Compared to football and certain other sports, cricket is popular in a relatively small number of nations. However, with just about the entire 1.4 billion population of India being obsessed by the sport, plus another 600 million or so fans spread across the other major Test-playing nations, cricket is still one of the biggest and most popular sports in the world.
Given that betting, though not always legal or regulated, is huge in India, and also very popular in the UK, Australia, South Africa and several other major cricketing nations, it is no surprise that gambling on cricket is huge. Here we take a look at the most popular cricket bets and markets, as well as some of the less common options. If you are new to cricket betting or just want to know more about it, this in-depth guide should provide the answers to all your cricket betting questions.
Number One Cricket Bet: Match Odds
When it comes to cricket, as is the case with most sports, the most popular bet is the simplest. Having a punt on who will win a match is by some distance the bet most commonly placed. Such a wager may be listed differently according to the type of match it is and different bookmakers may also use different terminology.
Sometimes you may see it referred to as match odds, to win, winner or even 1X2 or Home/Draw/Away (though these latter two names are more typical in football). No matter what it is called though, this is simply a bet on who will win a given match. The picture is complicated a little bit when it comes to cricket by the fact that there are three (and four if you include The Hundred) formats of the sport, something we will now consider in relation to the match odds.
Cricket Formats & Match Odds
Cricket can be split into white ball and red ball formats, the former sometimes being called short form and the latter long form. Red ball cricket covers Test matches internationally, played over five days, and competitions like the County Championship (in England, and played over four days). White ball cricket is played on a single day with the two main formats being played over 50 overs and 20 overs, though others, such as The Hundred, also exist.
20-over contests are called T20, or Twenty20, with international 50-over games called One Day Internationals (ODIs). 50 over games are also played at club level, when they are usually referred to as 50-over games, one-dayers or limited over games. Confused yet?
Now that we have briefly explained the difference between the types of cricket, let us now consider how that impacts upon betting on who will win the game. The key point of difference is that in red ball cricket, the draw is a possibility, whereas in white ball cricket, it is not. We will not go into the intricacies of explaining the hows and whys in too much detail but in short, draws are relatively common in Tests, the County Championship and other similar competitions.
Essentially, a draw is when time runs out before a winner is decided, as opposed to a draw in football and other sports where the scores are level. In red ball cricket ties (when the game ends with the sides on exactly the same score) are possible but exceedingly rare, with only two ties in the entire history of Test match cricket. That’s almost 150 years and not far off 2,500 matches (as of 2021) and so when betting on Tests (and other long form matches), the tie does not feature among the options for match odds.
You can bet on the tie in its own market but with an incidence rate of less than 0.1%, it is safe to say the odds offered are unlikely to be good value. So, when betting on a long form match, your options will be Team A, Team B, or the draw. In contrast, when it comes to white ball cricket, your options are usually more simple, with just Team A to win or Team B to win.
Draws do not occur in T20s or 50 over games but ties do and they are a lot more common. However, even in a one day game (20 or 50 overs) you are unlikely to see the tie offered alongside the main match odds. Once again it may be listed as a separate market or it may not be priced at all because many games use some form of “extra time” to decide a winner when it is a tie after the allotted overs.
Check with the Bookmaker
There may be slight rule differences between bookmakers on the matter and it will also usually depend on the match in question. In a World Cup knockout game, for example, there will almost always be a decider, usually a Super Over, to determine a winner. However, in a club game that is part of a league, a tie may simply be left as a tie. You must understand the rules of what you are betting on if you want to avoid any rookie mistakes, so if in doubt simply check with your bookie’s customer service team.
Depending on which betting site you have made your bet with and the format and rules of the game, a tie may mean that all bets are voided. Alternatively, it could mean you have lost (where a tie was offered as an option but you didn’t back it). Lastly, the outcome of the bet may be determined by who is deemed the winner of the match following a Super Over or other decider.
Other Major Cricket Betting Markets
When it comes to cricket there are a wealth of different betting options but most of the time, most punters do tend to stick to the match odds. There are a plethora of interesting alternatives though and whilst there are not quite as many cricket markets as there are football ones, punters are still spoilt for choice. Here we list the major options, explaining any format-relevant information as and when required.
You can bet on who will score the most runs with the option to restrict this to a particular side or the entire match. Bets are usually based on the first innings only (where applicable), though options for the second innings and both combined may also be available.
Leading Wicket Taker
The bowler’s equivalent of the above, this market is also typically for the first innings only and you can choose to back the player who takes the most wickets for a named side or in the match overall. As with runs, but more likely to be enacted with wickets, dead heat rules usually apply.
To Score 50/To Score 100
You can back a specific batsman to score at least either a 50 or a century. Once again this relates to the first innings as standard though other options exist and if you’re feeling really bold you might even opt to place a bet in a market to score a double century!
