Monday saw the end of the English test summer with England completing a 4-1 test victory over India in a series predominantly dominated by the ball. Both sides boasted high class bowling attacks and were helped by helpful conditions throughout the five-match series. This led to batting at the top of the order being incredibly difficult for both sets of batsmen on either side and presented a real opportunity in the Top batsman markets where the odds were routinely sided in favour of batsman batting in highest positions in the order.
The opening three spots offer batsman ample opportunity to bat long periods of time and in theory post the biggest individual scores with the side having all, or nearly all their entire 10 wickets in hand and rarely if ever running out of partners and being able to score a volume of runs that their middle and lower order team mates would not have the time or opportunity to score.
This can be dramatically offset though, in certain conditions and against certain opponents being by far the most difficult place to bat. This proved the case quite dramatically in this series with the amazing stat that no opener on either side has scored a single half century at all until the fifth and last test match. The brand-new ball regularly moved around lavishly and at greater pace and was exploited expertly by the opening bowlers on each side and left both sides regularly early wickets down and the top batsman market being opened up to a great extent for players batting further down the order who in a lot of circumstances would walk to the crease with a top order playing potentially have a century to his name and no chance of being overhauled.
An added consideration to looking at the potential of backing high priced lower order batsman is the ability of the players batting in the Nos 7 and 8 positions. It’s all very well the top order having regular struggles and not being able to score runs, but it counts for nothing if the lower order is not good enough to exploit these opportunities. These criteria were met perfectly with both sides (particularly England) having real genuine all-rounders in the lower order with fine records with the bat in the forms of Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and the highly talented newcomer Sam Curran and for India the spin bowling all-rounders of Ravi Ashwin and Jadeja.
The second and third test matches showed the way for this potential with England’s early problems with bat paving the way for the No 7 in the order to be top scorer in the Top batsman market with Chris Woakes capitalising and Jos Buttler taking the honours in the game after. These wins and the fragile confidence of the England top order saw Sam Curran prove tremendous value at 33/1 to win the fourth test away batting at No8 before the fifth and final test make the lower order player fantastic value with the big winners on either side with Jos Buttler taking it again from England’s No 7 position and a fine win to be had on Ravi Jadeja who took the award for India batting at No8 at an excellent price of 40/1 proving that batting struggles can certainly open lower order opportunity at the batting crease and in the betting markets.
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