Five Massive Issues Facing Cricket Today

In some ways, the game of cricket is in rude health on a global level. Events like the IPL and BBL have ensured that cricket reaches new audiences and the game thrives under new marketing opportunities. But, at least parts of the traditional game of cricket, are changing, perhaps irreversibly. Obviously, progress and change can be a good thing. However, some changes might extinguish the factors that made us fall in love with the game in the first place.

Here are five issues facing the game today:

White Ball Vs Red Ball Cricket

The Ashes gets massive coverage when it comes around every couple of years, but can the same be said for the rest of Test and First Class cricket? Alex Hales recently signed a ‘white-ball contract’ with Nottinghamshire, who are, incidentally, 5/2 favourites to win the County Championship this season. This means the right-hander, who is not yet 30-years-old, will only concentrate on limited overs cricket. The question is will this type of move away from red ball become a trend? There is even talk of a schism within the sport. It’s a precarious time for the traditional game.

The Weather

Not everyone believes in manmade climate change, but the fact that the weather has changed in recent years in places like the UK is undeniable: The facts are there. In a compelling piece, the team behind cricket betting from Betway have produced a study on how inclement weather is impacting cricket in England. The most eye-catching stat is that “The rate of rain-affected matches has more than doubled since 2011.” You might think a bit of rain won’t ruin the game’s future, but matches being constantly called off make fans reconsider buying tickets the next time around. It’s a thought provoking piece by Betway Insider and well worth a read.

Betway Cricket

Integrity

Steven Smith and David Warner

Enough column inches have been spent talking about Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner in the last few months, but cheating scandals do not put the game in a good light, especially for those wanting to bet on cricket. Despite the bans, what real punishment will the trio receive? They will be back in ample time for the ICC Cricket World Cup next year. Australia still remain more or less the same price (9/2, Betway) to win the World Cup as before the scandal. Plus ça change and all that.

Participation

Statista reports that the number of people participating in cricket fell from 419,500 in 2008 to 278,600 in 2016. That’s a 33% drop in less than a decade. Again, like the problems with the weather, a lack of quality new players coming through leads to a decline in interest from the fans. On the bright side though, places like Australia are reporting a big rise in participation levels and the strides the women’s game has taken in recent years is also something to cheer.

Its Epicentres

Cricket Right Handed Batsman Playing Shot

The cricket world has always centred around India, Australia and England. There are, of course, plenty of other places where cricket is popular, but this trio hold the balance of power in the game. To thrive, it needs to move away from the idea of a sport for former Commonwealth countries and make itself a global sport. Check out the story of how Ireland, where cricket was historically abhorred, became a Test playing nation in recent years. If the game can plant seeds and grow on an island always reluctant to embrace ‘British’ sports, why not in the USA? South America? The rest of Europe?

India V Australia, 3rd Test Betting, Sledging, and Mitchell Starc’s foot

The 3rd Test in what has been a very hard fought series between India and Australia starts in Ranchi on Thursday, and amid all the flak flying around, and the controversy over referrals, etc, it looks set to another enthralling spectacle.

The 2nd Test at Bengaluru a couple of weeks back was a topsy-turvy affair, with Australia managing to lose a low scoring game by 75 runs, despite having a 1st innings lead of 87 runs.

To further compound Aussie misery, they have lost both the Mitchells to injury, Marsh and Starc. The lose of Mitchell Marsh (shoulder) isn’t probably the biggest problem for Australia, as they have spinning all-rounder options to come into the side at No.6, and that ensures they can keep the balance of the team as it was.

The loss of Mitchell Starc with a stress fracture of the foot is a bigger blow though. Starc may not have pulled up many trees on this tour, but he is the spearhead of the Aussie attack. Not only will his loss to the attack be felt here, there is also the worry of longer term problems for the left arm quick.

Starc has already spent a lot of time out injured with foot and ankle problems over the last 2 to 3 years. So with the Champions Trophy and Ashes coming up over the next 10 months, the Aussie camp will be praying that it’s nothing more than a routine stress fracture, brought on by bowling on a dry hard pitch, rather than something more deep routed, that is maybe related to previous issues.

