England came up just short in a 15-run defeat against the West Indies, despite a century on one-day international debut from veteran Twenty20 specialist Michael Lumb.
It appeared for much of the tourists’ chase at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium that, ironically, a 34-year-old in his first ODI would kick-start England’s ‘new era’ after their Ashes misery and its much-chronicled aftermath.
Instead, the telling deeds turned out to be those of the West Indies’ captain Dwayne Bravo (87), who engineered a brilliant recovery from 45-4 in the 16th over to 269-6 in successive century stands with Lendl Simmons (65) and Darren Sammy (61).
Lumb (106) and Moeen Ali, the latter in his first international match of any type, replied with an opening partnership of 96, but once they were gone, no one else could rise to the challenge as England’s sorry sequence this winter extended to 13-1 across the formats this winter.
Moeen chipped a catch to long on off Dwayne Smith and Luke Wright then mustered only a single before pulling his ninth ball straight to midwicket off Sammy.
Lumb – who played for Yorkshire from 2000-2006 – stayed the course until the 37th over, his trademark powerful strokeplay centring on drives down the ground and flashes through the off side and his 109-ball hundred containing seven fours and two sixes.
He became the ninth batsman in ODI history to make a century on debut, and just the second for England after Dennis Amiss 42 years ago – long before Lumb himself was born.
It was a memorable performance, but not a winning one as the West Indies went 1-0 up with two to play.
Lumb carved a catch to cover off Ravi Rampaul; then England’s powerhouse middle order failed to materialise.
The introduction of Sunil Narine’s unconventional off-breaks was too much for Ben Stokes, bowled round his legs sweeping, and Yorkshire’s Joe Root, who gloved a catch behind trying a similar shot.
Jos Buttler holed out in the off-side ring and, in his 100th ODI, Ravi Bopara could not quite come to terms with requirements as the home seamers took the pace off the ball.
The West Indies were put in and undermined by early spin, but finished with a flourish thanks to Bravo and then Sammy’s whirlwind 50 from only 33 deliveries.
Sammy hit five fours and four sixes as 116 runs were plundered in the last 10 overs.
By contrast, England had made all the early running.
The experiment of opening the bowling with Root worked a treat as the part-time off-spinner’s first spell read 5-1-13-1. James Tredwell was then a like-for-like, but frontline, replacement for Root at the pavilion end, and he too soon struck – as did Root’s club colleague, first-change Tim Bresnan (3- 68).
Smith hit Root for a towering six over long off in his second over, but otherwise the West Indies could not get started.
Kieran Powell tried to drive Root on the up but fell to a brilliant diving catch by Chris Jordan at short cover.
It took Tredwell only three deliveries to see off the West Indies’ other opener, Smith edging on to his pad and wicketkeeper Buttler scampering round to take another diving catch in the leg side.
Kirk Edwards did not convince and eventually missed an attempted drive at Bresnan and was bowled off-stump.
When Moeen turned one from round the wicket to make Darren Bravo his first international victim, lbw, the hosts appeared to be in danger of faltering permanently.
But their captain and Simmons had other ideas in a crucial fifth-wicket partnership.
Dwayne Bravo took 36 balls to reach double figures and Simmons’s cut for four off Tredwell was the only boundary in almost 20 overs. It was a period of necessary caution, but the powerplay brought 41 runs and the wicket of only Simmons – backing away against Bresnan to try to beat the off-side ring but managing only to loop a low catch into the wind.
If that was not a percentage shot, almost all of Bravo’s were in a 74-ball 50 which contained just three fours.
As Stuart Broad restricted himself to only six overs, Jordan’s line struggled badly in the cross-wind.
He ended up bowling an extra over in wides and Root’s ninth and final over cost 23, as some typically robust hitting from Sammy ensured England would have to bat very well after all.
Lumb did just that, but was acting alone.
Broad insisted it was not all “doom and gloom”, despite seeing his side twice throw away strong positions to lose.
He refused to be too critical of his side, saying: “You look at both innings and we were brilliant for 40 overs in each and then struggled a little bit, so it’s not doom and gloom.
“We’ve obviously lost this game, but we did a lot of good things. Lumby’s hundred on debut was a huge achievement for him. It was a fantastic knock.”
Broad also insisted it was the bowling and not the batting that was key to their defeat.
“I think we conceded 100 off the last seven overs, for which a lot of credit has to go to the West Indies batmen, and we also have to look at ourselves and know that we need to get better there,” he said.
“I wouldn’t look too much at the batting, I think it was the last 10 overs with the ball that really hurt us.”