LONDON, England (CMC) England will fly out to the Caribbean today, trying desperately to put a fractious preparation period behind them and keen on sustaining their unbeaten eight-year run against the West Indies. Under a new captain and an interim coach following the recent upheaval in English cricket, the 16-man squad will touch down in the evening in St Kitts, where they play their first two tour matches in preparation for the four-Test series.
Experienced batsman Andrew Strauss is leading the side, after Kevin Pietersen resigned following a controversial declaration that he was unwilling to continue working with Peter Moores.
English cricket authorities axed Moores leaving former Zimbabwe batsman Andy Flower to serve as interim coach for the tour.
Despite the turmoil and claims of internal divisions in the team, new skipper Strauss said he was hoping to make a clean sweep of both series.
“We want to win both the Test and one-day series and start building some momentum before an important summer,x Strauss said yesterday.
xWexve been playing some decent cricket over the last year but we havenxt nailed it home when wexve needed to. If we can just start being a little bit more ruthless in the way we play we are a match for most sides. And certainly if we do that Ixll back us to beat the West Indies.x
England have not lost to West Indies in a Test series since Michael Athertonxs side was beaten 3-1 in 1998 in the Caribbean.
But Strauss was cautious, however, acknowledging that the Caribbean side also had potential match winners.
xThe West Indies now are a very dangerous side the likes of Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle and Fidel Edwards are dangerous cricketers,x said the 31-year-old who has played 55 Tests and 78 One-Day Internationals.
xBut wexve got a hell of a lot of talent in our dressing room.x
England will be met on arrival by St Kitts Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas who is also the Minister of Sports, along with Senator Ricky Skerritt, the junior Sports Minister.
England will take on a St Kitts XI in a three-day match at Warner Park starting on Sunday and will also clash with West Indies xAx in a similar encounter starting two days later at the same venue.
The first Test bowls off February 4 in Jamaica and will be followed by matches in Antigua (February 13-17), Barbados (February 26-March 2) and Trinidad & Tobago (March 6-10).