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.
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.
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.