Crawley could creep up for top-bat win

England fret about batting

The summer before an Ashes series is always a big one for England. Yet twin series against New Zealand India feel particularly weighty because it is their last - and only - chance to solve their persistent batting issues. as discussed in our match preview, before the big one Down Under.

Despite having had plenty of time to bed down in the order, there remain significant doubts about two players and burgeoning niggles about two more. For a time, England reckoned they had solved their opening partnership problem in the shape of Dom Sibley and Rory Burns. But Sibley and Burns were split in India, the latter being dropped despite being only marginally worse, while Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope had disappointing winters. Sibley averaged 17.8 in India and Sri Lanka, Burns 14.5, Crawley 12 and Pope 19. Those are horrific numbers.

We can see the impact of those paltry returns on the top first-innings runscorer market for England in this first Test. Sibley and Burns have been pushed out to 5/1 the pair. Sibley is yet to top score in 18 Tests and his murderously slow play means he is never likely to be value. Burns began his career with the air of a man who was going to be a bet but a bright start has faded.

Crawley and Pope, however, still have impressive numbers on the win rates below. One suspects that both will knuckle down and produce enough runs to calm England’s Ashes fears and cases can be made for both to be wagered. Crawley, at an inflated 9/2, is giving up a sizeable chunk on implied probability - 18.2% from Sportsbook playing our 33.3%. He just about qualifies as someone to take seriously on study period.

Pope is the biggest disappointment of the quartet because he has the most natural ability. It is perhaps harsh to judge him so early on career and age (he’s only 23) but it is a surprise to see him averaging only 31 in Tests. With four wins from 17 the 9/2 is a wager with almost five points in our favour.

The best way to get with Pope, however, is to back him for a first-innings fifty. While he top scores 23% of the time he manages to raise his bat 35% of the time. So we’re comfortable taking the 2/1.

A word, too, on James Bracey, who is set to debut with the gloves. Sportsbook clearly rate him and have installed him as second-favourite at 4/1 behind Joe Root. Bracey is organised and talented. He scored 75 for Gloucestershire on this ground earlier this season.

England top bat wins/matches
Root 10/58
Pope 4/17
Burns 3/23
Sibley 0/18
Crawley 4/12 - at 9/2 18.2 plays 33.3
Stokes 10/45

England top bowl wins/matches
Anderson 10 6t/44
Broad 9 9t/51
Bess 3/10
Leach 0/12
Archer 2 t/13

Raise a glass to Jamieson

Kane Williamson will be all the rage for top Kiwi bat in the first dig at HQ. Don’t get sucked in to snaffling the 15/8 from Sportsbook as there’s no evidence it’s a wrong price.

On our data we say he has a 32.8% chance. Sportsbook go 34.8%. When dealing with such skinny odds, we really have to be swayed by a plus (of any size) to consider getting involved even if Williamson is a class act.

Alas there’s disappointment elsewhere, too. Ross Taylor has a surprisingly poor record, Tom Latham should be 4s not 7/2, Henry Nicholls is out of range by just 0.6% on implied probability while the esteemed BJ Watling is two points the wrong way at 10/1.

Williamson is 11/10 for a fifty in the first dig and 10/3 for a century. Are either a rick? The fifty price gives a whopping 7.9% in our favour on three-year form but the ton price is some way out. We would need at least 4/1.

We will be playing on top New Zealand wicket-taker, though. With Trent Boult absent, Kyle Jamieson could be given more responsibility and the 3/1 is a price that we like.

Jamieson doesn’t have the study period behind him for us to go nuts on staking but his quality is undeniable. In his six Tests he has won three times and tied twice. He also qualifies as value because seaming and swinging conditions don’t suit the outstanding Neil Wagner as much at 5/2. Tim Southee is a clear and present danger at 11/4 and there’s nothing wrong with taking that price.

NZ top batsman wins/matches
Williamson 9/28
Watling 2/28
Taylor 3/28
Latham 6/30
Nicholls 4/29
Southee 1/24
Jamieson 0/6

NZ top bowler wins/matches
Southee 7 2t/24
Boult 5/25
Wagner 7 2t/25
Henry 1/8
Jamieson 3 2t/6

England v New Zealand Series wagers on Cricket…Only Bettor

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