I suspect it's going to become a recurring theme through the blog but for me preparation is everything when it comes to betting on a cricket match.
By preparation I mean research. Understanding the issues that will effect the match I'm about to speculate in, trying to ensure I don't lose money as a result of missing something stupid, and hunting for edges that will give me an advantage over the markets.
So how do I go about doing this?
It may sound odd but the first thing I do when preparing to bet on any cricket match is check the weather forecast. The reason is simple though - it's the most logical thing to do.
If the match is going to be heavily rain effected or washed out then there is not much point in doing research into markets that will be voided in reduced games. Instead my attention can turn to other areas such as the completed match market.
So checking the weather first saves time by cutting out wasted research and helps guide me towards which markets I'm likely to be getting involved with. Knowing the forecast helps preparation by giving other match pointers too though.
If there is rain around teams that win the toss generally prefer to field first in the belief Duckworth Lewis favours the chasing team. Batting may also be difficult in overcast conditions, but perhaps easier under sunny cloudless skies.
Rain can also have a large effect in the main match odds and innings runs markets. Understanding why these markets are behaving as they do is important, as is anticipating where weather factors might provide opportunities.
Knowing the forecast then can decide what areas to prepare, helps provide an understanding of market behaviour and gives clues as to which way in running markets might move.
Not going to say too much on this one at this stage other than to say I have long commented on my belief that fixes occur in cricket matches. Recent match fixing investigations are starting to scrape the surface but there's a long way to go.
When assessing the possibility of a game being open to elements of corruption I simply put games into different risk categories. I approach each game differently depending on the risk category I give it.
I'm sure I'll return to this subject later so for now a couple of simple examples. If I believe a game has a high risk factor I try to keep my exposure to the in running match odds market lower than usual in terms of time, and sometimes bet size. I'll be far more likely to take profit or losses on shorter time frames than hold positions.
I'll also effectively ignore most antepost side markets such as total sixes, team to score most sixes etc. The only exceptions are markets where corruption might benefit the bet.
Total wides is a good example. If a ground has a history of high wides, a team tends to give away wides and my analysis suggests there will be wides I'll be happy to go over a fixed line or buy on the spreads. I'd never go under wides if everything pointed to unders in a match I had as high risk though.
Ground History / Stats
A key part of my prepartion. For each match I bet on I prepare various stats reports for the ground where the match is being played.
I plan to go into more detail in several subsequent posts but briefly once book lines and prices are known these are compared to relevant historical stats at the ground to highlight any possible value bets in fixed odds and spread side markets. Any suggestions that crop up in the report can then be analysed to see if the bet is worth making.
More important is the picture the stats provide of typical or possible game types at a given ground. I try to build scripts of what I expect to happen if certain statistical points are met. Again, I'll give real life examples of this in later posts but a simple example:
Let's say in a T20 match a ground has a history of favouring batting over bowling. In Day Night games there is a high bat first win percentage and the stronger batting team is batting first. The stats say teams that score 54 or more in the first 6 power play overs have won 8/8 matches and if the total innings score has gone over 175 the team has won 11/11 matches.
Of course other factors have to be taken into account but if during a game these kind of stats look like they will be, or are checked off, it gives me more confidence to build bigger positions. Especially so if the bat first team has a decent bowling attack.
Team News and Player form
Complete team news is rarely known until shortly before a match but squads are. And in some instances, English county games for example, clubs will often release in advance squads of just 12 players who will be travelling to a match.
As important as who is or might play is who definitely won't be. It pays to keep an eye on information such as international call ups and injury news. Say a key batsman is out. Bookmakers might still be offering a price on him in their top bat market. As he will take up a fair percentage of their book, it means value can often be found on other bats. Key players missing obviously impacts on match odds markets too.
Player form is changeable but the benefits can be fairly constant. If a bat has been out for 2 ducks in a row, was struggling to get it off the square before that and is looking pretty miserable about life the chances are I'll be considering opposing either his runs, his team's runs, or his team in the match odds markets, when he comes to bat.
