Weather permitting England will meet West Indies in Game 19 of the ICC World Cup in Southampton on Friday.
At the time of writing Sri Lanka have had two of their four fixtures abandoned without a ball being bowled due to the British weather and the tournament has not taken off just yet despite an outstanding display from India against Australia at the Oval on Sunday.
Both India and Australia have injury concerns ahead of their next games with opener Shikhar Dhawan likely to miss the next two games as a result of the hairline fracture of the thumb he received when hit by Pat Cummings. Marcus Stoinis missed the Baggy Greens game with Pakistan on Wednesday and Mitchell Marsh has been called up as cover.
Marsh was due to fly over with the rest of the Aussie A side later in the week. A decision on whether Stoinis will remain with the Aussies for the rest of the tournament will be made ahead of their game with Sri Lanka on Saturday.
The ICC come in for criticism due to the lack of a reserve day and their choice of bails has also been criticised. Five times in the tournament so far, the ball has hit the stumps, but the bail(s) have not been dislodged. Some say the bails are too heavy, some suggest the grooves are too deep – fair to say it has not been a great start to the tournament for the ICC.
England got back to winning ways with a comprehensive win over Bangladesh in Cardiff on Saturday and I feel Eoin Morgan will field the same side against the Windies with Moeen Ali again missing out in what is likely to be a game decided by who plays the short ball best.
The Lions are 3/10 with BetVictor to make it three wins out of four with the West Indies 5/2. Jason Holder will feel his side missed a winning opportunity when their game with South Africa was washed out with the Proteas 29/2 earlier in the week. West Indies begin the game outside of the top four and are unlikely to be able to call on the services of all-rounder Andre Russell at the Aegeas Bowl.
Having been born in Barbados this is a massive game for Jofra Archer and he is bound to kop some flak from the Windies supporters in the crowd. His bowling was outstanding against Bangladesh and Archer bowling to Chris Gayle promises to be one of the contests of the tournament. Archer is 3/1 to be the top English bowler with BetVictor. Gayle is 17/20 with BetVictor to score over/under 34.5 runs in the game and I would recommend going under the runs despite the brilliance of the self-proclaimed “Universe Boss” when the sides met in the Caribbean earlier in the year.
The experiment of starting with a spinner against the “Bash Brothers” backfired for the Bangladesh Tigers in Cardiff and Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow are unlikely to be playing too much off the front foot on Friday. That said the Windies will have to bring their A game to Southampton if they want to stop this confident England batting line up.
I was disappointed with the West Indies batting against Australia when Mitchell Starc got five wickets and I believe the Lions will overpower Holder’s side in a game that is likely to see plenty short-pitched bowling.
England for me although 3/10 is short enough given Holder’s side are so dangerous especially with bat in hand. Carlos Brathwaite – remember the name? – blamed the umpires for the West Indies loss to the Baggy Greens but I didn’t see it that way. The umpires are likely to get plenty of exercise calling wides over head-height on Friday but it is the Lions who I feel will keep the points.