A shortened match as a result of the weather would play into the hands of the West Indies so that's worth bearing in mind. But we know that Chris Gayle will play his natural game irrespective of conditions or lost overs. He's the man to side with, says Michael Vaughan.
The West Indies were somewhat disappointing in the last match. They traded as favourites when Chris Gayle was smashing the ball to all parts of the ground but, once he went, the innings lost momentum. They fell at least 25 runs short of what they should have posted and didn't bowl or field particularly well.
The arrival of Gayle (I suppose we can't fault his contribution), Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell for this ODI series was meant to boost the team and give them potential match-winners. But though we've seen sparks of brilliance from Gayle, Smith and Bravo with the bat, the body language and commitment of the players has been a concern. In the Test series they may have come up short but that was due to a lack of quality and experience. So far in the ODI series they've come up short through a lack of discipline, effort and some rash shots. If these guys I've mentioned are the big ODI stars of the team they need to start playing like stars. Or else, Darren Sammy is better off sticking with some of the guys who played well in the Test series who if nothing else, at least seemed a lot hungrier to play international cricket.
As for England, they will ring the changes ahead of this game. Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann will sit this one out. That's partly so that they can get a rest and partly so that if any of them picks up an injury ahead of a big game in the future, they will have a player coming in who feels part of the side and has had experience of playing under pressure.
Replacing Stuart Broad is Stuart Meaker, a genuinely fast bowler. He can reach 90mph on his day and also bowls well with the old ball. He'll be important in the middle overs and will be given the job of breaking partnerships. He may go for a few because he's not in the team to necessarily just be an economical bowler but hopefully he can take wickets in the process.
Chris Woakes will essentially be coming in for Tim Bresnan. He's not as quick as Bres but if the ball is doing something he could be a tricky bowler to face. That said, if there's no assistance from the pitch some of the Windies' big-hitters may decide to target him. And he can hit a ball, can Woakes. He won't necessarily come in and quietly accumulate runs, but he can certainly clear the boundary rope.
As Graeme Swann takes a break, James Tredwell is given a chance to impress. He doesn't turn it as much as Swann but he's a neat and tidy bowler who can keep things tight. Fields well, bats a bit.
The forecast for Headingley on Friday isn't great and we may well lose overs to the rain. We lost a lot less than expected on Saturday and fingers crossed that any disruption is minimal. But let's consider the effect it could have on the match. If there are less than 30 overs per side I think this would play into the hands of the Windies, whose style is more suited to a shorter format. If there are more than 30 overs each I think England will be too good for them, even without Broad, Swann and Bresnan. Without knowing how much play we'll get, it's hard to see what the value call is.
We can have a more reasoned attempt at the "Team to score most sixes" market. The Windies arguably have too many big-hitters and not enough run accumulators in their team. Everyone needs a Jacques Kallis or a Jonathan Trott in their team somewhere. That's for them to worry about another time but with Gayle, Bravo, Pollard and Sammy in the side, we've got to be fancying the Windies to hit the most maximums at around 1.654/6. But in the 'most fours' market it's England who get the nod. They don't try to hit sixes but they have plenty of in-form players like Bell and Cook who have had no trouble scoring fours simply because they're timing the ball so well. They look a decent wager at around 1.84/5.
All eyes will be once more on Chris Gayle. In many ways it was a shame he got out when he did because he was entertaining the crowd and because another five or six overs of him at the crease would have made for a fascinating run-chase rather than England cruising to the target, which was what happened in the end. He looked superb before that LBW decision and he may not even have to hang around too much to have 60 or 70 next to his name. Which could be more than enough for him to finish top of the pile.