image credit: Sum_of_Marc – Flickr
Cricket has seen something of a renaissance in public interest of late, with the rise and rise of the shorter format known as Twenty20, or T20. We’ll cover that a bit more below, but suffice to say that with this increased fan fare comes new markets and better odds.
History of Cricket
We know cricket as that game with a bat, a ball, stumps and 11 players – but it wasn’t always thus. The earliest certain reference to the sport is said to be from late in the sixteenth century where it is named as creckett, which is believed to have some synonymy with ‘stick’ or ‘club’.
Whilst it may have started as just a stick and some balls, by mid-1600s it apparently developed into the 11-sided game similar to how we know it now, and supposedly the betting of the rich played a major part in its rise to prominence. So there you are – there’s form in cricket betting.
The sport rapidly developed into professional leagues, and now features 20-over, 50-over and five-day formats amongst others.
The primary domestic cricket competition in the UK is the County Championship – a first class club competition held in the summer. This league consists of 18 teams split into two groups – all from England except for one Welsh side – that are named after historic counties.
The Championship plays four-day Tests, but the same teams are also involved in the national One Day Cup as well as the relatively new t20 Blast competition.
However, cricket doesn’t stop at the domestic level, as you’re probably well aware. There are a number of competitions in which national sides take part.
International Cricket – Test Match
The most well-known, or perhaps respected, form of international cricket is the Test Match. Whilst there is no World Cup as such for the long form of the game, countries play in ‘tours’ of one another’s homeland, which help to decide international standings.
England took part in the first ever international Test Match – against Australia in 1877 – which gives you an indication of how long this has been about. Test cricket is almost exclusively played in this ‘series’ or ‘tour’ style, though in the past there have been a few instances of organisations attempting to turn Test cricket into a tournament. These have yet to take a grip though, and look increasingly likely to remain a series-based event considering the strengths of t20 cups.
As is the case with most established cricketing nations, England hosts two foreign national sides each summer, against whom seven Tests and a number of One Day and t20 matches are played.
Now, then, is probably a good time to give an overview of the highest profile rivalry in English, Australian and arguably international cricket: The Ashes. It started in 1882 and is yet to die, with both countries tied on 32 wins and five draws apiece.
This Test series between England and Australia’s national sides is steeped in tradition and often-bitter rivalry, and rarely fails to deliver on the big stage. It can be an immensely enjoyable but challenging series on which to have a punt, as it so often throws up shock results and surprising plays in-game.
This series is played in England one year, Australia two summers after that, and is a favourite for most lovers of sport.
International Cricket – One Day
One Day International cricket (ODI) is – as you could have guessed – a one day format of cricket, whereby each team plays an innings of no more than 50 overs.
These matches normally occurs following the longer-format games in a series, though there are two major ODI tournaments: Cricket World Cup – played every four years – and the ICC Champions Trophy – played every two or four years.
These two tournaments attract the permanent teams – like England, Australia and India – plus certain associate members.
International Cricket – Twenty20
And so we come to that new version of cricket, the one bringing back the crowds and igniting sponsorship deals to rival football: Twenty20 cricket. This form of the sport has really taken the cricket-world by storm since a little over a decade ago, and is still on the rise.
In response to dwindling audiences and revenues, the ICC needed something to change in cricket. T20 was formed to fill the void of excitement that modern sports fans crave. It even has the flashing lights and pyrotechnics normally reserved for Eurovision.
It is most prominently known through the Indian Premier League, though the ICC World Twenty20 tournament is now a leading cup in international cricket, organised by cricket’s governing body.
Betting in Cricket
Cricket, perhaps more than any other sport to date, has been marred in controversy – both rumoured and proven – around match-fixing and betting scandals. Because of this, some have a case to say in-play betting should be limited.
Nevertheless, it continues, which for those of us out there for good, honest punditry is a good thing. There are countless forms of betting available in the world of cricket, from outright markets to over-by-over punts.
Importantly, you need to understand what you’re actually deciding between. Even though cricket might look a bit ‘luck of the drawer-ish’ to untrained eyes, there is a lot going on from all over: pitch, field and players through to weather and what will happen to the surface by the fifth day.
Different national sides have different strengths, and it’s often argued that certain places have cricket pitches prepared in ways that favour the host nation. All this needs to be taken into account, so do your research on both team and player.