Ed Hawkins analyses Kane Williamson's game and odds and finds a wager on the top bowler market...
"The planets are in line, so to speak. Here we have a bowler who has been underrated to do the business in an environment which should suit him perfectly"
Is Williamson a bet?
The contest at Eden Park will be eagerly anticipated by punters who have been waiting for an opportunity to bet a man who has the reputation of being one of the most consistent top-bat notchers in the world game.
It is often said that Kane Williamson has little to beat when it comes to outscoring his team-mates. And his personal numbers point to a man who head and shoulders above the rest in New Zealand.
Williamson is their top-ranked player one the ICC batting lists and looks destined to finish as New Zealand's all-time top runscorer. From 63 matches he has garnered 5,214 meaning he is just 1,958 behind No 1 Stephen Fleming who played 48 more Tests. He has the best average of a Kiwi Test player past and present and no one has scored more than his 17 centuries.
Betfair Sportsbook make him a 2/1 chance for honours in the first dig in Auckland. Unfortunately we can't take that price because it is too short. He is more like a 5/2 shot in our book considering the number of times that he cops. The 3.55 on the exchange may be the best port of call, then.
But wait. It might surprise you to learn that Williamson, despite the huge haul of runs, is not actually Mr Consistent in this market. It is the unheralded Jeet Raval, the opener. Raval actually top scores more often than Williamson in his nine-game Test career. The 4/1 on offer with Sportsbook is, in fact, the value. Raval could be the next Williamson.
Rather surprisingly, Ross Taylor has also been overrated. Although easy on the eye and No 2 on those run lists, Taylor does not hang around long enough to win money here. He should be about 5/1 so we couldn't advise taking 4/1.
Again it is the 'understudy' who catches the eye. Tom Latham averages 38 in Tests but he notches more regularly than the 4/1 suggests and we have him down at 9/2.
Back to Williamson, though. Sportsbook offer 5/6 over or under 38.5 runs in the first innings. Should we take it? Well, the 5/6 is absolutely bang on because he has managed to bust the mark 32 times out of 63. Alas the even money for a fifty is not fair in first innings. He has scored fifty or more 24 times.
The contest looks to be shaping up as one which will be dominated by bowlers, as discussed here also in our series preview. The Eden Park wicket has been tricky for batsmen in first-class cricket this season, the lights could assist seam and swing while overcast conditions aren't likely to make for conducive rungetting conditions, either.
Oh Jimmy, Jimmy
So James Anderson should be in his element. Betfair Sportsbook rate him a 5/2 chance to be England top bowler in the first-innings and that's a wager we're happy to take.
The planets are in line, so to speak. Here we have a bowler who has been underrated to do the business (we have him down as an 11/5 poke on our scorecard) in an environment which should suit him perfectly.
There is also the important point that Stuart Broad, also 5/2, has been overrated. He cops about 20% of the time and he also suffered a horrible Ashes tour. Anderson actually managed some respectable returns on that tour.
2018 - points p-l: -3.14 (28 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)