Cricket – Expert guide on how to play the match-winner market

James Pacheco
Author, Betting enthusiast

November 16, 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.

Like any other sport you’re looking to bet on, using online betting sites, cricket has its unique set of factors and considerations that the savvy punter should take into account in order to make the best betting decisions and have the best chance of returning a profit in the long run.

Looking solely at the match-winner market on this occasion, here’s what you need to be considering ahead of any match.

Cricket Player

World rankings

This obviously only applies to international cricket rather than domestic/franchise cricket as the latter are made up of annual tournaments with group tables rather than ongoing rankings.

Like in any other sport, teams can blow hot and old and go through both periods where they’re in great form, as well as periods where they go on a losing streak.

But the world rankings are useful because they reflect how consistent a team is on an ongoing basis based on results from the last 6-12 months.

The best-placed teams in the rankings tend to win more than they lose so a high ranking suggests they’re a reliable outfit; teams ranked lower have inevitably not performed well over the past few months so obviously have their problems.

The venue

Home advantage (irrespective of the actual ground where the match is played) tends to make more of a difference in Test cricket than ODIs or T20Is.

A good example of that is Sri Lanka or Bangladesh who are always very tough to beat at home in Tests and somewhat ordinary every time they play overseas. In that respect, they often provide good betting value when at home against the strongest teams because the bookies often don’t factor in (enough) their strong home record.

But the actual venue/ground within the country can make even more of a difference. For example, in their first 26 Test matches played at Centurion, South Africa won 21 of them, which is phenomenal. So, they’d be a safe bet every time they played there.

In the IPL, Chennai Super Kings have an excellent home record, too. They may lose on the road quite often, but their home ground is a fortress, and they often find ways to win, even when in trouble in the early stages of the match. Therein lies a good live betting opportunity, by the way.

So, check out a team’s winning percentage at a particular ground as history tends to repeat itself.

Best overall

Bet365 Sport logo

Bet365 Sport

  • 5.00
    full-star full-star full-star full-star full-star
Read Review

Best mobile app

BetVictor Sport UK logo

BetVictor Sport UK

  • 4.57
    full-star full-star full-star full-star half-star
Read Review

Best customer service

Spreadex Sport UK logo

Spreadex Sport UK

  • 4.14
    full-star full-star full-star full-star star-no-bg
Read Review

Best live betting markets

Ladbrokes Sport UK logo

Ladbrokes Sport UK

  • 4.50
    full-star full-star full-star full-star half-star
Read Review

Great for virtual sports

Betfred Sport UK logo

Betfred Sport UK

  • 4.93
    full-star full-star full-star full-star half-star
Read Review

Great for Horse racing

Virgin Bet Sport UK logo

Virgin Bet Sport UK

  • 4.00
    full-star full-star full-star full-star star-no-bg
Read Review

Top Football Betting Site

Unibet Sport UK logo

Unibet Sport UK

  • 4.57
    full-star full-star full-star full-star half-star
Read Review

The wicket

The wickets at most grounds tend to behave the same way over the years.

For example, the wicket at Bangalore in India tends to be extremely good for batting with high scores expected, irrespective of the format. Grounds like Lords in England tend to be trickier with movement off the seam and swing making life hard for batsmen, especially in Tests.

But no two wickets are the same, even at the same ground.  A wicket at Cape Town in December may play very differently to how it does in March, based on weather conditions or just how much grass the groundsman has left on it.

Of course, we as punters can’t often physically be at the wicket to inspect it ourselves!

So, listen to what the captains, commentators and pundits say about it.

If it’s a lovely wicket, the team with the stronger batting line-up may be in pole position before a ball is bowled.

But if it’s a tough, two-paced wicket, the better bowling team may be holding the trump cards. That’s especially the case if the wicket is likely to spin and they have the superior spin bowlers.

Team strengths and weaknesses

This one is a little harder to get your head around and perhaps isn’t as easy to work out through the simple study of statistics. It takes time to get to know a team’s players on an individual basis and where their strengths and weaknesses lie as a unit.

The very best teams are the most balanced ones: they have a good combination of reliable batters, explosive batters, one or two strong all-rounders and a nice mix of pace bowlers and spinners, with ideally some being right-arm bowlers, while others are left-arm bowlers.

