Cricket can seem a confusing game to the uninitiated, with the concept of playing for five days and not having a winner one of many things that can seem strange to the newcomer. However, cricket, in its various formats, from the fast-paced action of the IPL and other T20 competitions through to the drawn out excitement of Test matches is a fantastic sport that hooks people for life. Predominantly played in countries that formerly made up the British Empire it is now one of the most popular sports in the world, in large part due to its massive popularity in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
It is also a great sport on which to bet for a number of reasons. Whether you want to place a bet that will last all summer or one that will be settled on the very next ball, there is a cricket betting opportunity available. Moreover, with matches being played in both hemispheres and numerous international and domestic competitions, rarely a day goes by without some cricket to watch, bet on and enjoy.
How To Bet On Cricket
Cricket has been in the news rather too much in recent years with regards to match fixing, in particular spot fixing, which relates to organising very specific events to happen at given times that generally won’t impact the overall result. However, on the whole it is a clean sport with a huge range of fun and exciting markets on which to bet.
|To Win||As with most sports the simplest bet is the most popular and involves betting on a given team to win a particular match. In Test cricket this will always include the draw but not the tie, whilst most limited overs matches will just have the option for either side to win.|
|Series Betting||As well as betting on an individual match you can also bet on a side to win a series, either Test or one-day, or for it to be a tie.|
|Series Correct Score||A self-explanatory bet that involves picking a team to win a series by a specific score (or that it will end as a tie).|
|Top Run Scorer||Which batsman will score the most runs, either in a given innings, match, series or competition.|
|Leading Wicket Taker||As above but for a bowler taking wickets.|
|To Score a Century||Betting on whether a given player will score 100 runs or more in an innings in a particular match.|
|Team to Score the Most 6s||Which team will score most 6s in a given match, usually a one-day game.|
There are a host of other bets on most of the big games, many of which are in-play markets like who will be out next or how many wides will be bowled. Practically any event that could happen is offered as a getting market in cricket, meaning it’s a great sport if you like placing regular bets as the game develops. From backing which side will have the highest opening partnership to who will win the toss or how many runouts there will be, you really are spoiled for choice.
Cricket Betting Rules
When betting on cricket one thing to be aware of is the difference between a tie and a draw in Test matches (although admittedly a tie will very, very rarely come into the equation) with some bookmakers settling a tie using dead-heat rules. In one day games a tie is more likely but may not be offered as a betting option so it’s worth checking the bookmaker’s terms.
Rules vary, as always, but in general, abandoned or postponed games will be voided, unless the bet has already settled in the case of abandonment. If the Duckworth-Lewis method is used this will almost certainly be accepted, with bets settled on official results.
Cricket Betting Strategy
There are different things to watch out for depending on what form and level of the game you are betting on. In Test matches the weather and the pitch are critical in deciding your bets, so always consider those very carefully and keep an eye out for changes in the weather forecast in particular. For club matches, being aware of which players are on international duty can be very useful, whilst knowledge of local conditions can also be a great help.
As in any sport, to win over the long term by betting on cricket relies on effective research and a bit of luck. Knowledge of past matches can be particularly important as the ground, wicket and weather at a particular venue are all constants that have a strong influence on the match. It is also worth being aware of the particular strengths and weaknesses of bowlers and batsman. For example Graeme Swann has enjoyed amazing success against left-handed batsman, so would be a great bet on a turning wicket against a side with many left-handers.
Major Cricket Events & Tournaments
Cricket is one of the most popular participatory sports in England and Wales. It is also one of the most popular sports globally, in no small part due to the huge love of the game in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Those three countries have a combined population of almost 1.8 billion, meaning that cricket is probably only behind football on a worldwide scale.
Betting on cricket is also very widespread, both in the UK and the Indian subcontinent. Whilst betting on the sport in this country is nowhere near as prevalent as wagering on football or horse racing, the big events still attract a huge amount of cash and keep the bookies and online betting sites very busy.
The great thing about cricket is that it is a year-round game. With plenty of big events and matches from the southern hemisphere there is no off-season when it comes to cricket. So, whilst the English and Welsh season may only last from May to September, there is never much of a wait for some cricket to watch or bet on. Indeed, if you’re ever bored of talking to your family around Christmas and the New Year, the famous Boxing Day Test from Melbourne and New Year’s Day Test from Sydney are brilliant cricket betting options.