So team news and player form can be an important part of the preparation jigsaw. There's no doubt it is worth keeping tabs on. Preparation that includes it will help highlight possible outright bets and in running trades.
These can be long lasting or short lived, even self perpetuating. But, for whatever reason, sometimes they are very real. Knowing them in advance and anticipating them during in running markets can provide good trading opportunities.
The kind of things I look for are the same bowler always seeming to get the same batsman out. Or a particular type of bowler always seeming to get the same batsman out.
For example, in the recent England v Sri Lanka ODI series James Anderson had a habit of getting opener Lahiru Thirimanne out. After watching him get out cheaply to Anderson 3 matches in a row Sri Lanka dropped Thirimanne down the order to 6th for the fourth match. Whereupon Anderson got him out cheaply again.
Another well known example would the be apparent weakness of Kevin Pietersen against slow left arm spinners. A more recent illustration would be opposing teams working out that, after smashing the ball around the park at the start of IPL 7, Glenn Maxwell could be tamed by leg spinners.
Other Specific Match Day Factors and Conditions
All information helps in one way or another to prepare for a betting heat. Among the other information I look out for is:
This is a big one. The state of the pitch can have a huge impact on any match. Even get matches called off. Expectations of a first use pitch will be different from a third use. Any accurate information about a pitch is valuable. It's not easy to get good information and one of the first things I do in any match is watch carefully and judge the pitch for myself.
In general though some information is available. If you know it has been raining for days in the lead up you know it will have been covered. Commentators will often say something like "They'll be using this pitch again on Saturday" or "This is the same pitch they used in the match between..."
Venues and teams can alter the boundary sizes for many reasons. A venue might want to try and create excitement by trying to ensure lots of sixes in a T20 match. A team loaded with quality spinners might want longer boundaries paired with a dry worn pitch.
Boundary sizes effect several markets including most obviously total fours, multi 4s, total sixes, multi sixes, total boundaries and innings runs. If I want to go over total sixes sometimes I'll take a punt early to get a price or line I just feel is simply too wrong but other times I'll wait till after the toss.
If a game is televised at the toss you can see the size of the boundaries and use a book that allows betting after the toss to place a bet. If the boundaries are particularly suitable to your view stakes can be increased.
Fast / Slow Outfield
Faster outfields can be conducive to more 4s and higher scoring. Slower to less 4s and lower scoring. When playing runs markets I like to know how the outfield is. Factors that can influence it are whether it is wet or dry, how long the grass is and whether practice pitches / temporary net facilities form part of the outfield. I always assess the outfield.
There's a lot of talk about whether floodlights are "good" or "bad" and if a match is day / night I take floodlights into consideration when preparing my ground history / stats.
What I'm talking about specifically here are the particular conditions of play for a match. Some venues have floodlights available but test teams for example might agree in advance not to use them. Clearly this can impact much including match odds prices. Lost time in a test will almost always put downward pressure on the draw price.
It's always worth knowing if a player has had to pass a fitness test to play. Or if they have been playing through a persistent niggle. Maybe a bowler won't be at 100% as a result. A batsmen with a cold might have reduced levels of concentration. Similarly whether a team has travelled a lot before a game (think IPL internal flights and tight schedules) can have a impact.
Team / Player Morale
I'm a big believer in the impact this can have. Has a team, for example, been paid? How would it effect your performance if you had not been paid? Or is there clearly infighting in the dressing room that can have a negative impact on the pitch? Have individuals been disciplined or is there a period of turmoil in their personal lives?
All such factors can have an impact on performance, prices and ultimately results.
So there you have it. That's how I go about preparing to bet on a cricket match. It's not an exhaustive list but does cover more than just the main areas I look at.
Some are clearly more important than others but they all help build a picture that can give you an edge across an array of cricket markets, both before and during play.