Getting to know a team’s strengths and weaknesses is a huge help when betting ahead of a particular match.

Let’s take the example of Bangladesh again.

Say they’re touring England and are playing an ODI at Headingley with a fast wicket where pace and swing bowlers thrive. They’re available at odds of 4.0. Given their batsmen often struggle against quick bowling and swinging conditions and that they don’t have many great fast bowlers themselves, they’re not a good bet because the conditions on the day don’t suit them.

However, let’s say that three days later they’re the same odds (4.0) to beat England at Old Trafford. The wicket there is known for taking spin and not only do Bangladesh have good players of spin among their batsmen, but they have great spinners themselves. In conclusion: the odds of 4.0 on the Tigers is a bad bet for the first match but a good one for the second.

Now let’s take England’s T20I side.

They have one of the most brutal batting line-ups in the world and the rule for them is: the better the wicket, the better their chances.

So, an excellent batting wicket where 180 is a par score is right up their street but a low-scoring game where 140 is a good score won’t suit them as they’re not in their element on tricky, sticky batting wickets.


Cricket is probably the only team sport in the world where the weather makes such a huge difference on proceedings.

In Test cricket, rain on the horizon increases the chances of a draw because time lost to rain means less time for one team to take 20 wickets and win the game. That’s not to say it will be a draw and can provide a good opportunity to bet on one of the two teams at good odds if you think they still have enough time to go on and win the game.

In limited-overs cricket- ODIs and T20/T20Is – rain tends to favour the side batting second. In games where Duckworth Lewis-Stern comes into play, the chasing side often has an advantage because they’re given a smaller target to chase, albeit with less overs to do so, but with 10 wickets in hand.

That means they can take more risks and be more aggressive because they can afford to lose more wickets.

A match in which dew comes into play also ‘dampens’ the chances of the team batting first because dew attends to appear later on in the game in the evening. So, when they bowl second, they have to deal with a wet ball, which is harder to grip.

Again, get some clues from the commentators as to how the weather will affect the chances of both teams.

The toss

The toss is arguably the most important moment of the whole of the cricket match.

The captain winning it gets to decide whether to bat or bowl first and this can have a huge bearing on the end result.

Let’s take T20Is for example. And let’s say India are playing Sri Lanka.

Long-term stats will tell you whether a particular ground is better suited to batting first or bowling first.

For example, the grounds in the UAE are all generally better suited to chasing because there’s dew (see above), the wicket often gets better, and short boundaries mean batsmen can score quickly if necessary, when they have a target in sight.

If a ground has a 70/30 split in terms of wins based on batting or second, that’s a huge clue as to who is likely to win the match after the toss.

So, winning the toss and batting second is an obvious early advantage because of the ground itself in this case.

Alternatively, some teams are just better at chasing irrespective of the ground.

India are better chasers in white-ball cricket because they’re better suited to knowing what their target is and adjusting as the game progresses. Batting first, they’ve been known to lose their way in terms of either going too hard…. or too slow.

So, if Sri Lanka won the toss at a ground better for chasing against a side who prefers to chase themselves, they’d be a good bet and still as considerable outsiders, despite having the big advantage of bowling first.

Discover more about Cricket Betting Sites in the UK.

  • Bet £10 get £40
    In Free bets

    • £ MIN. deposit : £10
    • check The premier spread betting site in the UK
    • check High quality streams for racing, tennis, snooker, and more
  • Sign Up
    • £ MIN. deposit : £10
    • check The premier spread betting site in the UK
    • check High quality streams for racing, tennis, snooker, and more

    • £ MIN. deposit : £5
    • check One of the most reliable and proven UK sportsbooks
    • check Get in-play free bets on top football markets
  • Sign Up
    • £ MIN. deposit : £5
    • check One of the most reliable and proven UK sportsbooks
    • check Get in-play free bets on top football markets

About the author

Betting Guides

Horse racing
Handicap Betting GuideIan Brown
William Hill Plus Card
William Hill Plus Card Joseph Haliday
Man using online sports betting services on phone and laptop
Sports Arbitrage Betting Punter's Pub Team
football live score results
Ante Post Betting Punter's Pub Team