In the 1979 final of the World Cup, when Colin Croft sent Mike Hendrick packing, it signalled the utter dominance of the West Indies, as they had just beaten the inventors of the game – England – to lift a second World title.
Though innumerable talent has emerged from the Caribbean islands since, domination over England in the World Cup has eluded them.
Five World Cup meetings between the two have happened since 1979, and England have always found a way of getting past the West Indies. The seventh time these two sides clash in the premier tournament will be at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Friday.
The rain Gods haven’t been as kind over the last few days with three matches being washed out, but if weather reports are to be believed, the latest bout between the two heavyweights will be uninterrupted.
But the cloud cover that has enveloped the British isles in recent weeks will remain, aiding the fired-up pace batteries of both sides.
A fabulous display of pace and bounce saw the Windies kick-off their World Cup campaign in style against Pakistan at Trent Bridge on June 6. The ploy against England in suitable conditions will be much of the same, with numbers suggesting English batsmen falter to bouncers more often than not.
England has been prolific at the top, with both openers hitting a purple patch just prior to the marquee event. But it hasn’t been all honey and roses for the duo of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow against left-arm pacers.
In the recently concluded ODI series when England visited the Caribbean, Sheldon Cottrell went on his famous march and salute routine on more than one occasion, dismissing Bairstow twice and getting the better of Roy once.
It is not just the openers that have been vulnerable to left-arm bowlers; England possess the worst record against southpaws (different bowling types), losing the maximum wickets to that type of bowling since 2018.
Cottrell has been instrumental in giving the West Indies phenomenal starts at this World Cup, picking up all of his five wickets in the first Powerplay. There is no doubt that he will be Jason Holder’s go to man in a clash where the stakes are sky-high.
That said, Roy has been prolific against the Windies in the 50-over format, striking at a phenomenal 123.3, his best against any opponent. The opener also boasts an average of 55.3, which is second best to his numbers against New Zealand (59.6).
Roy’s opening partner Bairstow is not far behind, especially when it comes to facing West Indies at home. The Yorkshireman seems to be a completely different entity in the comfort of familiar conditions, dispatching West Indian bowlers at will, while holding onto his wicket.
An effervescent start is what Eoin Morgan’s men will expect from Roy and Bairstow, something that will give a fabled middle order of Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, and Ben Stokes the opportunity to kick on, considering they will need a huge total to stand a chance against probably the most explosive batting line-up at this World Cup.
On his last legs of what has been an entertaining career, Christopher Henry Gayle has rediscovered his touch. Since the start of the year, Gayle is averaging 82.5, his highest so far in a year in his ODI career.
Towards the twilight of their careers, batsmen almost always tend to slow down a tad but that hasn’t been the case with Gayle. The burly Jamaican has leaned more towards finding the ideal balance to his game without compromising his natural aggressiveness.
Another 29 runs will see Gayle reach the landmark of being the batsman with the maximum runs in England in ODIs. Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara heads the list with 1625 runs.
Gayle might have been vulnerable to off-spin in the Indian Premier League, but he has no such issues when turning out in the maroon jersey, striking at 132.98 and being dismissed only once every 64.6 deliveries, his best against any bowling type since the 2015 World Cup.
While England may find it hard to find a kryptonite against Gayle, their best bet could be to ensure the rest of the batsmen struggle. After the last World Cup, the West Indians have found the going tough against spinners, losing wickets at a rapid frequency.
Moeen Ali has been scarcely successful against the Windies but Adil Rashid has contrasting numbers. The leg-spinner has picked 20 wickets in ten games at an economy of just under six (5.8) and could be a real trump card against a slightly unsettled middle order.
With a washout in the last game against South Africa, the West Indies will be itching to get back onto the pitch against an English side that are well rested and hoping to build on the momentum from a resounding win against Bangladesh. The big storyline will be that of three openers hoping to leave a mark, and one premier paceman in Jofra Archer who will be up against his country of birth.