The last time England and the West Indies faced-off was at the World Twenty20 last November, on a sweltering night in St Lucia.
“It feels like a long time ago,” says England opener Amy Jones. “They played very well that day.”
In an intense encounter, the West Indies were on fire – they were sharp in the field and bowled aggressively, putting England under early pressure to restrict them to 115; and then batted frantically to overhaul the total with 3 balls to spare.
The crowd that night were immense – “I remember it was very noisy – very loud!” says Jones. Indeed, it felt like England weren’t facing 11 West Indians but 8 thousand, roaring them on for every wicket, every catch and every run.
The star of the show was Deandra Dottin, whose 2 wickets and 46 runs earned her the Player of the Match award.
On that night it felt like the Windies were back – they had recovered from their humiliation by South Africa at the 50-over World Cup in England, and were looking more like the title holders, who had won the World T20 in India two years before.
Six months later, the West Indies meet England again.
But this was no sizzling night in St Lucia – it was a windy day-nighter in Leicester! There was no roaring crowd – about 300 turned up, despite more than twice that many advance tickets being sold – and no Deandra Dottin.
And without those twin talismen – the crowd and the crowd-pleaser – the West Indies fell to pieces. They let England get a start – putting on 57 for the wicket; and then failed to capitalise on their double breakthrough – allowing England to push on… and then pile-on – scoring 80 runs between the 30th and 40th overs.
They were shocking in the field – balls went over them, past them, and sometimes just right through them – but they looked like they didn’t really care – like they had given up on the series before it had even begun.
Self-belief is a huge part of international cricket – and the West Indies clearly didn’t believe they could chase 318. Kycia Knight’s 16 off 45 balls was not even the epitome – it was the captain Stafanie Taylor’s 1 off 11 balls which really said it all – WE CAN’T DO THIS – painted in capital letters all over their faces.
In some ways, it was worse for the West Indies than that World Cup game against South Africa when they were bowled out for 48. South Africa’s bowlers had the collective game of their lives that day – today England were merely efficient – it was all they needed to be… and they still won by over 200 runs!
Can the Windies recover from this mental drubbing before Sunday’s next encounter at Worcester? It didn’t look like it from their expressions, as they trudged across the outfield back to the team bus after the game.
But England should not be complacent – cricket is a funny game – you can go from zero to hero… and back to zero again… awfully quickly.
Just ask the West Indies!