West Indies may have final ODI say against England
Nobody is getting excited about the quality of one-day fare being dished up by the West Indies and England in Antigua, least of all the bookies. Coral have been underwhelmed and remain fairly downbeat about the prospects of both teams in the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh.
The Windies, the reigning world champions in cricket’s shortest form, are 13/2 to retain their crown, while England are, at 10/1, the outsiders of the main eight nations.
They start a three-match Twenty20 series later this week, but first there is the small – and it is small – matter of the ODI series to be decided after England drew level on Sunday.
This was an extremely welcome win for Stuart Broad’s men, but it hardly felt like the beginning of a new era as the batsmen once again tried their hardest to throw away a winning position before Ravi Bopara and the captain steered them home.
The main positive taken from the game was the performance of the four England spinners: James Tredwell, Joe Root, Moeen Ali and debut boy Stephen Parry, who took 8-97 between them.
Using so many spinners was a gamble that paid off and coach Ashley Giles will have been particularly pleased with man of the match Parry, who should prove a useful addition in Bangladesh.
But we should put this in perspective: if Bangladesh does turn out to be a spinners’ paradise, would we back these four against some of the world’s best tweakers playing in their own conditions?
England used eight bowlers in all on Sunday and the tourists will understandably be keen to experiment with a team picked essentially for Twenty20 rather than 50-over cricket.
If it turns as much on Wednesday then England should again have an advantage, especially if the West Indies rely so heavily on their lead spinner, Sunil Narine.
But with the series now on the line, I suspect the hosts might raise their game enough to edge this decider. 11/10 the West Indies makes more appeal than 8/11 England.
Not one player from either side scored at faster than a run a ball at the weekend and there have been just 11 sixes struck over the two games. Centurion Michael Lumb scored two of those maximums in the opener, but the other nine have been made by the West Indies, who are now an attractive 8/11 to continue their dominance in this area.