England are jubilant after over pulling off a first home victory over South Africa since 1998 and now the attention turns to their upcoming series against the West Indies. The 3-1 series win over the Proteas represented a fantastic start to life as England captain for Joe Root and now is the time for his team to build on that win. Bigger challenges lie ahead, notably the Ashes in Australia this winter, and this will be ideal preparation. The win carried England up to third in the world rankings, behind just Australia and South Africa, while the West Indies are languishing down in eighth. Root’s men are heavy favourites to seal victory and they should pull it off, so the value lies in predicting the final score.
England’s victory over South Africa was full of twists and turns. They thrashed the Proteas at Lord’s and The Oval, but sandwiched in between that was a really heavy loss at Trent Bridge. The final test at Old Trafford was also pretty one-sided as England ran out 177-run winners. The positive from the fans point of view is the way the team learned from their Trent Bridge horror show and turned things around to win the final two sets emphatically.
There were several standout players. Toby Roland-Jones announced himself on the world stage with an inspired performance at The Oval, wiping out five of the Proteas’ opening six in the first innings. Ben Stokes was also in inspired form in that match and his three sixes in a row at the death were a sight to behold. Root was magnificent in his first test as captain, leading by example with a ton and in doing so becoming the sixth England captain to begin his reign with a century. Jonny Bairstow’s stand of 99 was inspired, while Jimmy Anderson showed his brilliance on more than one occasion.
But the man of the series by a country mile was Moeen Ali. He became the first man to take 25 wickets and score more than 250 runs in a four test series, announcing himself as surely one of the world’s finest all-rounders. Stokes is another and England are lucky to have two such talented stars to call upon. They should be full of confidence going into the series against the West Indies. In Root, Alastair Cook, Bairstow and Stokes they have amazing talent with the bat, and bowlers Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ali and Roland-Jones are a force to be reckoned with.
England have tweaked their team for the upcoming series, dropping the much maligned Keaton Jennings and calling up Surrey batsman Mark Stoneman. Chris Woakes is fit again and replaces seamer Steven Finn, while uncapped leg spinner Mason Crane comes in for the injured Liam Dawson, his teammate at Hampshire. It is a strong 13-man squad and possesses more than enough talent to see off the West Indies.
Jason Holder’s team have not won a series since beating Bangladesh back in 2014 and extended their losing streak to six when they fell to a 2-1 defeat against Pakistan last time out. Disputes between the West Indies Cricket Board and several star players has seen Holder deprived of the services of the likes of Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels for this upcoming series. The West Indies are a mess and it is easy to see why Bet365 has England as 1/16 favourites and the West Indies are all the way out at 22/1. However, you can get 8/13 at Bet365 on England winning the series 3-0 and that looks a good bet. It is hard to imagine a more ideal opposition than the West Indies right now and England really should take them apart given the form they are in. Anything less than a 3-0 series win would be a huge disappointment and backing Root’s men to get the job done looks like the right move.