While football may be synonymous as England’s national sport, history tells us that it certainly isn’t the oldest.
In fact, the sport of cricket can be traced back to the late 16th century at least, having originated as a gentleman’s game in the south-east of England. It then became a popular national sport in the 1700s, with the first international contests taking place as long ago as 1844.
From a betting perspective, however, cricket is also one of the most complex sports in the world. Despite this, an estimated 73.1% of fans regularly wager on the sport, so there’s clearly money to be made if you develop an understanding of cricket and a viable betting strategy. Here’s our beginner’s guide to help you on your way:
Some punters may compare cricket to rugby, in that there’s more than one iteration of the sport.
The major difference is here that while there’s three variations of cricket in the modern age, the rules are largely unchanged with the biggest variation being the duration of matches.
Red ball or international ‘test match’ cricket is the most traditional form of the game, with matches taking place across four innings and a maximum of five days. On a domestic level, the county game in the UK features four-day matches, which take place during an annual summer season.
In order to appeal to younger and casual fans, the cricketing powers that be have also developed ‘one day’ and ‘Twenty20’ formats that are shorter, explosive and more likely to deliver a decisive result.
One day cricket matches typically feature two innings capped at 50 overs each, with players donning coloured strips and using a while ball in this format. Twenty20 cricket operates in a similar way, although each innings is capped at 20 overs and matches can be concluded in a little over three hours.
Let’s start with the basics; as your cricket betting experience and returns will be dictated by the odds provided by bookmakers.
UK bookmakers typically present odds in fractional format, with the upcoming test match between the West Indies and England offering a relevant case in point. The Windies, who currently hold a decisive 2-0 lead in the three-match series, are priced at 6/4 to complete the whitewash in St. Lucia, with England available at around 5/6.
But what do these odds tell us? The immediate takeaway is that the Three Lions are odds-on favourites to win, despite having been outplayed in the series so far. This will have much to do with the perceived quality of the England squad and the fact that the Windies inspirational capital Jason Holder is suspended for the final game.
While there’s little in these odds, they offer a clear insight into the probability of an England or a Windies win. If we convert these into decimal odds (England at 1.83 to win and the West Indies at 2.5), we can also calculate the implied probability of an outcome using the following formula:
|Implied probability||=||1 / decimal odds|
In this instance, we see that England have a 54.64% chance of winning the game, whereas the Windies only have a 40% chance of prevailing. This should only ever be used as a guide, however, as bookmakers will often embellish odds in order to offset their potential risk and minimise future losses.
At the same time, elements such as form and conditions need to be considered to further inform your selection, but we’ll have a little more on this later on in the piece.
At this stage, you’re probably chomping at the bit to place your first wager, particularly with such a busy international cricketing calendar.
However, before you do this you probably need to learn how to determine the precise value in advertised odds, as this enables you to make genuinely informed selections that are most likely to deliver the best possible returns.
This is important, and our previous example offers an excellent example as to why this should be the case. After all, England’s price of 5/6 to win their next test does not reflect the current form of the two competing sides, while the available odds mean that a stake of £10 would deliver a return of just £8.33 (minus your stake).
In order to assess the value in betting selections, you can use the following calculation and apply it to individual wagers:
|Value||=||(Decimal Odds * Your Assessed Probability) – 1|
As a general rule, whenever this calculation delivers a value greater than zero, you can claim to have a solid wager that’s more likely to deliver a return. Conversely, then you arrive at a minus value you’d probably be better served by seeking out an alternative wager or enhancing the odds through a specific market.
If we apply this formula to England’s decimal odds of 1.83 to win, for example, we end up with a value proposition of – 0.0118. This is based on the real-time price and England’s presumed probability of winning, and it highlights the fact that backing the Three Lions in this instance would not make good betting sense.
By consistently using this and the previous formula to evaluate your odds and probability of winning, you can build a portfolio of betting selections that help you to make the most of your bankroll.
Betting Types and Markets
Seasoned cricket bettors will tell you that the most popular market is the match or series outcome.
All formats of the game offer three distinct betting options on single games, namely two potential winners and a tie (or draw in the case of test matches). Once you’ve analysed the game in question, you’ll make a selection and place a so-called ‘win’ bet that backs your chosen outcome at a fixed price.
We’ll have a little more on backing the draw below, but this is a rare result in all forms of cricket and widely underused.
Betting on a series outcome is similarly straightforward, as in this instance there are also just two test teams competing against one another. So, you’ll simply apply your knowledge and analysis to determine which side is most likely to prevail over the course of three or five matches, although it’s important to note that test series’ can also end in a draw depending on the results.
However, you can improve the odds and simplify the wager by selecting an exact score, although this will decrease your probability of placing a successful wager.
The concept of turning the odds in your favour is an interesting one, and this can also be achieved by applying handicap betting to a specific game and outcome.
Handicap betting is widely used in a number of alternative sports, as a way of creating value in contests where there’s a perceived mismatch and a clear, odds-on favourite.
However, it’s typically applied slightly differently in cricket, due to the fundamental nature of the game and the structure of each batting innings.
In limited overs cricket, for example, the handicap is only applied in-play and after the team batting first has completed its innings. From here, the bookmaker used a simple runs based handicap for the team batting second, and this is as follows:
- The team batting first scores a total of 230 runs
- During the break in play, the bookmaker applies a handicap of either +30.5 for the team batting second and -30.5 for the defending side (these values are calculated and expressed in half numbers to guarantee a result, and occasionally they may vary based on the quality of the participating teams)
- Punters will then choose which side to back, depending on their core match analysis and the applied odds
- If you apply the minus handicap to the defending side, the team batting second will need to score 261 runs for the bet to come in. This is why analysis is so important, as is your understanding of the conditions and the pitch.
With handicap betting, you can alter the odds and lengthen them to your advantage, while applying it wisely can accomplish this aim without overly compromising your chances of winning.
Like other sports, there are various aspects of a cricket game that can be analysed to help you make informed selection.
The weather conditions and the nature of the pitch can have a huge impact on the game, for example, which is why playing at home is such a major advantage in the sport. In fact, international teams have lost more than twice as many matches as they’ve won when playing abroad during the last 10 years, and this can be a key factor when making your betting selections.
Interestingly, forecasts of bad weather or the presence of a flat and lifeless pitch can offer value to punters, as this increases the likelihood of a draw.
However, this will also be afforded a slightly longer price as a betting option in a cricket match, so it can offer a superior return in some instances.
Similarly, the toss is an important consideration, as this can have a huge bearing on the final outcome (especially on the types of pitch referenced above).
You may notice that the odds change slightly after a decisive toss has been won, so you may want to factor this into your final wagering selection.