As the first daffodils of the spring appear, it is time to look forward to the glorious summer of cricket ahead – weather permitting! The national team has tests against Bangladesh and Pakistan to look forward to, as well as a series of one day internationals against Australia. However, for the domestic county teams, an even busier period lays ahead with the County Championship (now in two divisions), Sunday League and T20 matches. In this article we are just going to focus on the county championship, as it offers a couple of bet/lay strategies that should be of interest.
Division One of the Championship has been won by Durham for the past two years and they are bookmaker’s favourites to complete the hat-trick. At a best price of 2/1 they are extremely short in the market and their success has come at a price. Durham´s squad consists of a number of England regulars (Paul Collingwood and Steve Harmison) and several players on the peripheral of the English squad (Graham Onions who is currently injured, Liam Plunkett and Philip Mustard). It is conceivable that much of their pace attack may be decimated throughout the summer with absentees due to international commitment. One of the reasons that Durham won the Championship last year was their ability to finish matches. With a weakened pace attack, this may not occur so frequently in 2010.
On the other hand last year’s runners-up Nottinghamshire scored as many batting and bowling points as Durham, yet failed to win as many matches due to the regular absence of players such as Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad. Although a similar scenario may occur this year, their squad has been strengthened by the arrival of South African Hashim Amla, and the introduction of good home grown talent, most notably Alex Hales. Generally priced at around 6/1, they appear to be an excellent each way bet with bookmakers paying a fifth odds 1,2,3.
As mentioned above, there is a bet/lay strategy for each of these teams. Durham are showing on the exchanges at just under 2/1. They play their first two county championship matches at home against Essex and Hampshire before a challenging series of games away to Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Kent. They do not play at the Riverside again until 24th May, at which time the England team will be preparing to play Bangladesh in the first test of the summer, and Durham may find several key players missing. We recommend a lay bet during or after their second home fixture, as within a month, their price should have drifted (due to the likelihood that they will not be achieving maximum points on the road) to a point whereby it is profitable to back them, covering the liability of the lay bet and showing a profit.
With Nottingham, the reverse procedure applies. As well as an each way bet recommended above it is possible to back Nottinghamshire to win the county championship at an attractive 13/2 on the exchanges. The club also have two home matches to start their season, against Kent and Somerset. They then travel to the Rose Bowl for one away tie against Hampshire before returning to Trent Bridge for three successive home fixtures. The strategy is to back Nottinghamshire before their first game and lay once they have played their first six matches (by the beginning of June). Whereas we expect Durham´s odds to be lengthening by early summer, provided Nottinghamshire can capitalise on the advantage of playing five of their first six fixtures at home, their odds should have contracted. Now you will be in the position whereby you can use the potential profit from your initial win bet on Nottinghamshire to create a back/lay profit scenario as highlighted below.
Back Nottinghamshire to win the Liverpool Victoria Championship at the current price of approx 13/2.
With a stake of €50, you can see a profit of €330 €uros. Please note that after Betfair commission of 5%, your actual return will be €363.50
Should Nottinghamshire produce positive results during the first six weeks of the Championship, we anticipate that their price will contract.
Here, we have estimated that it will be possible to lay Nottinghamshire to lose at the price of 7/2 and laid them for €81.
There are two possible outcomes in this scenario. First, Nottingham proceed to win the County Championship. You will get a return from your original (step 1) bet of €363.50 less the liability incurred from the lay (step 2) portion of the bet – €283.50. A net profit of €30.00 (Remember that you placed €50 to start with!).
Should Nottinghamshire fail to win, you will have lost the €50.00 you initially staked (step 1), but have a return of €76.95 (€81.00 less Betfair commission) from the second step of the bet – a net profit of €26.95.
In Division Two, I have identified Northamptonshire as a value bet. They have quietly strengthened their squad, aiming to return to the top tier, and a notable addition is Zimbabwean Elton Chigumbura. Generally available at 16/1 I think that an each way bet should produce dividends.
The Liverpool Victoria County Championship starts on Thursday 15th April and should you have any questions regarding bet/lay strategy please ask away.