Cricket: West Indies v England T20 Series Preview

The likes of Ben Stokes, Dawid Malan, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Jonny Bairstow are all missing this five-match T20 series in Barbados having only just completed Ashes commitments in Australia.

Step forwards Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy and co.

All games will be played at the Kensington Oval from Saturday through to the following Sunday (January 30). All start at 8pm UK and will be broadcast on BT Sport.

England have taken 17 players to the Caribbean, including three potential debutants; batter Harry Brook and left-arm quicks George Garton and David Payne.

Sam Billings is the only member of the squad who featured in the Ashes, with Yorkshire youngster Brook a late inclusion as cover whilst the Kent man hot foots it across the world from Hobart to Barbados.

But England should still have far too much for a West Indies team who have just lost a three-match one-day series 2-1 at home against Ireland.

Kieron Pollard will captain the West Indies, who are missing Andre Russell but have included experienced heads Nicholas Pooran and Jason Holder.

Pakistan summer series shows what much-changed England can achieve

For all the concerns about England’s Test Match cricket, there are absolutely none over the quality and depth of their limited overs cricket.

Eoin Morgan has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal.

Let’s look back to the summer when Coronavirus ravaged the senior squad picked for a one-day series against Pakistan and forced a last minute re-think.

The whole squad had to be put into isolation and a new one picked. But, led by captain Stokes, England won the three-match series 3-0.

Lancashire quick Saqib Mahmood claimed nine wickets with his searing pace and claimed the Player of the Series award.

And following some excellent recent form in the Big Bash for Sydney Thunder – 13 wickets in six games – he is primed to shine again.

Mahmood is the joint 5/2 favourite to be England’s series top bowler alongside leg-spinner Adil Rashid, whose career T20 record against the West Indies stands at 15 wickets from eight matches, including a best of 4-2 in the T20 World Cup opener in Dubai in October.

England’s squad for this series has more experience than the Pakistan one did.

Lancashire’s former Sussex opener Phil Salt played against Pakistan and has done all he can to feature again. 

Before Christmas, he was the second leading run-scorer in the Abu Dhabi T10 League with 344 runs from 12 games for Team Abu Dhabi and was the third leading run-scorer in the Lanka Premier League with 301 runs from 10 games for Dambulla Giants.

He offers plenty of appeal at 9/2 with bet365 to be England’s top series run-scorer and would be my pick.

West Indies’ batting falls short, opening the door for a 100/1 shot on Odean Smith

Ok, a different format to this T20 series, but West Indies lost their ODI series against Ireland 2-1 earlier this month as their batters fell short of the mark. 

They posted a top score of 269 in three games and really struggled on some slow pitches.

Shamarh Brooks was their leading run-scorer with 137 runs in three games, including scores of 93 and 43, and he scored 49 off 31 balls opening the batting in their last T20 international against Pakistan at Karachi in December. But he hasn’t been named in their squad to face England! 

In that Pakistan series – a 3-0 defeat – opener Brandon King posted scores of 67 and 43 in the second and third games and is the 11/4 joint- favourite with bet365 to be their series top run-scorer alongside Shai Hope.

But, if the West Indies’ batting encounters more struggles against an England attack with far more quality than Ireland’s, then that could bring swashbuckling all-rounder Odean Smith into the reckoning at 100/1 with bet365.

Smith is a 25-year-old with only eight limited overs internationals to his name. But he gives it one heck of a wallop with the bat in hand. 

Against Ireland, he batted at nine and 10 and posted scores of 18, 46 and 20 not out. 

His 46 came off only 19 balls, and he was close to posting his country’s fastest ODI fifty (Chris Gayle 19 balls).

Prior to Christmas, he batted at number six in their last T20 series against Pakistan.

If England’s bowling sparks a couple of expected top order collapses in Barbados and he gets time to rescue the situation, the 100/1 shot may come into play.

Now, clearly, a number of things have to go right for this bet to land, so a big stake is not advisable.