July 21, 2021



Guessing game begins

The Hundred has caused consternation in every corner of the globe. Its very existence threatens the sport as we know it we are told. Even right-wing rag bags like The Spectator have had a day off from their everyday hate campaign to pile in.

Whatever your view of the ECB’s desperate attempt to finally achieve closure about the BCCI pinching their idea and making the IPL one of the richest leagues in the world, it is hard to argue that it is a hell of a lot of fun trying to work out exactly what will happen.

We are all guessing a lot more than usual. Polls have been run on social media to try to work out what the first-innings score will be. The importance of match-ups (batters versus particular bowlers) threatens to confound and confuse. And the bookmakers are learning a whole new ball game, reworking their T20 algorithms in the wee hours.

Who will win the thing? We’ll try to answer that for you here. We’ll also have a pretty good stab at working out what, precisely a good first-innings score will be. What the key trends will be and although the probability of getting it all completely wrong is high, there is one thing we can be sure: it will be bowlers who will have the biggest say.

There is a precedent, you see, for new tournaments. And we take our que (or clues) from the Abdu Dhabi T10 which started in the 2018-19 season.

In its inaugural season the Warriors finished as group winners and went on to win the title. What made the difference for them in a competition where each squad appeared a much of a muchness? Mean bowlers. They were the most economical by a distance.

The Hundreds rules and regulations reward tight bowling units. Although a bowler can bowl only 20 balls per innings, they will be able to send down ten consecutively. Southern Brave’s Jofra Archer, Trent Rockets’s Rashid Khan or Birmingham Phoenix’s Imran Tahir could win matches all on their own in one spell.

Key rules

– 100 balls per inns (16.4 overs)
– Change of ends after 10 balls
– Bowlers deliver either five or 10 consecutive balls
– Each bowler can deliver a maximum of 20 balls per game
– A 25-ball powerplay start for each team
– Two fielders are allowed outside the initial 30-yard circle during the powerplay
– Team winning group goes straight to final
– 2nd and 3rd play off in a semi-final

The second pointer from the Abu Dhabi T10 is that the team batting first did not know what a good score was.

Players, just like the rest of us, are in the dark here. In the first season there was a 65% bias for the chaser. That has barely dipped to 60% after three seasons. We expect there to be a hefty toss bias in The Hundred, which should also reduce the gulf between teams and makes the outright odds a bit of a mockery really.

The T10 had an average of 1.9 runs per ball scored. Could we really see teams smashing 190 as a par? Probably not. Most rational observers are pitching a par score between 145-160. Admittedly that’s some gulf and although it is tempting to get bogged down in the data, no one can really measure a batting team’s ‘intent’. Some teams will be reckless. Others will be more circumspect.

The major factor in totals will be the pitches. Trent Bridge and Headingley, for example, are the grounds to expect big scores on. Less so at Southampton as our T20 run rate table below shows. It is a must that you factor in such data to your innings runs wagers.

Runs per over

Trent Bridge 8.51
Headingley 8.3
Lord’s 8.1
Edgbaston 8.1
The Oval 8.05
Sophia Gardens 7.9
Old Trafford 7.6
Ageas Bowl 7.2

Rockets might splutter

Those numbers also help us to make up our mind about teams to swerve. The Rockets, for example, look likely to be a strong outfit. However, as discussed in our team-by-team guide, which explains strengths, weaknesses and possible XIs, we’re worried that lesser outfits could be raised to their level on the absolute road that is Trent Bridge. It could well be a minor worry but Rashid may be required to do a lot of heavy lifting.

Tournament favourites Southern Brave have recruited well to mitigate the bowler-friendly nature of Southampton. And Archer’s pivotal role at No 7 (he will be crucial with the bat, too) means they are fair favourites. But no-one is surely betting a favourite in a spanking, new tournament reckoning they are value, are they?

The stand-out price appears to be Birmingham Phoenix, who should have a settled and destructive front three with Liam Livingstone, Finn Allen and Moeen Ali. They can then call on unrivalled white-ball expertise in Pat Brown, Dillon Pennington and Tahir.

Crucially, when there are so many unknowns we can be pretty confident of this team’s intent. Our data has them ranked as the most powerful batting unit. They will surely not die wondering because their lead analyst demands batters do not put too big a price on their wicket. They should play free and easy. And the bottom line is: we see no gulf in squad ability with the shorter-priced teams.

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The Hundred Preview Part 2 on Cricket…Only Bettor



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