Cricket Betting: Meet a Windies side that is more of a gentle breeze than a Gayle
We all know about Chris Gayle, Chanderpaul and Sarwan but three players does not a Test side make. Andrew Hughes talks us through the dangermen and the not-so-dangerous men that England will be facing in the upcoming Test series.
From Champs to chumps, the decline of West Indian cricket has been well-documented and needs no rehearsing here. Like England in the nineties, the lack of depth in the domestic game has meant that the one or two genuinely world class performers have been joined by a continuously recycled bunch of familiar and largely failed players. But a new coach in John Dyson and a drawn series in New Zealand has led to tentative talk of the oft-heralded, but yet to materialise, revival. So are England in danger of underestimating their hosts? And what will the West Indian XI look like? Read on for the Betfair guide to England's latest Test opposition.
Gayle. Sarwan. Chanderpaul. At positions one, three and five, the West Indies have players who would be worth their place in most Test teams. Gayle is a dangerous and destructive opener who has surprised many people by taking well to captaincy. Sarwan these days operates at number three with Chanderpaul at five and these two provide the grit. But they are badly in need of an attacking middle order batsman to build on their foundations. The search for one of those continues.
Xavier Marshall is the latest bat-swisher to be given a chance. So far he has failed to impress, but he is young. A stroke-playing, laid back Jamaican with a history of disciplinary problems, he could be Chris Gayle's younger brother and the captain clearly thinks highly of him. Of more concern is the lack of a second opener. Devon Smith has been called up for the First Test in Jamaica, one of eleven openers tried since 2005, with newcomer Dale Richards also included as the potential twelfth. Richards deserves his chance, having scored enough runs domestically for Barbados and being on the brink of quitting the game last year. Whether he is, the answer at the age of thirty-two, remains to be seen.
The bright spot in the West Indian batting line-up is at six. Brendon Nash was born in Australia of Jamaican parents and moved to the island two years ago, having failed to establish himself at Queensland. The first white player to represent the West Indies since the seventies he overcame some scepticism to mark his first tour with solid half-centuries at Napier. Of slight stature, he is a steady accumulator who, in the absence of the injured all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, adds depth to the batting line-up.
Maybe He's Crazy?
Since spinners in the West Indies are there mainly to carry the drinks, don't expect the likes of Suliemann Benn and Amit Jaggernauth to feature often in the next few weeks. Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards will be the spearhead and on their day, they can be a handful. As can Daren Powell, for different reasons. He's a Gayle favourite, but for how much longer remains to be seen. His petulant outbursts in New Zealand do not sit well with a bowling average of 46.22. And unlike Taylor or Edwards, he has not shown any signs of improvement since he arrived on the Test scene. The only other pace option is young Lionel Barker, the speedster from Monserrat, who once broke Lara's forearm with a bouncer. But the bottom line is that if you can get through the opening burst from Taylor and Edwards, you can cash in.
A Waltz in Sabina Park
So how to sum up the current West Indian XI? A batting line-up that is stodgy in parts and flaky in others and a pace-heavy bowling unit relying on two quicks being at the top of their game. In other words, a distinctly ordinary outfit, capable of occasional flashes of inspiration but chronically unable to push home any advantage they gain. Andrew Strauss could not wish for a better opportunity to make a winning start as captain and to build some desperately needed momentum ahead of the Ashes. England are solid favourites to win both the First Test [2.3] and the series [1.64]. Nineteen years on from England's shock win in Jamaica, it is now the West Indians hoping for miracles. Chris Gayle's team are [3.6] to win the opening Test on his home ground and [4.5] to take the series.'.$sign_up['title'].''; } } ?>