IMPRESSIVE England strolled to a comfortable nine-wicket win over the West Indies in their opening World Cup warm-up match in Sydney.
All-rounder Chris Woakes narrowly missed out on a hat-trick in the first over and England were never unduly tested thereafter as they skittled West Indies for 122 in 29.3 overs.
England then only needed their top three batsmen, led by Moeen Ali’s 46, to complete a routine chase within 23 overs and before the SCG lights had warmed into full beam.
England had declared their intention to win both of their warm-up games before Saturday’s World Cup opener against Australia, although they might have wished for more resistance as they put the finishing touches on their preparations for the white-hot atmosphere of an MCG full house.
England rested frontline seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, but they were hardly missed after West Indies’ 23-year-old captain Jason Holder elected to bat first on a green-tinged wicket.
It was a decision he was soon ruing as England ran riot, led by Woakes, who found noticeable carry and movement.
The Warwickshire right-armer took three balls to strike, kissing the gloves of Chris Gayle as the ball got big on him down the leg-side, to remove the dangerman for a first-ball duck.
Darren Bravo lasted no longer as he nicked a vicious off-cutter and Woakes might have had a hat-trick as Marlon Samuels fended just inside the next ball.
West Indies then lost wickets off successive balls again to slip to 35-4.
Woakes had Dwayne Smith caught by Ian Bell at second slip before Samuels swiped at Steven Finn at the start of the next over to be bowled.
It was the type of shot selection that hinted the Windies were not fully invested in a contest that was granted unofficial status with both sides able to play all 15 members from their World Cup squads.
England, however, decided to stick with a tradition 11-man line-up, with Chris Jordan and spinner James Tredwell drafted in from the team that lost the Tri-Series final to Australia in Perth last week.
The two new faces were next to strike as Jordan bowled Denesh Ramdin and Tredwell’s first delivery squirmed through Jonathan Carter.
Ravi Bopara got his name on the wicket-taker’s list too, when Darren Sammy slapped him to Tredwell at mid-on.
West Indies enjoyed few moments to savour but – when Lendl Simmons crunched Tredwell into the second tier of the Members’ Pavilion – they at least reached three figures.
Tredwell would have the last laugh, though, scooping up a sharp chance at short cover off Woakes after Simmons had managed a face-saving 45 for his team.
The end was close for West Indies and Holder nicked Finn to Bell for his second catch in the cordon before Woakes completed his five-wicket haul as Andre Russell obligingly heaved a swipe to Jordan, who was stationed on the cover rope for the shot.
West Indies’ early demise left England with an hour and 10 minutes to bat before the break, and they used the time to effectively break the back of the chase.
Moeen did the majority of the spadework with a brisk 46, that included nine boundaries, from 43 balls.
He was first offered a reprieve to sum up the Windies’ afternoon when, on just seven, he carved Holder to gully only for replays to reveal the captain had delivered a no-ball. While Moeen fell just before the interval, after a 70-run opening stand with Bell, England were already well on their way needing just 43 from 36 overs when play resumed.
It took just 40 more minutes to complete the job, with Bell (35) and James Taylor (25) unbeaten, and England content to have claimed the win they had targeted before Wednesday’s final warm-up game against Pakistan at this same venue.
West Indies team manager Richie Richardson said he had been “shocked” by his team’s performance and revealed opener Gayle, who lasted only two minutes with the bat, had been allowed to rest after he did not reappear when his side took to the field.
“Chris Gayle being our most senior player, he’s played lot of cricket, and we want to preserve him as much as possible,” he said.
“He has been training well and he’s in good shape.”