“Here, we are again, at the place where Marlon Samuels put his feet up,” said an English journalist before Jason Roy’s interaction with the media at Eden on Saturday. He was referring to an April evening less than one year ago when a still-padded Samuels spoke to reporters with his feet on the table. This was after anchoring West Indies to the World T20 title, a chase that ended with a buccaneering effort from Carlos ‘four sixes’ Brathwaite.
Brathwaite now goes about his day job with a bat painted bright green. Roy though didn’t look like he had chewed a lemon when the interaction opened with a question on that early summer evening that left Ben Stokes shocked and on his haunches.
“It’s been a mixed bag, really. Obviously, getting to the final was incredible but what happened after that was disappointing,” said Roy.
Between then and now, England have got a fair amount of experience in cricket’s shorter format. They won one-day series against Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They have also played two T20Is since the World T20 final, losing to Pakistan and winning against Sri Lanka. So, it fit that Roy said England would want to end this ‘dead rubber’ on a high.
Not just for pride but because every game between now and the Champions Trophy in June would be a “stepping block going into that huge competition.” Unlike India, who don’t play any ODIs after Sunday, England play eight; three against West Indies and South Africa and two versus Ireland.
Should they indeed end this three-match series on a high, it would be a first for England at Eden. In one month short of 30 years that One-day Internationals here --- it started with Salim Malik’s 36-ball 72, an effort that would be incredible even now and one that made Krishnamachari Srikkanth’s 103-ball 123 look sedate --- England have played three One-day Internationals at Eden. And lost all, including a World Cup final against Australia in 1987.
Separated by nine years, in 2002 and 2011, India beat England here twice.
But tomorrow’s always another day. “There’s nothing wrong with our team, we are in good spirits and remain a confident side...,” said Roy. Three hours of training at Eden on Saturday afternoon showed how England are approaching this game.
The numbers may tell a different story but a week where Denis Istomin ensured a new men’s singles champion at Australian Open and Real Madrid lost twice after a 40-game unbeaten run could end with another surprise.