Clueless England to be blown away by Windies
England looked clueless in defeat in the Twenty20 international against the West Indies on Sunday. They head into the first one-day international in Guyana low on confidence.
England still seem unable to work out how to play in limited overs internationals and as a result often fail to live up to their undoubted potential in the game.
The balance never quite seems right and, while opposing teams seem able to easily increase the run rate, England often appear to be unable to up the ante at the right time.
This with a team containing arguably the greatest one-day batsman around in former captain Kevin Pietersen, one of the best all-rounders in world cricket in Andrew Flintoff, the reliable Paul Collingwood, a good strike bowler in James Anderson plus some great potential in Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad.
Yet England never reach the great heights that they should. The only real highlight in one-day cricket in recent times was immediately after Pietersen was appointed captain last summer and England beat South Africa 4-0.
But after that during the tour of India England reverted to type losing 5-0 on the sub-continent.
For the match in Guyana both sides are 5/6 shots to win, but at the prices one has to fancy a West Indian win.
Simply because, despite the highlights of the one-day team mentioned above, there are far more holes than positives. The most damaging being an unsettled opening pair at both the top of the line-up and the bowlers who take the new ball.
There is no consistency to selection. One of the few shining lights in a drab Test series in the Caribbean was the form of wicketkeeper Matt Prior. However he was dropped for the Twenty20 and replaced by Worcestershire's Steve Davies.
Davies did a good job, he even top-scored in a miserable England batting performance but the never-ending cycle of selection just doesn't seem to stop.
To further complicate things with Andrew Strauss as the captain it means he has to be accommodated into the line-up despite him not being good enough to get in England's best one-day side.
To make matters worse key all-rounder Andrew Flintoff will be miss the first one-dayer as he continues his recovery from injury and with West Indies' captain Chris Gayle himself returning from injury this further bolsters the Windies and there can only be one result to back.
Flintoff is a huge miss for the tourists as his absence will create a hole in both the batting line-up and the bowling ranks.
While Gayle is arguably the West Indies' most important player. Not only is he their leader but with his destructive style he often sets the tempo for the West Indies at the top of the line-up. The Jamaican averages 40.63 in ODIs with a strike rate of 81.80. England will have to dismiss him early otherwise he could take the game beyond England.
Ravi Bopara and Steve Davies could well open the batting as they did in the Twenty20 but this is a waste of Bopara's talent. The Essex man could well take advantage of the powerplay overs but he is better coming in at four or five.
With this in mind the 8/11 about the West Indies having the highest 1st 15 over total could well be worth a bet especially considering the slow starts that England often have.
Gayle is also 3/1 joint-favourite with Ramnaresh Sarwan to be the West Indies' top batsman. Sarwan top-scored for the hosts with 59 in the Twenty20 but the returning Gayle would be the preference in this market.
For England in the Twenty20 not only was their batting poor so was their bowling. As highlighted in the betting preview for the Twenty20, England just lack the options at the moment to form a potent attack in one-day cricket.
Once again the likes of Gareth Batty and Amjad Khan are vying for selection despite them appearing not to be up to the rigours of one-day international cricket.
With the pitch likely to be slow medium-pacers and spin should prosper over the quicks. Therefore Dimitri Mascarenhas looks the pick of the England bowlers at 5/1 to take the most wickets.
Likewise for the West Indies, Dwayne Bravo could profit from the conditions and at 7/2 would be preferred to the 5/2 about Fidel Edwards taking the most wickets.
England will seek to prove me wrong when the action gets underway at 13:30 on Friday live on Sky Sports 1. As usual we will have a host of in-running betting opportunities via our betlive service for the perfect accompaniment to watching the match.