First Test – starts 10:30am local time on Thursday, December 10, 2015 at Bellerive Oval, Hobart
$1.14 at Luxbet.com
ICC ranking: 3rd
Last five Tests: L W W D W
$21 at www.Sportsbet.com
ICC ranking: 8th
Last five Tests: W L L L L
$10 at Sportsbet
Bookies and punters alike are tipping the West Indies will be summarily slaughtered on their 2015-16 Test tour of Australia.
The visitors are rank $34 outsiders in the series betting at Crownbet.com, with the draw offering $21.
The hosts, meanwhile, are paying only $1.02 in the outright markets at William Hill.
That gaping chasm in prices might have something to do with the Windies’ underwhelming display in last week’s tour game, where they lost by 10 wickets to an inexperienced Cricket Australia XI.
There is also the fact the Caribbean nations haven’t won the Frank Worrell Trophy since 1993, losing nine of their last 10 Test series against Australia.
It certainly doesn’t help that five of the biggest names in West Indian cricket won’t be pulling on the whites this summer.
Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard have all opted to play in the upcoming 2015-16 Big Bash League instead, meaning there are no changes to the squad which lost in Sri Lanka recently.
The lack of depth on the touring roster is highlighted in William Hill’s man of the match betting for the first Test, with 13 Australian players favoured ahead of Jason Holder – the Windies’ best bet at $26.
Indeed, the batting stocks look so grim that the West Indies captain – a bowling allrounder who comes in at eight or nine – is the punters’ favourite to outscore his teammates in the first innings at Hobart.
As Sportsbet.com’s Christian Jantzen put it: “The way they’ve been going, Jason Holder might only need to make it to double figures to top score.”
Not everyone is so pessimistic ahead of the series opener, which kicks off this Thursday, December 10.
Kemar Roach, the West Indies fast bowler who famously unsettled Ricky Ponting at Perth in 2009, was delighted to see plenty of grass on the pitch at Bellerive Oval.
“Of course, there aren’t many wickets in the world like that, so it’s good to see that for a change,” Roach told the press.
“I’m pretty excited to get a go on Thursday.”
Asked whether he thought the surface would still be so green by the start of play, Roach continued: “Yeah I think so.
“I know Australians play very hard cricket and they believe in what they do, so that’s what they give us, and that’s what we’re going to take.
“There’s some very good fast bowlers in our group, our job is to go out there and give it our best shot.
“Jerome Taylor has been leading the attack very well, he’s in good form, one of the fastest bowlers in the world Shannon Gabriel, and then myself. And Jason Holder the captain has been good as well.
“I think we can give the Australians some trouble.”
Roach’s sentiments were backed up by Peter Siddle, who insisted the Australian camp was expecting a tough contest from the West Indies.
“They’ve got some strong weapons with their bowling attack,” the Victorian paceman said.
“They can blast teams out when they bowl well.
“We will have to bat well then we will exploit their batting which is not going to be quite as strong.”
Of the Windies’ humiliation at the hands of the CA XI, Siddle said: “I haven’t taken too much notice.
“The young Aussie side played a bloody good game up in Queensland, did well.
“You can’t look too much into a tour match there.
“It’s [the West Indies’] first experience after getting on our shores and they are having a hit out.
“No doubt they will come down here switched on and more competitive.”
Australia team news
There was plenty of grumbling over Nathan-Coulter Nile’s surprise call-up to the Test squad, given the West Australian hasn’t played any first-class cricket since March.
But Victorian quick James Pattinson remains the favourite to replace Mitchell Starc, who will miss the whole series after suffering stress fractures in his foot.
There has been some talk of Peter Nevill moving up the order, but the wicketkeeper should remain at seven while Mitchell Marsh gets another chance at six.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (C), Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, David Warner, Adam Voges.
West Indies team news
The West Indies selectors have made no alterations to the squad which lost 2-0 in Sri Lanka in October.
Shai Hope is tipped to open the batting alongside Kraigg Braithwaite, with Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Jermaine Blackwood filling out the top order.
Jerome Taylor will lead the bowling attack, with speedsters Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel both a chance to feature on a grassy Hobart wicket.
West Indies squad: Jason Holder (C), Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Braithwaite, Kraigg Braithwaite, Darren Bravo, Rajindra Chandrika, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Jomel Warrican.
Result – Australia to win ($1.14 at Luxbet.com)
Fall of first wicket – Australia over 35.5 ($1.90 at www.CrownBet.com)
First innings total – West Indies under 221.5 ($1.85 at Sportsbet)
Even with some big names out, the Aussies should have no problem against a side they pummelled 2-0 away from home early this year.
The Windies will have to bank everything on their bowling attack and hope there is plenty of grass on the Bellerive pitch.
But conditions in Tasmania are expected to be dry and warm this week, so that green top may not be as juicy as expected come Thursday morning.
Regardless, the home side has both the talent and the experience to deal with anything the visitors throw at them.
Top batsman betting
Australia – Joe Burns ($6 at CrownBet)
After a fast start in Brisbane, the 26-year-old Queenslander tailed off with scores of 40, 0, 11 and 14 in the last two Tests against New Zealand. He’ll want a big number in Hobart to show the selectors he’s the man to partner David Warner up top.
West Indies – Jason Holder ($15 at CrownBet)
There’s a good reason so many punters are backing the West Indian skipper to top score. Holder is one of those guys who stands up and fights when all seems lost, which is why he was made the ODI captain at only 23 years of age. A quick 40 or 50 might be all he needs here.
Top wicket-taker odds
Australia – Josh Hazlewood ($3.50 at Sportsbet)
With Starc out injured and Mitch Johnson retired, the tall Tamworth native is now the main man in Australia’s attack. He starred with nine wickets in the day-night Test match at Adelaide, and he should be dangerous again if there is any grass or moisture in the Hobart wicket.
West Indies – Jerome Taylor ($4 at Bet365)
Gabriel may be quicker, and Roach may have the history against Australia, but Taylor is the true spearhead of the West Indian attack. He put in some very testing spells in lifeless conditions when the Baggy Greens visited the Caribbean in June, so he should be even tougher to face if there is even a hint of sideways movement.
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