England ramp up their preparations for this month’s World T20 in Bangladesh when they play the first of three T20s against West Indies in Barbados on Sunday (6.30pm GMT) but will do so without in form all-rounder Joe Root.
The ODI Man of the Series has fractured his thumb on his right hand so has been forced to fly home and has been replaced by Warwickshire batsman Ian Bell in the squad, casting doubts around Root’s participation in the World Cup.
The loss of the 23-year-old would cause a dent in England’s aspirations to win the 2014 T20 World Cup with Root currently averaging over 50 in the shortest format of the international game, the sixth highest in world cricket.
The youngster has shown he has more than one string to his bow after opening the bowling in all three ODIs to great success while showing his skill in the field too. However, England will have to do without him, at least for the three fixtures in Bridgetown which could mean a recall to T20 cricket for Bell.
He hasn’t featured for his country since January 2011 despite being a constant in the 50 over and five day arena while Alex Hales is expected to return from injury and Luke Wright could play in his favourite style of cricket.
Ashley Giles has the luxury of picking from the same squad as the ODIs except Root which means England should have a consistent team leading into the World Cup opener on March 22nd against New Zealand in Chittagong.
The biggest news leading into Sunday’s game is that West Indian superstar Chris Gayle returns from injury to open the batting as he has now recovered from a sore hip. Darren Sammy will lead the side in an identical 15 man squad from the one that will feature in the World Cup.
In the England camp, Stuart Broad will lead his team in the fixtures which are all in the next week with matches on Tuesday and Thursday following on from Sunday with all games taking place at the Kensington Oval.
Speaking to ecb.co.uk, Broad insisted the squad are feeling confident leading into the T20 campaign on the back of a 2-1 series win in the slightly longer format of the game.
“We’re now into Twenty20 mode that we take to a World Cup, but I think we got a lot out the last two weeks here in Antigua.
“Winning helps your confidence and your belief, and to win in pressure scenarios in conditions that are a little bit foreign to us should help our belief. It should give us confidence.
“Part of being a Twenty20 cricketer and being in the England side - that is your biggest test - is adjusting to different wickets in Twenty20 cricket as quickly as you can. And that’s what we’ll have to do come Sunday.”
West Indies: D Sammy (Captain), S Badree, DJ Bravo, J Charles, S Cottrell, A Fletcher, C Gayle, S Narine, D Ramdin (wk), R Rampaul, A Russell, M Samuels, K Santokie, L Simmons, DR Smith.
England: S Broad (Captain), E Morgan (vice captain), Moeen Ali, I Bell, R Bopara, T Bresnan, J Buttler (wk), J Dernbach, H Gurney, A Hales, C Jordan, M Lumb, S Parry, B Stokes, J Tredwell, L Wright.