Ed Hawkins analyses the top England runscorer market and finds that Joe Root might be overrated...
"The problem with Root and Morgan is price. Over the last two years, Root has won top-bat three times in 19 matches"
Perera the main man
With Suranga Lakmal absent from Sri Lanka's squad, the top-bowler market for the home team could be a straight fight between Thisara Perera and Akila Dananjaya. They are No. 1 and 2 on the wickets lists in the last 12 months.
Perera has 33 wickets in 20 matches, Dananjaya 23 in 18. They are vastly different bowlers. Perera, frankly, looks pretty innocuous most of the time. He doesn't bowl with great pace or movement but he does have decent variations.
Danajaya looks the opposite. He can spin it every which way with every action. His numbers in every format suggests that, at just 25, he could be the coming spin force.
It is not hugely surprising, therefore, that Dananjaya gets top billing from Betfair Sportsbook. They rate him at 3/1 for top bowler. England's hereditary problems against spin also play a huge part in him heading the lists.
Is it fair that there is a whole point between him and Perera, who has actually taken more wickets? Probably not. When one starts to look at how many times each man has actually copped in this market, Perera comes out on top.
In his 20 matches he would have won you money outright five times and got you half your stake in a dead heat twice. Dananjaya has three outright wins and two head heats. Notably one of those was at Dambulla. Only Lakmal comes close to troubling either man consistently with four wins.
So Perera really should be the wager. The weather forecast in Dambulla probably helps him more than Dananjaya. Forecast thunderstorms could mean that spin is not as important.
Is Root too short?
Following match-winning half-centuries in the one warm-up, it is fair to reckon that Joe Root and Eoin Morgan should be among the runs in this series. Indeed, both men have the game to cope in more testing batting conditions where a player can't just rely on hitting it out of the park.
We are keen to get with them for top England runscorer. Root, for example, is ideally suited to Sri Lankan conditions, as proved by his top haul of 367 runs in seven innings there. No Englishman has scored more.
The problem with Root and Morgan is price. Over the last two years, Root has won top-bat three times in 19 matches. That's some way north of an 11/4 chance. Morgan, at 5/1, has copped twice in 18.
What this proves above anything else is how hard it is to find value on the top-bat markets because no Englishman is their true price. They're all too skinny. Except one man. Jos Buttler.
Buttler has four wins in 18 over the study period which means he should, statistically, be ahead of Jason Roy (three in 17) and Jonny Bairstow (three in 19). The 6/1 about Buttler top scoring is wrong on recent numbers.
Root did top score three times in his seven innings in Lanka. It is arguable, however, that this batting line-up is stronger.
2018 - points p-l: +1.95 (59 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)