After their 3-1 test series victory against South Africa England conclude their summer with a series at home to the West Indies, ahead of the Ashes tour to Australia this winter
Parts of England’s team were very impressive in the first summer series. Moeen Ali took 25 wickets and scored over 250 runs to win man of the series. Stokes and Bairstow in the middle order were big contributors too and the seam bowling ranks of Anderson, road and Roland Jones had the better of a brittle South African batting order
England’s primary issue remains top order batting where there are three spots in the top five “open” in support of Root and Cook. Westley at 3 and Malan at 5 have been retained for the first West Indies test but Jennings has been replaced by Stoneman as Cook’s opening partner. Ahead of the Australia tour, England need these players to nail down spots ahead of a fierce fast bowling examination on Australian pitches this winter
The West Indies squad is youthful and is much weakened compared to a first choice squad with a host of experienced talents playing T20 cricket in the Caribbean Premier League. The missing batsmen include Chris Gayle, Lendl Simmons and Kieron Pollard. The most ¬effective West Indian bowlers at present include the mystery-spinner Sunil Narine and the accomplished all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, both not in England.
The test series is as follows
1st Test 17th August Edgbaston
2nd Test 25th August Leeds
3rd Test 7th September Lords
Edgbaston is notably the first day-night test in England, played with a pink ball and therefore half under floodlights. Batting is likely to be very ifficult as the pink ball tends to move around under lights
Those left to play in Thursday’s Test for West Indies can mount a good new-ball attack with Shannon Gabriel. Otherwise, the West Indian team under their 25 year-old captain, Jason Holder, are composed of players who are young, unaccustomed to winning and inexperienced.
Only one of the tourists has reached the age of 30, and he is not a batsman, the sort of old head required on a tour of England, especially in cloudy weather when the ball is moving around.
Since West Indies drew their last series against England in the Caribbean in May 2015 the West Indies have lost all six of their subsequent series.
They won their last Test abroad, a dead-rubber match against Pakistan – and that was their first away win, ¬outside Bangladesh, since 2007. In the Test rankings, England have gone third after defeating South Africa, while West Indies are eighth, ahead of only Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe
The players left to represent West Indies are the ones who have not fallen out with the West Indies Cricket Board, the body that has presided over the degeneration of the team that were world Test champions less than a generation ago.
In Gayle, Simmons, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul , Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Dinesh Ramdin, Narine, Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards this alienated XI would defeat the official side?
For this pink-ball experiment, therefore, England could hardly have asked for weaker opposition, aside from the West Indies’ new-ball attack.
So even allowing for England’s top five batting frailties this should be a one sided series and this is reflected in prices. For the Edgbaston Test England are 1/4, the West Indies 14/1and the draw 11/2
For the whole three match series prices are England 1/16 West Indies 33/1. So we are left looking at correct scores to find a backable price for the hosts, who will win the series.
Bet365 have England 3-0 at 8-13 and 2-0 at 13/5. 3-0 does look a good favourite but this is a series played in late summer where weather could be a factor. At the prices, where restricted play might be a factor into a possible draw in Septembet 2-0 at 13/5 appeals as the value.