their Ashes exertions.
Sam Billings was one of only five survivors from the side that lost to New Zealand in the T20 World Cup semi-final in November, jetting out to Bridgetown from Hobart where he had made his Test debut just days earlier.
England’s bowlers were efficient if non-threatening – with Brandon King’s unbeaten 52 from 49 deliveries breaking the back of the chase – but they were given precious little to work with after a dreadful start for their batters.
Fresh from a 36-ball ton in England’s only warm-up, Jason Roy set pulses racing when he heaved over midwicket but then missed a wild swipe and was faced with Sheldon Cottrell’s customary salute after a full toss uprooted middle stump.
Jason Holder exploited the bounce on offer from his 6ft 7in frame, inducing the outside edge of Tom Banton with a juggling Nicholas Pooran holding on at slip while Moeen Ali loosely drove the next ball low to backward point.
Two successive maidens followed before James Vince threatened to lead the counter-attack with 14 runs in five balls, including a top-edge for six, as Cottrell erred in his lengths. But the left-armer had the last laugh when England’s number three tamely slapped a long hop straight to cover.
England dealt exclusively in boundaries in the first five overs, often struggling just to lay bat on ball on a pitch showing signs of variable bounce, but Billings bustled on his arrival. His enthusiasm got the better of him, though, as he danced down the track and walked straight past one that beat his bat before being stumped.
At 29 for five, England were in a quagmire and their situation worsened when Liam Dawson making his first international appearance since October 2018, was sent back after setting off for a single while Eoin Morgan , who was attempting to hold the innings together, mistimed a slower ball to cover for a subdued 17 off 29 balls.
With not even 50 on the board and seven wickets down England were in danger of setting more unwelcome benchmarks following their Ashes ignominy, and their lowest total of 80 against India at the 2012 World Twenty20 was still a long way off, but Jordan and Rashid kept the tourists afloat with a 36-run stand.
There were three lusty sixes from Jordan before he holed out while Rashid’s deft strokes took England beyond three figures. They did not make it much further, though, with Holder once again taking two wickets in two balls – Rashid the last to go for 22 – to finish with format-best figures of four for seven as England were all out in 19.4 overs.
The Windies are without the menacing presence of Chris Gayle at the top of the order, one of several casualties following a T20 World Cup campaign where they won just one of five matches, but he was hardly missed as King and Shai Hope settled immediately.
In contrast to England’s early boom-or-bust approach, the Windies pair were largely content to rotate strike, with the only shot in anger in a 52-run opening partnership coming when King swept Rashid over midwicket. Rashid ensured England would not suffer a first 10-wicket T20 defeat when he lured Hope out of his crease.
Hope was beaten by some lavish turn and stumped for 20 but while England’s bowlers toiled away, with Dawson particularly miserly in conceding 12 runs in four overs, they lacked a cutting edge under floodlights with even a Covid-reduced crowd sensing there would be no collapse from the hosts.
There was little need for any risk-taking from King, who reached a patient 47-ball fifty shortly before hitting the winning run, while Pooran also adopted a sensible approach to finish with 27 not out from 29 balls.
England will have little time to lick their wounds, with the next match taking place on Sunday.