As limited-overs cricket in the West Indies moves into a new phase with a host of long overdue innovations, their new captain also sets out intent on reversing a string of recent disappointing results in the shortened version of the game.
Coloured clothing with designated numbers for the players, white balls, black sightscreens, all now adopted universally, finally comes to the Caribbean 20 years after they were first introduced by Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer.
But the heart of the matter in the five-match Cable & Wireless One-Day series, which starts this morning at Kensington Oval, centres on two teams.
One is trying to erase the disappointment of losing three of their last four One-Day tournaments, the other is still trying to come to grips with the sudden resignation of their long-serving captain.
West Indies, their confidence sky-high following their 3-1 Test series win, have, for some time under-achieved in limited-overs cricket.
They lost to England twice, including the final in the Champions Trophy in Sharjah last December. They were winless in each of their four matches in the Golden Jubilee in Pakistan a few weeks earlier and were runners-up to Pakistan in the 1996-97 World Series Cup in Australia.
While the West Indies may have secured the psychological advantage ahead of the One-Day exchanges, England can boast of a far superior recent record, having conquered teams led by Viv Richards, Richie Richardson and Courtney Walsh in ten of the last 14 encounters.
Lara, the new West Indies captain, said this is the time for change.
``I'm predicting success,'' was his forthright comment yesterday. ``Whichever way it comes, we'll be very happy with it.
``What we are trying to get is a momentum going for the next 20 or so One-Dayers because we are getting into the World Cup next year and if we can start on a positive note in this series it would be good for us.''
Speaking after a lengthy practice session at Queen's Park yesterday, Lara said the West Indies were aware of their opponents' strengths.
``They have got a lot of batting all-rounders and bowling all-rounders, whatever you choose to call them,'' Lara said.
``They've got a relatively good team and I think we can expect a good performance from them. But our guys are capable of winning and we should have the advantage.''
With Mike Atherton stepping down as captain after 4 1/2 years in the job, it places unexpected responsibility on Adam Hollioake.
There were many who felt the job for the One-Day series should have been given to Hollioake in the first place after his success in Sharjah when Atherton stood down.
``It is a little bit difficult to focus when you're not expecting to do the job,'' Hollioake said.
``I've just got to try and get on with it. Things spring upon you in your cricket life and you've got to deal with them.''
Hollioake admitted that things would be different from Sharjah where England beat the West Indies by four wickets in the preliminaries and three wickets in the final when they appeared to be heading towards defeat.
``We had a few things which we stuck to and they worked very well over there,'' he said. ``Things here can be more difficult than Sharjah.
``West Indies are now on home ground. We have to adjust a few things and also apply them to the wickets that we going to play on out here.''
England's squad, which features six changes from the Test team, has several inexperienced players with no great reputation. Yet, it's a team with players who are ideally suited to the one-day game and the point was proved in Sharjah where all-rounders like Hollioake, Dougie Brown, Mark Ealham, Matthew Fleming all made vital contributions with either ball or ball.
England are expected to make one change from the team which warmed up with an easy victory over the University of the West Indies Vice-Chancellor's XI on Friday.
Fast bowler Angus Fraser, who was used merely to make up the numbers, will give way to left-handed batsman Graham Thorpe. It means that there will be no room for Atherton, one of only three Engand batsmen to have scored a century against the West Indies in One-day Internationals.
There was no word on the West Indies' final 11 yesterday, but opener Stuart Williams and either Franklyn Rose or Mervyn Dillon seemed likely to be omitted.
LORDS OF KENSINGTON: Knight and Lara run hot in opening One-Dayer
by Haydn Gill
A GRIPPING match of drama, tension and excitement ended with England pulling off a nerve-jangling win in the first Cable & Wireless One-Day International, yesterday.
After England were propelled by an impressive century by Nick Knight, Brian Lara finally provided his loyal subjects with a hundred at Kensington Oval. But an error in judgement on Lara's part appeared to have swung the fascinating match decisively in favour of the enthusiastic visitors at a crucial stage.
When Lara walked off the Oval after an exhibition of breathtaking strokeplay, West Indies, seeking the ground's record winning target of 294, were 219 for six in the 35th over with only the hobbling wicket-keeper Junior Murray and the bowlers to follow.
In the end, England won by 16 runs, but the fightback staged by Rawl Lewis and Franklyn Rose in an eighth-wicket stand of 44 in nine overs brought the West Indies right back into the contest.
The margin of victory was comfortable, but the 45 minutes that Rose and Lewis spent together gave West Indies so much hope that the heartbeats of the more than 10 000 spectators in the ground would have then throbbing at a rate faster than the rhythms of Footsteps, the 1998 road march in Trinidad.
Not a single spectator dared leave the ground during the period when Lewis and Rose, with a combination of lusty hits and intelligent working around of the ball were seemingly taking the balance back the West Indies' way.
This reconstituted England team, which featured eight changes from the team that lost the final Test last Tuesday, is very efficiently drilled in the rudiments of One-Day cricket and Adam Hollioake's boys held their nerve and came up trumps largely with the use of well-disguised slower balls.
Lewis, who made 27 off 33 balls, had barely raised his right heel after missing a delivery from Mark Ealham. Alec Stewart removed the bails and after countless television replays, the drama was heightened by the breakdown of the lights. It meant that umpire Basil Morgan had to walk nearly all the way back to the Pickwick Pavilion to learn of Halley Moore's decision in favour of the fielding team.
Rose, whose 24 came from 29 balls, followed in the next over, fooled by a Matthew Fleming ball of reduced pace that induced him into hitting a catch down the lap of mid-wicket.
Courtney Walsh walked out to join Curtly Ambrose with 20 runs needed from 24 balls. The match was quickly over when Walsh was bowled off the pad from another slower ball from Ealham.
For years, Barbadian spectators have yearned for something special from Lara at Kensington. The West Indies captain delighted them this time with a proliferation of commanding strokes that showed why he is one of the most feared batsmen in the game.
Lara, and the similarly exhilarating Carl Hooper, triggered wild scenes when they were together in a third-wicket partnership of 88 in 13.4 overs that stunned England.
Coming together after a short-lived flurry by aggressive openers Philo Wallace and Clayton Lambert was over within four overs, Lara and Hooper lashed the bowling to the extent that by the time 15 overs were completed, the total was 111 for two.
Hooper effortlessly hoisted the ball back over bowlers' heads and had reeled off nine fours in 45 off 34 balls when he tried to clear the long-off boundary. He never made it and England were (rest of report omitted on the Nation web site)