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Nic Ladds 22nd May 2009 - 13:55

England’s Series price is heaven sent

After the Headingley fiasco, cricket punters may be forgiven for keeping one eye on the heavens as bookies William Hill chalk up England at 4/6 to beat the West Indies, 6/5, in Bristol on Sunday.

Ha! That's a laugh, when aren't us punters keeping an eye on the heavens? Unfortunately the Big Man can be a harsh judge sometimes. I'm still reeling from all those penalty appeals he instructed the Norwegian ref to turn down for Chelsea against Barcelona.

It's always comforting to have someone else to blame for life's woes.

Anyway, back to the crickeeet, as Geoff Boycott, Dickie Bird and indeed most of the fine citizens of the Peoples´ Republic of Yorkshire would say.

There can be absolutely no arguments with the odds compilers at William Hill - England are justifiable favs in light of their emphatic 2-0 Test Series win and I see no particular reason why then cannot keep that momentum going through the NatWest ODI series.

Cricket punters will be aware that the Three Lions recently experienced one-day series joy against the Windies - winning 3-2 in the Caribbean in March. Crikey if England were too good for them there, what price they will be too good on home soil?

8/11 is William Hill's outright series price about England, to be precise.

True, England will miss Kevin Pietersen through an Achilles injury but confidence is unquestionably high in the camp after the recent Test wins with some eye-catching solo efforts from Ravi Bopara (3/1 to be top home batsman), Graeme Swann (4/1 to be top home bowler) and James Anderson (9/4 top series bowler).

But for me the key man is Windies skipper Chris Gayle (11/4 to be top away batsman) whose leadership of his side in recent weeks has been questionable to say the least.

He kicked things off with a late arrival from the IPL just two days before the Lord's Test before then describing the captaincy as a "poisoned chalice".

And heavens knows (Big Man up there again) what effect all those silly controversial comments about Test cricket in the middle of a Test Series had on his players. Certainly, from their body language and efforts at the Riverside they look like a side ripe for picking off.

With nagging doubts around what state of mind the Windies will be in at Bristol it is very hard to build a case for them at all. Yes a pumped up Gayle can be a match winner against anyone and the likes of Fidel Edwards (15/8 top Windies bowler) can dice through batting line ups but they wont be carrying my money.

Instead it will ride with a 100% committed Three Lions outfit, playing in front of their home fans and looking to keep rising ahead of the forthcoming Ashes Series.

The only Windies punt that stands out might possibly be the 7/2 about Ramnaresh Sarwan finishing top away batsman. Sarwan knocked his Riverside 100 from 138 balls and is in decent touch.

Rain, rain, stay away, come back another day, and while you're away we'll make those bookies pay. With a little help from the heavens of course.

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