Hawk Eye on South Africa v England Third Test: Faf and Rabada ready to roll

Faf Du Plessis
Faf is due

Ed Hawkins analyses the side markets for the action from Port Elizabeth on Thursday, and picks out three bets at decent prices...

"The best news is that Rabada’s win rate just about makes him a bet at his new price. There’s a 1.4% swing in our favour"

Faf to fire

Kagiso Rabada has been cut from 10/3 to 5/2 favourite for top South Africa bowler in the first innings at St George's Park. Is he still value to cop?

Just about. Betfair Sportsbook have acted on the Rabada price, possibly because of a surge after we tipped up the pacer on our special Cricket...Only Bettor episode this week (see video at end of the article). Rabada has six wins in the last 20 Tests (two-year data) with Vernon Philander considered his biggest threat by the layers. But Philander, who was the initial favourite, has only one win in the same period.

Rabada takes a wicket every 300 balls at PE and the unique conditions at the venue appear to assist him. The sea breeze that blows across the ground will help those who have an outswinger or inswinger, depending on the end. Rabada, skilled operator as he is, can bowl both. That explains that excellent strike rate and a record which includes two five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket match haul in five games

The best news is that Rabada's win rate just about makes him a bet at his new price. There's a 1.4% swing in our favour. It's not big but he is the only bowler on the list who is a 'wrong' price. Such is Rabada's record that Sportsbook's 11/1 about a man of the match performance catches the eye.

There's also a 2.2% edge in our favour for the 4/1 on offer about Faf Du Plessis top scoring for South Africa. Du Plessis is under pressure, probably unfairly, because he hasn't scored a century for a year. But his big contribution is providing stability and nous to a team in a state of rebuilding.

Faf should be delighted to be in PE. He has a sensational record there in the last ten years. In the six Tests he has played, he has amde two centuries and three fifties, averaging 50.9 (including not out as a completed innings) every time he goes to the crease.

If we filter those numbers for first-innings only, it's a mark of 61. Such a high number makes Sportsbook's 5/6 that he busts 31.5 or more in the first dig appealing. Be cautious, though. In the last two years, Du Plessis has busted the mark six times in 16. Over his career he fares much better, winning at a rate of 11/10. Close, but not cigar.

What about the 15/8 and 8/1 about a fifty and century respectively in the first-innings? On two-year form he should be closer to 4/1 for a fifty and over his career that mark shots down to 11/10. For a ton, it's twice the price on two-year form and 6/1 on career numbers.

South Africa top bat wins/matches
Elgar 2/20
Du Plessis 4/18
Hamza 1/4
De Kock 3/20

South Africa top bowler wins/matches
Rabada 6 3t/20
Philander 1 2t/16
Maharaj 3/16

Buttler a bet

There are some who would hope Jos Buttler walked the walk as well as he talked the talk. His aggressive sledging of Vernon Philander at Newlands was a surprise for a player who has been meek and mild with the willow so far in his Test career.

Buttler is supposed to be in the XI to counter-attack down the order or to hit with the ferocity he has shown with his lips to take games away from an opposition. Pleasingly, he said last week he was going to try to play his natural game, rather than someone cowed and quiet.

He is an interesting price for top England bat. The 8/1 should be more like 13/2. It means he is the only England batter who has played more than 20 tests who is the wrong price.

England top bat wins/matches
Root 7/45
Stokes 7/35
Bairstow 4/39
Buttler 3/22
Woakes 1/20
S Curran 2/15
Denly 3/12
Pope 1/5

England top bowl wins/matches
Woakes 1 4t/22
Anderson 8 6t/35
Broad 7 7t/40
Archer 2/7
S Curran 2 2t/15

For more tips and insight on this week's action, check out this week's episode of Cricket...Only Bettor, filmed in the Betfair studio...

Ed Hawkins P-L

2019 - points p-l: +31.08(136 points staked)
2018 - points p-l: +9.86 (89 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)

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