Harry Brook helps England set West Indies 326 as Jos Buttler struggles continue

By Sports Desk December 03, 2023

Harry Brook underscored England’s bid for regeneration with an important 71 but captain Jos Buttler’s lean run of form continued in their first ODI against the West Indies in Antigua.

A chastening World Cup campaign has ushered in a new era for England although it was largely the contributions of individuals out in India who had the biggest impact in the first of three ODIs.

Three weeks on from their final match in the subcontinent, Brook top-scored in England’s 325 all out, with all of their batters reaching double figures except for Buttler and number 11 Gus Atkinson.

Buttler had a torrid World Cup, averaging 15.33 without passing 50 once, and never got going in Antigua before being dismissed for three off 13 balls after gloving a reverse sweep to the lone slip.

Sam Curran and Brydon Carse put on 66 in 38 balls down the order to get England over 300 after they had slipped to 239 for seven against a new-look Windies side who failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Phil Salt gave England a turbocharged start with a boundary-laden 45 in 28 balls after winning the toss under sunny skies while the tourists went on to record the highest ODI score at this ground, helped by occasionally shoddy fielding from their opponents.

Salt wasted no time in settling, crashing five fours and three meaty leg-side sixes off fast bowlers Alzarri Joseph and Romario Shepherd, forcing Windies captain Shai Hope to turn to spin after six overs.

The change worked as Salt ended an electric innings in tame fashion. He has struggled against left-arm spin in the past and he was snared by Gudakesh Motie after backing away to leg and lofting to cover.

Will Jacks had been in Salt’s slipstream in a 77-run stand but still dispatched a 96-metre six arcing over cover, aided slightly by a breeze blowing across the ground, before nicking off as England’s openers departed in quick succession.

Conditions seemed to grow trickier, with the ball occasionally keeping low, as Test openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett attempted to build on England’s rapid start.

Duckett’s customary sweeps, both orthodox and reverse, came to the fore but he had his leg-stump pegged back by one that skidded on from leg-spinner Yannic Cariah, who should have had Crawley on 30 but a top-edged which looped gently to long-on was spilled by Motie, possibly unsighted by the sunshine.

Crawley was run out for 48 after setting off for a single, only to see Brook had not budged, allowing Hope to whip off the bails following Alick Athanaze’s throw from point.

Brook was initially quiet, nudging and nurdling 12 singles from his first 18 balls before reverse sweeping Motie for his first four. His second boundary was the result of more Windies misfielding as Keacy Carty got in a tangle and the ball sailed underneath his legs.

He kept England ticking over then accelerated after Buttler’s departure, clubbing Shepherd then Cariah for sixes. Cariah was also taken the distance twice by Livingstone in an over costing 23 but the England all-rounder fell for 17, trapped lbw by a grubber from Shepherd.

Brook was dropped at point on 70 but added just another run before being deceived by Shepherd’s pace-off delivery and thumping to mid-off.

At 239 for seven, England’s lower order had work to do but Sam Curran, who had a fringe role at the World Cup, and Carse, an unused squad member, helped the tourists finish with a flourish.

Both lower order batters cleared the rope twice to carry England beyond 300 before Curran was run out on 38. Carse was unbeaten on 31.

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