Ed Hawkins ponders the betting options ahead of the final Test of the series from Gros Islet on Saturday, with England looking to salvage some pride...
"On two-year form we rate Anderson skinnier than 5/2 with just over four percentage points in our favour in terms of how often he wins"
West Indies v England
Saturday 9 February 14:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
West Indies have been dealt a blow with captain and talisman Jason Holder banned by the ICC for a slow over rate. Rules are rules but it robs the contest of the man who has made the series so memorable.
With seven wickets at 17 and 229 runs at 114 (including that brilliant double ton) Holder has shown he has the talent, charisma and grit to finally lead the revolution in the Caribbean game that so may have wished for.
It would be ridiculous to reckon West Indies are not significantly weaker without him. In his place will come either Keemo Paul, a 20-year-old rounder who will aspire to be the next Holder, just like a generation of younger West Indians, or Oshane Thomas. Thomas, 21, is quick-quick-quick.
Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel will shoulder the fast-bowling burden. Roach, man of the match again, has England's number. Gabriel may switch from being the stock bowler to something closer to shock, which he has comfortably in his locker.
With the bat Windies have been solid rather than spectacular - Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shai Hope and Darren Bravo all dropped anchor in Antigua. But that's what wins Test matches. England take note.
The England cheerleaders, who believed the hype after three toss wins and three victories in Sri Lanka have, predictably cosseted themselves with copy about how great it is to see Caribbean cricket back on an upward curve. The arrogance.
In that example you have one reason as to why England have been outplayed. Another is that they consistently pick batsmen without the technique or patience to build an innings. When Jos Buttler is being chosen off the back of what he did in the Indian Premier League then you have a problem with the production line and the strategy. Indeed, don't forget England play three wicketkeepers in this XI which is another sign of their weakness.
One of them could go for game three, with Buttler or Ben Foakes vulnerable. Who comes in though? Chris Woakes? The leaden-footed Keaton Jennings allowing Joe Denly to bat at No 3 and slot Jonny Bairstow into the middle-order?
The decision could be made for them if Ben Stokes fails to shake off a heel problem. He has missed training and if he is ruled out Woakes looks a shoo-in.
Fast wicket expected
There have been six Tests played at the Darren Sammy Stadium, all since 2003. The first-innings scores in those matches (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, d for draw, most recent first) read: 253-d/353-1/380-1/588-d/416-d/354-d. Rain prevented a result in the last Test against Sri Lanka last summer with West Indies heading towards defeat chasing 296 in the fourth. So we wouldn't be too concerned about the stalemates particularly as one was due to a negative declaration by Bangladesh.
Reports from Gros Islet suggest a quick pitch. Vasbert Drakes, West Indies coach, said it is a throwback to the glory days. He used world like 'intimidation'. England could be hopping about the place. There is a bit of rain forecast but nothing significant enough to suggest the draw is a fancy.
Stokes injury clouds issue
West Indies are 2.8615/8 with England 1.8910/11. The draw is 9.417/2. Having begun the series at 1.351/3 it would be remiss to ponder whether England are approaching value.
We have no problem with their bowling attack, particularly on a wicket which will suit the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Sam Curran. The problem, of course, is their batting. Should we really be backing a team at odds-on which has been exposed?
In Antigua it was not unfair to expect England to produce a better batting effort. It could hardly be worse after Barbados. Yet there is an argument for saying it was. The pitch was not as difficult and the first Test should have focused minds.
The absence of Holder gives them an edge, though. The problem, at this stage, is Stokes. If he's ruled out that advantage is gone. At this moment in time we're likely to side with the team that bats first as we still reckon that techniques don't hold up in fourth innings regardless of your hue - blue or maroon.
Brathwaite has form
Brathwaite has a bit of ground form here. He averages 51 from three Tests, recording three fifties. He gets a 4/1 quote from Betfair Sportsbook. Hope is the 7/2 jolly and Bravo 4s. Shane Dowrich, second to top series runscorer Holder, is underrated at 9s. England's top-bat market is tricky to decipher. Joe Root is, of course, the 10/3 jolly but given the frailties there's nothing wrong with picking out big prices like Buttler at 6s or Stokes at 7s.
Anderson clear value
James Anderson is the 5/2 favourite for top England bowler. On two-year form we rate him skinnier than that with just over four percentage points in our favour in terms of how often he wins. Over his career we've got just shy of 1.5% points. It's not a particularly glamorous bet but with significant unknowns in terms of team selection, this is a standout wager.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l