Frank Worrell Trophy – starts 10:00am local time on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at Windsor Park, Roseau, Dominica
West Indies – $15.00 at www.Bet365.com
Australia – $1.25 at William Hill
Draw – $6.50 at WilliamHill.com
AUSTRALIA’S Ashes preparation steps up a gear this week as they look to maintain their iron grip on the Frank Worrell Trophy.
The Baggy Greens haven’t lost a Test series against the West Indies since 1993, winning eight of the last nine, and online bookmaker WilliamHill.com has them as $1.25 favourites to extend that streak.
The Windies ($15.00 at Bet365) are rank outsiders, despite the home ground advantage and their promising performances in the recent drawn series against England.
The axing of Shivnarine Chanderpaul has dominated the media over the last week or so, with the 40-year-old dumped less than 90 runs shy of surpassing Brian Lara as the West Indies’ all-time leading runscorer.
Chanderpaul had averaged just 16.64 in his last 11 Test innings, yet some have cited political factors behind the decision and lambasted the WICB for denying the long-serving Guyanese star a proper farewell.
Others have voiced support for chief selector Clive Lloyd and his youth-first policy, including a former teammate in Michael Holding.
“I don’t believe that cricketers should just get a series for getting a series sake,” Holding told ESPN.
“I don’t think Shivnarine Chanderpaul has proven in recent times that he is still a good enough player to be playing for West Indies.
“He has done yeoman service for over two decades. West Indies should be happy to have had him playing for them for that long. All good things have to come to an end.”
The end of Chanderpaul’s decorated 164 Test career will allow for the beginning of at least one other, with batsmen Shane Dowrich and Rajindra Chandrika called up to the squad after solid displays for the WICB President’s XI last week.
Opener Shai Hope keeps his spot after coming in for the recent series against England, while the spin duo of Devendra Bishoo and Veerasammy Permaul are also in the mix for the first Test.
They will compete with Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach for a spot alongside Jerome Taylor and Jason Holder in the Windies bowling unit.
Meanwhile, the Aussies will have to make do without Chris Rogers in Dominica after the stalwart opener was ruled out with concussion.
The veteran left-hander, who recently announced that he would retire from international cricket after the upcoming Ashes tour, took a knock to the head during a net session on Sunday.
Team doctor Peter Brukner told the press on Monday that he and his staff would be taking no risks with Rogers’ health.
“He won’t be returning to training until he’s fully recovered,” Brukner said.
“He’ll have a return to play process once he’s symptom-free of a few days, gradually increasing his activity before he gets back to it.
“It’s likely he’ll be available for the second Test but we won’t know that for a few days yet.”
That news opens the door for Shaun Marsh to audition for the soon-to-be-vacant opener’s spot, with the West Australian expected to slot in besides David Warner after scoring a century in the WICB President’s XI tour match.
Also making a strong case for a call up was Josh Hazlewood, who took 3/4 in the second innings and is tipped to shade out Peter Siddle for a spot alongside Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc in the Aussie pace attack.
Coach Darren Lehmann may also be tempted to hand a Test debut to Fawad Ahmed, although that would likely mean sacrificing a fast bowler rather than dropping first-choice spinner Nathan Lyon.
Adam Voges could also win a maiden cap after his record-breaking Sheffield Shield season, but it all depends on whether the Australian brains trust opts for one or both of fit-again allrounders Shane Watson and Mitch Marsh.
Australia and West Indies Test squads
West Indies: Denesh Ramdin (C), Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Braithwaite, Darren Bravo, Rajindra Chandrika, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor
Australia: Michael Clarke (C), Fawad Ahmed, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Peter Nevill, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, David Warner, Shane Watson
Frank Worrell Trophy series betting
Series result – Australia to win ($1.50 at Luxbet)
Correct score – Australia 1-0 ($3.00 at Sportsbet)
Since their famous series victory in the Caribbean back in 1995, Australia haven’t let the coveted Frank Worrell Trophy out of their sight. The Windies showed a bit to snatch a 1-1 draw against England, especially in that last-ditch win at Bridgetown, but they will need to find much more poise and consistency against the 2015 Cricket World Cup winners.
Top series runscorer odds
West Indies – Darren Bravo ($4.50 at Bet365.com): ‘Little Lara’ showed plenty of signs against England that his best form is not too far away. He needs to start converting those good starts into really big scores, but he has the Trinidadian flair and raw talent to do anything against anyone.
Australia – David Warner ($4.00 at www.Sportsbet.com): Get on Warner to top the scoring charts for the series. The pugnacious opener was at his belligerent best in the recent Indian Premier League, while his Test form in 2014 suggests there should be no issues transitioning from Twenty20 cricket to the five-day game.
Value bets for top series wicket-taker
West Indies – Jerome Taylor ($3.50 at Bet365.com): Anyone who saw the West Indies in the recent ODI World Cup would know that Taylor, while sometimes expensive, is a real threat with the ball in hand. With 11 wickets in two Tests against England, he looms as the most dangerous of the hosts’ quick bowlers.
Australia – Mitchell Starc ($4.00 at www.Crownbet.com): Will this be the series when Starc finally nails down a spot in the Australian Test team? He was the best player at CWC 2015 and a key performer in the IPL, so he should be primed for a big one in the Caribbean.
WI vs AUS Test fixtures
First Test – June 3-7 at Windsor Park, Roseau
West Indies – $9.00 at Bet365.com
Australia – $1.50 at William Hill
Draw – $3.85 at CrownBet.com
Second Test – June 11-15 at Sabina Park, Kingston
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