England travel to the Caribbean with expectation, but history is against them

Moeen Ali struck twice with the new ball Associated Press

West Indies' reputation has taken a battering in recent years, and it's rather old hat to make the point that a tour of the Caribbean is not the challenge it might have been in the 1980s or 1990s.

And yet, to judge by England's continued struggles to make headway over there, there's some reason to be cautious of Bet365's pre-series assertion that they are overwhelming favourites for the three-match Test series which gets underway on January 23.

After all, England have won just one (yes, one) Test series in the Caribbean since 1968 - and even that 3-0 triumph was perhaps most memorable for Brian Lara's world-record 400 not out in the dead-rubber in Antigua.

They've toured twice more since, losing 1-0 in 2009 despite dominating most of the matches without closing them out, and then drew 1-1 in 2015, a post-World Cup stop-over that heralded the end of Peter Moores' time as England coach.

And yet, England are a prohibitive 1/5 to win the series, compared to West Indies' 7/1, with the draw temptingly placed at 17/2. They are coming off the back of an impressive clean sweep in Sri Lanka in November, but even so, it's a show of faith from the bookies.

It's a similar story going into the third and final Test between South Africa and Pakistan in Johannesburg. The hosts are 1/3 to back up their wins in the first two matches, with Pakistan 4/1 to seal a consolation win, with the draw also 17/2. The difference, of course, is that Pakistan have already demonstrated their weakness in South African conditions. England, in an overseas engagement, still have a little bit to do to prove their recent Test renaissance is a long-term project.