Usually applied by team, a popular cricket bet is how many runs a side will make, typically in the first innings. For longer odds, bandings may be offered, for example, 310-319, or wider ones such as 350-379. Alternatively, the market may be structured as an under/over option with both bets priced at just under evens.
A bet that is popular both in-play and pre-match, you can bet on how many runs a specific batsman will make. As with total team runs, this may be offered either with bands, for example, 45-54, or as an over/under bet at shorter odds.
There are many bets based on runs, either for teams or individuals and one is a simple yes or no bet on whether there will be a century scored in the game. Naturally, the odds for yes and no vary, with a ton far less likely in T20s than in ODIs, and red ball matches the most likely format to witness a hundred. The weather and the state of the wicket also play a key part in the odds for this market.
Highest Opening Partnership
Once again, a simple binary choice and once again one that typically applies to the first innings. Will Team A or Team B register the highest first-wicket partnership?
Most Runs First 5 Overs
Especially in white ball cricket, betting on which side will score the most runs in a specific period of the game is a popular bet. This may be the first five overs, the first 10 overs, the last 10 overs or some other pre-defined group of overs.
To Win the Toss
This is a market that is always offered but we strongly suggest you never use. No matter how many tosses in a row one captain has won or lost, the probability for both outcomes remains the same. They have a 50:50 chance of winning and this one in two likelihood means that the fair odds for both skippers would be evens. The best odds you are ever likely to see in this market are 10/11 and might be as low as 5/6. So, unless you have more money than you want, give this bet the swerve.
Bookies will offer a range of specials bets and alternative markets, especially on bigger games. In limited overs matches, this might include things like the game to see a Super Over, or bets on how many sixes will be hit.
More generally you might have the option to back a hat-trick in the game(three wickets in a row from three consecutive balls), a certain player to take a catch, who will be the player of the match, whether or not there will be a run out, or by what method a named player will be dismissed.
Outright Cricket Betting
When it comes to cricket there is a huge range of outright options. By outright betting, we tend to mean markets that do not relate to a specific game but cover an entire competition. The most obvious and most popular ones are outright tournament bets. Quite simply, this is a wager on which side or nation will win a competition, be that the Cricket World Cup (50 overs), the Indian Premier League (IPL) or a Test series such as the Ashes.
Bets like these are a great way to maintain your interest over a long period, especially in the case of more drawn-out tournaments such as the County Championship. A single stake can keep you excited for weeks or even months and, invariably, even the favourites in these outright betting markets are priced at rewarding odds, with 4/1 around the lowest price that you would usually see depending on the event.
Specific Outright Bets
You then have more specific outright bets that relate to either a more detailed prediction about a competition or one particular facet of it. Correct score betting is one such outright that is very popular in series, be it Tests, ODIs or T20s. For example, if you predict that England may struggle in the Ashes Down Under, as they so often do, you might opt for the 5-0 correct score, rather than simply backing Australia to win at much shorter odds.
Other outrights that might relate to either a bilateral series or a tournament and again apply to any format include the following:
- Top Runscorer – either team-specific or for the whole tournament, this is a bet on which player will score the most runs.
- Top Wicket Taker – again, either for a named team or for the entire event, which player will take the most wickets.
- Player of the Tournament – where awarded, this is a popular option.
- Total Sixes – with the growth of power hitting, wagering on how many maximums the T20 or 50 over World Cup will see has increased.
- Win Group, Top Two/Four or to Reach Final – in a league-then-knockout format you may back a side to finish in the top two or four, or to make the final (the latter also being an option in a standard cup format). Alternatively if a cup has a group stage you might back a side to win their initial group.
- To Finish Bottom or Be Relegated – at the other end of the spectrum you might back a side to be relegated or to finish bottom of their league or group.
In-Play Cricket Betting
In-play betting has become hugely popular over the past 10 years or so, fuelled by improvements in mobile technology. People can now place bets wherever and whenever they want in just a few seconds and that is perfect for in-play betting. This type of wagering is better suited to some sports than others and it certainly fits well with cricket for several reasons.
Firstly, even the shortest cricket matches last for a couple of hours, with Tests stretching to a full five days. That means there are plenty of opportunities to place bets during the game. In addition, overs provide regular natural breaks where bets can be placed without punters having to be concerned that betting will be suspended or something crucial will alter their bets as they are being made.
In addition, because of the relatively long duration of even T20 games and the Hundred, cricket gives punters a great chance to see how a game will develop. For example, you might place a pre-match bet on a team to win but then once play starts, the wicket may play very differently to how it was expected to play, for instance, it may provide much more bounce. In-play betting allows you to react to this and alter your position on the game.
Not all markets will go live at all betting sites but if, for example, you had a bet on a player to be the top runscorer and they are out for a duck, in-play betting allows you to have another try on a different player. Another aspect of cricket that makes it perfect for in-play betting is how games ebb and flow, sometimes slowly but sometimes in an instant.
