Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England opener Alex Hales announced his comeback to international cricket in style as he smashed a superb 110 to lead his side to a 186-run win over the West Indies in Barbados.
Hales, who returned from a broken bone in his right hand, was not the only England player to shine in the convincing win as Joe Root also scored a century, making a brilliant 101.
Choosing to field first, the West Indies got an early breakthrough as Alzarri Joseph removed Jason Roy for 17.
But, Hales and Root made up for it with a 192-run partnership, during which Hales surpasssed his hundred and Root his half-century.
With England having turned the tide in their favour, the West Indies were in desperate need of a wicket, but it wasn’t until the 37th over over that they got one as Joseph dismissed Hales for 110 off 107 balls, which included nine boundaries and five sixes.
Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler and captain Eoin Morgan fell shortly after before Root joined them back in the pavilion after scoring 101 off 108 deliveries, which included 10 boundaries.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Following Root’s dismissal, England continued to lose wickets at regular intervals and were eventually bowled out for 328.
Joseph was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while captain Jason Holder took three and Ashley Nurse chipped in with one.
Chasing 329 to win, the West Indies found themselves in trouble from the get-go as England’s pace attack ripped through their top and middle order to leave them reeling at 45/6 in the 17th over.
With the lower order failing to offer much resistance either, Jonathan Carter was the only batsman to put up a fight as he scored a valiant 46 before being taken out by Steven Finn.
Even though Joseph provided some late fireworks and finished unbeaten on 22 off 13 balls, it was too little, too late as the West Indies were skittled out for 142.
Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett snapped up three wickets apiece, while Finn finished with two and Ben Stokes and Adil Rashid claimed one wicket each.
Holder was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “Not up to scratch, very poor in the field and we didn’t put up a good performance with the bat. Frustrated, we’ve made some improvements over six months but not enough. Only one way we can go, got to be tighter in the field, take our chances, improve the fielding and then work on the batting. We need to sharpen up and capitalise on half chances.
“We have to be patient, it’s a young group, trying to make our mark on the international circuit. [Senior players missing?] This is what we have, I’m comfortable with that, lots of talent just a question of executing. Tough series against Pakistan [coming up], and important, they’re ahead of us in the rankings, so we have to string together some scores and put pressure on them.”
Morgan was thrilled to have whitewashed the West Indies, and said: “Extremely satisfying, over the course of the series we’ve shown different sides to our team, today was no different, a tricky wicket and the two boys took it on and we capitalised, the bowling was outstanding, [we’ve] grown on and off the field on this trip and today epitomises what we’ve got out of this trip. We gelled well, it’s important to have a strong team ethic.
“[Strong squad?] It’s a great position to be in, guys coming in and made huge contributions, match-wining ones. Strong signs for us. [Things to improve?] Fielding is highlighted, we’ve adapted to conditions, which is the biggest thing. [Hales?] Outstanding effort, he’s been out for six or seven weeks and he came back hungry and even more determined. [Know Champions Trophy XI?] 11 or 12, absolutely not! We’ve got 15 or 16 quality players but we’re lucky to be in that position.”
Hales was named Man of the Match, and said: “Yeah, very emotional, the last six months have been personally testing, so to come back and score a hundred was very pleasing. Missing Bangladesh was a risk but I’m glad they stuck with me. [Nerves?] Only natural, only played two games in the best part of six months. Knew if we gave ourselves a chance, we wanted to attack the spinners, managed to convert the starts. One of my most satisfying hundreds for England.”
Woakes was named Man of the Series, and said: “Pleased to do it with the ball, always nice with the bat as well. Performing in different places, around the world. We’ve got a lot of talent in the squad and there’s competition for places. Conditions back home will be slightly different but we take wins and looking forward to the challenge this summer. Bit of a break, refresh and then get back together in May.”