West Indies v England
Wednesday 16 March 14.00
TV: live on BT Sport
Windies go again
West Indies are likely to be slightly disappointed with stalemate in the first Test at Antigua. Although the game petered out, it should not be forgotten they were bang in charge when reducing the tourists to 48 for four.
Or maybe they are relieved. They were in trouble themselves briefly on day five and are probably grateful for some poor England decision-making. Coach Phil Simmons insisted he was never worried at the last.
They look a compact and gritty outfit at the least. There was also swing for each of their seam bowlers. With the bat Nkrumah Bonner continued his upward trajectory with an impres-sive first-innings century.
Probable XI: Brathwaite, Campbell, Brooks, Bonner, Blackwood, Holder, Da Silva, Joseph, Roach, Seales, Permaul
England are in no doubt that their performance in Antigua was good. Skipper Joe Root sounds very pleased with himself and the team. We're not convinced.
The batting frailty remained in the first dig and only a fine innings from Jonny Bairstow prevented a major problem. The pace attack looked impotent, too. An injury to Mark Wood doesn't do much to solve that.
Nor does the continued absence of Ollie robinson. England chose to name their XI the day before and Robinson is not fit. So that means Saqib Mahmood comes in for a Test debut. And the rather stodgy pair of Craig Overton and Chris Woakes remain..
Confirmed XI: Crawley, Lees, Root, Lawrence, Stokes, Bairstow, Foakes, Woakes, Overon, Leach, Mahmood
There have been only two draws in the last 17 Tests at Bridgetown. But from the early images of the surface at Kensington Oval it looks very flat indeed. It puts an asterisk by the the recent data.
And we use the term data loosely. The last Test there was England's beating in 2019 when Jason Holder got a double ton in his side's second innings and Roston Chase took eight wickets.
The first-innings totals in the last three Tests read: 312-204-289. We would be surprised if the first-innings total did not surpass 350, regardless who bats first. Bet the runs odds here.
Draw price the best option
West Indies are 3.259/4, England 2.0421/20 and the draw is 5.04/1. The latter price is again of most interest. We recommended a trade on the stalemate in game one and that paid off. Going in again looks wise with a road expected. We could well see the draw odds-on by day three.
That's not to say the pitch won't break up and crumble. It might. So that's why we recommend getting in at 4.707/2 and getting out at close to evens. Back and then lay back for twice the stake for profit on all three results. The weather forecast is disappointing for sunseekers although no rain is forecast. Bet the match odds here.
The price on England is particularly poor. Root appeared intent on bowling Ben Stokes into the ground, a dangerous ploy given he and Bairstow appear to be the glue holding them together.
Holder will be a popular wager at 7/1 with Sportsbook for top West Indies bat in the first-innings. But those who can remember three-times the price it's a hard sell.
Bonner is perfectly acceptable at a surprisingly big 9/2. Kraigg Brathwaite is Mr Reliable and is far better in the first than the second. He is price-boosted to 10/3.
Root is also boosted by Sportsbook and goes off at 23/10, one of the biggest prices we've seen for some time about the England runmachine. Centurion Bairstow, in great touch if we include Ashes form, is 3/1.
The pair may be of interest at 6s and 10s on the man of the match market. It could well be a market dominated by batters. Bonner and Brathwaite are both 14s. Bet the Sportsbook markets here.
Analysis of the side markets and best bets here.