With three major formats in International cricket, Test, One Day Internationals (ODIs) and T20s, plus various leagues and events from all around the world, there really is loads of cricket to enjoy. Here we take a look at the best of it.
Test Matches, ODIs & T20s
When it comes to professional, international cricket there are three formats of the game. The oldest of these is Test match cricket, which dates all the way back to March 1877 when England played Australia in Melbourne. For many purists and traditionalists, Test cricket is the only real version of the game.
Test matches are played over five days, with each side scheduled to bat twice. Scoring in Tests is generally slower than either of the other formats and the overall pace of the game is also somewhat more gentle. Critics question how a sport can last five days and so often end in a draw, whilst many also feel Tests are a little outdated.
That said, for many players, fans and for those that bet on cricket, Tests are still the pinnacle of the game. The Ashes (of which more below) and games between Pakistan and India are just about the biggest occasions in the sport and such Tests will have a huge range of markets and bets available.
One Day Internationals
One Day Internationals are, unsurprisingly, contested over the course of one day, with both sides being given 50 overs in which to score as many runs as possible. Melbourne was again the host for the first ever “one dayer” and again it was England versus their greatest rivals.
That historic match only actually came about after weather meant the first three days of the Test were washed out and the game was abandoned. Australia won by five wickets that day and there are now one day cups, competitions and matches played all around the world on a regular basis. One day matches offer greater excitement in a shorter space of time and whilst the game can end in a tie, this is far less likely than a draw in a Test.
The final major format in cricket is the most recent: T20. Twenty20 Internationals are played with similar rules to ODIs but instead of 50 overs per side, there are just 20. This means that games last around three hours, compared to around 35 hours over five days for Tests and seven hours for ODIs.
In the fast-paced modern world this shorter format has proved hugely successful, especially with children and a new, younger generation of cricket fan. The emphasis is very much on batting and hitting boundaries in particular, with spectacular and unconventional shot-making the norm.
The first ever T20 International was played in 2005 and again Australia featured. This time, however, they played their other major rivals, New Zealand, the clash taking place at Auckland’s Eden Park.
In a general sense an Ashes clash is any between Australia and England. The phrase will sometimes be used in sports other than cricket. However, it is most commonly associated with cricket clashes between the nations and, in particular, with Test matches between them.
The Ashes get their name from the prize awarded to the winner of the Test series. Perhaps the least spectacular but most treasured prize in all of sport, the Ashes urn is just 11cm high and made of terracotta. It contains the ashes from a burnt bail and was given to the England captain Ivo Bligh during England’s 1882-83 tour of Australia.
The Ashes are the biggest event by far in Test match cricket, at least for English and Australian players, fans and punters. The huge rivalry can sometimes boil over but on the whole there is a grudging respect between the teams. The Ashes are contested over a series of five Tests, alternating between Australia and England.
Each nation hosts a series at least once every four years, making this the most played fixture in Test history. There have been 69 series played (prior to the 2017-18 series in Australia), with a total of 325 Tests. Australia have won 130 matches to England’s 106 but in terms of series, things are level pegging, with 32 wins a piece and five drawn Ashes series.
Betting on the Ashes is huge fun and there are masses of markets and betting options available. Whether you have a punt on the series, an individual Test or even how the next wicket will fall, if you like betting on cricket, a wager on the Ashes is a must.
Cricket World Cup
The cricket World Cup is a One Day International, 50-over event that takes place every four years. The first ever World Cup was held in 1975, in England. In fact, England hosted the first three editions of the competition, failing to win any of them!
England did make the final three times in four World Cups between 1979 and 1992 but were beaten by the West Indies, Australia and Pakistan. The next World Cup will be held in England and Wales in 2019, with Australia the defending champions.
Australia are by far the most successful country in the history of this competition. They won the World Cup in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015. The West Indies won the first two World Cups, making the final in the third, whilst India have also claimed victory twice.
The format for the World Cup and the qualification process has changed many times over the years. In 2015 there were 14 teams at the finals, with two pools of seven leading to a knockout quarter final phase.
The 49-match event, spread over six weeks, was widely criticised. Whilst so many matches was great for us punters, far too many games were one-sided mismatches and there is no doubt there will be many more format changes in the tournaments to come.
T20 World Cup
The T20 World Cup is the equivalent of the main World Cup but in the shorter version of the game. As with the ODI World Cup, there are loads of bets available, from top scorer and top wicket-taker to the overall winner and from all the usual match markets to specials covering the entire tournament.
