Although you could be forgiven for not noticing, the 1st Test match of the (so-called) English summer is almost upon us. Starting this Thursday, England resume battle with New Zealand, and the hosts will be looking for a somewhat better outcome than the one they got in the recent drawn Test series down in the Southern hemisphere.
In truth, England were lucky to escape with a draw in New Zealand, but on home soil it is widely expected to be a different outcome.
It is only a two Test series this time with the 1st Test played at Lord’s from 16th – 20th May, and the 2nd Test at Headingley from 24th – 28th May. These will be immediately followed by three ODI’s, and if New Zealand still have the will left to play any cricket, two T20’s at the end on June.
In the betting, the online bookmakers certainly all expect a comfortable England victory as they make the home side heavy odds on favourite for a series win, England are generally available at 1/3 to 2/5 to achieve this.
New Zealand on the other hand are far less fancied in the betting, for a series win they are available at between 9/1 and 12/1. While a drawn series is widely available at between 10/3 to 7/2.
On the playing side of things, England have to cope without the injured knee brace wearing Kevin Pietersen for the whole of the series. Pietersen is recovering from the knee injury he sustained in New Zealand, and is now also out of the Champions Trophy as well.
On the whole England should be able to get by without Pietersen, in his absence Alastair Cook is the 5/2 favourite to be the top English batsmen.
Apart from Pietersen, England are at full strength. Even Stuart Broad is claiming to finally be fully fit, lets wait and see there.
England’s batting looks a touch inexperienced without Pietersen, with Jonny Bairstow set to deputise. The batting line up now has Nick Compton, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root in it, all players with limited Test match experience. Although Matt Prior coming in at 7, does counteract that.
New Zealand are starting to look more of a settled side (usually a good sign) these days. They are sticking with the bulk of the players that pushed England all the way in the last series earlier this year, and with Martin Guptill and Doug Bracewell pushing for recalls, competition for places seems really good in the Kiwi camp.
Guptill and Bracewell missed the England series due to injury (and not being able to force his way back in, in the case of Bracewell). All in all though, this is a good position for captain Brendon McCullum to find himself in.
As I already stated, the 1st Test starts on Thursday, and in the betting there has already been a big move on the draw – thanks to the great British weather. The draw on Betfair is currently trading at 2.56-2.58, having started out at around 3.5, and getting backed in to 2.26 earlier this week.
As is always the case when betting on cricket, always keep a close eye on the weather forecast for the dreaded rain. Rain generally plays a big part when betting on Test cricket in England, as there is quite often time taken out of a match due to it. It therefore effects the odds on the draw.
Although to counteract that, dark clouds and/or overcast conditions in England can lead to a large clattering of wickets, so beware backing the draw just on the basis of a weather forecast predicting rain!
Betting in the 1st Test again sees England as favourites, they are now at 1.86 on Betfair, and are around 8/11, 4/5 with the bookies. New Zealand are 8/1 and better with the bookies, and 13/1 on Betfair.
The draw is between 13/10 and 6/4 with the online bookmakers, while it is 2.56 on Betfair.