Alastair Cook hailed England’s ‘world-class’ bowling unit after their emphatic victory in the opening clash of the NatWest Series against the West Indies.
The home side triumphed by 114 runs in the rain-affected clash at the Ageas Bowl – giving them a 1-0 lead in the three-game series.
Cook was quick to praise his attack, who knocked the tourists over for 172 – after they were set a revised target of 287 to win in 48 overs.
Few skippers in world cricket have a stronger quintet at their disposal.
With fast bowlers James Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan backed up by off-spinner Graeme Swann – they are a potent attack.
And so it proved as the West Indies failed to launch a meaningful reply to England’s total of 288 for six.
Ian Bell grabbed the headlines with his second ton in limited overs internationals but captain Cook was keen to laud his bowlers for their display on another belting wicket at Hampshire’s headquarters.
‘The way the team was set up at the Ageas Bowl has worked for us in the past,’ said the captain.
‘We’ve gone in with a tactic of trying to play to our strengths with our five bowlers.
‘That makes it very hard for the opposition to get away from us. It’s extremely difficult to get big totals against four genuinely quick bowlers and a world-class spinner.
‘Sure, at some stage on good wickets it might happen but I’m always going to back our bowlers to play hard and to keep coming back, even if they do go around the park.
‘(Dwayne) Smith played really well at the top of the order for them.
‘But as a captain standing at mid-off, when you know you can throw the ball to four genuinely good, world-class fast bowlers, that makes it very comforting.
‘To put in a performance and win by over 100 runs after losing the toss was fantastic from the lads.’
Bell’s century ensured one of England’s openers has passed 100 in each of their last five ODIs – another pleasing statistic for Cook.
He added: ‘It certainly helps if one of the top order goes on and scores runs and that has happened
‘We all know that’s a basic of one-day cricket but it’s actually going out and doing it.
‘In the last five games we’ve played well at the top and the middle order have just had to chip in.
‘We’ve put a real focus on the top four – I don’t know why that’s happened five times in a row but let’s continue that and make it six or seven.
‘I thought we did really well in this match, although if I’m being critical I thought we should have got over 300.
‘But after losing the toss under those conditions, if someone had offered me 288 I would have bitten their hand off.’
– LEE JONES