Betting on cricket, if you do it correctly, is a very simple way for sports bettors to make money. Because it is a game played over several hours there is always plenty of time to reverse a losing position and to even improve a winning one. All it takes is a little knowledge and a lot of attention to detail. Here are a few tips to help you along when it comes time to make your sports picks:
Know your formats
At heart, there are only two versions of cricket - one day and ‘multi-day’ - but there are three different formats under each of those headings. ‘Test’ cricket is played over five days and only played at international level. Other multi-day games are over usually four and sometimes three days and are normally referred to as ‘first class’ matches. One day games may be played over 50, 40 or 20 overs per team, with abbreviations such as ‘ODI’ being used to refer to a 50 over game between international sides, T20 to refer to the 20 over version and (sometimes) T20i used to refer to international 20 over matches.
It is important to know which kind of game you are betting on for any number of reasons. The most obvious comes when you are betting in a win market, because even at international level a team will normally be better at one format than another. There are less obvious areas where this applies, too. For example, you can often bet on how many runs a batsman will score in a match, either as an under/over bet or in a spread. It then becomes vitally important to factor in whether it is a one day game or not, because each team only bats once in a one day game but can bat twice in a longer format.
Which leads us neatly on to...
Do your research
This isn’t exclusive to cricket, but it is particularly important when betting on this sport. Cricket grounds differ wildly and some teams simply do better on their own ground than on others. India, for example, are usually very difficult to beat when they are playing at home, even when their side is comparatively weak. England recently won a series there for the first time in almost 30 years, but the Indians then went on to beat Australia 4-0 in their next home series, and with substantially the same players.
As well as considering that, some sides don’t tend to do well in particular match-ups. Looking at the example above, Australia have a particularly poor record in India and that was the case even when they were on a decade-long run of being ranked number one in the world. England’s record in India wasn’t great until this year, and last year they lost to Pakistan and drew with Sri Lanka away as well, whilst they were supposedly the best in the world, so it is fair to assume that the betting odds on them winning anywhere on the sub-continent should be long.
Then there are player-to-player match-ups that you need to be aware of, particularly if you are betting in play. England’s Kevin Pietersen, for example, is one of the best batsmen in the world and you might well be considering backing him in one of those runs markets I mentioned above. Pietersen, though, is famously vulnerable to left-armed slow bowlers, who dismiss him a disproportionate number of times. If you know that Pietersen is going to be facing a side who have such a bowler in their team, you might want to pitch your estimate of how many runs he might score a little lower. And if you are betting in-play, you might want to consider laying off your bet (or taking the ‘cash out’ option that some markets have) when the left arm bowler comes into the attack.
Watch the weather
Ah, cricket and the weather. Two of the biggest cliche’s about cricket are that it is the only sport which stops for a meal break and the only one you can’t play in the rain. Now, the first is true (but if you were playing a sport that can last all day you’d at least want a bathroom break at some point), but the second isn’t. However, cricket does stop for rain and for bad light, largely because whether you are batting or in the field you don’t want a leather missile hurtling towards you at 80mph when you can’t really see it for rain or gloom (if you’ve never seen a cricket ball, it is a red version of a field hockey ball, the latter sport having been invented by cricketers).
These factors can make a big difference to the outcome of a cricket match, although the way depends upon the sort of game you are betting on. For a multi-day game, a prolonged rain break may cause one side to declare their innings closed, in the hope of having enough time to bowl out their opponent. You therefore need to again pay attention any run market bets which you may have, and to watch the odds shift in the win market so that you can take advantage - especially if you can make your move before any official announcement of what is going to happen, which will get you the best odds. In fact, it can rain so much that play for the rest of the day is washed out, so again you’ll want to try to take advantage if you’ve been betting on the number of runs to be scored that day.
In one day games, on the other hand, rain can lead to one side or both having fewer overs to bat for and this can be very significant in a number of ways. For example, the smaller the number of overs, the more chance the outsider will have, because pure chance begins to play more of a role in the result. Second, every competition will have a minimum number of overs to be bowled before the game is valid. In the 2010 T20 World Cup Ireland were on the verge of beating England but because they did not bat for the required 5 overs to constitute a game the match was declared void; as a result England went through to the next round and won the tournament.
Not only is it vitally important to know just what the weather rules are, it is important to know what the rules are if a game is declared void. Do you get your stake back, or not?
Who the hell are Duckworth-Lewis?
The Duckworth-Lewis method is a way used to calculate the impact that a stoppage in play has upon the result of a one day game. It is a very complicated thing to try and explain (and resulted in the dullest book ever written about cricket - I know, because I had to review it) but basically it is the way that the number of runs scored is recalculated after that stoppage. If the stoppage occurs in the first innings of the game then that recalculation will take place at the end of the innings and this is a good place to make some money. Get hold of a copy of the tables and the instructions for using them. You should then be able to calculate what that revised total will be long before the announcement is made, and so get into the over/under and spread markets before others do.
Those tables will also be handy in the second innings. You will often see television coverage (or, if you are at the game, the scoreboard) flash up the figure ‘D/L Par’. That is how many runs the side batting needs to have scored to win the game. There are a lot of options here. If they are way ahead or behind that figure, you can back or lay them in the win market if the odds are right, for example.Finally, there’s one last way that Duckworth-Lewis can help you, and it is because of something that the tables don’t do. In one day cricket, each bowler is only allowed a certain number of overs. That number of overs gets reduced as the number of total overs goes down and this can mean that a side has no overs left of their best bowlers (or far fewer of them). That might give more of a chance to the batting side than either the par score or the odds might suggest, again giving you a chance to clean up whilst realising that cricket may be a complictated game to bet on, but it can be a very profitable one, too.