Alastair Cook celebrated after England’s nine-wicket defeat of the West Indies, and well he should, as it was his country’s first test win overseas since 2012. The team have been inspired by James Anderson who led England to victory with a brilliant performance on the final day of the second test, and who has risen to an all-time high of second in the ICC Bowling Rankings.
England can be backed to continue the good work by taking the third test in Bridgetown, which starts at 3pm, Friday 1st May. There’s also a good case to be made for backing the men in form in the batting and bowling stakes, with some good prices on offer.
The victory had seemed unlikely after four days play, with England needing to take eight wickets on the final day to make a run chase possible, but James Anderson played some excellent stuff with the ball and in the field, and the West Indies crumbled under the pressure. England saw out the game in style with Cook and Ballance sharing an unbroken stand of 142.
The hosts had started the day 37 ahead, but Anderson rose to the challenge again just a week after becoming England’s all-time test wicket-taker. He took three wickets, made two catches, and ran out Jason Holder with a direct hit. The West Indies slumped from a commanding position overnight of 202-2 to 307 all out, and that gave England the chance to strike. The Tourist’s were left chasing 143, but it never looked in doubt as Cook racked up an impressive half-century, and Ballance added 81 to the 77 runs he scored in his first innings, becoming the third-fastest England Batsman to reach 1,000 test runs. We backed Ballance to be England’s top bat in the second test, but even with his good total, he couldn’t surpass Joe Root’s excellent 182 not out in England’s first innings. However, we were pleased with the decision to back England to win, and we’re happy to do so again. Here are the current odds to win the third test in Bridgetown:
England – -125 with William Hill
Draw – +225 with Ladbrokes
England have their zip back after the win, and it was important to get the overseas win ‘monkey’ off the back. Root and Ballance have shown tenacity with the bat, and Anderson has been ably supported in the bowling stakes by Broad in particular. Perhaps the biggest question mark has been the form, and therefore the selection of Jonathan Trott in the opening partnership. He did make a first-inning half-century, but fell for his second duck since returning to the side at the start of this tour. He survived just three balls before chopping a Shannon Gabriel delivery onto his stumps.
Top England Batsman
With Cook’s form a little patchy and Trott not doing the business, One player has stepped up to the plate and looks increasingly comfortable with the bat. Joe Root is the man in form at the moment, and he’s worth following to top the batting stakes again in the third test. He scored a fine century on the third day of the 2nd test, finishing 118 not out, and he continued the good work by quickly amassing 182 on the fourth day, before a dogged West Indies batting performance put the hosts back in charge. Root has found a nice spot at number five, and seems to enjoy his middle-order partnership with Gary Ballance. He’s been the best England batsman on display so far in this series, and at the odds, is worth a punt to continue his fine work here.
Top England Bowler
James Anderson – +275 with Skybet
The same could be said of James Anderson, who broke Ian Botham’s long standing record during this tour to become England’s top test wicket-taker. We backed him to be the series top bowler before the first test, and he hasn’t disappointed, taking four wickets in the first test and six wickets in the second test. It makes sense to follow the man in form again, and he can land the odds in the third test as well. Broad isn’t far behind and he’s another player who has been bowling particularly well over the course of the series. He took three wickets in the first test and five in the second, and he probably represents the biggest danger to Anderson. However, the 32 year-old bowler must be sky high on confidence, with his captain declaring him ‘England’s greatest bowler of all time’ after his performance in the second test. He’s also climbed to a career-high 2nd in the ICC Bowling Rankings, moving up three places to sit alongside Australia’s Ryan Harris, and behind only South Africa’s Dale Steyn. He must feel like he’s going to take another scalp every time he approaches the wicket at the moment, and can secure us a double pay day by taking most wickets in the third test and the most for the series overall.
English cricket has been in the doldrums since the World Cup humiliation, when the one-day side failed to reach the quarter-finals and were sent home after the pool matches. The win over the West Indies has lifted the cloud somewhat, but it’s worth remembering that many of the host’s top players are missing due to their participation in the IPL, and ECB Chairman, Colin Graves, said there would be ‘inquiries’ if England didn’t win the series. They currently lead 1-0 after the first test was drawn, and another victory would be a vital boost in the build-up to this summer’s Ashes, when reigning world champions, Australia, come to tour England.
West Indies v England Third Test, Friday 1st May, 3pm
England to win – -125 with William Hill
Top England Bowler – James Anderson – +275 with Skybet
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