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Michael Vaughan: England too strong for New Zealand but wait for a better price

Ian Bell should prosper in the middle order

The Betfair market has England as odds-on favourites to beat New Zealand in the First Test but, while Michael Vaughan believes the tourists will have too much for Brendon McCullum's men in the end, he advises waiting for a better price before getting involved.

The New Zealand tour sees the launch of a brand new Betfair column, by cricket trader Paul Krishnamurty. Check out his thoughts below and at the end of each day's play

New Zealand v England
Start time: 21.30 GMT
TV: live on Sky Sports 1

On paper, England look much stronger than New Zealand but they won't underestimate the Kiwis as you can easily get caught out, especially at the start of a tour.

The defeat in the four-day warm-up game - where a New Zealand XI chased down 330 odd in aggressive fashion - will have sharpened minds, but I don't think it will have any bearing on the Test. It was almost like a one-day game in the end.

Looking down at the New Zealand line-up and I can't see much to scare England. Doug Bracewell would have been a threat, but he's out after injuring himself at home - will take a while to live that one down - and there is no Daniel Vettori, of course. I couldn't believe 'two-meter Peter' (Fulton) is still playing!

England are one of the best two Test teams in the world right now, with a nicely settled line-up. Nick Compton will open with Alastair Cook, with Joe Root at six which is the right decision. There will be a bit of pressure on Compton to perform, with some calling for Root to open with Jonny Bairstow at six, but he has to just get on with his own game and I think he'll do just that.

It's a formidable batting line-up, all in, and I'd expect England to get plenty of runs especially if the wickets are flat. But Dunedin did plenty when I last played there and New Zealand will be hoping it's a wicket with a par score of 250 or so, as they have enough firepower in their middle order to chase down small totals.

With England so short in the pre-match market - trading at 1.684/6 - I'd advise waiting to see how the wicket plays before getting involved. I believe they'll have too much in the end, but that price will get longer at stages during the game and I'm also sure the New Zealand price (7.87/1) will come in, if you wanted to trade.

Looking at the Top Batsmen markets for the First Test, and I think Ian Bell looks a good price at 5.95/1 for England. He'll come in when the ball has softened and, against what isn't a world class attack, he'll be able to score plenty. 

For the Kiwis, I'll go with Kane Williamson, available at 5.04/1. He looks to be a good little player, with the right temperament to get amongst the runs.

The Betfair's Trader's View: Paul Krishnamurty

Having already landed both the ODI and T20 series', England should have little trouble completing the hat-trick in the three match Test series that starts tonight in Dunedin. Never mind their shock defeat in the Queenstown warm-up, or that the Black Caps have been competitive throughout the tour to date. When it comes to Test cricket, England are a class apart.

Whereas New Zealand's USP is one-day specialists, England usually fare best in the longer format, particularly thanks to the most potent attack in Test cricket besides South Africa. The Black Caps were whitewashed in recent series against South Africa, India and West Indies, so a pre-series bet at 3.45 on England winning 3-0 represents excellent value.

The counter argument goes that the home side avoided defeat in all four previous matches at Dunedin, although they were saved by rain last year against South Africa. With the weather apparently set fair, their best hope is to win the toss and get the best of conditions. The team that gets to bowl under cloud cover will enjoy a significant advantage and that random factor offers a warning against piling into England pre-match at 1.7

Nevertheless, Test cricket is arguably the most reliable betting medium for odds-on favourites so my plan is to mix pre-match and in-running bets on the favourites. If the early play goes New Zealand's way, I'll be considering a top-up on England once their odds move above evens. I'll update those positions and other markets at the end of play.

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05 March 2013

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