England's big year needs to start with a win
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

England's big year needs to start with a win

England have big hopes for 2019, but an away tour of the West Indies will be no easy start.

tom_simmonds
Tom Simmonds

2019 has the scope to be the biggest year for English cricket since 2005, but any complacency could ruin it all.

This summer's calendar looks especially attractive this year. There's a home World Cup, where England seem to finally have a real chance at claiming glory, and soon after that the Aussies are back in town and England will be looking to not only get their own back last winter's torment but would also love to be the team to truly twist the knife on a hurting Australian side. 

But before all of that England have one serious stumbling block to overcome, an away tour of the West Indies

A camp full of confidence

As a group, this is probably the highest an England squad has felt in years. 

Landmark wins over India last summer and record-breaking whitewash of Sri Lanka have left this England with a newfound belief. Turgid, traditional batting has largely been replaced with strokeplay and aggression, the bowling attack seems to have shaken it's previous one-dimensional nature. A newfound plethora of all-round options has given England some long needed flexibility. 

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It says a lot about England's strength in depth that even a bowler with the pedigree and game-changing ability of Stuart Broad has been left sweating over his place in the squad.

For England, this is a chance to prove that 2018 wasn't just a bright spark for them. A win in the West Indies could really drive this squad forward and cement their places as one of the brightest groups of players England have had in recent memory.

The Windies are no pushovers

Despite all the confidence in the England camp, the excellent form and all the squad depth they could ever want, the West Indies aren't going down without a fight. 

Darren Bravo has managed to resolve his feud with the Windies management and has been welcomed back into the fold. Shai Hope needs no introduction to the England team after his heroics 18 months ago in England.

The bowlers aren't to be sniffed at either with the likes of Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel supporting the raw youth of Oshane Thomas and Alzarri Joseph. Whilst they may not be the calibre of quick associated with the West Indian sides of the 1980s, they will still be a handful for the England batsmen.

On paper England should be stronger, but cricket isn't played on paper and with some questionable pitches, a rejuvenated West Indies side and a record of just one series win since 1968, England can not underestimate the size of this challenge.

Morgan's side has a point to prove too

The World Cup is on the horizon, the ODI squad are blowing away all-comers and surely a first World Cup victory is just around the corner?

It's a familiar story, after all, it was the narrative heading into the 2017 Champion's Trophy, yet it didn't pan out that way. A slow pitch and an unwillingness to adapt their approach leading to England's downfall.

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Since then the ODI squad has continued to go from strength to strength. In Sri Lanka, the white ball side was victorious on the types of pitch that would've previously seen England sides of old falter.

Although a dead rubber defeat allowed some old concerns to return to the forefront, a big series win in the Carribean on the new slow, turgid pitches that have become regular place there could go some way to alleviating those doubts for good.

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