Windies to start from 'ground zero' against England
West Indies Captain Kieron Pollard playsa shot during the ICC men's Twenty20World Cup match against England at DubaiInternational Cricket Stadium in Dubai, inthis October 23, 2021 file photo.(Photo: AFP)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — West Indies will chase a reversal in their recent fortunes when they face England in the first Twenty20 International here Saturday, hoping the five-match series can mark a fresh start for the embattled former World champions.

The Kieron Pollard-led unit endured a wretched run of form last year, winning only nine of 25 T20 Internationals while also flopping spectacularly at the T20 World Cup in United Arab Emirates, taking just one of five games to finish fifth of sixth teams in their group.

Further, the 3-0 drubbing by Pakistan in Karachi last month ensured the year finished on a low note but Pollard said the England challenge offered his side the opportunity to start from scratch.

“For us, it's [about] execution. We have to execute in all three facets of the game. In our cricket overall, we have to improve the way how we play and that's in all departments – batting, bowling and fielding,” Pollard told a media conference on Friday.

“The batting has definitely been a problem for us but the good thing about it is that we have new faces in the group, guys who are hoping to make a name for themselves on the international scene and in world cricket.

“So we just need to do the basics sort of right, play the situation of the game and be able to analyse, assess and make the right decisions when that is needed and whatever that decision is, it should be what the team requires at that point in time.”

He continued: “For us, it's like starting from scratch. For me, in all three facets, we're basically starting from ground zero and we've got to do what is needed at this point in time.”

West Indies will take heart from their final T20 International against Pakistan last month when, despite their seven-wicket defeat, they piled up 207 – only their third 200-plus total in the last three years.

During that performance, they brought their dot-ball count down to 37 – one of their lowest in recent times – as they produced one of their best displays for 2021.

But while acknowledging the past criticism of West Indies' high dot-ball percentage and exclusive focus on six hitting, Pollard said what was important going forward was the situation awareness among the batting group.

“I don't want it to become a big talking [point] where that becomes the narrative coming out of our camp or think that's the [only] thing we're focusing on,” he stressed.

“We are trying to improve in all three facets of the game and when I say batting that means holistically – being able to assess the situation, being able to assess the conditions and being able to know what is required at that point in time.

“If it's a rebuilding stage, if it's one where we need to rotate the strike – I'm not going to single out anything about how we used to play or how we play. I'm personally not going to do it. We are looking to improve in all areas of our cricket in all aspects of it.

“We have identified what our weaknesses are, [they] have been stated time and time again and now trying to emphasise that, I don't think for us it's something we're focusing on.”

He added: “We want to play good cricket and if playing good cricket means we have to do what the team requires at that point in time and we have to come out of our comfort zones, that is something we are willing and ready to do.”

West Indies welcome back left-arm spinning all-rounder Fabian Allen from injury and left-arm speedster Sheldon Cottrell, who tested positive for COVID-19 on the tour of Pakistan but has now recovered.

The Jamaican pair last featured for West Indies in T20s six months ago.

In their last meeting with England, West Indies suffered an embarrassing defeat, bowled out for 55 – their second-lowest total in T20Is and the third-lowest ever by a team in T20 World Cup history.

SQUADS:

WEST INDIES – Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Dominic Drakes, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Jason Holder, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Hayden Walsh Jr.

ENGLAND – Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Liam Dawson, George Garton, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Tymal Mills, David Payne, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Reece Topley, James Vince, Harry Brook.

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