It’s the dawn of a new era for England in Antigua as they try to start the shoots of recovery after a wretched winter in which they won just one of 13 international fixtures against Australia.
And while the Caribbean has been the scene of some of England’s greatest hammerings at the hands of legends like Brian Charles Lara and Sir Vivian Richards, Ashley Giles and Stuart Broad will know the current crop of West Indies stars can be beaten.
The Windies, who are evens to take a 1-0 lead in the series, have had a torrid time of their own at the top table of international cricket after suffering humiliating Test defeats of their own at the hands of India and New Zealand.
Darren Bravo’s side are a different proposition in the shorter formats of the game as their performances with the white ball during the winter suggested but a recent shared T20 series with Ireland and a unconvincing win against the same opposition in the 50-over format should give the tourists plenty of confidence.
England, who are 4/5 with Ladbrokes for victory at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, may now be without Kevin Pietersen but the Surrey star’s absence will not be a huge blow considering he was hardly a fixture in the side when he was available.
Graeme Swann was a consistent performer for England with the white ball and following his retirement off-spinner James Tredwell will get the chance to cement his place as first choice spinner.
The Kent man took three wickets to halt the Vice-Chancellor’s XI innings as England went on to win their only warm-up match by 29 runs and the 32-year-old is 3/1 with the bookmaker to repeat the trick and be England’s top wicket taker in the match.
Joe Root was back in the runs with an unbeaten century alongside Ben Stokes who hit 59 in England’s win and the pair are both 9/2 to top score with the bat for Broad’s charges.
Despite England’s lengthy missing list it is the West Indies – 11/10 to win the ODI series – who will be hit harder by absent friends with mercurial batsman Chris Gayle and aggressive all-rounder Kieron Pollard both not available due to injury.
With both men capable of match winning performances, England, who are 8/11 to win the series, will be delighted not to see them walking to the middle at any point during these one-day internationals as they look to condemn the misery of the last four months to the cricketing scrap heap.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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