Wednesday 2 July 2014

Cricket stats - The benefits

I've already discussed in general terms why I use cricket stats when it comes to betting on cricket. Now it's time to look at a specific example and see how stats can make us money.

Below is something I suspect very few people would have ever seen. Though is no doubt something their intuition would have led them to believe.

It is a graph showing the average number of runs scored in each over of completed T20 first innings. All Twenty20 matches and grounds in my database are included in the filters.

I'm a bit of a statto but when I first got the capability to generate these kind of things I was fascinated. Comparing games across grounds, tournaments and countries was an eye opener.

In itself the graph is interesting enough. We can see batsmen just getting a feel for the pitch in the first over or so before making full use of the six over power play.

With the end of the power play the runs per over drop off in the 7th over as fielding restrictions are relaxed but they then build steadily towards the end of the innings.

Interesting as it is I'm not sure the general nature of it will surprise anyone. And while maybe of some use from a betting perspective the data is too general to be of real use.

However, let's see what happens when we compare another specific ground against the average of all grounds:

So here I've overlaid the completed first innings stats for the Adelaide Oval. It just happens to be the first ground alphabetically in my database but also proves a pretty good example.

Clearly there is the suggestion that the first six power play overs go much higher than the average. A quick look at the actual stats show they're not skewed by one or two extremely high results.

So how can I benefit from this?

First 6 overs 

On the day match factors need to be taken into account, for this and remaining discussion, but when preparing for a game at the Adelaide Oval I'm immediately thinking of potential bets on the first 6 overs markets.

Of course, bookmakers are not totally unaware of such stats and their first 6 over quotes may well reflect the historical high average at the ground. That's fine. I can still bet if I like the quotes.

In fact I prefer to know in advance what lines and prices I will take before bookmakers go up with theirs. This advance preparation just makes it a simple yes / no decision when the books go live in the busy run up to a televised match.

Match Odds

Those high first six overs provide another profitable betting opportunity too - in the in running match odds market.

When a team wins the toss and bats first at the Adelaide Oval I am generally looking to back them in the match odds market. Why? Because if they do get those quick early runs their match odds price will drop providing me with a simple profitable trade.

Whatsmore, we can see that the runs not only tend to drop off more than usual after the power play peak, but the remainder of the innings is flatter in terms of runs than the average. Indeed it is unusual for the runs peak in the first six overs to be higher than the last three overs.

In match odds terms this might lead me to lay the batting team at the end of the power play knowing its price is potentially at or near its lowest for the innings.

Innings Runs

The same ideas used above for match odds can be employed for innings runs markets too in an effort to profit from a match.

So I might look to go over innings runs quotes near the start of the innings in the belief the lines will climb as the early runs are smashed around the park.

But maybe oppose them at the end of a high scoring power play knowing there is a tendancy for the scoring rate to drop and remain flatter than might be expected.

A Word of Warning

Before anyone thinks great and checks a calendar for the next Twenty20 match at the Adelaide Oval a few things need to be noted.

The first is the date of this article as changes occur over time. The second is that the Adelaide Oval has recently been redeveloped, now uses drop in pitches and is also now used for Aussie Rules Football. Some might argue this completely negates historical stats.

Adelaide Oval

While ground changes can certainly impact on the effectiveness of historical stats I've often wondered about the reasons for these run scoring anamolies at the Adelaide Oval.

Truth is I don't know the answer and welcome suggestions. But my hunch is the clue is in the name. The Adelaide Oval is not only an oval but very much an oval.

With playing area dimensions of 190m by 125m the ground was very long but not too wide. My thoughts are this made it easy to score boundaries square of the wicket with only two players outside the circle during  power plays.

It follows it also made it harder to hit straight sixes nearer the end of the innings and batsmen were caught out trying more often than at other grounds. Stats seem to back this up as historically there are a higher number of wickets in the late overs at the Adelaide Oval than the average.

With redevelopments now complete and a new playing area of 167m by 124m I suspect, drop in pitch allowing, we will continue to see high first 6 over scores at the ground, but perhaps also a less noteable flattening off in runs, especially towards the end of the innings.

As ever with innings runs I'll be looking for pitch condition and boundary sizes next time I settle down to do a game at the great cricket venue.

So I took a bit of a detour there to the Adelaide Oval but I hope the article has shown the benefits stats can have when it comes to making a profit when betting on cricket.

Sure, stats need to balanced against other factors. But I've tried to show that good match preparation and understanding of ground history and stats can provide edges by highlighting value outright bets and in running trades.   

They may not always win but using stats sensibly to make good value bets should result in profit over the long term.

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