Highs and lows
England's cricketers have been involved in plenty of classic matches, taken some sound beatings and even enjoyed the occasional moment of triumph during previous tours of the Caribbean. We take a look back...
By Graeme Mair
Last Updated: 17/03/14 10:46pm
The post-Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen era begins on Friday with the first of three ODIs at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium in Antigua, followed by three Twenty20 matches at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
The Caribbean is a region with a rich cricketing history and has produced some of the game's finest teams and players.
We've had a scan back through the archives to pick out some of the best and worst moments from England's previous visits.
Triple the fun
England batsman Andy Sandham became Test cricket's first triple centurion during the course of a nine-day 'timeless' Test in Jamaica on the 1930 tour.
The Surrey opener (pictured right, alongside Jack Hobbs) played only 14 times for his country over nine years and, incredible as it may seem, was never picked again after making 325 in a first innings effort of 849 all out in the fourth Test at Sabina Park.
Sandham, who was three months shy of his 40th birthday, batted for exactly 10 hours and went past the previous Test record score, Tip Foster's 287 for England in Sydney during the 1903-04 Ashes, late on the second evening.
He was finally bowled by Herman Griffith the next morning, and his fine effort did not lead to victory. England declined to enforce the follow-on despite a first-innings lead of 563 and a draw was eventually agreed after rain washed out days eight and nine with West Indies 408-5 chasing a target of 836.
After three drawn Tests on England's 1968 tour, it needed a sporting declaration from West Indies captain Garry Sobers to finally break the deadlock in the Port-of-Spain.
West Indies piled up 526-7 in their first innings before England - led by skipper Colin Cowdrey's 148 - responded with 404.
Entering the final day, West Indies were 6-0 in their second innings - leading by 126 - with a draw seemingly inevitable.
Sobers had other ideas, bringing the game to life by declaring for the second time in the match on the final afternoon to set England a target of 215 in 165 minutes.
If that seemed generous, England's cause was further helped by the fact West Indies had dropped Wes Hall for the match and lost their other fast bowler, Charlie Griffith, to a leg injury in the first innings.
Attacking fields and an over-rate of 21 per hour also played into England's hands and, with opener Geoff Boycott playing the anchor role with 80 not out and No 3 Cowdrey stroking 71 at almost a run-a-minute after being persuaded by his team-mates to go for it at tea interval, the tourists made it home with three minutes - and in all likelihood eight balls - to spare.
Sobers was heavily criticised in the aftermath but almost made amends in the final Test, taking six wickets and making scores of 152 and 95 not out at the Bourda in Georgetown.
Almost, but not quite. England held out nine down for a draw on the last day to clinch a 1-0 series victory.
Fast forward 36 years and Cowdrey's men remained the last England side to win a Test series in the Caribbean.
The intervening period had seen the rise of the great West Indies teams under Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards' leadership, powered by a fast-bowling dynasty unmatched by any other in Test history.
By the time Michael Vaughan brought his England side over in 2004, it was already clear that times had changed.
England had won four of 29 Tests across their previous six tours but, in the space of a month, earned three victories in a row by margins of 10, seven and eight wickets.
The home batsmen had no answer to England's four-man seam attack of Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones and Andrew Flintoff.
Harmison was in the form of his career, blowing West Indies away for 47 in the second innings of the series opener at Sabina Park with figures of 7-12 and following up with 6-61 in the first innings in Trinidad.
Short and sweet
England had repeatedly gone home empty handed from global one-day tournaments until Paul Collingwood led them to World Twenty20 glory in Barbados in 2010.
It almost didn't happen. Rain ruined England's Group D campaign and they only made it through ahead of Ireland courtesy of a superior net run-rate.
But they got on a roll in the 'Super Eights', beating Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand to set up a semi-final with Sri Lanka in St Lucia.
Man-of-the-tournament Kevin Pietersen's 42 not out turned a target of 129 into a cake-walk and England's bowlers again proved difficult to get after in the final, restricting Australia to 147-6 on a typically excellent Kensington Oval pitch.
Craig Kieswetter (63) and Pietersen (47) put on 111 at 10-an-over for the second wicket before Collingwood strolled out to hit the winning runs with 18 balls to spare.
