England are short-price favourites to win both the first Test and the series overall against West Indies, but Joe Root’s side are unlikely to have it all their own way on tour as they chase a first series win there since 2004.
The Windies’ recent poor form, coupled with England’s perceived superior quality across the board, means it will take a brave person to suggest anything other than success for the visitors in Bridgetown, but the fact they have not won outright in the Caribbean in 15 years, and managed just one Test win on their last two trips, could prey on their minds.
Joe Root’s men are expected to be geared up for the Kensington Oval opener as they officially begin arguably English cricket’s biggest ever year, with a home Ashes series to come after hosting the World Cup.
England To Win First Test @ 4/13
For now the focus is on getting off to a good start in the Windies and expect Root and co to come out smiling, despite testing conditions on what will be a dry pitch. Rory Burns is set to open alongside Keaton Jennings and both will have designs on securing their Ashes places.
Backing either to be England’s top batsman in the first Test could be a wise move, with Jennings taken to just outshine his partner.
Jonny Bairstow is likely to come in at the previous problem position of three, presuming he will not be wicket-keeper ahead of Ben Foakes, while skipper Root then takes up the mantle at four. Ben Stokes should then come in at five, so England clearly have enough firepower to take advantage.
Top England Bowler – Broad @ 27/10
The feeling is England will operate in Barbados with just one spinner, expected to be Moeen Ali, so Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Sam Curran will be given the chance to attack the hosts.
Broad, who took a hat-trick in one of the warm-up games, looks a good shout to end up as England’s top bowler in the first Test.
West Indies have largely been written off ahead of the series and there’s little wonder why when you consider they were outclassed by India in October and then humbled in two Tests by Bangladesh a month later.
There is little excitement about this team from the locals although skipper Jason Holder will aim to keep standards high while the recalled Darren Bravo will surely have a point to prove.
Hope – Top West Indies Batsman – First Test @ 59/20
Shai Hope memorably orchestrated the Windies’ impressive win at Headingley in 2017 and he is the stand-out batting talent in the home side, so is the obvious pick when looking at the West Indies’ top batsman markets.
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