One of the many markets now readily available to cricket punters is that of the top runscorer.
This can be separated by innings or cover the whole of a match or tournament, and with a limited number of options to pick from it seems a sensible and attractive option.
But wait. There is plenty to think about before you place down your money.
Cricket is a game of form. When a batsman “has his eye in”, he can find himself in a purple patch that lasts for weeks.
Find out which players are enjoying a good series or tournament, do not be drawn purely by the big names based on reputation alone.
Batsmen have opponents that they particularly enjoy playing against, opponents they hate to face and types of bowlers against whom they will both thrive and struggle.
Do your research.
It might be that batsman X is averaging 70 in a T20 tournament but about to come up against a side with several slow left-arm bowlers, against whom his career average is significantly lower. In which case, the odds on his team-mates are likely to be artificially inflated.
There are loads of statistics sites out there which will tell you how a certain player performs in certain conditions and against certain opponents – online tools available via Cricinfo’s Statsguru and Howstat are both very useful in looking up an individual’s history against specific teams and at specific venues.
Coming by the more detailed data – how a batsman performs against legspin as compared to right-arm swing – is nearly impossible, especially for free. There are companies which specialise in these sorts of statistics but their software commands expensive annual subscriptions which will not make financial sense for all but the elite, professional gambler.
The very best batsmen in the world will always be available at very short prices, but that’s generally for good reason. Don’t be afraid to bet on the favorite if your research says he is the right choice.
Virat Kohli, the India captain, for instance, is head and shoulders above most of the rest of the world and, even at hugely chopped odds, will come off more times than not.
State of the game
Are you betting on T20, 50-over cricket or first-class matches (four or five days)?
Don’t think it’s relevant? Think again.
The mindset and skill level required for batting in each of these three formats is vastly different. T20 cricket, for instance, provides substantial risk with players looking to score very quickly from ball one.
50-over matches are increasingly following the same pattern.
In first-class games, though, there is still an element of consolidation applied by the batsmen. Much less risk.
Where is your player batting?
If you’re betting on T20 cricket, gambling on a batsman coming in at number five or below topscoring in the innings is like having a punt on a random roulette number. It might come off, but there’s no system to your madness.
With only 120 balls available, it always makes sense to invest in a batsman right at the top of the order.
Strangely, in 50-over cricket, it is the middle order – numbers three, four and five – which are more likely to give you the value.
In first-class cricket, the opportunity for any batsman to score big presents itself, with games being played across several days and much less risk involved.