Value in Top Batsmen and Bowler Markets

A Professional Betfair Cricket punter explains how to find value within Top Batsman & Top Bowler side markets.

While the match odds will always be the most actively traded and most liquid market in cricket matches, there are still plenty of opportunities within the less popular side markets.

These markets may attract less attention, however if you adopt the right approach there are still inefficiencies to be found. Below I detail recommendations on how to approach finding value in some common side markets as well as identifying frequent misconceptions and mistakes made by punters.

Top Batsman

One of the most common misconceptions held by cricket punters is that a side’s best batsman is most likely to be its highest scoring batsman for an individual innings. Some will look at, say, a batsman’s average and assume that if they have the highest average in the team then they must top-score most often, however this is certainly not always the case.

Different batsmen have different “clusters” of scores, ranging in volatility. A prime example of this is recently retired stars Michael Clarke and Shane Watson. Clarke, who averaged a stellar 49.10 in test cricket, was dismissed between 0-25 in 55% of his test innings, while Watson whose average was a more moderate 35.19, was dismissed during this period only 50% of the time.

Conversely Watson was dismissed between 30-60 in 31% of his test innings’ whereas the same fate befell Clarke just 16% of the time.

To use an example more relevant to the top bat market, in 2015 Adam Voges had a breakthrough year in test cricket, scoring over 1000 runs at an incredible average of 85.66, which bettered that of his more esteemed colleagues Steve Smith (73.70) and David Warner (54.87).

However, despite playing only one test less than Smith and Warner in 2015, Voges top-scored for Australia just twice, compared to the seven top-bats from Smith and five to Warner. Even tail-ender Mitchell Johnson managed to top-score as often as Voges!

This underlines how the most important factor in picking a top-bat is the proportion of times they tend to top-score, rather than their average or how many runs they will score in the long-term, however it also highlights another important aspect in picking a top bat – batting order.

This is particularly relevant in limited overs games where you need to weight the top bat prices against the number of balls each batsman is likely to face. Other considerations include each batsman’s record against the opposition and at the ground/in the conditions, but by focussing on how often each individual batsman top scores you will have a great base to spot some value in this market.

Top Bowler

This is a relatively new market to the exchange but the same principles apply as in the top batsman market above – focus on the bowlers who take the most wickets in an innings most frequently and you should find plenty of value. There’s no use backing the super consistent bowler who gets two wickets a game ahead of the more volatile option who might go wicketless for a couple of games but pick up a bag of four or five wickets intermittently.

However, when it comes to limited overs games (T20 in particular), there is one important factor that must always be taken into consideration – whether the bowler bowls at the death. In both 50-over and 20-over matches, but particularly in the latter, a significant portion of the wickets to fall in each innings generally come towards the end of the innings when the batsman are taking the most risks, swinging with abandon and little concern for their wicket.

This was highlighted by the Sydney Sixers’ BBL campaign last season where their top wicket-taker for the tournament was also amongst their most expensive. Sean Abbott conceded an alarming 8.49 runs an over during BBL07, the most of any frontline bowler for the Sixers and at times must have been close to being dropped.

However, because he bowled at the death, Abbott picked up a number of cheap wickets to finish with 13 for the tournament, five ahead of his next closest compatriots. So while the thought of backing the out-of-sorts Abbott with the ball in any way in last summer’s BBL may have seemed unpalatable, the fact that he operated at the death made him the shrewd choice to back in the top bowler market.

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