In a departure from previous tours, and in the latest example of Andrew Strauss wanting to lead the England team in his style, the opening match of their West Indies trip, against a St Kitts & Nevis XI, will be a standard 11-a-side fixture, rather than the expanded 12 or 13-player contests that became common under Duncan Fletcher and Peter Moores.
Restricted to eleven for the match at Warner Park, it has also been the first significant selection process for Strauss and Andy Flower, the interim coach. Owais Shah has come out on the right side of the deliberations and is given an outing with Paul Collingwood rested. It is a chance for Shah to put more pressure on Ian Bell, who retains his place at No. 3, ahead of the Test series.
Shah was unlucky not to earn a recall in India and Bell's poor form on that tour has increased scrutiny on the No. 3 spot. Shah has just two Test caps despite making 88 on debut, against India, in Mumbai in 2006 and Strauss said he deserves his chance to stake a claim.
"He has pretty much done everything he could do," Strauss told the Press Association. "He has certainly played very well in the one-day game and he has pretty much consistently scored runs in four-day cricket for Middle+++ as well, so he is definitely knocking on the door very loudly. That is a great situation to have as a team, knowing there is someone very competent to come in."
The match is the sort of contest that would have often seen England use an expanded team in order to give practice to as many players as possible. However, even though this is one of only two warm-up matches - the second is against West Indies A - Strauss is eager for the players to be fully focussed on match situations from the outset.
England are prone to slipping up in embarrassing style against lesser opponents at the beginning of tours. Before the one-day series against India they were humbled by a Mumbai XI that barely had any first-class experience and Strauss believes these upsets are caused by players not quite knowing how to treat the warm-up games.
"My own personal view is that players got caught up somewhere between middle practice and a match because 13-a-side is not a proper game of cricket," Strauss told reporters. "That is why I think it is definitely worth giving 11-a-side a go, trying to challenge the guys about how we are going to play in the Test match and make sure we hit the ground running rather than ease into it too much."
Adil Rashid, the Yorkshire legspinner, has also been handed an early opportunity ahead of Graeme Swann as England play two spinners on a surface expected to be slow. Monty Panesar, under pressure for his place after a poor tour of India, is given the chance to find his form before the Tests. However, the omission of Swann is probably more down to his success in India and the confidence the management have in his ability.
Strauss and Flower clearly want to assess all their options ahead of the first Test on February 4 which means Stuart Broad and Ryan Sidebottom are on the sidelines for the opening match. But with two spinners an unlikely option during the series, both will be expecting a run-out against West Indies A next week and at least one is likely to line up as part of the pace attack in Jamaica.
England XI Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Owais Shah, Andrew Flintoff, Matt Prior (wk), Adil Rashid, Steve Harmison, James Anderson, Monty Panesar