Cricket’s movement into the popular sporting limelight is largely down to the advent of the Twenty20 format almost 10 years ago. Ever since T20 was introduced in 2003 by the English Cricket Board, it has become arguably the most popular form of the game worldwide. The innovative format, media interest and subsequent glamour associated with the sporting offshoot have appealed to many that never had the patience or intellectual interest in the far more complex but slower-paced five day version of the game.
It is an excellent format for cricket betting as well, with a wide variety of markets pre-event and numerous swings in-play. In such short games, almost every ball can shift the odds considerably, meaning that it is possible for the savvy punter to build themselves a book where return is near guaranteed.
As a demonstration of T20′s value as a betting sport, consider a recent Champions League match between England’s Yorkshire and Sri Lanka’s UVA Next. The match began with Yorkshire as the 4/6 favourites and UVA Next available at 11/10. After a rapid start from UVA Next, they reached 41/0 off the first 5 overs, seeing them become the slight favourites in the betting. Already at this early point, both teams had traded odds against, meaning tactical bets could have already locked in a profit. However, less than two overs later, a couple of quick wickets had fallen, flipping the odds back the other way.
In the end, UVA Next reached an admirable – if not insurmountable - 150/7 off their 20 overs. In their first five overs, Yorkshire raced onto 51/2, over a third of the way to their target with 15 overs still remaining. By this stage, they were a strong odds-on shot. However, a combination of poor batting and good bowling meant that with five overs left, they had only reached 114/4, leaving them 37 to get off the final four overs. Consequently, it was now back to an each of two situation. When UVA took their fifth wicket with only 10 balls remaining, Yorkshire still needed 18 runs and were definite outsiders. However, 14 runs in 3 balls finally cemented an impressive win for the English side.
As with any betting sport, rapid changes in team momentum can swing odds widely, creating space for potentially high profits from sound bets. The nature of T20 gameplay means that it is unlikely that one side will be an overwhelming favourite beforehand. While favourites often go on to win a match, they will almost always trade at a bigger price, so strategic gamblers will often back them as a means of hedging their initial outside bet. Played properly, it’s a classic win-win scenario. Finally, the shortened match times of T20 cricket allow for a wider spread of bets. Entering into any new betting sport will require a degree of fine tuning. With T20 Cricket, that trial and error period, followed by the build-up of a considerable book of well-hedged bets, can take place over the course of a short afternoon rather than a long weekend.