England begin their three-match one-day series with West Indies, and Steve Harmison is fully expecting them to win.
The English have picked a strong squad to face the Windies, who they will play in Antigua and Barbados over the coming week.
Writing in his new column for TheGamblingTimes.com – Harmison is confident that England will come out on top.
“I think England will win the series – it is a big series for some of the players, but they are strong enough to win this series against the West Indies – which again depends on which West Indies turns up,” Harmison wrote in his latest column.
“We have known for years gone by if the proper West Indies turns up you are in for a real game, but if they turn up at 70% then England will win. Fingers crossed the real West Indies turns up – if both are on top form and we get a great series but I fully expect England to win the series.”
This is the next step in preparation for England ahead of hosting this summer’s ICC Champions Trophy, an event which West Indies have not qualified for, something which new coach Stuart Law is not happy about and is seeking major improvement.
— westindies (@westindies) February 23, 2017
“It’s a great little tournament, the Champions Trophy, the mini World Cup and to not be there probably isn’t where you want to be,” Law said, who is confident of turning things around in the Caribbean is looking forward to facing his one-time mentor in England coach Trevor Bayliss.
“I learned a lot from ‘TB’,” Law said when asked about his coaching style.
“I saw the success he had doing that, and you’d be mad not to take a little bit from it.
“When the game starts I get more emotional (than Bayliss), but overall it is an Australia way – to have faith in your players being prepared as well as they can be.”
England are going into the match with a near full strength squad although injuries to Alex Hales and Jake Ball could open up opportunities for other squad members including new cap Tom Curran from Surrey.
The Windies squad is more a case of who isn’t playing with many big names – including the likes of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels. Although big hitting Carlos Braithwaite – is looking to recapture his form against England and Ben Stokes.
Brathwaite has hit just two sixes in his four innings since last year’s T20 final, when he smashed four maximums off Stokes’ final over to win it.
Since then Stokes has gone from strength to strength, has become England’s Test vice captain and broke IPL records when Pune paid £1.7million for him – but Braithwaite is now hoping he can get back to form.
“Directly after the game, I went over to him and said, “One of us had to win, one of us had to lose”,’ he told The Daily Mail.
“But I told him I appreciated how his career had gone so far. And given how his career has gone since then, I would probably trade places with him, to be honest. He’s a top cricketer and he seems to be a leader in the dressing-room as well.”
I would probably trade places with him, to be honest. He’s a top cricketer and he seems to be a leader in the dressing-room as well.
Carlos Braithwaite on Ben Stokes
Stokes himself cannot wait to get going in this series, before he heads to the IPL and said: “We can’t be going into this thinking it’s just going to be a walk in the park.
“We know how talented the West Indies team are – their batsmen can hit the ball out of the ground whenever they choose to and they’ve always had good quick bowlers.”
Squads in full:
West Indies squad: Jason Holder (captain), Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope (wk), Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Kieran Powell, Rovman Powell.
England squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.
England Cricket team warming up at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in St. John's, Antigua with a game of football ⚽️? pic.twitter.com/z4RsjXfC38
— Dario Barthley (@KingDario8) March 1, 2017
The series schedule:
First match – Friday 3rd March – 13:130 in Antigua
Second match – Sunday 5th March – 13:30 in Antigua
Third match – Thursday 9th March – 13:30 in Barbados
We spoke to WilliamHill’s Rupert Adams ahead of the series and they can only see an England win.
“All the money so far has been for England, we opened at 1/2 and are now 4/11 and likely to go shorter
“I think England are a very strong ODI unit these days, West Indies on the other hand are going through more changes and the batting line up looks fragile.
“As far as the series is concerned, the pitches in the West Indies in the last few years have tended to take a lot more spin therefore a double on Devendra Bishoo to be top West Indies Bowler & Adil Rashid top England Bowler is value at around the 16/1 mark.”
And a WillHill recommendation? “England to clean sweep the series winning 3-0 at 11/8.”