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How to Bet on Cricket

Cricket betting has seen significant growth since the emergence of dedicated sports channels and sports orientated online bookmakers. It is a 12 month sport with matches of all types taking place in the summers in both Hemispheres. International teams now play in Test matches, one day internationals and the newest version of the game, Twenty20.

British viewers of Sky Sports can watch live cricket through the night as Test matches in Australia and New Zealand form part of the coverage. Time zone differences in Asia and South Africa mean the sport is covered at most times of the day.

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Professional cricket can be split into two main areas, namely four/five day cricket and one-day matches. There are domestic matches and international games.  Each major cricket playing nation has a first class domestic competition, such as the County Championship in England or the Sheffield Shield in Australia. Players earn their selection for international sides by performing well at domestic level. The most refined format of the sport is Test match cricket in which international teams play each other over five days.


The English County Championship is split into two groups with relegation and promotion between the two divisions. Matches are played over four days and teams bat twice. The Sheffield Shield is contested in Australia and involves matches between states. There is also club level cricket in Australia. There are similar domestic competitions in India, Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand. The domestic calendar is completed with limited overs matches, formed by 20 to 50 overs per side.


The newest tournament in international cricket is the World Twenty20. Matches played over 20 overs have only been added to the schedules and become incredibly popular. Matches last no more than three hours and grounds are often sold out.

Before Twenty20 cricket emerged the usual format for one day cricket was 50 overs per side. There is a World Cup every four years when matches are played over one day with each side bowling 50 overs. This format also attracts huge crowds, especially day/night games in England and Australia.

The purest form of the game is Test match cricket. A player’s standing in the history of the game is determined by his batting or bowling average in Test cricket. A Test match is played over five days, sometimes with a rest day, and each side bats twice.

Most Popular Markets

As in most sports the most popular type of cricket bet involves betting on which side will win a match. This is a three-way market in limited over fixtures as games can end in a tie. Even when there are weather disruptions in one day matches the Duckworth-Lewis method is used to determine who wins the match. It is possible to bet on the draw or a tie in a Test match.

Bettors also like to bet on leading players for batting and bowling. For all formats it is possible to bet on a side’s top batsmen and bowler and also wager on these markets across a complete series. In a Test series there are markets to bet on for the series winner and series score.

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Best Cricket Betting Markets

Cricket is an extremely popular betting sport with many opportunities over the course of a match or series. Some markets have more punter-friendly profit margins and anyone looking to win betting on cricket should focus on these markets.

Tournament Winner

The first cricket World Cup was held in England in 1975. The West Indies won the tournament and successfully defended the title four years later, again in England. Subsequent tournaments have been played in Australia, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. West Indies Australia, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka have won the World Cup at least once but England have never been world champions. Outright tournament odds are available well in advance of the competition and they are updated after each match. 2019 saw England win the title for the first time. 

Match Winner

The most basic cricket bet involves betting on the winner of a match, in all formats. The profit margins in these markets are about 5%, the lowest for any type of cricket bet. In some Test matches the draw is the favourite, especially when rain is forecast which means there is not enough playing time to complete the match and produce a definite result. In one day cricket tied matches are very rare but they do happen. Even when both sides are not able to complete their full quota of overs a result is declared based on calculations using Duckworth-Lewis formula.

Series Winner 

At the beginning of a Test series it is possible to bet on the series winner. Prices are updated after each match and are made available until the final result has been determined. Even over a five Test series the result could be a draw as drawn matches mean one side does not necessarily win more matches than the opposition

Next Batsmen Out

Next batsmen out is a popular in-play market. The bet involves predicting which player will lose his wicket next and prices are updated from ball to ball. The higher batsmen in the order always seems to be the favourite, especially if the player at the other end is a night watchmen. This is a low order player sent into bat towards the end of play to protect a specialist batsmen from losing his wicket. Backing the outsider in this market when certain conditions apply can be profitable. Reference should be made to a player’s batting average when determining if he should be opposed in the next batsmen out market.

Worst Cricket Betting Markets

Many cricket markets are enticing as the odds on offer seem attractive. However, these bets are more speculative and bookmakers use their special nature to apply higher profit margins than for the match markets.

Top Batsmen

In the first innings of Test matches or in one day internationals it is possible to bet on which player will score the most runs for his side. The odds generally reflect each player’s position in the batting order. However, bettors should be aware that some players are more suited to batting in shorter formats of the game rather in Test matches.

Top Bowler

Similarly, odds are available for which player will take most wickets. In this market there is more likely to be a tie in which case dead heat rules apply. Again there are specialist one day bowlers and these matches place restrictions on fielding positions and the number of overs that each player can bowl.

First Innings Lead

In most cases this is a two market and odds are only quoted for either side. The draw is not an option which means that if both sides score the same number of runs in the first innings stakes are returned. In assessing this market weather conditions and the nature of the pitch should be taken into account. 

Number of Extras

This is a popular spread betting market and spread operators have been known to get things badly wrong. It is most often associated with a World Cup which means the downside and potential profit can both be substantial. Wary of potential unpredictability with the total spread firms apply stop losses to ensure a customer has sufficient funds to cover the worst case scenario.

Price Factors

In any format of the game team selection and injuries are the key factors. Players are generally selected on current form in domestic cricket, though a player with a good Test average over a sustained period of time can keep his place despite moderate form in domestic cricket.

The nature of the pitch also plays a part in odds compilation. When India play at home pitches are prepared to suit spin bowlers as they excel in this type of bowling. In the series between India and England at the end of 2012 in India the visitors played with two spinners in three matches and won two and dew the third.

Another factor that determines match odds is the selection of the captain. The captain has an important role in cricket in deciding who should bowl and fielding positions for said bowlers. Several England captains have been brilliant cricketers but have just not taken to the role of leading the side on and off the pitch.

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In-Play Cricket Betting

In-play cricket markets are more volatile in one day and Twenty20 matches. One wicket or six can result in significant price changes. Betting in-play on cricket is popular as any one match can see fluctuations in favour of both sides.

An interesting strategy in one day cricket is to lay short priced favourites at the start of a match. If they lose an early wicket when batting or concede a six when bowling the price will move out. The changes might be small but the bet can be repeated a number of times.

Popular in-running betting markets include:

  • Number of runs in an over
  • Whether the number will be odd or even
  • Will a maiden over been bowled
  • Match winner.

Player and Team Statistics

Cricket is a sport that lends itself to statistics. Even before the onset of the internet and specialist statistical sites publications like Wisden included batting and bowling averages for many forms of the game. At the end of a first class career a player will be judged on the average number of runs scored or wickets taken. No player has ever achieved an average of 100 or more in Tests.

Some players excel in both areas and a genuine all rounder must have achieved above average figures for both batting and bowling. In televised matches averages are updated after each ball and then adjusted when a player loses his wicket. If a player is not out in an innings this innings is not added to his total. Batting averages are calculated on the basis of completed innings.

Team totals in each form of the game are valuable figures when betting on the number of runs scored in an innings or a first innings lead. Figures are now available on the internet for all first class matches and are broken down by ground, opposition and format. Numbers can also be compared for home and away matches.

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