A mundane effort with the new ball, an ineffective Sunil Narine and a rampant show by Ian Bell put West Indies out of contest at The Rose Bowl in the first ODI. But more than that, it was another abject batting surrender, barring a flash-in-the-pan fifty by the IPL-inspired Dwayne Smith, which doused the fight the visitors could have offered. That's where Darren Sammy's men will have to lift themselves up significantly at The Oval on Tuesday.
A 114-run defeat – while chasing 287 – will always suggest a batting failure. But the picture hardly wore that look at 102 for 2 in the 18th over, after which the visitors lost eight wickets for 70 runs to surrender meekly – following the rain stoppage that forced the umpires to reduce it to a 48-over chase.
But before that transpired, an average effort by the West Indies pacers let the hosts – who lost captain Alastair Cook in the first over itself – off the hook. And when Narine failed to trouble the free-stroking Bell, the Warwickshire batsman took control to take his team close to 300.
Without Andrew Strauss – who has retired from limited-overs cricket – and Kevin Pietersen – who was allegedly left no path by the ECB than to quit ODIs and T20s – the England batting looks thin at best. Other than Cook, Bell and Jonathan Trott, the names of Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara and Craig Kieswetter hardly match the might that England's Test batting line-up possesses. But probably even these names, in conditions familiar to them, is a bit too much to handle for the inconsistent West Indies bowlers.
But does that mean West Indies don't have the bowling to trouble England at all? Probably not. Ravi Rampaul can swing it at the top, with Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard's variations and Narine's guile fully equipped to test the English batting in the middle and end overs. It's just that they need to strike in unison, unlike in the first ODI when Narine was economical but Bravo and Rampaul leaked in excess of six runs per over.
The real test for West Indies, though, remains how well they bat against an England attack that remains as formidable in the ODIs as in Test cricket. Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann were all among the wickets at The Rose Bowl, and they will continue to ask questions of West Indies' batting that needs to re-order itself a fair bit.
Denesh Ramdin at No. 3 and Darren Bravo at No. 8 made no sense at all. Even though Ramdin scored a century in the third Test, Bravo junior's credentials warrant him to bat in the top five. If they need to experiment, then it could be the hard-hitting Pollard or Andre Russell in the top four to give the innings some momentum. That will leave Marlon Samuels to add stability in the middle and allrounders Dwayne Bravo and Sammy to do the big-hitting at the end, which also lends balance to the line-up. Perhaps more than anything, West Indies will hope that Chris Gayle has recovered from the injury that ruled him out of the series opener.
But as things stand after the first ODI, West Indies need to put in an all-round effort to see themselves level the series at The Oval.
England: 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steve Finn
West Indies: 1 Lendl Simmons/Chris Gayle, 2 Dwayne Smith, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Andre Russell, 9 Darren Sammy (capt), 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Sunil Narine