Having won the First Test Match in the Series against the West Indies, England were seemingly in cruise control of the Second Test going into the final day. Unfortunately, unless you were a very clever cricket punter, you probably weren't backing the Windies to chase down an unlikely victory.
You also probably didn't expect the virtue of batting heroics and dubious declarations on England's part. With the Series now poised at 1-1 prior to the Third Test Match, bettors are faced with the drama awaits – and whether the price on the West Indies might be worth chancing for an unpatriotic punt!
Before analysing the cricket betting odds for the Third Test, it's worth performing a post-mortem on the nightmare that the Second Test became for captain Joe Root and his England team. Firstly, after England won the First Test with a virtual annihilation, a win for the West Indies was available at odds of 30/1 before the start on day one.
And having failed to win a Test match against England for 17 years, the odds looked about right! After a turbulent first three days, in which proceedings swung both ways, it finally appeared that England had the West Indies where they wanted them, by declaring on 490 for eight.
It meant the Windies had a handful of overs and the final day to chase down a challenging 321. While they had an outside chance, the odds were still fairly big for them to make it. But despite being 53-2 after 20 overs, the West Indies reached 246-4 after 76 overs and 292-4 after 86 overs, enabling them to chase down the total.
Thanks to the excitement of the Second Test, the cricket betting market offered by online bookmakers for the Third has a distinctly different look to it than we would have expected a short time ago. The West Indies opened up around the 8/1 mark to win the Test and have been backed into a price of 13/2 with bet365.
The conundrum is whether the Indies are good value or a terrible bet based on a flawed bookie and punter reaction. On the one hand, the West Indies are sure to take confidence from their recent victory, especially given all the bad press among the UK's top media outlets they'd been receiving.
In many ways there's no pressure on them now, allowing them to really go for the Series win. However, many feel England declared too early and should have at least attacked for another half an hour to put more numbers on the board. Another 50-100 runs would have surely stopped the Windies from chasing down the total.
All while piling more pressure on them to increase the chance of batting errors and wickets. Furthermore, if Alistair Cook had held onto a catch off the bat of Kraigg Braithwaite when he was on four, England wouldn't have lost the game in all likelihood.
While Root's gung-ho captaincy isn't likely to see him adopt ultra-cautious tactics in a Test England will desperately want to win, we can expect to see a little more security on the board before declaring. As a result, the 13/2 at Ladbrokes on a side who were 30-1 at the start of the Second Test looks dubious value.
Despite the money for the West Indies, it still doesn't make England's odds of 1/3 with Ladbrokes very enticing – unless used in a multiple bet. However, bookies go 4/1 on a draw, which does offer more appeal. As muted above, England are likely to be concerned about getting enough runs on the board after the fiasco of last time.
This means they're doubtful to give the West Indies the same chance they did to chase down a total. As a result, England's mind games could conceivably play into the hands of draw backers. Added to this is the fact we're now into September, when rain and bad light could easily start to impact playing time.
The West Indies put in a real team effort on the last day of the Second Test. But if there was one man to claim the biggest plaudits, it was Shai Hope. The batting maestro hit 118 to help the Windies chase down England. With confidence sky high, his odds of 5/2 with Ladbrokes to be top batsman for the West Indies in the first innings look interesting.
Similarly, odds of 6/4 to hit 50 and 6/1 for 100 also appeal. For the hosts, captain Joe Root is facing a bit of pressure regarding his tactics, but we know how fast things change in the media. So we can expect Root to be ultra-keen to be top batsman, backable at 11/4 with online bookies.
Should England land the short odds for victory and Root performs, 6/1 for Man of the Match looks worth a punt too. Head over to Ladbrokes' extensive cricket markets to start betting the Third Test between England and the West Indies as they tour the United Kingdom!
Those looking to embrace the Series when the action is hot via some in-running betting need only visit Ladbrokes during the the match and jump on the latest odds and markets! Either during or pre-match, the betting market for the England vs West Indies Third Test is packed full of value!