4th over: West Indies 19-2 (Hetmyer 1; Gayle 9) Gayle starts Woakes’s second over in wham-bam style: pushing him through the covers and cutting with Sunday Roast enthusiasm past Jason Roy. A couple of singles and suddenly Woakes has gone for ten.
Andrew Benton asks: “Wondering that as a dewy ball reduces control by the bowler, presumably it also increases variability for the batter – it won’t go where either of them expected, perhaps making for a more exciting game for the spectators? Or, maybe not.”
3rd over: West Indies 9-2 (Hetmyer 0; Gayle 0) Hetmyer eschews hat and helmet for blue hair as a replacement for Simmons, who won’t be writing that shot on his CV. A wicket maiden for Moeen full of variation.
With pin-point accuracy straight to deep midwicket where Livingstone gratefully accepts the offering.
2nd over: West Indies 9-1 (Simmonds 3; Gayle 0) Super bowling by Woakes who foxed Lewis with his slower ball. Enter Gayle, resplendent in black and blond dreadlocks. He deigns to run a single to pick up the strike, but can’t get Woakes away.
A mis-chip brilliantly snaffled by Moeen running towards the rope and catching over his shoulder.
1st over: West Indies 7-0 (Simmonds 1; Lewis 6) Four dots, a single and a six! A couple of blobs to start before Simmonds guides Mo away to midwicket to get off the mark. Lewis pogos the last for six just to prove that West Indies really do hit more sixes than any other T20 side. The West Indies kit is lighter on the maroon than normal and heavier on the sunshine yellow.
The umpires: Dar and Erasmus
Lewis (helmet) and Symond (cap) saunter out and it looks like Moeen Ali will take the first over. The players and support staff take the knee on the pitch and around the boundary.
National anthem time and a very jaunty version of Rally Round the West Indies. Actually it’s not a bad version of GSTQ either. Jonny Bairstow by the far the most enthusiastic singer.
A reminder of the (tough) Group One teams: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. The top two will qualify for the semi-finals.
More dew talk: and some useful insight from Sam Curran (marooned in the studio because of his stress fracture) if you, like me, have never tried to send down a dewy ball in Dubai. “If the ball is wet it is going to take out reverse swing and also makes it difficult to bowl yorkers.”
Nasser Hussain is out in Dubai and looking very perky. ‘England are well placed but are without Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Sam Curran, which shows the depth England have. The challenges are conditions, because with the balance of the side England have gone with it would have been very difficult for the three spinners bowling with a wet ball and a bar of soap if they’d lost the toss.”
“West Indies bat very deep and are a phenomenal ball-hitting side. They are wonderful to watch. This is a game between two very strong batting sides, two vulnerable bowling sides.”
England: Jason Roy, Jos Buttler (wk), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Tymal Mills
Wood and Curran were not available for selection
West Indies: Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Kieron Pollard (c), Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Akeal Hosein, Ravi Rampaul, Obed McCoy
thus avoiding the dew problems that have been muttered about darkly.
We hope to have teams and toss soon! Reports suggest that both Jordan and Mills could make the starting XI for England.
Australia beat South Africa by five wickets, with three balls to go in the first match of the tournament and one that felt like a bit of a warm-up for both teams. Back in the studio, Ian Ward, in fawn, has just reminded us that England v West Indies starts in 30 mins.
As Eoin Morgan licks his lips at the chance of joining MS Dhoni as the only captain to win both white-ball World Cups , while battling a death-spiral loss of form, Barney Ronay says, give him a break.
The action starts in Dubai at 3pm BST – to wet your whistle, there’s all sorts going on at Australia v South Africa in Abu Dhabi. Adam’s got it all nailed here:
Hello! So here we are on an autumnal English afternoon transported to a hot and steamy superstadium in Dubai. England’s T20 World Cup starts with a repeat of the 2016 final against West Indies. You remember the one – when at Eden Gardens Carlos Braithwaite rocketed Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes, the inevitability of each one doubling with ever strike, to snatch the trophy from under England’s noses.
There is no Stokes this time – though eleven of the same players will be on the field – offering players like Chris Woakes and Liam Livingstone a chance to step into his boots. No Brathwaite either – left dining on memories.
England start the tournament the No.1 ranked nation with West Indies down in the doldrums in ninth. But don’t believe a word of those damn statistics : on a good day West Indies can blast anyone out of the park. As Kieron Pollard put it, theirs is a “never say die attitude.”
England have won four of their last five matches, West Indies three, but England are yet to beat West Indies in a global T20 tournament. Game on!