England start their three match series against West Indies on Thursday at Edgbaston, Birmingham and it is a step into the unknown for both sides as they take part in their first day/night test match with a pink ball. Nobody quite knows what to expect from this new format of the game or what to expect from the ball; Stuart Broad for example, has bowled one ball with this new pink ball before in his life. It is largely believed that batting will become increasingly difficult as the match heads into the night time, with play scheduled to finish at 9:30PM and this could massively affect the game plans of both teams. Whatever happens though, this promises to be an interesting test match, full of surprises.
England come into the match having beaten South Africa 3-1 in the recent four match series and confidence will be high amongst the England camp following that victory. They come up against a West Indies side who have traditionally struggled away from home, but did win their last away test against Pakistan in the UAE. There’s no doubting that England have a better team than the West Indies, but you never know what incarnation of this England team you will get. Test matches involving England almost never end in draws anymore unless weather plays a part and you’d fancy England are either going to blow the West Indies away here or suffer from a horrible batting collapse and lose.
England start the match as big favourites to win at odds of 2/11 (Ladbrokes), whilst West Indies are available at the huge price of 14/1 (Ladbrokes) to pick up an unlikely victory. If you think the draw will happen, then that is 6/1 (Ladbrokes) and with rain predicted on both Friday and Sunday, you never know.
I don’t think there’s any value in betting on an England win, whilst at 14/1, West Indies could be worth a little flutter. England have suffered some very heavy defeats recently, losing four of the last twelve home tests and you do never know with this England side. That coupled with the unknown elements in play with the day/night test and the new pink ball, mean that the 14/1 on offer for a West Indies win looks tempting to me.
Joe Root is available at 11/5 to be the highest scoring England batsman in the series and after reaching 50 in six of his last 11 matches, as well as a 49, he is Mr. Consistency and those odds look like good value to me. He scored 131 runs more than any other England batsman in the recent series win over South Africa, which suggests the added burden of the captaincy does not seem to have negatively affected him.
In terms of bowlers; Moeen Ali is 9/2 to finish the series with the highest number of wickets for England, something which he did against South Africa. Even though Moeen is technically England’s second spinner, he is a wicket taker and he has proven time and time again that he is the man to get the job done for England late in games. 9/2 looks like a big price for a man who took five more wickets than anyone else against South Africa and who has plenty of experience on these pitches.
Joe Root to be Top England Batsman – 11/5 (Ladbrokes)
Moeen Ali to be Top England Bowler – (9/2)
West Indies to win – 14/1 (Ladbrokes)