CHANGE is in the air for the England team as they embark on their first series since the disastrous Ashes tour, and without stars such as Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook.
The tour to the West Indies, comprising three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches, is being seen as a chance for England newcomers Moeen Ali, Stephen Parry and Harry Gurney to catch the selectors’ eyes.
But I don’t view them as big prospects, and it’s a different trio I’m hoping will step up and deliver some match-winning performances.
England have three outstanding young talents in their ranks: wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler, who has shown flashes of his brilliance; all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was the find of the winter in Australia; and batsman Joe Root.
Root did not have the best time Down Under but is a tremendous player, and reminded some of that yesterday with 104 not out in England’s first tour match in the Caribbean. Stokes also impressed.
There are others. Chris Jordan can build on some encouraging one-day displays, Alex Hales will want to prove he has more to offer and Eoin Morgan could use some regular runs. But Buttler, Stokes and Root are men England can build their future around. They have the ideal setting. West Indies aren’t a bad side, especially in one-day cricket, but I still fancy England in both series, especially with the hosts missing Chris Gayle.
Perhaps the man most eager to impress, however, is coach Ashley Giles. He is a frontrunner to inherit Andy Flower’s role as Test boss, but it’s hard to imagine him being appointed if the team doesn’t shake off the losing streak that took hold in the southern hemisphere.
What England need first is patience. They’ve acknowledged all was not right and made changes; now we need to give those young players a chance to prove they can lead the next generation.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer. He has also served as captain and chairman of Warwickshire.