West Indies v England
First Test Match, March 8-12
Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound Antigua (2pm UK)
The England bandwagon rolls on into the Caribbean, where they have not won a series in almost 20 years.
That should be a warning to all concerned, because despite the fact that the West Indies have for some time been an inconsistent side, they love nothing more than beating these opponents in their own back yard.
However, there are reasons to believe that, this time, England can get it right.
It’s important to get the series off to a good start, especially when there are only three Tests. England are generally slow starters, warming to their task as a series unfolds.
This time, however, with points to prove and new opportunities arising, I think they are going to be just about good enough to get their noses in front.
I’m not saying it will be easy, but the 11/10 on offer with Unibet looks worth taking.
Bairstow to back-up Ashes century
The fact that Jonny Bairstow finished England’s wretched Ashes series in some form, and continued that in the warm-up match in Antigua, suggests he has hit one of those purple patches where he can prove profitable to side with.
He scored a century in his last Ashes appearance at the SCG and did so again in last week’s warm-up match.
I can’t believe he is fifth in market to be England’s leading first-innings run scorer, and the 5/1 on offer with bet365 is just too tempting to overlook.
Yes, Joe Root is the obvious choice. However, I think 11/8 is skinny. Though you could even back Bairstow to lead the charge and have a saver on Root to cover your stake on his Yorkshire team-mate.
On the West Indies team, skipper Kraigg Brathwaite knows this ground well, having played first-class cricket since the age of just 16.
A patient player, he could prove tough to dislodge for England’s bowlers.
He has a Test double century to his name, and he warmed up for the series in fine style, with 276 for Barbados against Jamaica in Bridgetown last month.
He is my idea of the Windies’ leading first-innings run scorer at 11/4 with bet365.
Ton up for anyone in the first innings has significant appeal
One other bet of interest is the ‘batter to score a hundred in the first innings’ market with bet365.
Here, the 10/11 about England looks tempting. With Bairstow already nominated, Root an obvious contender, plus Alex Lees coming into the match in-form and trying to impress, there are several candidates. We only need one to succeed to make it pay.