England host West Indies in a one off T20 International at The Riverside, Durham and Ian Ogg has previewed the encounter.
England have lost four of their last five T20s against the West Indies, coming out on the wrong side in both games in last year’s World Cup, including the final, while their previous encounters were back in 2014 in the Caribbean.
Those bare figures alone suggest the hosts should not be as short as 4/6 nor the visitors as long as 5/4.
England have, of course, been vastly improved in this sphere and lie second in the ICC World Rankings but have still only won half of their T20 games in the current calendar year (three from six) and in 2016 (five from 10); figures which again suggest they are not worth supporting at 4/6.
They do have home advantage and their record over the last couple of seasons does read well with defeats of Australia, India and New Zealand in one off games while they were unbeaten in five overseas affairs against South Africa and Pakistan, so the layers’ odds are understandable if not enticing.
The West Indies beat India in Jamaica on their most recent outing in this format with Evin Lewis starring with a splendid and unbeaten 125, the left-hander’s second century in a short T20 career to date which has seen him either go large or depart relatively early. This will be his first taste of overseas international cricket and England in September may not be ideal for all that the wickets tend to be produced with batsmen in mind.
Conditions are of no concern for the likes of Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels – who has already been teeing up any possible confrontations with Ben Stokes which should guarantee a warm reception from the crowd – and Kieron Pollard while many of the visiting side are firmly in T20 mode following the Caribbean Premier League.
Lewis enjoyed a fine season in the CPL as did Chadwick Walton and both men are considering in the top West Indies batsman market at 7/2 and 11/2 respectively, but it is obviously a competitive field with both Gayle (3/1) and Samuels (9/2) worthy of considerable respect.
It is a similar story in the equivalent market for England where Joe Root and Alex Hales are deservingly vying for favouritism but a powerful line up which could include Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan and, of course, Jos Buttler means that there is huge strength in depth in this division.
Neither bowling attack looks as strong and a case can be made for getting with whichever side is batting second as both teams have the men confident to chase down any total. That’s something to bear in mind at the toss but I think there is some mileage in siding with Tom Curran in England’s top bowler market.
Curran is a newcomer to international cricket but made an impressive start in two outings in this format against South Africa, claiming a wicket with his second ball and adding four more over the course of the two games.
Curran has come to the attention of the international franchises and has already been lined up for T20 stints in South Africa and Australia this winter. He will be much more at home at this level with those two games under his belt and has enjoyed a decent season for Surrey in the NatWest T20 Blast, taking 12 wickets (second only to Gareth Batty) at a shade over 23.
Jake Ball and Chris Jordan were more prolific and are available at the same price but Curran’s clever variations should come into their own at the Riverside and he’s worthy of support at a general 7/2.
Posted 1845 BST on 15/09/2017