Ed Hawkins: The top five most overrated Test batters

Joe Root
Punters have little to shout about for Root

Betting.Betfair cricket correspondent Ed Hawkins identifies the worst value Test batsmen - and the names may surprise you...

"Consistently priced no better than 11/4, the bookmakers reckon Root has a 26.7% chance. They're fooling us all, knowing money will come regardless"

Joe Root

No player in the world depicts the complexity of cricket betting more than the England captain. Here is one of the finest batsmen of his generation and few are uncomfortable with his position in the Big Four. Root's nae trips effortlessly of the tongue when talking about Messrs Kohli, Williamson and Smith.

In the last two years, Root has scored more first-innings runs (868) than any other Englishman, although if Ben Stokes had not played three games fewer (717 runs) it might be more of a close-run thing. Still, Jos Buttler is next best on a distant 694.

It should stand to reason, then, that Root is a sound top runscorer wager. Indeed, if you asked any pundit or ex-pro for an opinion on such a market they would rarely fail to mention him. The truth is, however, that Root is a stunning loser over the study period (and longer if you care to look).

In his last 25 Tests, Root has won just twice. More than 15 months separate the wins as well - his admittedly excellent 226 in Hamilton last November and an 80 against India in Birmingham in August 2018.

It is a chronically bad record for man who goes off at prohibitively short odds. Consistently priced no better than 11/4, the bookmakers reckon Root has a 26.7% chance. They're fooling us all, knowing money will come regardless.

Despite his reputation and the record for aggregate runs, you'd also be doing your money on markets such as to score a century and to score a fifty with one and five wins respectively. Indeed, a combination of all three wagers to £10-level stakes in the last two years would have resulted in an eye-watering loss of around £540.

Dean Elgar

Despite qualities such as obduracy, concentration and reliable accumulation making overtures to bettors, Elgar hits a bum note. He proves that there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

The opener is second only to Sri Lankan Dimruth Karunaratne for most runs by openers in the last three years. That fact, allied with a healthy average of 37 in a less than formidable South Africa batting line-up would make many reckon he was worth a follow for top-bat honours. Not so.

Elgar gets a start but more often than not but only three times in the last 22 has he taken honours. That's a win rate of just over 13%, a big void from an average price of 7/2.

David Warner

Warner is third on that list of most runs by openers behind Elgar. But arguably he would be considered a bigger letdown because of his vaunted reputation.

The Aussie is a dangerman if he gets going. It's a big if, though, unless he is batting at home against a weak, inexperienced attack. Put him in a white-hot Ashes series with Stuart Broad tearing in and he costs you money.

david warner 2017 956x538.jpg

Of course, Steve Smith is as tough a rival as it gets on the top-bat market. Even so Warner's return of six wins in his last 33 is disappointing. That's 9/2 territory and you just know that punters are doing their money at odds of 11/4 or bigger because of what they see him doing when not wearing white.

Warner is a one-day player - and a reliable one at that - but he is not a wager on Test grounds.

Ross Taylor

Taylor is a bonafide legend on and off the field. No Kiwi has scored more Test runs. No Kiwi has scored more ODI runs. With such records one would expect a bit of an edge, an ego, a swagger. Not a bit of it, the right-hander is as gracious as his cover drive.

With heavy heart, then, we report, that even at around the 3/1 mark Taylor is someone whose reputation comes before record. It's only three wins in his last 23, only one more winner over the same match period as BJ Watling who can often be at least twice the price.

Are we being harsh because of Kane Williamson's metronomic runscoring? Not really. Williamson has six wins in his last 24 so he's not ripping it up as most would expect and he gets a dishonourable mention on this list.

Rohit Sharma

There is no player with more natural talent than Rohit. As his record in ODI will attest. But in the longer form he is flattering to deceive. If he pulled the wool over our eyes right at the start of his career, now is the time to take off the blindfold.

Rohit took top-bat honours in his first attempt, against West Indies in Kolkata with a majestic 177 in 2013. Back then, it felt like he and Virat Kohli were battling to be India's next batting deity. He landed another winner four Tests later.

Rohit Sharma India World Cup 2019.jpg

Now with 32 Test under his belt it would be reasonable to reckon that a player of his prodigious talent would have been racking up wins left, right and centre. Not a bit if it. He has won once since, last October against South Africa in Ranchi.

Sure, he has competition. Sure, he has had injuries. But three wins in 32? To put that in context, Craig Overton has two wins in four Tests.


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