England v West Indies: Hosts worth opposing at short odds

Cricketer Shai Hope
Shai Hope is one of several emerging Windies stars

Weather permitting, England are back in action on Friday but Paul Krishnamurty prefers their opponents for trading purposes...

"Windies are the sort of team that you should avoid at short odds, but be happy to get onside when they're the outsider. Especially when there is a high degree of uncertainty around."

Back West Indies 4u @ 3.7511/4
Place order to lay 8u @ 1.84/5

England v West Indies
Friday, 10:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event

Southampton weather forecast improving

It has been an incredibly frustating few days with the weather but, fingers crossed, the signals for Friday are positive. Right now, a Completed Match is 1.051/20 in our market. Let's hope that is right, because this could be one of the matches of the tournament.

Roy the star among exceptional batting line-up

England could barely have been more impressive in beating Bangladesh by 106 runs on Saturday. A total of 386 was more or less as good as anyone could have scored under the conditions. It reinforced their rock-solid title credentials after losing a cracker to Pakistan.

Jason Roy is now third in the runscorer lists after that magnificent 153, while Jos Buttler and Joe Root are fifth and seventh. There is no weakness in this batting line-up and, against Bangladesh, Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett demonstrated their depth with finishing bursts at respective strike rates of 225 and 300.

Windies urgently need win after washout

Windies must have been extremely frustrated after Tuesday's match was called off seven overs in. They'd won the toss, taken two early wickets and already established a very strong position.

Having lost to Australia - from a winning position - they need the two points and today's encounter could well determine their tournament. Defeat would leave them with a significant deficit on the leaders.

Windies bowlers dangerous in overcast conditions

If, as has been the case all week, this is played in damp, overcast conditions, that improves their chance. Their pace attack has already skittled Pakistan under favourable skies and South Africa may well have been set for a similar fate.

Until we know precisely what those conditions are, it is pointless trying to make any runs predictions. With the sun shining, 350 is certainly within range for both line-ups - England's match with Pakistan at the Rose Bowl in May yielded a remarkable 734 runs.

The first match here, though, was much more bowler-friendly as South Africa were restricted to just 227 by India. This scenario - in which par is probably around 300 - seems likelier. If bands higher than 300 in the 1st Innings Runs market start at odds-on, I'll probably be laying in hope of early wickets.

This could be closer than betting suggests

Without questioning England's class, depth or credentials in any way, they are worth taking on in these conditions, at least as a trade. If the match is shortened and they lose the toss, 3.7511/4 about Windies will look big value before even a ball is bowled.

If conditions are very bowler-friendly, I would argue England's advantage is again reduced. Yes, Jofra Archer has started his World Cup career well but the same can be said of Oshane Thomas for Windies.

Batting-wise, England have no peers apart from perhaps India. Windies will never achieve their consistency - as demonstrated when succumbing to Australia and Mitchell Starc when chasing a perfectly realistic, sub-par total.

However, they are a line-up capable of anything. From Chris Gayle down to Andre Russell at seven or eight, they have extreme power. Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer are superstars in the making. They hit 421 against New Zealand in a warm-up.

Try this back-to-lay trade on the outsiders

This is the sort of team that you should avoid at short odds, but be happy to get onside when they're the outsider. Especially when there is a high degree of uncertainty around - as here. My plan is a back-to-lay - take 3.7511/4 about Windies pre-match, then look to cash out at 1.758/11 should they shorten to that target at any stage.

Similarly, top runscorer picks are somewhat dependent on the weather. If this looks like being shortened - monitor that Completed Match market as well as the forecast - openers and the most powerful finishers are the best value.

For example Windies would surely promote Andre Russell, making 9/1 a standout bet. But if we get a full match, he will probably arrive at the crease far too late.

Bairstow marginally preferred of England batsmen

England are far less likely to juggle because they have so much power up top. I definitely prefer the top-three here and am backing Jonny Bairstow at 10/3. These are decent odds on the basis of his form of recent years.

Thomas looks a fine prospect

One further bet on Oshane Thomas in the Top West Indies Wicket Taker market. He's already taken 21 wickets in 12 ODIs and looks a serious prospect - their most dangerous bowler.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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