Ed Hawkins bemoans England's hero scoring runs in the second-innings rather than the first and hopes he reverses that at Old Trafford...
"Given England’s taste for collapse it’s worth mentioning, out of amusement more than anything else, that Craig Overton has two wins from three Tests in his fledgling career"
Final fling on England's hero
Ben Stokes's Headingley miracle would have been many different things to many different people. Most of them positive. But for a large chunk of punters, it would have been a sickening punch to the gut.
To add to Stokes' collection of the extraordinary, he also succeeded in turning over walloping great odds, and costing gamblers thousands as they looked to execute a well-versed, classic fourth-innings pitch bet. One of the few remaining inefficiencies of the Test match odds market is the way it overstates the batting a team's chances. So long as Stokes is not around it seems.
There were many - this scribe included - salivating at prices of 1.695/7 Australia just before Joe Denly was out on the third evening. And Australia were backed, backed and backed some more right up until Stokes' astonishing assault.
It was not the only reason for bettors to start to build a grudge against Stokes. Before a ball was bowled in this series, he was identified as pure value on the top England first-innings runs market. But despite having two wins seemingly within his grasp - at Lord's and Leeds - he has failed to cop. It has been particularly galling to see him score big runs in the second innings. More so if you had correctly identified that Joe Root is the value second time around with a hit rate of an 11/4 poke. Stokes had won only once in 14 Tests in the second-innings market.
Cummins another to trust
Of course, as a result of Stokes's epic he has been cut to 4/1 for top bat honours in Old Trafford. The secret is well and truly out. The days of backing him at 6/1 when the two-year data said he was a 4/1 shot are long gone.
Perhaps Sportsbook have taken pity on us, boosting his price to 5s for a one off, final fling. We will have to bet him because it will probably be our last chance to back him at incorrect odds for a long time.
The only other batter who is value under the same rules as Stokes (how often he actually wins) is Jos Buttler. But the margin is growing ever tighter at 6/1 and his form has been so poor that it could be a case of throwing good money after bad.
Stokes, as we know, has little to beat. Joe Denly top scored in Leeds with 12. Given England's taste for collapse it's worth mentioning, out of amusement more than anything else, that Craig Overton has two wins from three Tests in his fledgling career. England's batting misery has been going on a while.
For the record, both Root and Steve Smith are too skinny as respective favourites on the England and Australia market. If you'd backed Root for honours in each of the first innings of Tests in the last 12 months to £100 level stakes you'd be down £1,900. Smith is a 2/1 shot on two-year form.
We will also retain faith in Pat Cummins. On implied probability at 9/4 we have about six percentage points in our favour. That's down from more than 10 points at the start of the series and he is overdue.
2019 - points p-l: +37.78 (98 points staked)
2018 - points p-l: +9.86 (89 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)