England are expected to brush aside an experimental West Indies team in the three-match ODI series and look a safe bet at 3/10 to win the first game in Antigua on Friday.
With political wranglings in the Caribbean continuing to affect team selection, new director of cricket Jimmy Adams and coach Stuart Law have relied on form in the recently-concluded Regional Super 50 tournament.
Only Carlos Brathwaite remains from the team that memorably beat England in last year’s ICC World Twenty20 final in Kolkata while Kieran Powell returns to international cricket for the first time in almost three years after having a crack at baseball.
England won two ODIs at this North Sound venue back in 2014 when facing much more accomplished line-ups and the limited overs squad returns in decent heart after acceptable 2-1 series defeats to India in both this format and the Twenty20 discipline.
The tourists emerged unscathed from a couple of low-key warm-up matches and will be keen to impress as preparations get under way for this summer’s ICC Champions Trophy on home turf, a tournament the Windies haven’t even qualified for.
Spirits certainly appear high in the England camp, judged on comments made by veteran Yorkshire pace bowler Liam Plunkett after Monday’s win over the WICB President’s XI in St Kitts.
Discussing how a change in tactics had helped him snare three wickets, two caught at leg-gully – a fielding position he had suggested to captain Eoin Morgan – the 31-year-old said: “Everyone gets on, so it’s free – you can speak to anyone. It’s one of the first times when I’ve played that the team has done that. It’s a good place to be.”
Jason Roy and Sam Billings put on 98 for the first wicket when England beat India in the third ODI in Kolkata, so 7/10 for the visitors to record the highest opening partnership in this game is another solid option.
In fact, Roy fired great scores of 73, 82 and 65 in that series and should give England a sound base on which to build on.
With Roy joined by the likes of Morgan, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and an in-form Jonny Bairstow in being able to clear the boundary, 4/5 for England to hit the most sixes in this match will also attract support.
Stokes will certainly be keen to come out on top in that department after being dispatched for four straight maximums by Brathwaite in the final over of that Twenty20 decider last year.