Most of the top Sports Betting Sites have India at 8/13 to win the 3rd Test, and take a 2-1 series lead. The draw is at around 9/2 to 5/1, with an Australia victory at around 3/1, with Betvictor sticking their necks out a bit, and offering 7/2.

A win here at Ranchi for the Aussies would see them retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, as that would mean the worst the Aussies could do is draw the series, and as the current holders of the trophy, Steven Smith’s team would retain if the series is drawn.

There has been plenty of bickering between these two sides, and it will be interesting to see what kind of spirit the 3rd Test is played in. The two respective boards have held clear the air talks, and the match referee has got involved pre match, to try and ensure the match is played in the right spirit.

To see the Aussies moaning about sledging is slightly ironic, and as Ian Chappell himself said, when you dish it out, you have to be prepared to take it when it comes back your way, and he knows a thing or two about sledging.

“I also don’t think the Australians are in any position to start throwing stones. They’re no choirboys themselves. It’s ridiculous to allow that much chatter to occur on the field.”

Ian Chappell

Australia 4/5 for another Whitewash

Only two more matches – or torture sessions as they could be known –  are now left for Alastair Cook to endure, and judging by his comments after losing the series in Sydney, they could be his last two matches as captain.

Such has been Australia’s dominance throughout the whole tour, that the 4/5 currently on offer for another Australian victory is not for them to win the 4th ODI, but to win final two ODIs, and complete another Whitewash of England (Australia are 4/5 to win the series 5-0 with William Hill).

I can’t remember a time when two supposedly evenly matched teams had such one sided odds, 4/5 is usually the sort of price you would get on a team winning one ODI, not two.

This tour has been a complete disaster for Alastair Cook, it really is hard to see how he comes back from this. This has more than likely finished him off as captain, maybe in both formats, and it could have also done untold damage to him as an international cricketer.

I have my views on the level of importance given to 50 Over cricket by England, and I will vent that on another day, but suffice to say that resting some of England’s better 50 Over cricketers probably hasn’t helped the cause.

I’m pretty sure they would have defended that total in the 2nd match had Stuart Broad been playing, as he should have been.

That’s all water under the bridge now, and despite Cook claiming the other night that he won’t leave anything out on the field over the last two matches, it’s hard to see what he has left to give.

Australia are resting Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, David Warner and Shane Watson for the 4th match (resting players after a series is won, what a novel idea), and even taking that into consideration, they are still 4/9 favourites to win the match.

And before anybody reminds me that Mitchell Johnson was rested at the start of the series, I am aware of that. My point is England went too far after they rested Kevin Pietersen (probably dropped), Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson. Not a luxury you can afford after a Test thrashing, and already without Swann and Trott.

Pretty much sums up England from at least as far back as the squad selection (and beyond to be honest)…… mixed up thinking!

Anyway, the odds with William Hill (new customers get a £25.00 Free Bet) for Friday’s match from Perth are Australia 4/9, England 7/4.

Foe the series result, the odds are…..

Australia 3-2 is 8/1
Australia 4-1 is 11/8
Australia 5-0 is 4/5

New Zealand V West Indies – 3rd Test Betting

The 3rd Test between New Zealand and West Indies in Hamilton seems finely balanced at the end of Day 2, with West Indies batting first and somehow making it to 367, and the hosts on 156/3 in reply.

In the cricket betting, New Zealand are still the favourites at 2.26 on Betfair, the Draw is 3.15 and West Indies are 4.1.

The match situation sees the hosts 211 runs behind, they are struggling to play the two front line West Indies spinners (yes they picked two), and the hosts also – all going to plan – will be batting fourth on an already turning wicket.

I don’t see New Zealand as such heavy favourites, for me the West Indies are currently the team in control, but the odds don’t seem to reflect this.

This could be because of the manner of the defeat inflicted on West Indies in the 2nd Test, but even allowing for the momentum and confidence New Zealand have, this is a totally different looking wicket.

