Moeen and Buttler to shine
One of the best things about Twenty20 Blast Finals Day is the opportunity to see a clutch of international superstars in one day. Particularly for those who have an affinity towards England. To that end Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler will be stalked by autograph hunters wherever they step at Edgbaston when Worcestershire and Lancashire meet in the first semi-final.
There will be a stampede, too, to get with these two on the betting markets. They are sharks in a small pond when they return to the domestic game and there may even be a few on the respective oppositions who are a little intimidated.
Naturally there are a host of ways to bet Moeen and Buttler to do damage. But it is worth examining whether any real value exists, largely because there can be a temptation from the layers to shorten prices out of line with real chances because the money will come regardless.
At first glance, value looks in short supply but a deep dive on the numbers is required to unearth potential wagers. Let's start with Moeen.
We can't find any justification betting the all-rounder at 4.03/1 with Betfair Sportsbook for top-bat honours, even if Callum Ferguson, Worcestershire's top runscorer, is absent as discussed in our main preview. But that doesn't mean he should score runs.
It's unfortunate that price is some way out from his true odds because Moeen feels at home in Birmingham. As you'd expect. It is his home city. Twice this summer he batted in one-day matches. Twice he has scored a century. In North Group against Warwickshire in the Blast he smashed 115 off 56 balls.
That kind of ground form is nectar for punters. His recent form - he has purred with England after a recall - likewise. Sportsbook's runs quotes come under the microscope then.
They go 1.84/5 that he scores over 20.5 runs. In T20 leagues he has an average (including not outs as a completed innings) of 21. It's a slender margin. Filter those results for him batting as an opener (which he will for Worcestershire) and that average leaps to 27.25. Don't get greedy, though, and take the 'to score a fifty' odds. We have him at 6.511/2 for a fifty, Sportsbook go 4.5. He is actually more likely (as an opener) to win man of the match than score a fifty - a 5.79/2 shot opposed to 9.08/1 when he isn't opening.
Like Moeen, Buttler is considerably more dangerous when he is opening the batting. His average as opener is a whopping 39. A tick then for going overs on Sportsbook's quote of 32.5. He is also 2.68/5 for a fifty when Sportsbook rate him at 3.55/2. That's a hefty edge. And, if man of the match markets become available, bear in mind that, statistically, when he opens he cops like a 4.84/1 shot.
Archer a fair pick
The top-bowler markets for the Sussex versus Somerset clash are interesting. One is a choc-full of value. The other is not. It's the Sussex list which interests us with two players to fight over. Somerset's bowlers, however, are pretty much shorter than they should be.
Jofra Archer, an England star of the future, is the rightful jolly here in the absence of Rashid Khan. Sportsbook go 4.03/1 and our numbers suggest he's 3.412/5. The absence of Rashid is probably worth a couple more ticks in our favour, not least the Edgbaston pitch which appears to suit pacers more than spinners.
Tymal Mills, despite a poor return this season, has historic stats which suggest he should be shorter than 5.59/2. Our records indicate 4.03/1 would be more like it.
Somerset's bowling is recognised as being average and they have relied heavily on their batters this term. Jamie Overton is the right favourite here but with the stats saying he is a 4.84/1 chance we can't advise a wager on him at 4.3100/30. Craig Overton (8.07/1) on our numbers, Roelof van der Merwe (7.06/1) and Lewis Gregory (5.04/1) are all too short. Max Waller is rated 4.77/2 by us so there is a sniff at Sportsbook's 6.05/1 but, again, spinners could struggle here.