Cricket Betting: England Irresistible at home
James Anderson is for me the best fast bowler in the world with the possible exception of Dale Steyn
Michael Vaughan expects Jimmy Anderson to shine with the ball and Ian Bell to pile on the runs at Lord's throughout what could be, weather permitting, a 3-0 Test Series between England and the West Indies.
A lot has been said about what went wrong for the English side during the winter, so we won't go over all that again.
Suffice to say this is a wonderful opportunity for England to whitewash an inexperienced West Indies side in their favoured conditions. Of the Windies' likely top seven, only Shivnarine Chanderpaul has experience of playing over here before. The little left-hander will be the key wicket and will make life tough for England's bowlers, but beyond him it's hard to see who is going to spend considerable time at the crease and get big scores.
I like both Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach and they can both produce spells of rapid pace bowling. But using the cherry in English conditions is a skill that takes getting used to, especially at Lord's, venue for the first Test, where the slope provides a unique feature that can leave some of the finest bowlers in the game scratching their heads.
Unless one of the three Tests is heavily affected by rain and we lose more than a day's play, I can't see any outcome in the series other than a whitewash. So 3-0 to England in the Series score market @Betfair odds of 2.7 is an obvious starting point as far as our wagers go.
James Anderson is for me the best fast bowler in the world with the possible exception of Dale Steyn. Bowling with the new ball in England in May against an inexperienced batting line-up, Anderson will feel like a kid in a sweet shop. Like all the best bowlers, he'll be targeting five-wicket hauls, not just the odd wicket here and there, and he looks the man to side with as the Series top wicker-taker @3.5.
A big element of England's success over the past couple of years has been consistency in terms of selection. It's been very much the same 12 or 13 players who have featured series after series and they've kept their places by performing. Eoin Morgan was probably the one player who didn't quite play to the level that both he and the selectors would have hoped and that's cost him his place in the Test side, at least for the time being. But the others have all contributed.
That said, there is a new face in the Test side - Jonny Bairstow. Whether he would have been selected ahead of a fit Ravi Bopara is something we may never know, but it's provided the Yorkshireman with a golden chance to prove he's ready to play at this level.
Bairstow's two biggest assets are that he seems to score runs for his county when they really need him to and that he is an extremely phlegmatic young man, nothing seems to faze him. In addition to that he can play the big shots, as well as being solid in defence, so all in all we have an exciting young prospect who looks to have all the assets to be a really good international batsman.
Lord's in May can be a tricky place to score runs. I'm almost certain the ball will swing early on so life could be tough for the openers on both sides. I don't think Andrew Strauss will be too fussed about the outcome of the toss because he'll be confident that his bowlers can exploit favourable conditions and that his batsmen have the experience to deal with the moving ball. But Darren Sammy may think his team's best chance is to bowl first and take early wickets to put England under pressure.
A win for Strauss' boys looks a sure thing to me @1.47 but rather than take that short price, I prefer a punt that the match will end on the afternoon session of day four, @9.6. I think England will be capable of posting a score of over 400 at least once, which will take time to compile, so I don't think it will all be over before the end of day three.
Batting may be tough early on so I'll be giving the top order a miss and siding with someone in the middle order for England top batsman honours. Kevin Pietersen would be an obvious choice but I actually prefer the chances of Ian Bell, who has been in fine county form and has a habit of scoring runs early on in a series.