Trading the Cricket World Cup 2019

I thought it was about time that I did a blog on Betfair Cricket trading!

As I write this, we have the Cricket World Cup. So it’s a great opportunity to look at some high liquidity markets, to gather lots of data and look at trading styles on Betfair cricket markets. In my Betfair trading career, I’ve looked at many markets. My first ever market was Golf, quickly followed by financial and football. Pre race horse racing would follow later. Most were markets in which you would expect traditional sports bets, but as exchange betting took off so did the range of markets in which you could bet or trade on the Betfair exchange.

Cricket markets have been around for age and getting bigger and growing for some time. But my lack of participation in them is really down to a time and capacity constraint. Adding Cricket trading into the mix amongst all the other stuff I do, is almost impossible. But with the Cricket World Cup 2019 being held in the UK, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

Cricket Markets are pretty big and often overlooked in the trading world. I went back and looked to my data and a very first cricket match that I ever looked at was back in 2005 and I have gathered data on bits of cricket but never really dived into it seriously before.

Here is a simplistic overview of what I have learnt so far and some trading strategies that you may want to look at on Betfair cricket trading markets.

Cricket as a trading market

Cricket as a trading market is particularly huge and it’s pretty obvious why. If you look at most of the high-profile cricket matches you get a lot of turnover and especially in limited over cricket.

If you go back many years ago, cricket was seen as something that’s played over four hundred days by middle-aged men and it wasn’t particularly exciting but cricket has done a great job of reinventing itself with limited over cricket in various formats:

  • T20
  • Indian premier league
  • The Big Bash in Australia
  • The one-day internationals
  • The Cricket World Cup

Limited over cricket forces the players to get those shots in and the bowlers to get players out and it just livens cricket up a bit. To be honest, I think other sports could probably learn a lot from the way that cricket has reinvented itself!

Betfair Cricket trading volume

The amount of volume that you get on cricket is absolutely immense. You can see that regularly at The One-day International Matches – they turn over about £100 million and the biggest market that we’ve had so far in the World Cup this year it’s been over £140 million. Low amounts matched betting on cricket are still in the millions or tens of millions. But major tournament can see the volumes skyrocket.

As the Cricket world cup progresses to the latter stages, we could easy see some much larger amounts being matched. England are in the semi-final as I write this and if they reach the World cup final, the traded volume could be significant.

An interesting thing about cricket is, if you get a goal in football, the market is suspended. But a wicket in cricket will generate a similar move, but there is no market suspension. So I suspect that’s one of the things that helps this particular market. It probably drives some of these significant turnover figures.

Cricket trading basics

If you have never even looked at Cricket. Here are some basics for you. The Cricket World Cup is a one-day international limited over cricket match.

An over in cricket is six balls so they bowl six balls, and then they change ends. Excluding complexiety, they keep on changing ends every six balls – every over.

Limited over cricket is where the team can only play for a limited number of overs and the one-day international tournaments like The Cricket World Cup, are limited to 50 overs.

So each team basically has 50 overs to score as many runs as possible and / or for all of your players not to get out. The innings could end either at 50 overs or if you get all of your players out.

Cricket is highly variable as well and I think that makes for an interesting market and that probably increases volumes as well. In tennis, the match can fling around if player gets broken and in cricket a couple of wickets in quick succession can fling the match around in the other direction as well. It’s interesting to see how variable it can be, but also how that variability maps to other sports that you may have traded in the past.

Trade cricket when there is none

The weather has an impact on cricket and therefore the odds and the opportunity to trade on them. The weather can obviously affect the wicket and how the teams are likely to play. BUT did you know… you can trade cricket when there is actually no cricket on!

Sometimes you see the acronym CMM. This is an abbreviation for ‘completed match market’. But even if there is no cricket to be played, because of the weather, the CMM suddenly springs to life!

Cricket fans have learnt that against all expectations it can rain in the UK

The image above shows when West Indies vs South Africa was being pkayed at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. You can see from the forecast there was forecast to be rain all day and you could see from the radar, that the rain was moving in and circulating around the ground, so as a consequence it’s pretty obvious that there was going to be no play on this particular day.

But if you look at the CMM, you can see that there was £12.6m traded on this particular market and in fact when they actually went to do the toss first thing in the morning, it looked like the match was probably going to complete and therefore the ‘no’ market started to drift. But as soon as the weather set in, you can see it gradually came all the way back in.

The Coin Toss in cricket

The very first thing that happens within a match, if a match is going to take place which is the toss. The two captains have go out to the centre of the pitch they’ll toss a coin and then, whoever wins the toss can decide to bat or field. That will depend upon what the wicket is like because if the wicket is a bit harder and not as green then that would probably favour the batters but if the wicket isn’t particularly suitable for batting then obviously there is a preference there depending upon the prevailing conditions. You can see that, as soon as the toss is done that immediately affects the odds of the team.

On this particular occasion, New Zealand were playing South Africa, they won the toss and they decided to field first because they felt that they could do some damage to the South Africans.

South Africa Batting

When the game is underway there’s a generic method of operation that the market has, whereby if a team is batting and they get a boundary then the price will tend to come in because their run rate increases but if there’s a wicket then obviously their chance of them winning goes out. If you look at the graph, you can see a variety of spikes all over the place, but they can be explained. You can see their run rates improving which pushes the price out and then there’s another wicket which pushes the price down.

Generally speaking, after a wicket (as long as they don’t lose another one immediately) then the price will start going back in their favour, as they pick up a few runs. The run rate effectively defines the end price of the team. The higher the run rate, the shorter the final price at the end of the innings.

