Jos Buttler lamented England’s batting, but admitted they must find a way to restrict the West Indies, whose six-hitting prowess saw them claim a four-wicket win in the T20 opener.
England raced to 77 for none at the end of the powerplay, then 112 for two at halfway, but collapsed to 171 all out in 19.3 overs, losing their last five wickets for six runs in 15 balls in Barbados.
Adil Rashid marked his 100th T20 appearance – he was presented with his cap by Andrew Flintoff – with two for 25 and became the first English male bowler to collect 100 wickets in the format.
But the Windies batters lived up to their reputation as big hitters, bludgeoning 14 sixes in total, possibly aided by a half-hour rain delay that made bowling conditions trickier.
Defeat in the first IT20.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 13, 2023
Buttler accepted figuring out how to stop them so readily being able to clear the rope must be a priority for England’s bowlers in the remaining four matches.
“From the position we were in at halfway, to only end up with 170 is an area we could have improved in,” Buttler said. “The wicket definitely got harder and the West Indies adapted.
“They hit a lot of sixes as a team, that’s something that is a trademark of their side and we’ve got to find ways to limit that. Obviously the swing in the game with sixes is so big.
“You’ve got to find ways to get it out the arc, try and find ways to take wickets as well, be aggressive and be committed. It’s a great test for us and we’ll find out lots over the next few games.
“But certainly we need to find a way to score 20-25 more runs in that phase which would have been a really good score on that wicket.”
Veteran all-rounder Andre Russell marked his first international appearance since the 2021 T20 World Cup with three for 19 and an unbeaten 29 off 14 balls, as the Windies won with 11 balls to spare.
He is a regular on the franchise circuit, but has been coaxed back into the Windies set-up by former team-mate and now head coach Darren Sammy just a few months before they co-host the T20 World Cup.
“I still have a lot left in the tank, but based on discussions with the coach I told him that after the World Cup, I would walk away from international cricket,” the 35-year-old said.
“But if they need me, I will come out of retirement. If West Indies should still need me, I would be willing to put in the hard yards for them. I always want to play for West Indies.
“Sometimes people might think it’s all about playing leagues and all of those things, but I try to make sure that I look after my body and make sure that when this call up is here, I’m ready.”
England have no time to lick their wounds after a miserable World Cup and ODI series defeat against the Windies was followed by another setback here, with the second T20 on Thursday in Grenada.
They were vindicated in selecting two leg-spinners as Rashid and Ahmed shared five of the six Windies wickets and the pair are set to feature in two matches in Grenada and another couple in Trinidad.
“It was great to see them operate together,” the England captain added. “We need to find out if it’s an option here before we get to the World Cup.
Rashid continues to shine for England and will almost certainly be instrumental in their T20 World Cup defence in six months’ time.
“He was class again,” Buttler said. “He’s been a key player for England for such a long period of time, to reach 100 caps shows his longevity, his skill and he’s been such an important member of our team.”