High-Stakes Showdown: West Indies vs England in Crucial 3rd ODI Clash

6 min read

Big picture – Final throes for 50-overs in 2023

Ding and then dong. Punch and then counterpunch. The series set up for a decider in Bridgetown. England found their feet after being wobbled in the first game but West Indies can still come back off the ropes with the aim of landing a knockout blow under the Kensington Oval floodlights this weekend.

If they do so, it would result in a rare bilateral ODI series win – their first against Full Member opposition in more than two-and-a-half years, and their first against England since 2007. It would also be the most significant success of Shai Hope’s tenure, after he took charge of the one-day side earlier this year. Hope has led from the front so far, scoring 177 runs from 151 balls for once out, but needs greater consistency from the rest of the team if they are to once again expose English uncertainty in the format.
There was some fight on display in the second Antiguan bout, most notably during a stand of 129 between Hope and Sherfane Rutherford – who hinted at an aptitude for longer formats with his first international half-century – to lift the home side from the penurious position of 23 for 4; and again with the ball, chiefly through Gudakesh Motie, to check another rampaging England start. But they could not sustain the challenge for long enough.
In part that was due to England taking their game up a notch following a tepid first outing. Sam Curran and Liam Livingstone dealt with the double-edged sword of their allrounder status to share six wickets – Curran’s new-ball burst laying the early groundwork before Livingstone removed West Indies’ two top-scorers. Then, after a gamebreaking assault from Will Jacks at the top of the order, England’s white-ball kingpin finally reasserted his status: Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 58 from 45 ended a run of 13 innings without a fifty and eased the chase to a swift conclusion.

Buttler described himself afterwards as “fed up” with his lack of runs, and you suspect he would be similarly dischuffed if his team were to let the momentum slip again. England have lost 11 of 22 completed ODIs this calendar year, and will not play the format again until September 2024. Taking the series spoils would scarcely make up for the disappointment of the World Cup but it would at least mean they can put 50-over cricket to bed with a mug of cocoa before thoughts to the T20s and another looming title defence.

Form guide

West Indies LWLWL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
England WLWWL

In the spotlight – Phil Salt and Alzarri Joseph

Phil Salt has been the coming man – and a man in a hurry – for England in limited-overs cricket for a couple of years, but he is yet to fully nail himself on as the natural successor to Jason Roy. Salt has the highest batting strike-rate (134.27) of anyone to have scored 500-plus ODI runs, and the method he employs at the top of the order is perfectly attuned to the way England want to get back to playing. But, after scoring a maiden hundred in the Netherlands last year, he has managed just one half-century in his last 11 innings. A hefty contribution to underline his status before England turn their thoughts back to T20 would be timely. West Indies’ new-ball bowling has come under as-Salt in both games, and it has needed the introduction of spin to calm things down. At 27, Alzarri Joseph is the most experienced member of this attack and, newly appointed as Hope’s vice-captain, he carries a weight of extra responsibility during this series. He bowled better than figures of 1 for 65 in the first game suggest, but was manhandled during the opening exchanges in the second ODI – a three-over spell of 0 for 38 setting the tone for England to race away. With Oshane Thomas playing international cricket for the first time in two years and Romario Shepherd more of an all-round option, West Indies need Joseph to be their cutting edge.

Team news – Pope to pop in?

West Indies were unchanged in Antigua but could look to stiffen the batting by bringing in Kjorn Ottley for his first appearance since 2021. Roston Chase offers an allrounder option on his home ground. West Indies (probable): 1 Alick Athanaze, 2 Brandon King, 3 Keacy Carty/Kjorn Ottley, 4 Shai Hope (capt & wk), 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Sherfane Rutherford, 7 Romario Shepherd, 8 Yannic Cariah, 9 Alzarri Joseph, 10 Gudakesh Motie, 11 Oshane Thomas England, too, have stuck with the same XI and might see little reason to tinker for the deciding match – otherwise Ollie Pope, ostensibly in the Caribbean to continue his rehab from a shoulder injury, and John Turner would perhaps be pushing harder for debuts in the format. Jofra Archer also trained with England on Friday but won’t be in contention. England (probable): 1 Will Jacks, 2 Phil Salt, 3 Zak Crawley, 4 Ben Duckett, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Jos Buttler (capt & wk), 7 Liam Livingstone, 8 Sam Curran, 9 Brydon Carse, 10 Rehan Ahmed, 11 Gus Atkinson.

Pitch and conditions

The surface at Kensington Oval tends to offer a bit of something for everyone, though rain during the build-up might assist the bowlers. In the last four years, six of the ten ODIs played in Bridgetown have seen the team batting first bowled out for less than 200 – but prior to that, it was the scene of England’s record ODI chase, after West Indies racked up 360 for 8. The forecast for Saturday is clear.

Stats and trivia

  • England have won eight and lost six of their 14 ODIs at Kensington Oval. Their most recent visit resulted in a 26-run loss, with Shimron Hetmyer scoring a century.
  • In the previous game, on that same 2019 tour, England achieved what is still their highest successful chase – reeling in a target of 361 with six wickets standing.
  • West Indies’ last bilateral series win against a Full Member came in 2021, when they beat Sri Lanka 2-1 at home. Since then, they have only been victorious against Netherlands and UAE.
  • Hope is 18 runs shy of overtaking Gordon Greenidge and moving into the top ten of West Indies men’s ODI run-scorers.
  • Quotes

    “I still feel like I can affect games of cricket for England and that’s the major bonus for me at the moment. The ball’s coming out of my hand really well and I know for a fact that things are going to change around with the bat.”
    Liam Livingstone promises better times with the bat after his starring role with the ball.

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