By Lee Dover
It may be a more relaxing few days at the office for England’s cricket stars in their third and final Test match with West Indies, seeing as though the series is already tied up.
However, fans could be left as red-faced as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after throwing away four match points if they think the match at Edgbaston will be a casual contest.
The Three Lions have the perfect opportunity to reassert their status as one of the most dominating cricket forces on the planet, while the once high and mighty Windies will be hoping to do all they can to avoid a dreaded whitewash.
So who to back? A West Indies squad who are licking their wounds and determined to show some spirit once more? Or an England team who will be looking to make it three for three without the help of standout star James Anderson?
Yes, that is right – a minor quad problem picked up by Anderson in the second Test against the Windies has seen the 29-year-old being given a surprise rest.
Mind you, England coach Andy Flower believes that the decision is the correct one, and not just because it limits the risk of one of the Three Lions’ biggest stars exacerbating his injury.
Flower commented: “I’m not intending to demean the importance of this Test – but since we won the series already, our priority does now shift to the South Africa series.
“If it had been 1-1 going into this third Test, Jimmy would have played. He is not badly injured and he could play this Test match if we wanted him to.”
Fans who are confident that the selection will pay off can get 15/8 on England winning the final Test and wrapping up the whitewash.
Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen are deemed most likely to put in man of the match performances, and are each 7/2 to be the 1st Innings top runscorer, though the 10/1 prices on Jonny Bairstow and Matt Prior to do the same may be tempting bets.
Windies opener Adrian Barath believes that Anderson’s omission makes the 12/1 odds of a West Indies victory in the final Test at Edgbaston look more appealing, however.
He noted: “It’s important, having not had any wins in the series so far, that we finish well in this last Test.
“There is a lot at stake. We’re really looking forward to getting a win here and bringing some pride to the West Indies.”