The Big Bash has proved a tough nut to crack over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, given it’s arguably the most unpredictable, volatile and fickle format of the game, that’s going to happen sometimes.
Well, that’s the bad news out of the way. The good news is that away from the Big Bash there are two international matches going on, so let’s focus on those.
New Zealand v India 1st ODI (starts 02:00)
You could be forgiven for thinking India are a sure thing here. They’re fresh from beating Australia 2-1 in Australia and are the second favourites to win the World Cup this year so there really must be something about them.
And there is. Not only do they have Virat Kohli but they have a very well-balanced side with top-notch players in just about every position. At least, they will, come the WC.
That’s because at the moment they’re resting their best bowler in Jasprit Bumrah while KH Rahul and Hardik Pandya are currently suspended by India for off the field misdemeanours. So that’s three players who would normally be playing out of tomorrow’s playing XI. That’s a big factor.
Another is that New Zealand on the other hand have their best XI out. And that’s an excellent one in their own right with world class players like Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner covering all the bases.
And they’re a great ODI side at home. Kiwi conditions are pretty unique and knowledge of playing there goes a long way. India don’t travel to that part of the world very often and will surely be tested here. As ever, price is everything and with a quote about the hosts of 2.25, it's certainly worth taking a punt on them.
The evergreen Taylor is in the form of his life. These were his scores against Sri Lanka in the recent three-match ODI series: 54, 90, 137. He was NZ’s top batsman in the last two, just the latest examples of the fact that he’s been batting out of his skin over the last year or so.
Remarkably, Tom Latham has an even better record than him but the key difference here is their batting position. Taylor will definitely bat at 4 whereas Latham will bat at either five or six. It’s worth explaining that unlike in T20s, it’s ok to bet on players at 3 or 4 rather than just openers but ideally you don’t want them batting too low. It’s been a trend for the past five years or so that Taylor and skipper Kane Williamson put on big partnerships from 3 and 4 even if they’re not scoring that quickly and that there isn’t that much time left for someone coming in later to overtake them.
Either way, Taylor ticks all the boxes of career average, recent form, ground form, batting position and price (5.0) so gets the nod for New Zealand top batsman.
West Indies v England starts 14:00
There’s a big gulf in overall class between these sides at Test level just like there is in the prices between them to win the game.
The hosts are 5.5 and England just 1.33. If this were in England, you’d probably say ‘forget it’, irrespective of that shock win the Windies mustered at Headingley a couple of years ago.
But the pitch here may just be a great leveller. More precisely, it will be a huge advantage to bat first here. Put 300 on the board, hope the other side doesn’t match that, get as many as you can the second time round and you’ll be confident of defending anything over about 220 on a slow, wearing, turning pitch. It may all sound pretty simplistic but in this case, it is.
Admittedly if it’s England batting first that may be game over right there and then. But if it isn’t, they could be in trouble. They may have won 3-0 in Sri Lanka but they got to bat first every single time. In other words, a) they were lucky to have won three tosses in a row and b) it’s been a while since we last saw England chase a decent total in the fourth innings on a tough track to win a Test match.
By their own admission, England’s preparations haven’t been ideal, playing warm-up matches that in no way resemble a Test match. That’s just an added bonus though because it’s the toss that is crucial. If it goes our way, we’ll be in with a real chance at a really chunky price.
Back New Zealand to beat India in 1st ODI @ 2.25 with Betfair Sportsbook
Back West Indies to beat England in 1st Test @ 5.5 with Bet365