Life in the fast lane
West Indies were the dominant force in world cricket from the late 1970s all the way through the 1980s and England suffered at their hands as much as anyone.
The 1986 tour was a horror story from start to finish. David Gower's team went down 5-0 in the Tests and 3-1 in the ODIs, scorelines that fairly reflected the mis-match on show.
The visiting batsmen did not manage to score a century in the Test series and only skipper David Gower averaged above 30.
The loss of Mike Gatting, firstly for three weeks after Malcolm Marshall broke his nose in the first ODI and then to a broken thumb for another month immediately on his return, did not help matters, nor did the poor form of all-rounder Ian Botham.
A fast-bowling attack comprising of Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Patrick Patterson meant the pressure was constant on often lively pitches, while West Indies captain Viv Richards put an exclamation mark on his side's dominance with a 56-ball century - still the fastest in Tests - on his home patch in Antigua.
46 all out
Mike Atherton's first tour as captain in 1994 was following a familiar script with defeats in Jamaica and Guyana immediately putting England 2-0 down in the five-match series.
In the third Test at Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad, a seam attack of Angus Fraser, Andy Caddick and Chris Lewis appeared to have earned some respite with a fine collective effort that left England needing 194 to win late on the third day.
By stumps the score was 40-8, still five short of England's lowest Test total, after a devastating spell from Curtly Ambrose which included taking out five of the top six - all bowled, lbw or caught behind.
Ninth-wicket pair Lewis and Caddick resumed on the fourth morning and managed to get the six runs required to take England past the 45 they mustered in Sydney in 1887, before Ambrose's new-ball partner Courtney Walsh finished things off.
England's innings lasted 19.1 overs in total, Alec Stewart (18) was the only batsman to make double figures as Ambrose claimed 6-24 from 10 overs and Walsh 3-16 from the rest.
Things really couldn't get any worse... and they didn't! England climbed off the floor to win in Barbados a fortnight later thanks to twin hundreds from Stewart.
The legend of Lara
That same 1994 series ended with Brian Lara engaging record mode in the drawn final Test in St John's, Antigua.
The Trinidad left-hander was only 24 and playing in his 16th Test but had already shown a liking for the big time, making 277 in Sydney the previous year and 167 earlier in the series in Georgetown.
On an ideal batting surface at the Antigua Recreation Ground, Lara surpassed Garry Sobers' Test record score of 365 with a near-flawless innings spanning almost 13 hours and including 45 fours.
There was barely a false shot played during his 768 minutes at the crease, an edged drive off Caddick through the vacant slip region when on 286 the nearest England came to dismissing him.
He took sole possession of the record by pulling Lewis for four to move from 365 to 369, narrowly avoiding stepping on his own stumps in the process. That prompted a pitch invasion and a visit to the middle from Sobers to offer his congratulations.
Later that year Lara added the first-class record to his collection with 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham and, a decade on, reclaimed the Test mark from Australia's Matthew Hayden at the same venue against the same opponents.
This time the circumstances were different. West Indies were a fading force and, at 3-0 down in the series, already certain of losing their long unbeaten home record against England.
Lara, now into his second stint as captain, summoned up a final act of defiance, once again taking advantage of a shirt-front pitch to torment England's bowlers for 12 hours and 58 minutes.
As the runs continued to pile up, the target of Hayden's 380 - made against Zimbabwe in Perth six months - earlier loomed into view.
He got there before lunch of day three by hitting Gareth Batty for six and continued on to become Test cricket's first quadruple centurion before declaring West Indies' first innings at 751-5.
51 all out
Until last winter's thrashing in Australia, Flower had overseen a golden period for England, including three straight Ashes wins and spells at the top of the world rankings in all three formats.
The Flower era, however, did not get off to the most auspicious start in early 2009 when, having been placed in interim charge following the double sacking of coach Peter Moores and captain Pietersen, England were promptly bowled out for 51 to lose the first Test by an innings and 23 runs at Sabina Park, Jamaica.
Fast bowler Jerome Taylor (5-11) and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn (4-31) did the damage, England lasting 33.2 overs in total with only Flintoff (24) making double figures.
West Indies went on to win the series, the next four matches all ending in draws on a succession of lifeless surfaces as Flower and new captain Andrew Strauss laid the foundations for better times ahead.