Best bowler betting markets in Tests isn’t quite as popular as top batsman markets. Maybe it’s that cricket punters prefer to watch the willow being yielded than the ball being delivered. Or maybe it’s that they feel there are more variables involved in best  bowler betting. Either way, there’s no reason why with some hard work, you can’t make a profit from betting on this market.

In ODIs and T20s there’s no reason why the market should be confusing: given bowlers only bowl in one innings, that one innings is the one that counts. Of course in Tests, bowlers almost always bowl twice. The exception being if there are lots of overs lost to rain or one side bats particularly poorly, meaning the other side only has to bat once.

It’s worth knowing therefore that when the market is called ‘top bowler’, it’s who will take the most wickets the first time their team bowls.

Sometimes there are in-play markets on who will be top bowler in the second innings but that’s rare. But what you shouldn’t confuse it with is the ‘top match bowler’ market. That one is asking who will take the most wickets in the whole match, either across one team or both.


The basics to top bowler betting


Best bowler betting in Test matches

More overs, more chances

The most obvious difference as far as bowlers are concerned from Tests to limited-overs games is the maximum amount of overs a bowler can bowl. There’s a bit more of a level playing field in limited-overs with bowlers not allowed to bowl any more than 10 in ODIs and four in T20s.

In Tests of course, a bowler could theoretically bowl every other over of the whole innings. So a good starting point is to look for bowlers who deliver plenty of balls. Someone like Ben Stokes or Hardik Pandya might occasionally be top bowler in a limited-overs match if they bowl their maximum 10 but in a Test match they’d never bowl anywhere near as many as the likes of Stuart Broad, James Anderson or Moeen Ali (for England) or B. Kumar, Ishant Sharma or Ravi Ashwin (for India). Meaning that in Tests you really need to be looking at the proper bowlers rather than the all-rounders.

Going with the busiest bowlers is particularly true on spinning wickets. Back in the day it wasn’t unusual for Sri Lanka’s brilliant Muttiah Muralitharan to open the bowling (admittedly more when they were bowling for the second time in the game) and pretty much bowl unchanged till the innings’ conclusion. These days there isn’t anyone who bowls to that extent but the likes of Rangana Herath (also of Sri Lanka), Ravi Ashwin and Shakib Al-Hasan have been known to get through lots and lots of overs. As a general rule, the more overs bowled, the more chances of taking wickets.


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Strike rate

But of course toiling away all day will only get you so far. In the 2013/14 Ashes the likes of Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon bowled considerably more overs for Australia than Mitchell Johnson but when Johnson came on for a spell, he was refreshed and very, very quick. He ended up being the top bowler in the Series and ‘Player of the Series’.

That’s because he had an extremely high strike rate that series.  A bowler’s strike rate is how many balls he bowls on average per wicket taken and is an essential guide to working out how likely a bowler is to take wickets. Just to get an idea of how well Johnson bowled that series, his strike rate was 30.5. The next best bowlers in the Series- Ryan Harris and Stuart Broad- had strike rates of 45, needing an average of 15 more deliveries than Johnson per wicket taken. It’s also telling that Johnson’s career average was 51; shows how much better he was during that Series than usual.

At present the Test match bowler with the best strike rate is South Africa’s Kasigo Rabada, by a country mile. He currently takes a wicket every 39.7 balls in Test cricket, considerably ahead of the next best, Vernon Philander, also of South Africa, who at present boasts a strike rate of 48.5. You can see why they’re both popular choices in top bowler markets.




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Who’s your money on in best bowler betting?

As ever, your starting point is working out what sort of a wicket it will be. Decide whether it will suit the express pace bowlers, the seamers or the spinners. Not only will the conditions mean they’ll be assisted by the pitch in taking wickets, it also means those conditions will mean they bowl more overs than the other bowlers.

Pitch reports and match previews will give you clues, as will scorecards from past matches. If it’s the genuine quicks who have taken the lion’s share of the wickets at Perth in the past, then expect more of the same this time round.

Just performing this exercise will whittle down the five or six bowlers to two or three. You can also eliminate the all-rounders because as we’ve said already, they’re unlikely to bowl enough overs to have a chance. Then consider their current form and who has the better career strike rate. By now you should have found your man but if you’re still left with two, back the one who’s available at the highest odds as he’s likely to represent the better value.


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Photo By Ajithjay [CC BY 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons
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