Day 2 has seen Sunil Narine bowling 22 uninterrupted Overs with figures of 22-9-43-2. I doubt very much the wicket is going to turn less as the match continues, and as I already mentioned, West Indies have two front line spinners in their side.

I kind of get the impression that once Ross Taylor goes, the spinners could reap havoc with the rest of the New Zealand batting order.

The positives for New Zealand are that the in-form Ross Taylor is still there on 56, and can anybody ever rely on West Indies to finish a job off from a position of strength?

They managed to find themselves on 86/5 in their first innings, so to come back as well as they did on Day 1 is an achievement in itself already for West Indies.

That man Shivnarine Chanderpaul again blanking out the carnage around him and scoring his 29th Test century, with no shortage of help from wicketkeeper, Denesh Ramdin, who also helped himself to a century.

Did those two have the best batting conditions late on Day 1? Possibly.

Given all this, and even allowing for West Indies’ penchant for a batting collapse, I believe it would still take a brave man to back to the Kiwis from here.

Sachin’s Final Fling

There is a game of cricket actually due to be played in Mumbai tomorrow, but this Test match will obviously – and I suppose rightly – over shadowed by the the retirement of the Little Master.

Obviously the limited overs Indian teams have moved on without Sachin over the past few years. But having said that, Sachin probably could have named his date, time and format to choose to play his final match… so with this in mind, I’m very happy that Sachin has made his final international cricket match, a Test match.

Maybe it’s time the likes of the BCCI, WICB and SLC took note.

Not that it’s likely to get a mention in all the hullabaloo, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul will be playing in the small matter of his 150th Test match. A great West Indian who gets little accolade.

What a player he is also. For years he has carried this side, and when he started playing in 1994, he was playing with some of the West Indian greats in the final throws of their careers, and didn’t look out of place with them.

Formalities and moans over, so now on to the cricket.

In the cricket betting, India are the favourites at 4/9 to win the Test match. The Draw is 5/2, and West Indies are 8/1.

Even allowing for all the obvious distractions, India should still be too strong for the West Indian team (judging by the winning margin in the 1st Test). Having said that, Shane Shillingford (13/8 to be top West Indies bowler) showed some good form and troubled the Indian top order at Kolkata, so he shouldn’t be treated lightly.

Duncan Fletcher looks to have unearthed another Indian gem in Mohammed Shami. He will be looking to build on his impressive performance last week, when he took a remarkable 9 wickets on debut.

I’ve written it many a time on this website, and make no apologies for writing it again…. this team is now Duncan Fletcher’s, and he is building a very impressive outfit.

The weather looks okay, and the pitch is expected to last 5 days. The last Test match played here seen England win, and 19 wickets go to spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar. Three centuries were scored and there was a couple of 60’s, but apart from that there was no real scores of any note. This suggests runs are possible, but only if you can play yourself in first.

Sachin is 5/1 to be top Indian batsman and go out in a blaze of glory.

Pakistan V South Africa – Test Match Betting

Pakistan V South Africa – click here for Live Betting Odds

Like buses, you wait ages for a Test series, and then two come along at once. Monday sees the start of another 2 match Test series, this time between Pakistan and South Africa in UAE.

South Africa go into the series as overwhelming odds on favourites, they start the series at 8/11, Pakistan 7/2, and a drawn series starts off at 12/5.

While on paper it looks like a walk in the park for the South Africans, I do believe that if they think they only need to turn up to beat Pakistan, they could be in for a surprise. I’m sure Graeme Smith’s men aren’t that naive, they must have seen what happened to England in 2012 when they toured the UAE as the top ranked team in the world.

Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy are all retuning from injury, this is basically as bad as the problems get for South Africa – and if they were not already a strong enough outfit, with AB de Villiers now wearing the wicket keeping gloves they effectively have an extra place available in the team.

Pakistan on the other hand have been patchy with their form over the past few months, mainly caused by troubles at the top of their batting, and travel sickness.

They can’t keep relying on the middle order of Younis Khan and Misbah -ul-Haq to carry the batting. Generally when they come in to bat, the team is already in trouble. I get the feeling if Pakistan are to have any chance of success in this series, they need the top order to start contributing more.

