Sport : Cricket

Luke's the Wright choice

19th December 2012, 12:29pm

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Luke Wright: Arrives in India in decent form

Luke Wright: Arrives in India in decent form

It's all change in India.

After England's stunning victory in the Test series we move from the longest format to the shortest with a huge turnaround in players as well for the two-match T20 series in Pune and Mumbai.

Several of England's Test heroes - in fact almost all who made a significant contribution - have returned home. Only Tim Bresnan, Samit Patel, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root played any part in the Tests and remain for the T20s.

The team is led by Eoin Morgan - an unused member of the Test squad - due to Stuart Broad's injury.

India also make plenty of changes, though not on England's scale, and it all makes a series prediction pretty tricky. That's especially true as two matches and no prospect of the weather intervening make the draw a live runner; 17 of 35 two-match T20I series where both matches have been completed have ended 1-1 which is reflected in 11/10 quotes.

India are worthy favourites, but we'd want more than 6/4 about a side who have won only five of nine completed T20s against Test nations this year. That said, they did obliterate England at the World T20 in Sri Lanka only three months ago. The tourists are probably a touch big at 9/2, but have been patchy in this format this year and with so many changes can't be fully trusted to put in back-to-back performances.

The best value bet appears to lie in the top England series batsman market, where bet365 offer Luke Wright at a generous 9/2.

He hit two half-centuries for England in that World T20 tournament - including 99 not out against Afghanistan - and ended up over 50 runs clear of any of his team-mates.

And unlike most of his team-mates he has warmed up for this series by playing Twenty20 cricket, for Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash.

He hammered a 50 in their opening game of the season and added 23 not out in just two overs of a rain-affected farce of a match next up.

Wright has become a high-class T20 gun for hire over the last 18 months and in a squad lacking Kevin Pietersen is rivalled by only Eoin Morgan in this form of the game.

Morgan is a 7/2 chance, but Wright's preparation looks the better and the Dublin-born left-hander now has the added burden of captaincy to worry about.

My feeling is that quality Twenty20 preparation will be of more use to Wright than being around the Test squad in India will be to Morgan and we'll back him accordingly.

Another factor in Wright's favour is that the absence of Craig Kieswetter from the T20 party leaves a gap at the top of the order. In a short format with a powerplay at the start of the innings, the advantages of opening the batting are obvious. Wright has done the job for England before and must have a strong chance of stepping up from his current number-three berth.

But even if he does stay at number three, he remains the value call at 9/2 given he's as short as 3/1 elsewhere. If the pitches are flat - which we expect - then he is currently the cleanest striker of a ball in the England team and the man we'd expect to cash in.

  • Both matches are being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports.


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