Ready support for Joe
It is a rare occurrence that this column sides with a favourite for top runscorer. Rarer still that the favourite is Joe Root.
But value is value and Root is worth following at a price-boosted 23/10 with Sportsbook to take honours in the first-innings England runscorer market.
Not for at least three years have we wagered Root. Not because we believe Root to be a poor player (the incredulity!) or that we had spotted some technical foible that no-one else had. It was purely down to him being too short. Bookies were not prepared to take the risk and why not?
The price comparison to his actual win rate was just never in our favour. The difference now is that over a two-year study period, Root wins at a rate of 34.7%. That is an edge of 4.4%, a sizeable chunk considering Root's calibre.
On three-year form, offering the greater study period, Root is not a bet. So there is risk involved. But Root's form allied with England's disastrous batting over the last two years suggests it's a fair wager.
Zak Crawley was our man for game one. Typically he topped with a fine century in the second dig. At 4/1 he gives us just over 1%.
With runs expected it might not be the worst idea to keep everyone else on side and playing safer by backing Root for a straight ton at 3/1. It could well be one of those pitches which bowlers loathe. Bet the markets here.
Top England bat wins/matches last 3 years
Brathwaite's form hot
We are expecting runs, as discussed in our match preview, in Bridgetown. And two home batters may be looking forward to getting set on another flat surface.
In February, John Campbell and Kraigg Brathwaite enjoyed big scores in a domestic first-class match. Campbell made 127 in the first innings while Brathwaite, on his home ground, hit a superb 276.
At 3/1 Campbell doesn't hold much interest for top Windies bat in the first innings but Brathwaite being boosted to 10/3 does. It's an edge of 3.5% on win rate. The 21/10 that he notches another fifty is also of interest while we note the 11/2 that he scores a ton.
Sportsbook go 10/11 that both teams score 250 in the first dig. That is also worth taking. We understand why it is priced as it is (it has been a winner just twice in the last five Tests) but we're taking a view based on pitch reports and bowling attacks which look a little lightweight. Bet the market here.
Top West Indies bat wins/matches last 3 years
Brathwaite 5/19 - boosted to 10/3. 3.5%
Bonner 3/10 - 9/2
Fastest fingers first time. Ollie Robinson remains at 11/4 to be top England wicket-taker in the first-innings.
Robinson should return to the XI after a niggle, most likely in a straight swap for the 5/2 favourite Mark Wood. Wood is extremely unlikely to be fit after crying off with an elbow injury in Antigua.
On records on this market, Robinson would be jolly even if Wood was playing. We're surprised that Sportsbook have it this way round. Bet the market here.
Top West Indies bowler wins/matches last 3 years
Holder 5 t/17
Roach 4 t/16
Seales 1 2t/5
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