Eyebrows have been raised at the decision to schedule the series before the end of the island’s rainy season – with tour operators in the region typically advising against holiday in October due to the weather.
One of the two scheduled warm-up games in Colombo last week was abandoned without a ball bowled and although initial forecasts were better for the series opener, just 15 overs were possible with England reaching 92 for two.
The extensive ground covers were summoned before the rain even arrived in a vain attempt to protect the pitch but after more than three hours of solid, heavy downpour the groundstaff’s salvage operation was rendered moot.
The sides will meet again at the same venue on Saturday, one of two fixtures in the five-match series to have the safety net of a reserve day.
“It’s extremely frustrating, especially when the umpires made a really good decision to get the covers on before the rain actually started,” said Morgan, who was 14 not out when the players left the field.
“When it rains here it just doesn’t stop for hours. They did their best but unfortunately when they were taking the covers off there was a lot of overflow and three or four areas of concern, that were very muddy.
“When it gets to that stage player safety is paramount and I think the umpires made the right call. I think it’s going to be that type of series. There was no rain forecast for today which is devastating, we are keen to get ourselves into the series and get going and playing but hopefully we will have a bit of luck along the way with the weather.”
Asked if he was party to the logic behind the England and Wales Cricket Board’s scheduling, Morgan replied “I haven’t a clue” but held out hope of better fortunes.
“No, I’m not worried, not at all. I’d hate to sound pessimistic,” he said.
“The two games where we have reserve days we’ll get some form of game in and let’s hope that the weather is okay. We did come here in 2014, a little bit later, but I remember the forecast being the same every day and we just managed to miss the rain.”
The day began with former England paceman Darren Gough presenting debutant Olly Stone with his cap, but the Warwickshire bowler was denied the chance to prove his international credentials.
“I know he’s itching to get out there, he’s very excited about getting out there and pulling the shirt on,” Morgan said.
“Olly offers something different, he bowls with a bit more pace than the guys we have at the moment.”
Chris Gayle shocked one and all by opting to decline selection for his side’s upcoming ODI series against India but skipper Jason Holder is backing the stalwart to turn out for the West Indies in the 2019 ICC World Cup in England.
The 39-year-old swashbuckling opener recently called time on his first-class career with a century for Jamaica in his final game. Holder, who is currently leading the Windies outfit in India, believes Gayle remains one of the most entertaining batsmen in world cricket currently.
“Chris is an all-star and I think it’s clear he’s probably at the back end of his career now. He’s probably tapering off a bit. I just saw him play his last List-A game for Jamaica, scoring a hundred against my home team, which is great to see. I enjoy having Chris around. I think he’s one of the most entertaining players in the world but his absence gives another player opportunity,” Holder was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“We have a limited time leading up to the World Cup and it’s a good option to see what we have in the tank, in terms of our pool of players, when one door closes another one opens and hopefully it’s an opportunity to see another young guy coming through,” the all-rounder added.
The World Cup might now only be eight months or so away but Holder is confident that Gayle will walk back into the ODI outfit once completely fit.
“He’s definitely going to play the World Cup once his body holds up and he’s fit. We’d welcome him into the team. If you go back to the beginning of the year, Chris made himself available for the World Cup Qualifiers,” said Holder.
“He only did that really because he wants to play the World Cup, he wants to play well for West Indies and he wants to do well.”
Gayle has so far played a whopping 284 ODIs for the West Indies, scoring 9,727 runs at an average of over 38 with the help of 23 tons.
Prithvi Shaw’s electric start to his international Test career has seen the youngster earn rave reviews from former and current players alike.
The Mumbai batsman’s free flowing game has seen him being compared to Virender Sehwag, one of the finest Test openers produced by the country.
However, Sehwag’s former India and Delhi opening partner Gautam Gambhir believes such comparisons are premature.
“He (Shaw) is impressive, very talented – that is why he is there. He started his Test career on a very good note but there will be far bigger and far difficult challenges awaiting him,” Gambhir was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
“Whoever is comparing needs to think before doing that. He (Shaw) has just started his career and there is a long way to go. I have never believed in comparisons. He has his own individuality and Sehwag has his own. He has played one match and Sehwag over 100 Tests,” the former India opener added.
While Shaw is creating a big buzz with a rollicking start to his Test career, another youngster Rishabh Pant too has caught the eye with his performances.
The wicketkeeper batsman smashed a quick-fire 92 in the first Test against the West Indies and his attacking approach has seen increased calls for him to replace a struggling MS Dhoni in the limited-overs setup.
According to Gambhir, India’s wicketkeeping slot should go to the most in-form player.
“There’s never been a right time or a wrong time. It really depends on the combination, and ultimately it is performance that will keep you in the side. If MS continues to do well, he should be playing but if someone else does well, that’s where it has got to be,” Gambhir stated.