Ed Hawkins, in Part Two of his Betting Maestro interview, reveals how to win at cricket betting.
That includes the research process he goes through ahead of any match, which betting markets work best for him and why betting value is everything.
The secrets to how to win at cricket betting
So, Ed Hawkins, cricket tipster: you’re sitting down to write a preview of a game for Betfair or are having a bet for yourself. Is the research process always the same or does it vary from one format to the next?
It’s pretty much the same. I always start by trying to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of each team. Team news is obviously a key player here.
Then I will really try hard to understand what the pitch will do. That’s probably the most significant non-price factor in cricket. A recommended bet could be totally different depending on a seaming wicket or a spinning one. Likewise if there is a toss bias. This is hugely important.
You don’t really want to bet betting South Africa in Colombo with the wicket heavily favouring the side batting first. I also find chasing/non-chasing grounds really important to respect in limited-overs betting, particularly T20. In that format it is easy for a game to turn in the blink of an eye and upsets (in terms of jollies getting beaten) are common. Often I’ll pick a 6/4 chance purely on the toss making it a fifty-fifty bet because of how the wicket favours batting or bowling first.
Finally, it is the odds. With the team analysis done and the pitch (hopefully) understood I should have a fair idea of how I would price the game. Or the series. The England v India betting odds are a great example actually. Having looked at both teams and possible pitch conditions it is hard to split them. So I absolutely cannot have England at odds-on give their weakness against spin (batting and bowling), India’s vast superiority and wickets which will have been impacted by the heatwave.
In the Ed Hawkins previews of yours we read, you often say that you’re backing team x because they’re a certain price but that if team y were that same price then team y would be the side you were backing. In other words, price is everything…
It is absolutely everything. I guess I’ve given an example above in a way in the England v India betting odds for the Test series but the ODI series gave a better match-by-match example. Again, I couldn’t really split the two in terms of what they were good at and what they weren’t. So the odds became the decisive factor. In game one we went with India because they were outsiders. In game two, we went with England because they had drifted enough following a defeat to make them value at 2.12.
That’s one of the biggest prices about this England ODI team you will see at home for a year or more. Game three? Back to India because they were slightly bigger. Now, I won two out of three games which was great. But I wouldn’t have been down or disappointed if I hadn’t turned a profit on the series because I absolutely knew betting the bigger odds was the right thing to do. That’s perverse to some people I guess. They want to know who will win the match, not who is the best price to win the match. Betting isn’t actually about winning. It’s about taking the value. Do that often enough and, eventually, you come out on top. It’s why I have a limit on the price I will recommend. There’s just very little upside to being on 1.6 shots. I will very, very, very rarely recommend one. That’s also partly because I don’t think readers want to be betting those odds and it’s not much of a service.
Which three betting markets work best for you in terms of results and why?
Match odds is good for me because I think there are so many variables in the sport. Injuries, pitch conditions, toss bias and home/away bias almost always give us an edge. The latter is fundamental to understanding betting on cricket. You have to get a grip with, frankly, stereotypes. Asian teams struggle with bounce or the moving ball away from home. England, Australia and SA struggle against spin and slow, low surfaces in Asia. The characteristics of teams/countries hold. That’s because players grow up honing their game in those conditions and often it takes a lot of hard work and matches to adapt.
I love top runscorer markets. I think there’s a terrific edge for the punter. And I’ve really tried to hone a system down the years. Perhaps at the start I often picked on ‘he’s great and in good form’. The price didn’t bother me. I shudder at those memories, believe me. Over time I’ve tried to be more scientific about it, reckoning that the men who were value had to have recent form, form against the opposition and ground form (a big factor because of the psychological aspect of the game).
If they ticked all boxes that would make them a bet. More recently I’ve started looking at the stats (this is the new Hawk Eye column on betting.betfair) to uncover what are genuine wrong prices. Like Kohli being 3/1 when he should be 12/5 in a T20. It’s a rabbit hole because once you start looking at their ‘real’ probabilities (married with the three boxes) you can just talk yourself out of a bet that you would have had a while back. Or, what do you do if, say, Dhoni is priced at 10/1 when he should be 7s?
Top bowler is anew fascination for me on the same grounds and I’ve had good success on this market when previously I had struggled. Players like Kasigo Rabada and Bhuv Kumar (Tests) or Matt Henry (ODI for NZ) are often underrated. The first two, granted, are often favs but Henry has an unbelievable record. I think it’s something like a 6/4 chance in real terms.
One of the criticisms of Test cricket is that the dice is loaded too much in favour of the home team. But which current side is best equipped to compete away from home?
I think India. They can spin it with Ashwin and Jadeja and swing it with Bhuv Kumar and Bumrah. To that end it’s a real shame for value bettors that the latter two have injuries for this Test series in England because that India attack would have been able to do it all. A weak England batting line-up would have had nowhere to hide. Kohli, as a batsman, can do it all and Pujara can drop anchor wherever.
Test cricket gives you a potential five days to trade yourself into a winning position on Betfair, T20 is the one that sees greatest volatility and ODI/50 over domestic cricket is in between. Which do you find is the easiest for trading on?
I’m not really a trader. I’m more of an old fashioned ‘do the research, pick the value and have faith’ guy. Often I will recommend bets privately for some clients on franchise leagues which I’m not covering for Betfair and they drive me mad asking whether they should close their bet if it’s going well or badly. If you do your homework a format like T20 will see you come out on top without relying on trades.
Not surprisingly, though, it is T20 that is the best for trading. Odds can flip on a single ball and when you have a crazy situation like that it has to be pedestalled. Tests is much tougher. You might take a big price on an outsider but the amount of work they have to do to get traction for you is huge. And you have to be watching every hour in case you miss your chance.
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