Does Stokes light our fire?

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Root might be a follow

England’s batting line-up will be much-changed post Ashes disaster. Rory Burns, Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler are out. In come opener Alex Lees, Essex’s Dan Lawrence and new gloveman Ben Foakes.

But will it be the same old story on the top runscorer market in the first-innings? Joe Root has been the dominant force and there will be plenty of backers at a Sportsbook-boosted 9/5 for another win.

However, on our three-year win rate formguide Root is still too skinny. He has a hit rate of 23.5%. Sportsbook’s implied probability rating is 35.7%. Perhaps we should be grateful that he’s no longer a skinny 6/4 – a massive 40% implied probability.

It is a quirk that all of Root’s eight wins have come in the last two years. So if the filter of 24-months is for you, he is value by 0.6%. Not a huge amount to write home about but by the letter of the value law, the pros would tell you, a great bet.

There is only one alternative on pure win rate numbers. And that is Zak Crawley. Crawley had a decent Ashes once he got a break in the side. Most impressive was his temperament. Sure, he struggles when the ball darts off the seam but there might not be so much of that in the Caribbean.

The edge is not huge, though, at just 2.2%. We are denied the chance to back Ben Stokes by the barest of margins. We rate him at 16.6%. Sportsbook go 5/1 (16.7%). Feel free if you want to ignore that slither because of Stokes’s mammoth ton against the Windies in the summer of 2020. Bet the Sportsbook markets here.

Top England bat wins/matches last 3 years
Crawley 4/18
Root 8/34
Stokes 4/24
Pope 5/21
Bairstow 1/17
Foakes 1/3
Lawrence t/8
Woakes 1/16

Brathwaite brilliant

If you thought Root dominated for England, wait until you hear about the West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite.

Brathwaite has five wins in the last 18 first-innings and has a hit rate of 40% for a first-dig fifty. Sportsbook go 10/3 about the former and 2/1 about the latter. There’s a four per cent edge and just shy of seven per cent edge respectively.

Given that the value is bigger for a fifty and we have to worry about no-one else but him, it would seem sensible to bet Brathwaite to half-salute.

A word to the wise, though. If you miss out on Brathwaite in the first-innings don’t chase in the second. He has a remarkably poor record in the second dig.

With the ball there’s a decent chunk in our favour for Jason Holder top West Indies bowler at 11/4. Normally we’re all over the excellent Kemar Roach at 5/2 but Holder has snuck ahead.

We have not collated England win rates with the ball because with both James Anderson and Stuart Broad dropped, it seems pointless. No Ollie Robinson also renders any stat work irrelevant.

Mark Wood is 5/2 favourite with Chris Woakes 7/2 and Craig Overton 4/1. That is the expected pace attack. Stokes is 5/1. Bet the Sportsbook markets here.

Top West Indies bat wins/matches last 3 years
Brathwaite 5/18
Campbell 2/12
Bonner 2/9
Mayers 1/10
Brooks 2/16
Blackwood 2/16
Holder 2/16

Top West Indies bowler wins/matches last 3 years
Holder 5 t/16
Roach 4 t/15
Seales 2t/4
Permaul 1/1
Mayers 0/10
Chase 2/14
Cornwall 2/9
Gabriel t/13
T = tie