Pakistan naturally seem to perform a lot better in Asian conditions. I know that it’s true that most/all sides prefer home conditions, but it is especially true of Pakistan.

One reason why this is the case is because Saeed Ajmal can look like the best bowler in the world when he plays in these conditions, it will be very interesting to see how the South African batsmen get on against him (he is 6/4 favourite to be top Pakistan series bowler).

The 1st Test is to be played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. There has only been 3 Tests played on this ground, the first two were high scoring affairs, followed by a tight low scoring match in 2012, which culminated in England’s capitulation for 72 all out.

Full Test Match Fixtures

14th – 18th Oct – Pakistan V South Africa – 1st Test – Abu Dhabi
23rd – 27th Oct – Pakistan V South Africa – 2nd Test – Dubai

Bangladesh V New Zealand – Test Match Betting

Bangladesh V New Zealand – click here for Live Betting Odds

The first of two Test matches starts between Bangladesh and New Zealand in Chittagong on Wednesday, and although it isn’t the most enthralling sounding series, it is a fairly important series for the two teams involved.

A quick look at the ICC Test match rankings shows Bangladesh down at number 10, and New Zealand not far ahead of their hosts, in eighth place.
Bangladesh dropped down to the bottom of the rankings following Zimbabwe’s recent drawn series with Pakistan. Bangladesh have failed to kick on in the Test arena over the past couple of years, and they will surely have earmarked this Test series as a potentially winnable one. 
New Zealand have shown some good signs of improvement in the Test arena lately. They had the better of a hard earned drawn series at home to England earlier in the year, although they comfortably lost the return away series.
In the home draw against England, New Zealand played the better cricket (in my opinion) over the three Test matches. Okay, so they struggled a few weeks later in England, but conditions were perfect for the England attack.
If the Kiwi’s want to build on the impressive home performance against England, they have to be looking to win this series.
Although it was in a different format, Bangladesh doesn’t hold fond memories for New Zealand. The last time they were here (2010), the Kiwis were handed a 4-0 thrashing in the 50 Over format.
Of the nine previous Tests played between these teams, New Zealand have won eight, with one draw. Given the history between these two sides it is no wonder the Kiwis start this series as 1/2 favourites, a Drawn series is 5/2, and Bangladesh are 6/1 to complete a shock series win.

Full Fixtures
9th – 13th Oct – Bangladesh V New Zealand – 1st Test – Chittagong
21st – 25th Oct – Bangladesh V New Zealand – 2nd Test Dhaka  

India V Australia ODI Series – Live Betting

The top two ranked one day international sides go head to head in India in a series that could potentially see a change at the top of the ICC ODI rankings.

India lead the rankings, and Australia are second. A 5-2 series win for the Aussies would see them acquire enough ranking points to take over top spot again.

The series starts on 10th October with a Twenty20, followed by (just the) seven 50 Over internationals.

Australian skipper Michael Clarke is out injured, meaning George Bailey will again lead the team in his absence. It is probably a series Australia could do without, as they will surely be focusing more on the upcoming Ashes.

Not only do India have home advantage, they are also the current 50 Over World Champions, and recently added to their collection by winning the last ever Champions Trophy beating England earlier in the year.

Given all that it’s not surprising that India start the series as clear favourites.

India V AustraliaClick here for LIVE BETTING ODDS

Full Fixtures

10th Oct – India V Australia – Only T20 – Rajkot

13th Oct – India V Australia – 1st ODI – Pune

16th Oct – India V Australia – 2nd ODI – Jaipur

19th Oct – India V Australia – 3rd ODI – Mohali

23rd Oct – India V Australia – 4th ODI – Ranchi

26th Oct – India V Australia – 5th ODI – Cuttack

30th Oct – India V Australia – 6th ODI – Nagpur

2nd Nov – India V Australia – 7th ODI – Bangalore

Ashes Betting – No Bunny Onions

There was – in my view – one startling omission from the Ashes touring squad announced by England earlier this week.