A team can, for example, be well on top and appear to be cruising to victory, their odds shortening with every run scored. However, if you sense a wicket or two, you may decide to back the other team at long odds. As the old saying goes, one wicket often brings two and two quick wickets can easily trigger a collapse, with odds changing massively in the space of just a few overs, or even balls. These rapid changes in odds can make for hugely exciting in-play punting… and if you call things correctly, hugely profitable punting too.
There are lots of markets that are great for in-play cricket betting and whilst the match odds remains the most popular one, several others are central to live cricket betting. Markets such as batsman runs, the method of the next dismissal, the next scoring action, the number of runs off the next over and so on are all brilliant for those wanting to have a wager as the match unfolds.
If you are new to in-play cricket betting and especially if you are new to in-play betting in general, we would certainly advise a little caution. Try your hand with small stakes first to make sure you fully understand the process, the betting interface and how the odds can move. Price changes really can be very dramatic and as with all live betting, you should be aware that the footage you are watching or score feed you have may not be as “live” and instantaneous as you think. We will look at this issue more in relation to courtsiding.
Ante Post Betting on Cricket
As with most sports, just as in-play betting is a popular option, so too is ante post wagering. In some ways, this can be seen as the opposite of live betting and rather than placing your bets once a contest has started, with ante post punting you place the bets days, weeks, months or even years before play starts. The term “ante post” originates in horseracing, as so many betting terms do, and in cricket, it essentially means making bets before the full information about a certain league, tournament or match is known.
It is not as big in cricket as it is in some other sports but even so, ante post bets on major series such as the Ashes, or on events like the two white ball World Cups, are still very popular with punters. You are typically placing bets before factors such as the weather (and certainly the toss) and team news are known. When it comes to tournaments you are often betting before squads are announced and sometimes even before all the sides taking part are confirmed.
Because you are contending with so many unknowns the odds you receive are typically higher than you might get closer to the event. The downside, of course, is that much can change and what once appeared a good bet may end up being a stinker. Indeed, in the worst-case scenario, you might back a team that doesn’t even qualify, or back a player to take the most wickets in a World Cup only to see them get injured in the final warm-up match.
Despite these risks, ante post betting remains popular and little beats the smug feeling of having backed an outcome months in advance at odds of 50/1 only to see it come into much shorter odds as the contest nears. As well as the possibility of longer odds, you also get to watch the bet unfold over a longer period, maintaining interest and excitement over months or years just from one bet.
Is Courtsiding Possible In Cricket?
In short, courtsiding is the practice of using the latency (delay) of television broadcasts to gain an edge over bookies and other punters by actually being in attendance at a sporting event, rather than watching on from home. Its name comes from tennis, where it first began. Punters would watch on from courtside and make bets, either directly or via an accomplice outside of the venue with whom they were in contact.
In tennis, this meant that sometimes coutsiders are able to bet on the outcome of a point, game or set after it has taken place. Whilst bookies and sporting venues may ban it, courtsiding is not illegal, though it is certainly a grey area at least. Courtsiding in one form or another is possible in just about any sport really but it probably lends itself to cricket better than it does certain other sports.
Markets such as total runs, batsman runs, next action (essentially a bet on what will happen next, be it a dot ball, boundary, wide, wicket or whatever else), runs in the first X overs and even the match odds can be used to great effect. Even on a live television broadcast, the delay can be a couple of seconds or more, whilst on streamed footage it is typically greater. Live score feeds and websites can lag even further behind the true live action and so there are always opportunities. As said, therefore, if you are having an in-play cricket wager, it is always crucial to realise that what you are seeing as “live” may not be quite as live as you think.
Cricket & Match Fixing
Match fixing and unethical behaviour occur in just about all sport but sadly cricket is probably affected more than most. There have been a lot of scandals over the years including some really high profile figures such as then South Africa captain Hansie Cronje, Australian legends Shane Warne and Mark Waugh, and a number of other internationals from Pakistan, India and other Test-playing nations.
Match fixing and the supposedly victimless crime of spot-fixing (where minor aspects of a game are fixed in a way that organisers can make a profit, but that don’t directly or crucially impact the outcome of the match) cast a major shadow over cricket betting. Some may even question why they should bother to bet when the integrity of the contest cannot be assured. Thankfully, however, fixing has been in decline for some time. This is partly down to the actions of the police, the cricket authorities and betting companies.
It is also largely down to the higher salaries cricketers now earn. Certainly at the top of the game, stars earn enough that they are far less easily bought. If fixing is something that concerns you then sticking to only betting on the biggest games may be wise. This is no guarantee that your bets will be given a fair chance but it will certainly help. That said, we should also remember that overall such corruption remains relatively rare, even in some of the lesser competitions.
All in all, whilst the risk of corruption and fixing, be it match fixing or spot fixing exist, the vast majority of bets will be unaffected by such things. Certainly, it is not something that should unduly put anyone off having a bet on cricket, especially if it is a game from any of the major leagues or tournaments, or between top-tier Test-playing nations.