Ed Hawkins bemoans an uncompetitive England v Sri Lanka second T20 in Cardiff on Thursday night but picks out a stonking 7/1 bet anyway...
Buttler is 9/4 favourite with Jason Roy 11/4. Ordinarily we'd swerve the latter price, too, because it's not even close on win rate. But for Buttler's increased chance read Roy, who if we're going to be mean, is something of a flat-track bully.
Roy the boy
There are two more England-Sri Lanka matches in this T20 series. Another at Cardiff back-to-back under lights and the final game at Southampton on Saturday. A three-game ODI series follows. It could be a diet of mismatches which punters, pundits and armchair fans find hard to digest.
Imbalance in ability, concentration and fitness in a sporting contest, of course, devalues the experience for everyone. Almost to a man there is frustration. And betting on it offers a unique challenge. Essentially we have to re-learn how value works for such meetings.
No longer can we rely on methods which have been tried and trusted. That is because those methods, by and large, have worked for matches involving two teams who are similar levels of ability. There is not a chasm between the two. This cannot be said about England v Sri Lanka.
Previously we would be betting on the side markets, perusing the data below and working out our edge and angle on win rates. How often do these batsmen and bowlers actually win a tops market? And we can make a rational, implied probability-based decision on whether to bet or not.
But all that goes out of the window here. Take Jos Buttler as an example. Buttler was boosted to 3/1 by Sportsbook for top England bat in game one. On pure win rate, the number we set our watch by, he wasn't a bet. He had two wins in 13. But how many of those 13 were against teams which were of the standard who could provide Buttler with a test? How many times would Buttler have top scored had he faced a weak Sri Lanka attack, essentially just out of quarantine, in unfamiliar conditions?
One suspects enough to have made 3/1 a bet. And oddsmakers, by the way, rarely take into account pure win rates when pricing. The conditions for a Buttler to top score are now almost completely different. He will either bat first and get the opportunity to tuck in for the duration. Or he will bat second with the strong chance that a low score is required to win the match, as discussed in our preview.
Buttler is 9/4 favourite with Jason Roy 11/4. Ordinarily we'd swerve the latter price, too, because it's not even close on win rate. But for Buttler's increased chance read Roy, who if we're going to be mean, is something of a flat-track bully. Both men are probably value at 11/2 and 7/1 for man of the match on the same basis. The relationship between a top-bat score and the gong is strong
Where does this leave us with our consistent wagering of Dawid Malan? At number three, we have fears he is not going to get the crease time to do his work, as proved in the first match. It's a legitimate concern but at first down it is arguable he should be prohibitively short because of expected England dominance. The 9/2 is still a wager.
Top England bat last two years wins/matches
Top England bowler wins/matches last two years
Jordan 5 3t/25
Rashid 3 4t/24
T Curran 1 3t/20
S Curran 1 4t/14
Wood 1 t/13
Stokes 1 2t/11
Stick with Dhananjaya
The opposite, of course, is true for top Sri Lanka batsman. We're actively trying to avoid batsmen in the first three or four now because we recognise that the value is lower down.
This was proved by Dasun Shanaka top scoring from number seven. It is likely that 30 or 40 may well be enough to win this market and that could come in the form from a late, crazed lower-order player prepared to swing from the hip.
That description doesn't suit Dhananjaya de Silva but he does seem toppy at 7/1. It would be possible to make cases, too for Wanindu Hasaranga at 16s and Isuru Udana at 35s. Both Wanindu and Udana are more than capable and it is a bizarre strength of Sri Lanka that they have a surfeit of strong options for the number eight and nine slots.
Top Sri Lanka bat wins/matches last three years
A T20 international double header on Cricket...Only Bettor
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l