I thought the decision to leave out Graham Onions in place of  an all bean-pole attack could have be a bit of a short sighted one, and potentially a huge mistake by the England management.

Nothing against the guys all picked, any regular readers of this website will know that I am a huge Chris Tremlett fan. Steven Finn is a long term project, leaving him out may have damaged his confidence, and Boyd Rankin’s good form and the fact that he looked more than at home in the recent ODI’s have seen him justifiably picked.

If any of those guys are really lucky to be picked, I suppose it has to be Tremlett. To be honest, I expected him not too make it into the squad. I know he was brought back into the England set up earlier in the year to re-familiarise himself with the group, with a view to him going on this tour, but I thought that Boyd Rankin would have just edged him out.

The reason I would have taken Graham Onions is the same reason why England have taken Monty Panesar.. quite simply for cover. In the cases of both Onions and Panesar, neither of them are in the class of Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann, but both are adequate cover.

I know that the selectors have basically decided one of Finn, Tremlett or Rankin could replace Anderson if he picked up an injury on the morning of a Test match, but would the lack of variation that the bean pole attack would give you really be adequate on all Australian pitches?

Maybe I am nitpicking, or maybe it isn’t practical to cover all bases, I don’t know. There is no out and out reserve wicket keeper (I know Jonny Bairstow is there) in the squad also, so clearly the selectors don’t see it as practical to cover every possible outcome.  

That said, I still feel very sorry for Graham Onions. I’m not sure it is the end of him for England, but his prospects don’t look good beyond this tour, when England will most probably be starting to look at younger bowlers.

I wouldn’t rule out the prospect of him being called onto this tour if there are a couple of injuries to bowlers though, but there is also Tim Bresnan to potentially come back, and assuming any replacements won’t be called up until a few weeks into the tour, Bresnan could be fit by them.

I was pleased to see Monty Panesar recalled, a lot of his off-field problems could be partially down to the fact he is not involved with England, this call up could give him plenty of encouragement and give him something to focus on. It also gives the England management plenty of chance to monitor him closely and see how he is doing.

Whatever Geoff Miller tells us about Gary Ballance’s call up not being a left field one…. it was. The biggest surprise to me about his call up though, was the lack of reaction/outburst from Nick Compton.

I am pleased to see England take a back up opener, although I suspect that Michael Carberry is as much cover for Gary Pratt, as he is for the openers – a good choice though.

The announcement of the England squad has had little effect on the Ashes Betting odds, as England are still the odds on favourites with the bookmakers. Full odds are Australia 7/4, Drawn Series 9/2, England 5/6 (there is a £25.00 free bet for new customers opening an account).

Shock Horror, Another Test Match To Follow

Shock horror, don’t pinch yourself, you are not dreaming, but there is another Test match starting tomorrow morning in Zimbabwe. Not a marquee fixture, granted, but nevertheless hosts Zimbabwe are taking on Pakistan in the 5 day format in Harare.

This is the first of a two match Test series, with the 2nd Test due to be played in Bulawayo on 10th September.

This match was in doubt up until Monday afternoon due to the Zimbabwean players threatening not too take the field due to a dispute over unpaid salaries.

All of these off-field upheavals surely can’t have helped Zimbabwe, and the cricket betting odds suggest this with the hosts massive outsiders. Online bookmakers have Pakistan at 2/7, The Draw 7/2, and Zimbabwe 10/1.

Pakistan looked nailed on really, all the indications point to a win for the visitors. On top of the dispute over money, Zimbabwe have struggled to take wickets to such an alarming extent that even their coach, Andy Waller seems to be suggesting his team will struggle to get the 20 wickets needed to win a Test match.

Onto Betfair cricket trading, and this looks like it could be one of those Test matches that doesn’t have great liquidity, but can still offer plenty of trading opportunities. Sometimes in these sort of non marque matches, there are massive gaps in the markets that can be exposed – particularly overnight.

Rather than just getting stuck into the Pakistan win bet, I think I will start off by looking to pinch a couple of quid here and there from trading. And then wait and see how the match develops, before maybe having a bet later on.