England and New Zealand cross swords again after their three Tests in March, a series that would have left both teams disappointed.
England were expected to overpower the Black Caps and could only draw, whilst the Wisden books will not reflect how Brendon McCullum’s side squandered a golden chance to post what would have been one of their most historic victories.
The home side are predictably short at 8/11 to win the First Test, despite ominous forecasts through to the weekend, so it’s worth taking an interest in some other markets where less conspicuous value resides.
One of England’s obvious advantages on paper is in their first two batsmen to cross the white line.
Alastair Cook and Nick Compton are individually more talented than their opposite numbers, Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford, however, that superiority did not translate into higher opening contributions between the pair in the spring.
Both pairs played five innings and spookily both made an average of 54.4 for the opening partnerships. However, if you take out their two biggest combined scores, 158 for NZ and 231 for England, then Cook and Compton are left with an average of 10.25 for their four efforts and Fulton and Rutherford are more than double that on 28.5 runs.
Cook and Compton’s relationship was ended on five, eight and two runs and that has to be worrying for England supporters.
The Black Caps are 5/6 receiving an 11.5 run head-start on the ‘highest opening partnership’ market, which looks generous as the majority of the time they wouldn’t even have required that when they met earlier in the year.
Another market worth investment, despite being skinny at 4/9, is for NZ’s first method of dismissal to be ‘caught’. In all five of their innings Fulton and Rutherford succumbed that way, making the price actually packed with value. For different reasons, Fulton and Rutherford are extremely vulnerable to being taken by a catch.
The former likes to be aggressive and often lacks the footwork and timing to implement that style with regular effectiveness, whilst ‘two metre Peter’ is even less mobile off the ground and is a slip cordon’s dream.
Although there is always an element of chance in this type of market, backers of the catch can invest with a confidence which is usually difficult to find in this sphere.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.