Ed Hawkins: The most overrated Test bowlers

Stuart Broad
Broad has not been a regular winner

Betting.Betfair cricket correspondent Ed Hawkins brings you the Test bowlers who are good to watch but not good to wager...

"Broad has a win percentage of just 16.6 in the last three-and-a-bit years for top England bowler, a disappointing return considering the continued absence of Anderson through injury and prohibitive pricing often at around 10/3."

Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad has been pounding in at the top level for almost 13 years. There are kids trying to emulate him in colts cricket who have never known a Test era without his shock of blond hair bounding in, terrorising batsmen.

With 138 matches to his name and 485 victims, he is one of England's greatest. Well, one of two anyway. Only James Anderson (584) has claimed more Test scalps. So it seems a little churlish to label him 'overrated'. Of course in terms of ability and the legacy he leaves, Broad is not overrated. But purely in the context of winning you money - and that's what we're all about - he is a disappointment, just like his captain Joe Root. Certainly in the last few years.

Broad has a win percentage of just 16.6 in the last three-and-a-bit years for top England bowler, a disappointing return considering the continued absence of Anderson through injury and prohibitive pricing often at around 10/3.

It would be remiss not to point out that the coming men in the England pace ranks also have the potential to be costly as their careers progress. That is, if they are fortunate enough to have careers as long as Broad's.

Chris Woakes has one win in 23. Woakes is considered most likely to replace Broad as England's go-to stock bowler, the man who can go line and length all day and every day. It will be some time before we consider a wager on him given that record. Probably never.

The other one to watch rather than wager is Jofra Archer. There is no doubt Archer is box office and the start of his Test career has been pulsating but money is misplaced at the moment with only two wins in his first seven tests. We expect him to improve but we don't expect the layers to give us anything close to value. Archer's career in the context we're interested could mean that he never goes off at a fair price.

Jasprit Bumrah

There is nothing wrong with the stats of India pacer Jasprit Bumrah. With a strike rate of 45, average of 20.3 and a per-game wickets average of 4.8 he is rightly recognised as one of the top fast-bowlers in the world. Just don't bet on it.

Extraordinarily, India fast man Bumrah has just two first-innings top bowler wins in his Test career. It is still early days - 14 Tests - but it's a remarkably poor return for a man so consistent.

His last first-innings performance - against New Zealand in February - was entirely typical of his run in the market. He bowled, as ever, with venom and pace. He claimed three wickets. Unfortunately Mohammad Shami claimed four and bets went down again.

Of his pace rivals, Shami's surge and Ishant Sharma's resurgence have cost him for honours. Niggling injuries have not helped, either. In time, Bumrah's awkward action and ability to put the ball on a sixpence could see him enjoy a surge of his own but for now he is man whose reputation does not match his record.

Kagiso Rabada

Rabada is unfortunate to make this list. In his most recent Test, against England in Port Elizabeth in January, he was value to take most wickets for South Africa at 5/2.

He didn't win (Keshav Maharaj did) and although his record of six wins in 21 would make him a wager at the same price, we just don't expect to get those sort of odds anymore.

The chief reason for that is that he little to beat, unless Lungi Ngidi can sort out his fitness issues. The retirement of Vernon Philander has left a big hole in the betting and in South Africa wicket-taking ability.

Interestingly, for that match at St George's Park Philander was considered favourite. With the old stager gone we expect a brutal cut in future.


Mohammad Abbas

Mohammad Abbas used to be a welder. Then he worked in a leather factory. Fitting, then, that he is something of a craftsman with a new ball in hand. Despite the mundanity of that work in his previous life, there have been few more glorious sites in the Test game in the last few years than Abbas's creamy action. It is to die for.

Not surprisingly, such skill and grace was rewarded with wickets at the start of his career. Bucket loads of them. In 2018 at Lord's he won the man of the match award with a mesmerising display of swing bowling. He took four for 23 in the first-innings and three in the second as Pakistan won by nine wickets. In his six Tests earlier Tests (he made his debut against West Indies the previous year) he collected an extraordinary 32.

Lord's, it seemed, was just his coronation. He was Pakistan's next king of swing, a man who would go on to be mentioned in the same breath as Imran, Wasim, Waqar.

But not so. Abbas, who is now 30, hasn't won top bowler in any of his last ten Tests, a remarkable fall from grace having won three out of his first six (interestingly he tied for honours at HQ). Shaheen Shah Afridi seems to be the new star while Naseem Shah is another emerging talent. Abbas is likely to still be priced, particularly on seaming wickets, with that display at Lord's in mind. Be wary.


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