The expert guide to mastering cricket side markets

Like with any other sport, the vast majority of the money placed on a cricket match goes on the winner market.

After all, that’s the most important element of the game and the simplest thing for you as a punter to try to work out, so it makes sense that it’s the market most people are interested in playing.

Cricket betting
James Pacheco
Author, Betting enthusiast

August 24, 2023

James started working in the betting industry a few weeks before Roger Federer won his first-ever Grand Slam and a few months before Greece shocked Europe’s elite at Euro 2004.

You can read our expert guide on playing the cricket winner market to learn about all the crucial factors you should consider before betting on the market, including the toss, the rankings of both sides, the wicket and the weather.

Click here to see our recommendations for best cricket bookmakers.

But it’s by no means the only cricket market and these days any betting site worth its salt will offer dozens of pre-match and live betting markets for all tastes, at all sorts of odds, to give you as much choice and variety as you need.

There’s even an argument to say that it’s away from the match-winner market that you’ll find the best betting opportunities.

That’s because bookies tend to put most of their efforts into making sure the winner market is priced up to perfection, and this may lead to some value prices on other markets that they don’t maybe focus on so much.

The other point about this is that whereas information about who will win the match is very easy to come by, albeit not so easy to weigh up, other markets have more unknowns, which can lead to ‘mistakes’ by the bookie. In other words, some bigger prices on offer than they should be.

All the better for us, the punter!

So, let’s talk you through some of the most important cricket side markets.

Top Batsman

For many betting sites, this will be the second most popular market.

Here you’re betting on who will top score for their side with the bat. The first thing to mention is that this shouldn’t be confused with the top match batsman market, which is another popular side market.

The former is asking which batsman will get the most runs for their particular team, the latter is a case of betting on who will top score across both teams.

So, let’s say it was an England v Australia ODI and you backed Jos Buttler to top score on both markets.

He ends up scoring 85 which is enough to win the (England) Top Batsman market but his effort of 85 is trumped by Australian Steve Smith’s 105; you’d lose on the Top Match batsman market.

A few important rules to be aware of:

  • If the player you backed isn’t in the XI, your bet will be void.
  • If the player is in the XI but doesn’t get to bat, the bet stands and will inevitably be a loser.
  • Different betting sites have different rules in situations where the number of overs in the innings is reduced. This will also vary from one format to the next. For example, in a 50-over game, betting site X may say that at least 20 overs must be played for the bet to stand (it could be less if they’re bowled out or complete the chase before the 20 overs are up) while betting site Y may say that least 25 overs need to be played for the bet to stand. rather than being void.
  • If two players tie on the same number of runs, it’s a dead-heat and you get paid out at half the odds at which you backed your player. So, if Buttler was 6.0 in a dead heat with Joe Root, you’d get paid out at 3.0.

As we’ll explain in a minute, betting on the top batsman market is a very different game depending on which of the three formats the game is being played in. But here are a few things to look out for when picking a player for top batsman across any of the formats.

  • A quality batsman as per their career average in the format and place in the relevant batsman rankings, at least compared to their team-mates.
  • A batsman who is currently in good form.
  • Has a good record against the team they’re up against.
  • Has a good batting average in the country the game is played and better still, at the venue where the game is being played.

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll split extra considerations into Tests and ODI/T20Is.


  • Has the technique, patience and stamina to bat for very long periods, sometimes as much as 5-6 sessions.
  • Batting position doesn’t matter so much in Tests with anyone batting in the Top 6 having a decent shot at it, though players batting 7 or lower may not have enough time at the crease before the team gets bowled out, to win the market.


  • As a general rule, the higher up the order the player bats, the better. In limited-overs cricket, if the top order bats for long periods, batsmen at 5 or lower may not bat at all or may only have a few overs to make an impact. This is especially true in T20 cricket where openers- who bat in the Powerplay overs and are the only ones guaranteed a bat at all- hold all the trump cards. But then again, they’re very likely to be the favourites; for good reason.
  • Has a healthy strike rate.  Again, this is especially relevant in T20 cricket. If Jos Buttler has a career strike rate of 150 in T20s and Joe Root’s is only 100 and they both faced exactly 20 balls, Buttler would be expected (based on career numbers) to have scored 30, Root only 20.

Having said all this, remember one of the golden rules of betting: betting value is king. If a good batsman like Glenn Maxwell is batting down at 7 in an ODI and has a poor record against the team he’s up against but is available at 12.0 when he should probably be 7.0, that still rates as a good bet.

Top Bowler

Here you’re betting on which bowler will take the most wickets for their side.

In terms of market rules, the same first two we mentioned for top batsman are also valid here. So, a player who is in the XI but doesn’t get to bowl will be a bet that stands rather than one which is void.

Whether a dead heat comes into play or not depends on the bookie in question. For example, if two bowlers take the same number of wickets, it will be a dead heat on Betfair. However, at Bet365 they will consider who conceded fewer runs.

