Ed Hawkins analyses the top WI bat market with the big man a possible non-runner in St Kitts on Sunday night...
"When we filter the runs scored by individuals in the last two years with Gayle absent, the picture, unfortunately, isn't that much clearer"
West Indies v England
Sunday 10 March, 20:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Hope and Hetmyer disappoint
Chris Gayle is not expected to line up for West Indies in St Kitts for the second time in three days. The knees need a rest and with the hosts using the contest as prep for the World Cup, John Campbell could get a game.
Still, that doesn't mean we should ignore the value on Gayle as top West Indies bat. If he doesn't play we get our money back and if he was a bet in game two at 9/4 he is a bet here at an inflated 11/5 with Sportsbook.
As we said in our stats preview, Gayle should be shorter on career form and he has a terrific record at the venue where he been playing in the Caribbean Premier League for his new franchise, the Patriots.
It is worth analysing the other protagonists, however, because with the short jolly expected to be ruled out there could be big value lurking.
When we filter the runs scored by individuals in the last two years with Gayle absent, the picture, unfortunately, isn't that much clearer. That's because the top three batters in terms of weight of runs are absent themselves.
Marlon Samuels has been far and away their most reliable with 336 in 13 followed by Evin Lewis with 292 in 12. Chadwick Walton is third with 196 in 11.
Shai Hope, who has been opening with Gayle, will be expected to step up. His strike rate in the study period is healthy, going at a clip of 168. And an average of 26 per innings (no not outs) is better than Samuels' 25. As we said in our match preview, Hope seems becalmed by Gayle's presence and we might see the fury return. He could be a player who likes to be top dog.
With scores of six and seven so far in the contest he has been hugely disappointing. But he is finding his way as an opener in the format. He has done it eight times in 11, a fledgling career.
Bettors may prefer to plump for the overs on his runs quote with Sportsbook. They go 5/4 for more than 29.5. It's not a wager that would fit our pure value criteria, however, with him busting the mark just twice when opening the batting.
Pooran a punt?
Nic Pooran's average of 24 runs per innings will catch the eye, too, in betting without Gayle. Pooran already has a top-bat effort in this series to his name after an impressive destruction of the England attack under pressure in game one.
At 13/2 it is reassuring that he has ground form. Last time out in the Caribbean Premier League for Barbados Tridents Pooran top scored with 44 from 32.
We've not mentioned Shimron Hetmyer yet. That's because his T20 record without Gayle isn't worth mentioning. Hetmyer has a surprisingly poor return of 70 runs in five matches.
Given the way he went after England in the Tests and ODI Hetmyer looked primed to repeat in the shorter format. But he could be an example of the truth being stranger than the fiction.
The attacking 81 in the Bridgetown Test and unbeaten 104 in the 50-over contest at the same venue are outliers in the context of the tour. He's not worried England in nine other outings. The 7/2 doesn't look much fun.
Another possible wager is the even money that England have the top match batsman. With Gayle likely to be out the tourists surely have an edge, given the absence of a man with a dangerous record in his place. Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan are all capable of putting the hosts in the shade.
2019 - points p-l: +12.6 (39 points staked)
2018 - points p-l: +9.86 (89 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)