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England vs West Indies: Two players to watch

England's Dom Sibley
©Reuters
 

England will host the West Indies in the first Test series of the summer, aiming to win back the Wisden Trophy they surrendered on their last tour of the Caribbean in 2019.

Joe Root and his men do have momentum after beating South Africa in their most recent experience in the five-day format back in January. Head coach Chris Silverwood will lead the team for the first time on home soil and he will be hopeful of making a winning start. England are unbeaten since 2014 when hosting a Test series, with their last defeat coming at the hands of Sri Lanka.

The West Indies could use the lack of preparation to their advantage. Jason Holder’s men have talent in their squad and were only defeated 2-1 on their last visit in 2017. The tourists have not won a series in England since 1988 and will have to defy history to pull off an upset.

Therefore, there will be value for bettors looking to back them to triumph even for gamblers overseas in the UAE. Cricket has found a renaissance especially in Asia and the Middle East where T20 and T10 leagues, along with the World Cup have increased the popularity of the game. Test cricket has had a presence in the UAE for the past 12 years since Pakistan moved their home fixtures to the country.

As crowds have attended fixtures along with other competitive matches in the region - the game has built up a strong following. There could be hope for the future that the UAE could develop a team that could compete in the Test arena following the likes of Ireland and Afghanistan being granted Test status. The rise of the game will further increase opportunities - not just limited to the world of sport, but also commercial success.

For fans that have an interest and like a punt along the way, there are vast amounts of betting markets available from a match itself, an isolated over or even a particular delivery. Finding the best value can be difficult, but for UAE sports betting fans there are top quality Emirati online bookmakers that offer the best odds and offers to bet on cricket, including the impending series between England and the West Indies.

We’ll now look at two of the players from each side that could decide the series.

Dom Sibley (England)

Sibley made his debut during the tour of New Zealand last year and made an inauspicious start to his career at the highest level. The 24-year-old had scored runs with ease in the County Championship for Warwickshire, but was exposed by the brilliance of the Black Caps’ new ball attack.

In three innings, Sibley scored 38 runs, putting pressure on the opener to justify his spot on the next tour in South Africa. Root’s side were defeated with ease in the first match of the series against the Proteas, with Sibley only notching a further 33 runs.

It raised the question – were England going to discard yet another opener? With Sibley joining the unceremonious ranks of Jason Roy, Mark Stoneman, Keaton Jennings and Haseeb Hameed in the last five years alone.

 

However, at Cape Town, Sibley made a breakthrough, notching his maiden Test match century when his team required a significant knock against a potent bowling attack. It would be the turning point of the series as the Three Lions won three matches on the bounce.

Sibley found his form and provided a solid platform for the rest of the batsmen to build upon. He has to remain at that level during the summer to push on his Test career, while adding further centuries and half-centuries to his name. Allowing Root, Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope to bed in against a tired attack could well sway the upcoming series in England’s favour.

Kemar Roach (West Indies)

Roach is paying homage to the great West Indies’ bowlers of old with his recent record. In 19 Test matches since 2017, the 31-year-old has taken 71 wickets at an average of 21.81 and an outstanding strike rate of 45.6.

It has been a slow burn for Roach, but he has developed into one of the leading fast bowlers in Test cricket – with his statistics matching the best in the game. Roach has a potent record against England, especially the last time the teams met in the West Indies. The paceman claimed figures of 5-17 as the hosts skittled out England for 77 in Barbados in a massive 381-run victory for Holder’s men.

In the series overall, Roach notched 18 wickets at an average of 13.88 and he sustained that level against India later in the year. His fitness like all fast bowlers goes through peaks and troughs. The Windies will be praying that he can make it through all three Test matches.

Roach has not been as effective in England as he has been on home soil. Therefore, he has a point to prove. In his five Tests, he has taken 19 wickets at an average of 31.68 and a strike rate of 52.0. His bursts with the new ball could decide the series.

If he can remove Rory Burns and Sibley, it will expose Root and the middle order. Denying England that opportunity should see low-scoring games – ones that the Windies are capable of winning. All eyes are on Roach to deliver for his team.

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