CAPTAIN Andrew Strauss believes his England side are an “outside bet” to win the World Twenty20 next month after completing their one-day demolition of West Indies at Edgbaston.
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior top scored with a career-best 87 as England racked up 328-7 – their sixth highest ODI total – to set up a 58-run victory and clinch the series 2-0.
Strauss himself will play no part in next month’s tournament, but insists the form of his limited overs players suggests England could spring a surprise or two on home soil.
“We are a good outside bet,” the Middlesex opener predicted. “We are playing with confidence and in our own conditions have another edge.
“We were excellent with the bat, especially the intensity running between the wickets. The way we bowled in Bristol and the way we batted here, we put them under pressure from ball one. We did not let up in any stage in the one-dayers or Tests. I’m delighted to win the series, it builds momentum for the summer.”
Strauss has had his one-day critics in the past but continued to conquer his demons with a well-grafted 52 – his 15th ODI half-century – although fellow opener Ravi Bopara missed out on his fifth by a single run, playing on a Dwayne Bravo delivery.
This brought Prior and Owais Shah to the crease and the pair batting intelligently for a magnificent 149-run partnership before Shah, looking to re-establish himself in the England ranks, holed out for a stylish 75.
Jerome Taylor ripped through the middle order to claim 3-59 as England went for broke, but it proved to be in vain as the Windies struggled in reply. In-form James Anderson bagged three wickets and Stuart Broad two as England took out partners for Shivnarine Chanderpaul in regular intervals, while three run-outs hardly helped the cause.
Chanderpaul helped his side to 270 with 68, but not even he could help salvage what’s been a hugely-disappointing tour for the West Indians.