Strength in depth
If proof beyond England's drunk and disorderly Ashes campaign was required that they are nation that prioritises white over red (the colour of the ball that is), then look no further than the five-match Twenty20 series against West Indies, which starts on Saturday.
England are no better than 4/9 with Betfair Sportsbook to win the series away from home against a team which, although desperately disappointing in the World Cup in the UAE last year, set the standard in the format for years.
A bit more evidence? This is a reserve England team. There is no Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood or Jofra Archer. In which equivalent Test series away from home would England be such skinny favourites with a weakened team? Afghanistan and Zimbabwe (if they played them). But that's it.
Make no mistake, this is not an attempt to discredit the players England have chosen to tour the West Indies. Nor is this introduction a way of setting up a wager on the home team. We expect England to win. And to win well. They are a dangerous and powerful unit even without those star players. Which is kind of the point.
Eoin Morgan, of course, leads. Morgan has become something of a lightning rod for fiery Ashes rows. He gets everything he wants. Joe Root doesn't. Or so they say.
What is true is that Morgan has infinitely more talent at his disposal. England could pick three XIs in T20 and be strong. They can't find even half a Test team to compete.
James Vince, Tom Banton, Phil Salt, George Garton, Liam Dawson, Sam Billings, Saqib Mahmood, David Payne and Reece Topley will all hope for an extended run in the team to try to force their way into long-term plans.
Indeed, there are some analysts who might argue that some of the second-string are better than first-choice. Vince has been unfortunate not to play more often given his destructive displays in franchise leagues while Mahmood will surely soon be a regular if he replicates Big Bash and PSL form. Tymal Mills, for so long a stellar performer, couldn't be ignored when England lost Archer to injury. He is the blueprint.
Others, like Payne of Gloucestershire, might be too late to the party. Payne's best performances were a few years back and England seem to have picked him just when he is levelling off. They may have oodles of talent to select from but the charge that England don't recognise talent earlier is a fair one.
In their match against a Barbados XI on Thursday, England fired a warning of what was to come. They amassed 231 with Jason Roy thrashing 115 from just 47 balls. Banton and Vince were also in the runs.
The traders make England 3/1 to win the series 4-1 and 8/1 for a whitewash. The latter could look generous with the home side unsure of what approach to take as they look to build a new-look team.
All on Pollard
Kieron Pollard captains but there is no Andre Russell for lower-order muscle. And there is a confused approach with the openers. Shai Hope has not been, nor is he likely to be, the sort of destructive batter required. Hope averages 19 and strikes at 130 for West Indies in that position. Brandon King's form has been much better but consistency (in terms of strike rate) has eluded him.
Even coach Phil Simmons says there is a paucity of batting talent to choose from domestically. Beaten 2-1 by Ireland last week in an ODI series, the malaise could continue.
Much will depend on Pollard, whose consistency on the top-bat market is extraordinary, and Nic Pooran who should bat at No 3. There is no more talented hitter in the world game than Pooran. Nor is there anyone more frustrating.
Pooran turned up just twice in the World Cup, had back-to-back disastrous IPLs and a smattering of decent scores in the CPL. West Indies must hope he reproduces the form he showed in his appearance for the Windies, with 64 from 37.
With the ball, West Indies are pinning hopes on spin. Akeal Hosein and Hayden Walsh could well combine to cause England issues on a Barbados surface which has been sluggish in the CPL. Yet it is a surprise there is no room for Oshane Thomas, their most potent wicket-taker.
One suspects that England's commitment to chaos and West indies' flirtation with it, will be how the series is won. And handsomely, too. With the tourists so short in the overall odds, we'll head to the correct score market to get a better price.
West Indies v England special on Cricket...Only Bettor