Eoin Morgan sensed England were just about in control throughout the first one-day international against West Indies after his century set up a 45-run win at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
Morgan (107) figured in a stand of 110 with Ben Stokes (55) and two others that put on more than 50 with Sam Billings (52) and Moeen Ali as England worked hard for their 296 for six after being put in on a sluggish surface following heavy morning rain.
West Indies undoubtedly had the best of the conditions but – despite a maiden ODI half-century for Jason Mohammed (72) and 52 from Jonathan Carter – Jason Holder’s team were bowled out for 251 in the 48th over as Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes shared eight wickets.
Asked if he felt England were always holding the run chase, Morgan said: “I’d probably say so, yes.
“Having been out there for the last 10 overs of our innings and knowing how hard it was to clear the ropes and gain momentum to have a big over of 18 or 20, I think we were ahead of the game through most of it – but certainly they pushed us. Any time they got a partnership going, they were never too far away.”
This first match of three tied in closely with Morgan’s prediction the previous day that totals of 300 or more might be achievable here, but would be hard-earned.
As it was, for the first time in seven attempts batting first since Cape Town more than a year ago, England fell short of that benchmark – although only just.
Morgan said: “I don’t think it’s easy or pretty (here). It can be hard work, especially getting yourself in. Any of the batsmen who scored runs today took a lot more time than they normally do to get themselves in – so it’s a learning curve for us.”
His reward was a milestone 10th hundred, a statistic he was unaware of until it was pointed out after the match.
The Irishman said: “I don’t count. (But) contributing to a win means everything.
“It’s very satisfying. Every time you take longer than anticipated getting in, you always want to make it count. I rode my luck and took the opportunity. When you’re in form, making the most of it is quite a big deal.”
He had reason to thank the development of a StemGuard addition to his helmet when he was hit by a Shannon Gabriel bouncer while on 48. Morgan was struck on the side of the neck, just as Australian batsman Phil Hughes was fatally in 2014.
The England skipper agreed the StemGuard protection which has since been developed is a very important piece of equipment.
He said: “Yes, absolutely. We encourage everybody to wear them.
“Joe (Root) and I were sitting chatting about getting hit on the head, before we went out to bat, because we use two different brands of helmet.
“Then coincidentally I got hit. I was early on the shot. It gripped a little bit … (but) I was absolutely fine.”