Ryan - Bring it on
In his first blog from the West Indies, Ryan Sidebottom says he is looking forward to making a winning start.
Last Updated: 27/05/09 2:42pm
I've heard that you're all shivering over there in the UK!
It's currently 33 degrees here and it feels every bit that hot, thanks to it being a very dry heat. I know you won't be shedding any tears for us but it is different to the heat we experienced in St Kitts at the start of the tour, where it was quite cool and breezy. What a brilliant place to kick off this second leg of the winter though - the hotel was brilliant, the practice facilities were fantastic and the pitch was flat, which pretty much suited us all in getting something out of it.
It was a chance for me to get some overs under my belt. You can have all the nets in the world, but there is no substitute for getting out into the middle and playing. It was kind of like pre-season for me having been out for six months and I'll admit to being a bit sore after the first day. It was the aches that we all feel on that first proper day back in the field and I had a decent massage and managed myself back into the groove.
It felt a wee bit weird in my first spell, but I settled down and felt really good on the second day, bowling two or three spells. I bowled decent areas and there was a hint of reverse. To be honest, my bowling is pretty uncomplicated - I just look to make the batsmen play as often as possible and get what I can from the conditions.
We've got the first Test match beginning in less than 24 hours here in Kingston and like every country you play in, it will be all about getting the runs on the board. If we bowl first we will look to hit them hard as it does tend to flatten out in the West Indies after the first ten or so overs. If we bat - we'll be looking to spend plenty of time at the crease, to put on a big score and get them under pressure. From what I've seen it does look like a 'bat first' wicket, so the toss could prove a key factor, but we will see. It sounds a cliché but its true - the first hour will be crucial.
Although the press are writing up that we should win - and win easily (don't they say that against most of our opposition!), this West Indies side should not be underestimated. They have the number one batsman in the world in Shivnarine Chanderpaul, plus Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle. Then they have seamers who bowl at 90mph plus. While they don't possess an obvious spin option, they will be competitive - you mark my words. Historically, this team can be brilliant in sessions - maybe one or two at a time, but then their performance can drop off. From England's point of view, it's about us being consistent, session on session, which will create opportunities of its own.
Andrew Strauss has a relaxed mindset to leading the side and it's been a really enjoyable first couple of weeks for the squad. KP (Kevin Pietersen) has been brilliant to be around and he's also in the runs, which bodes well for the Test match. We've been given the opportunity to get away from things and reflect - whether that's playing golf or sitting on the beach. With such a packed schedule, this downtime is crucial to staying fresh and performing to the best of your ability when it comes to game days.
I'm just relieved to be back on the field, with a stack of overs under my belt. There is no greater feeling than putting the three lions on and giving everything for your country - and you can be sure that we are all focused on getting off to a winning start in the first Test match - bring it on.