Ed Hawkins searches for value on the side markets for the first test from Old Trafford from Wednesday and says the England pacer can be taken on...
"Afridi is only eight Tests into his career but he already has three wins and a tie. Abbas destroyed England at Lord’s in 2018 but his form has dipped since then"
England v Pakistan
Wednesday 5 August 11.00
Live on Sky Sports
Don't expect another Boy's Own performance
Since this Hawk Eye column has been around it has tried to instil the importance of looking at recent form instead of career form to decipher the outcome of player-related markets.
And few personify that mantra better than Stuart Broad. It is widely accepted that bBoad, recent addition to the 500 club, is a completely different bowler to the one who started out his Test career 140 matches ago.
Broad in the beginning, in the middle and for much of his final third as a Test bowler, was a wild thing who wanted to bowl back of a length or short. It is only in the last couple of years that he switched to a pitch-it-up bowler. This change of style has salvaged his career and he is a much more threatening prospect when he allows the ball to shape in the air or off the pitch.
But just as we shouldn't be worried about what he did five years ago, nor should we get bogged down in the present. Broad was sensational against West Indies but there's a chunk of evidence that Betfair Sportsbook are expecting more of the same Boy's Own performances. They quote him at 110.5 over/under performance points (1pt per run, 10 per catch, 20 per wicket).
In the last two years his average make-up is 96.9 (interestingly his career rate is 98). The margins are, of course, tight but it feels toppy. How has he fared in each of those Tests (21) in the last two years? Here are his make-ups: 272/131/104/80/69/108/90/1/92/105/84/91/149/164/40/60/11/88/97/90/100.
If we had gone under in each of those at the same mark of 110.5 we would have won 17 times. So taking the 5/6 and shorting Broad is not as brave a call as it might first appear.
There is a smidge of value on Ben Stokes for top England bat at 4/1. There's a 2.2% edge for us and it's hard not to take up particularly as we rule ourselves out of getting with Olly Pope at 5/1 because we don't like betting for a back-to-back win.
England top bat wins/matches
England top bowl wins/matches
Woakes 1 5t/25
Anderson 8 6t/37
Broad 8 8t/45
Afridi a fancy
The big question for the Pakistan side markets is this: is Babar Azam value to top score for Pakistan in the first innings?
Unfortunately as classy as he is, the answer is no. And it's a pretty resounding no because Sportsbook are wary of losses because they have priced him prohibitively at 2/1. That's implied probability of 33.3%. On three-year form Babar has four wins in 17 - that's a hit rate of 23.5%.
It's a shame we won't get the chance to bet him for honours and it's something we'll have to get over because it is impossible to see him drifting to the sort of odds that would make us play in the whole series.
What of other options? Well, Asad Shafiq would ordinarily be a fancy because he knows the Dukes ball well and has a tight, compact defence. But this doesn't transfer to actual wins - two in 18. It's a hugely disappointing return as 6/1 would be the sort of price we'd want to play at.
The only wrong price when compared to the data below is Sarfaraz Ahmed, who should be 11/2 instead of 7/1. But Sarfaraz is unlikely to play with Mohammad Rizwan taking the gloves. Rizwan is a good bat but we're still waiting for a win from him.
Fortunately, Shaheen Shah Afridi provides value on the top bowler market. His left-arm swingers could cause England all sorts of problem and we have him ahead of Mohammad Abbas. Sportsbook can't split the pair as 5/2 joint jollies.
Afridi is only eight Tests into his career but he already has three wins and a tie. Abbas destroyed England at Lord's in 2018 but his form has dipped since then and he featured as one of our most overrated Test bowlers because his win rate is not as high as his reputation.
Pakistan top bat wins/matches last three years
Azhar Ali 3/18
Abid Ali 1/3
Sarfaraz 2 t/13
Top Pakistan bowler wins/matches last three years
Afridi 3 3t/8
Abbas 2 2t/13
Yasir 4 t/13
Naseem Shah t/4
A deep data dive on the Pakistan squad on this week's Cricket...Only Bettor podcast
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