England v South Africa
Thursday 25 August, 11:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports
Pope standing out
Ollie Pope top scored in the first innings of the first Test to make it six wins in 25.
With a win rate of 24% it makes him one of the most reliable batters in the world in this market. And also one of the most underrated. Sportsbook go 5/1.
But win rate and price gap isn't everything. Just look at Zak Crawley. He has four wins in 26 and that means there is a small edge at 6/1.
Crawley, however, is more likely to be a short in his innings runs at 19.5 with Sportsbook. The opener is, frankly, in a dreadful state.
There are significant doubts that Crawley has the ability to play at this level because his first-class average now stands at 29.
He is technically flawed and, unsurprisingly, failure after failure has scrambled decision-making. Note trying to sweep a straight one from Keshav Maharaj and missing.
Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum must take responsibility. If Crawley proves anything it is that their 'back yourself' and 'see ball, hit ball' approach cannot be applied to everyone.
By constantly reiterating that Crawley should trust the process they have catastrophically failed in their duty of care.
Catastrophic for one man and one man only, though: Crawley.
Instead of being told how great he is, McCullum needs to spend hours after hours drilling Crawley's technique in the nets.
Maybe that is happening but it sure as hell doesn't look like it. The mindless approach will eventually cost Crawley his international career.
The upshot is that Crawley remains an easy short on those innings runs at 5/6. It's a mark he has not breached in 32 of his 48 innings.
There is ground form for Joe Root to be worthy of a bet at a boosted 13/5 for top England bat in the first innings.
He is average nearly 70 at the venue and has a double ton to his name. Bet the Sportsbook markets including prices for fifties and tons here.
England first-innings top bat wins/matches
Lower order a play
South Africa's top-bat market is tricky to call because in the last two years a fair chunk of wins have come from Faf Du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma. None of them are available.
If, as discussed in the match preview, the Old Trafford surface is a green top and England get to bowl first it could pay to play lower down the order.
Marco Jansen stands out at 16/1. Likewise Maharaj at 33s.
The man of the match market may be dominated by bowlers if there is seam and swing.
Kagiso Rabada, who won at HQ, is 9/1, Anrich Nortje is 12s and the dangerous Lungi Ngidi 16/1. Jansen also catches the eye at 12s.
Only one seam bowler has won the award because of predominantly wickets in the last six Tests at Old Trafford. That was Stuart Broad.
Broad has an excellent record here and is 10/1, the same price as James Anderson.
Bet the Sportsbook markets here.
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