Phil Salt admitted it would be “very special” to make his Twenty20 debut for England at the Kensington Oval, having spent six years of his childhood in Barbados.
Salt was nine when his father, a property developer, uprooted the family from Bodelwyddan in North Wales to the Caribbean island, where the now leading batter’s “focus” shifted from football to cricket.
He witnessed England take control of the 2010 World Twenty20 and, a dozen years later, Salt is poised to make his international arc in shortest form against the West Indies.
When asked what it would mean to be in the XI at some point in the five-game series that starts on Saturday and ends next Sunday, Salt replied: “It’s going to be very special.
“I saw a lot of cricket on this ground growing up. Every night of the week I had to go play or train somewhere else and the weekend it was cricket again.
“Previously in the UK my main focus was football and I was doing bits and pieces of cricket where I had a bit of a manhunt because my brother was playing but when I got out of here my focus shifted.”
Among Salt’s contemporaries was Jofra Archer, who caught up with England teammates at the Kensington Oval on Tuesday, doing light training exercises after a second surgery on a chronic elbow problem last month.
There is no timetable for Archer’s return – and he has yet to resume bowling – but Salt is pleased to have his now former Sussex team-mate in tow with the 17-man England squad for now.
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Salt said: “We’ve known each other since we were about 11. He was used to all kinds. The only time he threw seamen at that point was when tour teams came by and he made them jump everywhere.
“I used to lean back on the 30-meter circle – we were a bit older then, though. He used to bowl, hold leggies. It’s good to have him back now.”
Salt, who left the island in his mid-teens after receiving a scholarship to Reed’s School in Surrey, was never tempted to become loyal to the Windies, having been inspired by the 2005 Ashes shortly before leaving Britain. .
Five years later, he had a day to remember when Paul Collingwood’s team defeated Australia to take home their first global trophy, which Salt was encouraged to snatch by England’s victorious captain, having just received a fond memento from the losing skipper. .
Salt said: “When they won the T20 World Cup here, I was in the stands with Hall and Griffiths. I was in the top row and then came down and asked Michael Clarke for a shirt. He threw one at me.
“I still have it at home. It was like the undershirt. I wore it for about a year afterwards when I played cricket. I definitely washed it – it stunk.
“Then Colly came up to the stands with the trophy and as he passed by he said, ‘Here you guys are, touch him while you still can’. I touched it.”
Collingwood is now overseeing England’s preparations for the upcoming series against the Windies in the absence of Chris Silverwood, where Salt will attempt to make a claim against Jason Roy at the top of the order.
Salt, who first represented England in three one-day internationals against Pakistan when a replacement squad was named, knows he must seize his chance if asked, with the likes of Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow resting after their efforts in Ashes.
He added: “The opportunities you will get will be limited so you really need to grab them as soon as possible because they won’t keep coming and coming. When you come in, you have to show everyone that you’re good enough to be heard at that level.”
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