Ed Hawkins gets the stats database out to find value on the side markets ahead of the action from Brisbane early on Thursday...
"It may pay to pit Smith against himself rather than his team-mates. Smith is a runmachine, granted, and is more than capable of taking them down but his individual runs markets are an easier wager"
Australia v Pakistan
Thursday 21 November, 00:00
Live on BT Sport 2
Force of habit
Placing a bet on Steve Smith for top Australia runscorer would have become a habit during the summer. A profitable one. But entrenched behaviour can become damaging. So it is always worth asking whether Smith is actually value, before you start taking bad prices.
In the last Ashes Test at The Oval, Smith copped. But he went off at a prohibitive even money. It was a 'wrong' price in terms of how often he wins. And any punter worth his or her salt should aim to only take prices which are incorrect, instead of thinking 'he's really good...let's back him'.
Sportsbook go 6/4 for The Gabba. Our Crick-o-nomics database (charts listed below) agrees. There is a legitimate concern, however, that he may be too skinny. That's because in England only he and Marnus Labuschagne were able to occupy the crease, their techniques tight enough to withstand the seam and swing examination. In Australia, David Warner, Travis Head and Matthew Wade will all be confident enough to swing through the line without nicking off. It's suddenly a much more open market.
Instead, it may pay to pit Smith against himself rather than his team-mates. Smith is a runmachine, granted, and is more than capable of taking them down but his individual runs markets are an easier wager. For simplicity, we've taken Sportsbook's prices and matched them against the database.
Sportsbook 6/4 Crick-o-nomics 6/4
To score a fifty:
Sportsbook go 5/6 Crick-o-nomics 4/9
To score a ton:
Sportsbook 2/1 Crick-o-nomics 7/4
The 3/1 about Warner is likely to be popular, particularly as there is evidence that he has found his mojo again. White ball cricket is normally not a pointer but in Warner's case evidence of aggression and timing is key. He is in form.
Warner is probably the best punt on Sportsbook's player performance market (1pt per run, 10 per catch 20 per wkt). In the last five years at home Warner averages 104.6 per Test. So going over 96.5 is not a stretch. Smith's make-up is 124 and Sportsbook offer 5/6 over 119.5.
As discussed in the first Test preview, Pat Cummins gets support for top Australia bowler at 9/4. His player performance quote (136.5) is bang on his average under the same filters.
Australia top bat wins/matches
Paine 1 1t/22
Top bowler wins/matches
Lyon 7 4t/37
Hazelwood 7 4t/31
Starc 6 2t/28
Cummins 9 4t/24
AA to the rescue
We would quite like to back Azhar Ali for top Pakistan runscorer. Babar Azam is too short. Azhar is too big. Sportsbook go 2/1 and 7/2 respectively.
The worry is that Azhar will open and lead. One or the other should not affect fluency but both? There's a lot on his plate, even if he rinsed Australia's bowling attack on his last visit. He walloped 403 runs in three matches.
Perhaps the best way to get with him is to go over on the player performance, which Sportsbook offer at 66.5. His average away from home in his Test career is 78 so there's plenty of room in the quote. It's also worth having both innings on side just in case he gets a good one from this excellent Australia attack.
Pakistan top bat wins/matches
Sarfaraz 2 t/21
Azhar Ali 6/21
Top Pakistan bowler wins/matches
Sohail 1 t/3
Amir 1 3t/16
Wahab 1 t/7
Yasir 3 2t/16
Abbas 4 2t/14
2019 - points p-l: +37.09 (120 points staked)
2018 - points p-l: +9.86 (89 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)