If in a T20I game Mitchell Starc takes three wickets for 40 runs and Pat Cummins takes three wickets for 30 runs, then Cummins would be the winner because he conceded less runs for his three wickets. It would only ever be a dead heat at Bet365 if two or more players tied for both wickets AND runs conceded.

Most of what we said for top batsmen is also true here as regards career average, rankings, form, record against the opposition and at that particular venue.

But here are a few considerations that are unique to bowlers: 

  • A bowler’s career strike rate means the number of deliveries they need on average to take a wicket: the lower it is, the better. This is particularly important in limited-overs cricket where bowlers have a limit on the number of deliveries they can bowl.
  • Look at bowlers who are likely to bowl their full quota of overs (10 in ODIs/4 in T20s) rather than players who might only bowl half their quota. After all, the more deliveries a player bowls, the more chances of taking wickets.
  • In limited overs cricket, bowlers who bowl at the beginning and at the death (final overs) tend to take more wickets than those bowling in the middle overs.
  • Conditions on the day are crucial. If the wicket is low, slow and turning the spinners are the ones to go with. If the wicket is fast, bouncy or swinging, then seam and fast bowlers are the smart choices.

First Innings Runs market

As the name suggests, you‘re betting on what score the side batting first will get. In T20 and ODI cricket there won’t be a ‘second innings runs market’, but in Tests there will be.

This market is only ever available after the toss (when we know who is batting first) and sometimes only after a few balls have been played as bookmakers need some time to assess the pitch before pricing up the market. So, it’s very much a live betting market rather than a pre-match one.

If it’s an ODI for example, the market may take two forms with the following runners:

Type 1

  • 220 or less
  • 221-240
  • 241 or more

Type 2

  • Over 223.5
  • Under 223.5

Again, like with the top batsman market, the rules will vary from one bookmaker to the next in the event of weather leading to a reduction in overs.

One bookmaker may say that at least 10 overs need to be played for bets to stand, others may say it’s 12.

Unlike the two previous markets, there aren’t really any golden rules or considerations to playing it: it really is a case of assessing the strengths of the two teams in terms of batting and bowling and how the wicket is behaving.  That said, knowing what the par score batting first at the ground is, will always be a valuable consideration.

If you can’t be bothered to work it out for yourself, the TV commentators will inevitably mention it at some stage.


Since the mid-80s, in just about every professional cricket game a man-of-the-match (MOM) has been nominated at the end of it. It’s an award, which normally includes a cheque or other prize, given to the player who made the outstanding contribution in the match.

The first thing to note is that the MOM comes from the winning side in about 95% of matches. In drawn Test matches it can come from either side though instances of joint man-of-the-match are extremely few and far between.

Who decides on who should be the MOM varies; sometimes it’s the TV commentators, sometimes it’s the broadcaster and other times it’s a sponsor.

In matches where the match winner is no certainty, picking the MOM isn’t an easy task because any one of 22 players can win it.

The task is made slightly easier in very one-sided games in terms of odds because assuming the team that’s hot favourite wins, the MOM is very likely to be from the winning side; so, you’re just focusing on the 11 players from the team expected to win.

But in addition to the fact that hot favourites (in terms of teams) don’t always go on to win, you still have to pick the player from the 11 who shines brightest. Though of course there’s nothing wrong with going with two or three players who you feel have a good chance.

But if the bad news is that picking the MOM is easier said than done, the good news is that the rewards on offer for doing so are pretty good.

It’s quite rare to see any player available at shorter than 7.0 and even then, we’re talking about the very best players like Virat Kohli, Shaheen Shah Afridi or Rashid Khan here.

In most cases, players are generally available at odds between about 10.0 and 20.0. In other words, you only need to pick a few MOMs to stay in profit because the odds available are so big.

Like with the other markets mentioned here, different formats demand different strategies but here are a few pointers to bear in mind: 

  • In T20 cricket the ‘judges’ give great importance to batsmen who score runs quickly in addition to how many runs. A player on the winning side scoring 40 off 25 balls is more likely to be MOM than one scoring 50 off 45.
  • In limited-overs games economy rate is almost as important as taking wickets when it comes to bowlers. That means bowlers with excellent economy rates like Rashid Khan often win the MOM award even if they only take one wicket.
  • All-rounders like Shadab Khan or Mitch Marsh, who bowl a fair few overs and bat in the Top 6 are always popular choices because they can make big contributions with either bat or ball, or both. But other all-rounders who only bowl a few overs and bat at 8 or lower may not have enough chance to make an impact.

Unlike the other markets mentioned here, this is a pre-match betting market, only. In other words, the market is suspended at the start of the match rather than being available in live betting during the game. The reason is simple: it’s extremely difficult to keep pricing up this market as the game progresses so betting sites don’t take the risk.

So, remember; if you’re playing this market, make sure to get your bets on before the toss.

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