If the bookmakers are to be believed, West Indies are set to be trounced by a resurgent England in the forthcoming three-Test series, set to begin at Edgbaston on 17 August and followed by matches at Headingley (25 August) and Lord’s (7 September).
Despite a collapse in the second Test at Trent Bridge, England’s recent comprehensive 3-1 series win over South Africa produced a number of stand-out performances, and the side would now seem to be packed with buccaneering all-rounders for the first time in a long time — if ever. As a result of the series win, England cricket is on a high and odds on the forthcoming Ashes series show the punters are getting back on board too.
Against South Africa, Moeen Ali had one of the best sustained performances of his career, taking 25 wickets at 15.64, making him the leading wicket taker for the series, and scoring 252 runs at 36.00 with two fifties. Fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes also made a formidable contribution, scoring 299 runs at 37.37, including a highest score of 112 and two fifties, and taking 7 wickets at 43.00.
Other England performances across the South Africa series also suggest that the hosts are going to have too much firepower for the Windies with both bat and ball: new skipper Joe Root finished his first series in charge with 461 runs at 57.62, with 1 ton and 3 fifties; Johnny Bairstow found some form, scoring 330 runs at 41.25 with 3 fifties, including a memorable 99 in the last Test; and Alastair Cook was Alastair Cook, his 268 runs coming at 33.50 with two half-centuries.
Stand out performers with the ball (apart form Moeen) were: Jimmy Anderson (as to be expected), with 20 wickets at 14.10 (best 7/54); new boy Toby Roland-Jones, who took 10 wickets at 22.20 (including a 5-wicket haul on debut); and Stuart Broad, who chipped in with 11 wickets at 32.00, with a best of 3/46.
West Indies, on the other hand, come into the series without showing any particularly impressive form in its lead-up matches, finishing with draws against Essex and Kent (with a match against Derbyshire to come). Several batsmen managed to get starts against the County attacks without going on with it: skipper Kraigg Brathwaite scored 61 in the first innings against Essex (but followed this up with scores of 2, 8 and 0); Jermaine Blackwood produced a fifty in each match; while Roston Chase was impressive in his 81 in the first innings against Essex, which he followed up with 50* in the second dig (he didn’t play in the Kent match).
It’s been said many times before, of course, but West Indies bowling attacks of today have none of the penetration and ferocity of their illustrious predecessors, and there would seem at this stage to be little in their bowling line-up to worry the England batsmen. Nevertheless, Kemar Roach took 5/43 off 18 overs against Kent, while Alzarri Joseph picked up 4/72 off 22 overs in the same match.
Form alone coming into the First Test at Edgbaston would therefore seem to point to a comprehensive England win, and a quick troll through some of the major bookmakers profiled on the comparison site Playright would seem to back this up. 1/4 at SkyBet are currently the best odds you can get on an England win in the First Test, with a best price for the draw of 5/1 at SkyBet, William Hill, BetFred and PaddyPower.
If you do fancy a punt on the Windies coming out on top at Edgbaston, you can currently get 14/1 at BetFred, or 12/1 at William Hill, PaddyPower and 21Bet.
Bet365 also has a market in place for the overall series result (an England 3-0 win is currently 8/13). Given the fact that the series is being played so late in the summer, the possibility of all three Tests being drawn due to rain is not entirely out of the question, so the odds of 100/1 for a 0-0 series result could be the best value bet of the summer, and one that’s definitely worth having a tenner on!