Dynamic England openers set to make hay against Windies
Roy and Hales can overpower hosts
Sky Sports 2, 1.30pm Thursday
England end their three-match ODI tour of the West Indies in Barbados on Thursday afternoon hoping to wrap up a series clean sweep.
After two four-wicket victories in Antigua, Racing Post Sport readers who took James Milton’s advice of backing a 3-0 series win at 11-8 are sitting pretty with the tourists just 4-11 to do so now.
With the series already won and with this summer’s Champions Trophy on the horizon, Eoin Morgan and coach Trevor Bayliss will take the opportunity to shuffle the pack. At least one change looks likely with opener Alex Hales in line to return after a broken hand sustained against India earlier this winter. Seamer Jake Ball is also in contention to feature.
Despite his injury Hales remains one half of England’s first-choice limited-overs opening partnership alongside fellow blaster Jason Roy. Hales' inclusion is likely to come at the expense of the unfortunate Sam Billings, who has averaged 38 in his last five innings.
The reunion of the tourists’ power-packed opening pair could spell bad news for a Windies attack that lacked a cutting edge in the two previous contests.
In the last ten ODIs which they have opened the batting together the pair have averaged 43 runs for the first wicket. And while that figure is somewhat skewed by a 256-run partnership against Sri Lanka last summer, it goes to show just how destructive this partnership can be.
Windies openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Elvin Lewis are a solid partnership in their own right but do not that same sort of pyrotechnics in their arsenal as the English duo, so at the odds on offer Hales and Roy look a fair bet to outscore their counterparts.
While it may take a few overs for Hales to find the groove after injury there are no such concerns about Roy, who has now added consistency to go with his undoubted potential.
The Surrey blaster has passed fifty four times in his last five ODI innings - including in Antigua four days ago - and could have another big say on proceedings.
Roy is a decent price to be England’s top runscorer at the Kensington Oval and is worth backing.
England to have highest opening partnership
2pts 8-11 BoyleSports
J Roy top England runscorer
1pt 7-2 general
Already advised by James Milton
England to win series 3-0
3pts 11-8 March 3