If they’re heading for a very good run rate, then their price would begin to shorten on the batting team but if the run rate is poor then the chance will drift. The chance of them winning the match is quite dependent upon the run rate and the number of wickets they’ve got left. There’s an interaction there.

Description of price action

If we look at New Zealand v Pakistan, you can see the price was pretty flat for a while which indicates the period before the match started. Then, New Zealand went in to bat and Pakistan got a wicket fairly quickly.

Good Run Rate

Then, you can see that New Zealand knock up some decent runs, after that first wicket the price started to head out again and started to drift off into the distance. Meaning that, as the run rates were being accrued for New Zealand the chance of Pakistan winning the match was reducing and that’s why you can see the price and Pakistan drifting.

Wicket Taken

You can now see what happens when that second wicket gets taken, and incidentally you can see a little bump on some of these points so these would be where they get falls or sixes. There’s a sudden spike up, that would be a boundary and then you can see the wicket plummeting down you can see how that has affected price. You should be able to see fairly clearly how the match is unfolding now.

3rd Wicket Taken

You can see New Zealand’s started getting some decent runs on the board and then that third wicket falls.

Strong middle order batting

Then you can see that the pattern repeats itself over a period of time. Wicket, then run rates increase, wicket, run rate, wicket, run rate etc! It’s a lovely illustration. You can see from this image how the prices move. If you’re trading it, you obviously want to lay or back at certain prices. You could back, hoping for a wicket within the next few overs and then the wicket comes and then you’ve trade out or you could wait for that wicket and then expect for a wicket not to occur for a period of time.

For those of you familiar with football trading, you will note that it almost feels a bit like over and under two and a half goals.

You can see at the tail end of this graph that the price on Pakistan winning drifts and that’s because there were no wickets and actually New Zealand were clocking up a fair number of runs.

First Innings

When a team goes in to bat first they need to get a very high score. So, if a team scored a certain amount in the first innings what was their chance of going on to win the entire match? You now know that the runs you get, the more chance you have of winning, if you’re batting first and then it’s all about the runs by the second team. So, if you get a good projected run total, the chance of you winning the match increases but that’s countered by wickets! If you get a large number of wickets then that will obviously reduce your chance of staying in for 50 overs and knocking up a high run total, if you’re batting first.

Also, the pitch will affect the rate at which you score as well. If you’re playing on a pitch that isn’t easy for people batting then you would expect both teams to get a lot of run rate and therefore that changes all of the odds as well. Basically, the higher run rate you get (which makes no sense) the more chance could have winning the match. That influences directly the chasing team’s total that they need to get and the run rate that they need to achieve as well.

Description of price action

This is the run rate from this particular match. You can see running from left to right, from 0 to 50 overs, you can actually see how the match progressed. New Zealand got off to a shaky start, their run rate declined and then it started to pick up, (the circles that you can see are where the wickets were taken) and that allows you to correlate what’s happening with the price activity in the market and where it’s going to go. Of course, when you then look at the opposing team and you overlay that, you can see that Pakistan got off to a higher run rate and then were persistently high for a long period of time.

The first graph I plotted is called the worm, this is showing you the score after a set number of overs. Again, you can see here that up until about the fifteenth over, both teams to a roughly level in terms of the run rate that they’d achieved, but you can see Pakistan was consistently above New Zealand for pretty much most of the match – so they were obviously playing better. You can also see from the little circles, that they weren’t losing many wickets either and therefore the run rate was much higher. So, it is pretty obvious they were going to win the match and therefore their odds would contract.

Looking at the run rate will allow you to get a view on where the match is going and which side of the book you lean. When you’re actively trading, looking for a wicket, then you’ve got to counter that against the run rate that’s taking place underneath as well because that’s going work against you. That will then form your traded window that you’re going to be active in and vice versa.

Understanding these things will help you trade cricket pretty effectively

How a Cricket market trades

It is now time for some simple hints in terms of how cricket is going to trade and what you should do about it.

In this example you can see England v Australia; Australia were favourites and England were batting. So, if Australia get a wicket then it pulls the price in, also wickets would contract the run rate at which England could score for their remaining over.

You can see on the graph where the wickets naturally occurred. But also, a boundary or a decent run rate will start to push the price back out: Australia were favourites, a wicket pulls the price in, and if England get a few runs then the price starts to drift out again. You should be able to see quite clearly, without me telling you how this match went.

Essentially, you could pitch yourself in at any one of these points and immediately after that wicket. For example, you could predict it’s going to be another five minutes until the next wicket, I’m going to nip in here and trade out there, or you could do the opposite, you could predict that we haven’t had a wicket for ages so I’m going to back Australia at this particular point and wait for that wicket to occur. At which point the wicket occurs and then you can trade out at that particular point in time.

If you’re used to trading over and unders in football, it’s a bit like that. Hopefully you can see the parallels there between those two sports and the trading styles that you would adopt.

As the tournament has progressed, I’ve often noticed that there are some good opportunties between overs or even between balls. Using trading software you should be able to nip in and out in a flash and grab some small trades.


I hope that’s given you a quick overview of how the markets work. Because the Cricket World Cup is on at the moment, there’s going to be significant volume. Therefore I’d say It’s worth you having a look at the markets. Cricket matches do last all day, so my attitude to them is to trade the first couple of innings or the second innings depending upon what’s going on within that individual match and depending upon what I’m doing elsewhere.


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