The first T20 World Cup was won by India in 2007, with South Africa hosting. No host nation has ever won and this may be a reflection of the unique and intense pressures of T20. West Indies became the first side to win the competition more than once when they beat England in the 2016 final.
England have at least won this event once, triumphing in 2010 in the West Indies, when they beat Australia in the final. As with the 50-over World Cup, there have been numerous format and rule changes over the years, including the frequency with which it is staged.
IPL & Other Domestic T20 Competitions
Whilst the World Cup is the pinnacle of international T20, it is arguably the IPL that is the highest quality event, whilst it is certainly the most lucrative and glamourous. The Indian Premier League was first held in 2008 and is essentially Indian’s domestic 20-over competition.
However, it really is a huge spectacle and the eight sides who compete pay huge sums to attract the very best players in the world to the game. As of 2017 there are sides in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mohali and Hyderabad.
As with previous competitions discussed, format changes have been a regular occurrence, although the IPL has largely stuck to the same league and then play-off structure. With three titles the Mumbai Indians are the most successful IPL side ever and they won most recently in 2017.
There are various other similar domestic T20 competitions from around the world. They largely follow the same structure, with sides bidding for players through an auction, the fee being the player’s huge salary for their short participation. The IPL lasts just eight weeks or so and yet in 2017 Pune paid around £1.7m for the services of Ben Stokes. That was money well spent, with Stokes named Player of the Series.
As well as the IPL the major competitions of this nature are Australia’s Big Bash, the Bangladesh Premier League, the T20 Blast in England, the Caribbean Premier League, South Africa’s proposed T20 Global League and the Pakistan Super League. The IPL dwarfs all of those, however, in just about every metric and measure you could care to check and remains the world’s most attended cricket competition.
Other Big Events & Rivalries
There are loads of other great cricket cups, leagues and competitions to watch, enjoy and bet on. There are great international rivalries between Australia and New Zealand, and between India and Pakistan. In England, matches between rivals Yorkshire and Lancashire are particular highlights, whilst similar great “derby” contests exist in most other cricket leagues.
International Test cricket is unusual in sport in that there is no real global competition. Talk of a “Test World Cup” has been around for many years but any sort of real championship remains some way off. All of the top sides do, however, regularly play each other in Test (and ODI and T20) series. These matches allow for rankings and whilst there may be no one-off Test World Cup, any side that reaches the summit of the rankings has a real claim to be the best around.
County Cricket in England and Wales
The bread and butter of first-class cricket in England and Wales comes in the form of County Cricket. Games between major counties have been played since the 1700s and now take place in both the long and short forms of the game.
The County Championship was created in 1890 with teams playing each other in 4-day tests both home and away, with a Champion County being the team finishing in first place. Currently there are two county division with ten teams in Division One and eight in Division Two with promotion and relegation between the two.
In total there are 18 first-class counties, they are shown in the table below.
First-Class County Cricket Clubs in England & Wales
|Derbyshire||1870||County Ground, Derby|
|Durham||1882||Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street|
|Essex||1876||County Ground, Chelmsford|
|Glamorgan||1888||Sophia Gardens, Cardiff|
|Gloucestershire||1870||Bristol County Ground|
|Hampshire||1863||Ageas Bowl, West End, Southampton|
|Kent||1870||St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury|
|Lancashire||1864||Old Trafford, Manchester|
|Leicestershire||1879||Grace Road, Leicester|
|Northamptonshire||1878||County Ground, Northampton|
|Nottinghamshire||1841||Trent Bridge, Nottingham|
|Somerset||1875||County Ground, Taunton|
|Surrey||1845||The Oval, London|
|Sussex||1839||County Cricket Ground, Hove|
|Worcestershire||1865||New Road, Worcester|
National (Minor) Counties
Just as there is a pyramid structure in football ranging from the Premier League down to non-league semi-professional and amateur football, there is also a lower league in cricket. The counties below the first-class teams mentioned above are the National Counties, which were known as the minor counties before 2020.
The National County Championship features twenty teams split into an Eastern Division and a Western Division. These are both split into five-team groups called Division 1 and Division 2. Teams in each division play each other once in 3-day matches, meaning four games each. The winners of the Eastern Division 1 play the winners from the Western Division 1 in a 4-day match to determine the National Counties Champion. There is also promotion and relegation between divisions 1 and 2. Teams also play in a 50 over Minor Counties Trophy and a T20 tournament.
Current National County Cricket Clubs in England & Wales
|Eastern Division||Western Division|