One of the potentially iconic matches at the Cricket World Cup will take place on Friday if the rain allows it when England and the West Indies meet on what is usually a featherbed of a wicket down in Southampton.
If there is one thing the rain has done this week it is condense the table and meaning that much earlier in the tournament teams are playing in matches they can ill afford to lose. That is very much the case for both these sides, in particular West Indies.
Not swayed by the annoyance of the rain putting paid to their chances of winning bets, Kev and Steve are back to preview what could be one of the best matches of the tournament. Both men have bets for the contest. Click play below to hear what they are.
I had wanted to see the real England stand up after two low key performances and they did that in spades against Bangladesh. They were helped on their way with the bat but once their openers set a platform more often than not there is only one winner and that proved to be the case. It is when they don’t lay a base that they can sometimes get into problems, as we saw against Pakistan in the match before.
The acid test for England here may well come with the ball. These two met in an ODI series in the Caribbean earlier in the year and it was very high scoring and if anything there is more power and confidence in this West Indies batting line up now so it is going to be vital that England bowl well and preferably take early wickets. They wilted under the pump against Pakistan. They can’t afford to do that here.
This has been a very encouraging beginning to the tournament for the West Indies but they still only have three points to show from their opening three matches and if they are going to push for the semi-final they need to click into gear pretty quickly. That makes this contest particularly important for them which will see the pressure really on them. We might get an idea of their title credentials by how they handle that tension.
We can expect plenty of fire and hostility with the ball from the West Indies. They have shown it in droves so far in the tournament. I guess their success or otherwise will come down to how well their top order bat. If there is one weakness it is that it is pretty much just sloggers down the order which is fine if they come off but an innings can fizzle out quite quickly if they don’t, as we saw against Australia.
It looks like Jos Buttler has won the race to be fit for this match and he’ll keep his place in the side. Moeen Ali returns from the birth of his child to replace Mark Wood whose ankle has become a problem once again.
West Indies are set to have Evin Lewis back in place of Darren Bravo while the general consensus is that Andre Russell will be fit to play having sat out the washed out game with South Africa earlier in the week.
The rain is due to stop falling in time for this match so as long as the outfield can be sorted we should get a decent game here and I’m going with three bets. The first of those is the wides where the line is 15.5 at 888sport. These two are wide machines. In the four ODIs between the pair earlier in the year the total count read 28, 22, 19 and 14 in a match which had just 40 overs. Three of the five innings they have bowled in full in this tournament have contained double figures for wides. West Indies fired down 24 wides against Australia. These two are extremely likely to combine for 16 of them at least.
I fancy Ben Stokes could be a big player for England with his all-round game here. He has a performance line of 46.5 which looks on the low side for a man who has five wickets in the tournament and already a score in the 80s to his name too. He has scores of 101 and 68 on this ground and his career best bowling figures of 5/61 were here too. He has three 50s against West Indies in the past and two three wicket hauls. Just an every game in every department covers this number. A good one with either batters it so I’m on the over here.
Finally I’ll take Jos Buttler to be the man of the match. He has a century and a 50 to his name in the last two innings and earlier in the year belted 150 from 77 balls against West Indies. On his last outing in Southampton he blasted 110 off 55 balls and so those kind of innings makes me think he is better value to be the man of the match than the top England batsman at twice the price. I accept we’re opening the field to other players but we might open our options too as if the top England score is a 70 or an 80 then a Buttler 60 or 70 at the speed it is likely to come at could be seen as more valuable. I can’t think of many times when Buttler would top score for England and not be man of the match so I’ll play the 14/1 on that than the 7/1 on the top bat.
WON – Back Over 15.5 wides for a 6/10 stake at 1.75 with 888sport
Back B.Stokes’ Performance – Over 46.5pts for a 5/10 stake at 1.87 with 888sport
Back J.Buttler Man of the Match for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 with Coral