England suffered a surprise defeat to a New Zealand XI in their final warm-up clash ahead of the Test series with the Black Caps, which could be a knock to the confidence of Alastair Cook’s men.
The tourists are understandably strong favourites to overcome their hosts, having lost just two of their 14 series since May 2009, but offer little value at the short price of 2/7 to claim the series outright.
It was the bowlers who struggled in Queenstown, failing to take the ten wickets needed on the final day, allowing their opponents to reach their total with seven overs to spare.
The defeat was their only first-class tour match defeat since 2006 and will offer encouragement to a misfiring New Zealand.
The home side are woefully out of form in the five day format, winning just one of their previous 11, with nine of those ties resulting in losses, making them hard to back at 7/2 to take the series crown.
England have twice faced the Kiwis in a three-match series in the Southern hemisphere since the turn of the millennium and on both occasions their hosts have secured a single victory.
A 2-1 series success for Andy Flower’s players at 8/1 or the series to be drawn one apiece at 6/1 should therefore attract some attention.
Despite their poor record the Brendon McCullum-led New Zealanders have been resilient on home soil, grinding out three draws in their preceding five Test clashes, which may tempt those expecting a tight affair to get behind a share of the spoils in the first meeting of the sides at 5/2.
At 6/1 a win for the hosts looks unlikely but with England clearly out of sorts after their warm up loss, supporters of Mike Hesson’s troops may take heart from a first Test success the last time the English jetted in back in 2008.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.