Well hello there. Welcome back to the year 2000. When we last spoke, there was a valiant effort in South Africa. England’s team of 1999 was largely considered the worst team ever, but with a bit of graft and application we snatched a draw in the test series. It almost looked like we were going to win the ODI triangular series but we lost in the final. We’re not very good, you see.

What I didn’t bring you was the ODI series in Zimbabwe. It was awful and we lost 4-0. I don’t want to talk about it.

Finally back on English soil though and we’ve got a fun packed summer against the West Indies. Starting with yet more ODIs. Brian Lara is still around and I assume they have a lot of pace bowlers to cause me problems. I better pick a squad.

Most of the batsmen survive, but in come Mark Butcher and Nick Knight. That’ll allow me the option of putting Stewart down at 4 or 5 if needs be. Bowling is the main issue. Caddick has recovered to replace the injured Bicknell and Ashley Giles is in for Tuffers. One other change sees John Crawley left out for Jack Russell. His name is a dog.

This gives nothing away.

Atherton is hopelessly out of form plus I know what he can do so there’s no harm in mixing it up a bit. Ramps did quite well as a finisher for us in South Africa whilst Vince Wells is the best number 8 in the world. Dean gets another chance as form is an issue for Mullally and it doesn’t look like it’ll turn much… so why have West Indies picked so many spinners?!

We win the toss and just in case that pitch does deteriorate, I’m going to bat first. West Indies decide to give the new ball to Samuels and Wallace, two men with no bowling average at ODI level. Naturally, Samuels bowls Nick Knight with his seventh delivery.

Butcher and Thorpe laugh in their inexperienced faces and pass a 50 partnership. Just as things are looking up, captain Jimmy Adams tempts Butcher to edge behind and the spin has done him. Ramnarine exposes Stewart’s inability to play spin and he goes for a duck. Habib does temporarily take part in a rebuild but he runs himself out for 10. 109/4 leaves things quite finely poised.

Ramps goes for 10 but Thorpe and Hollioake steady the ship a little. I don’t understand why we’re struggling with the spin so much but Ramnarine strikes again to remove Thorpe. His 72 has been the backbone of the innings. Hollioake and Wells takeover but all our remaining wickets are spun out. Wells’ 21 leaves us 207-5 and although Hollioake reaches 50, he’s clean bowled and the tail doesn’t wag. 224 all out but will it be enough against Lara and co?

Early impressions are that Kevin Dean isn’t the answer. Wallace and Samuels open the batting and the bowling and reach 40 without loss until first change Dean Headley tempts Wallace into an edge behind. Darren Gough removes Samuels’ middle stump shortly afterwards and 55/2 is about par. Chanderpaul and Lara though could take the game away from us and they have a 50 partnership in no time. Should I have picked a spinner?

Hollioake is taking a hammering so when all else fails, I bring on the best player we’ve ever produced to tackle Brian Lara. Somehow, it works. He clean bowls the great man and takes out Carl Hooper LBW a few overs later. 138/4, game on.

Adams and Chanderpaul steady the Windies though and a 50 partnership looks to have won them the game. Even when Headley accounts for Chanderpaul (85), they are 193/5 and heavy favourites. But bowling is tight and the pressure mounts, especially when Adams slashes a drive to slip off Gough. 206/7.

Even we would win from here but the tourists tail end is choking. Wickets for Wells and Headley put all the pressure on Ridley Jacobs as Hollioake prepares to bowl the last over. They need 8 but Jacobs can only take a single off the first ball. Tenth man McGarrell can’t score from the next two balls then smashes a four straight down the ground. 3 needed. He tries to repeat the trick on the penultimate ball and finds the safe hands of Mark Butcher. That brings Ramnarine to crease with 3 needed from the last ball. Dot.


West Indies (the green line) were ahead nearly all the way but we pulled it back in the nick of time. Phew.

For the 2nd ODI, all the fast bowlers are back! I’m just going to make the one change with Russell in for Stewart. The experiment continues.

A slight change to the batting order as Ramps comes in at 3 after an opening stand of 58. Part of that is because he’s a supposed spin expert and McGarrell and Hooper are bowling but Ian Bishop bowls him for 5. The run rate just isn’t going though, losing wickets at regular intervals does us no good and it’s a real effort to get to 198/5. With so many wickets in hands it’s poor but a late 50 partnership gives us something to defend.

We are probably going to have to bowl them out and we make a good start when Gough bowls Samuels for 6. Chanderpaul is in ominous nick – he and Wallace add 76 but Kevin Dean manages to take a catch from his own bowling to remove Wallace. Wells gets Lara again – this time for a duck – and at 89/3 the game is on. They’ve got a long tail so if we can take a couple of quick wickets, we’re right in it. Chanderpaul is chanceless though. Dean does manage to bowl Carl Hooper but Ridley Jacobs provides great support for Shiv to get his 100 and a 60 partnership wins the game with 2.1 overs to spare. Darn.

That was poor but it does mean we have a shootout to see who wins the series. That’ll be up next time.

It’s good to be back on home soil. See you next time for the final ODI and the first test.