Phil Salt hopes that his familiarity with conditions in Barbados, where he spent six years growing up, will help to lead England to victory in the deciding one-day international at Kensington Oval.
“It’s good to be back,” said Salt, who will open alongside Will Jacks. “I love it. It’s a very special place for me. I love being here and playing here. Hopefully put on a bit of a show.”
Salt lived in Barbados from the age of nine to 15, while his father worked as a property developer on the island. He attended England’s Twenty20 World Cup final victory at Kensington Oval in 2010 as a fan.
Salt is relishing his new opening partnership with Jacks. The pair added 77 in 8.2 overs and 50 in 5.5 overs in the two ODIs in Antigua.
“He’s probably the best partner I’ve batted with in white-ball cricket,” said the Sussex batsman. “We have an understanding where it’s not just about getting a flyer by hitting a boundary but rotating strike. If somebody gets the momentum then you feed each other the strike.”
Salt believes that the two have contrasting strengths.
“I have different things in my game which mean on wickets like this, I might get off to a flyer a little bit quicker like hitting on top of the bounce through the off-side. Jacksy’s slightly more leg-side than me. There’s certain things from different bowlers where if they bowl left-arm spin, Jacksy will take the impetus and he’ll get the flyer. It’s good fun batting with him because we have that understanding of each other’s games.
“Whatever we’re doing is working. Although Jacksy got them last game and I got them first game, I feel like we’re yet to go on with it and really bang them to rights outside of the Powerplay. When that happens, it will be entertaining to watch.”
Salt said that he and Jacks were making no conscious attempt to emulate Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, England’s opening pair in the 2019 World Cup.
“The way England have played for so many years now, when myself and Jacksy were coming through, we understood that this is the way that you have to play if you want to play for England. More than anything it’s second nature. The clues of success are in there.”
Yet Salt admitted that, after scores of 45 and 21 in the opening two ODIs, he was frustrated not to get a larger score to cement his berth in the side. While he averages 38.4 in ODIs with an outstanding strike rate of 134, Salt’s lone century in 16 innings came against an understrength Netherlands side last year. Aged 27, he now wants to become a guaranteed first-choice pick.
“Maybe I haven’t done myself justice when I’ve had those starts, and I’ve earned the right to sort of go on, but it’s a learning curve. If I keep playing with this same intent and same processes and keep that the same, I’m sure there’s something around the corner.”
Like Jacks, Salt did not receive a central contract in October. But he said that he is happy juggling playing for England with the freedom to play in franchise tournaments around the world.
“I didn’t expect the call,” he said. “I didn’t really mind the whole stuff with the contracts because I still have that freedom to decide where I want to go and what I want to do.”
At Kensington Oval, Jofra Archer also eased back into training. The Barbados-born seamer pace bowler remains some way short of a return to cricket, and is not currently planned to travel with England to Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago, the two remaining islands that they will tour.