the wrong 'un

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Where Did It All Go Right ?

Well hindsight's a wonderful thing, and I wasn't entirely sure I'd be writing this at 84-0, but even so backing Sri Lanka at any point in the last day and a half turned out to be money for jam, old rope, or both. Why ? What created the value and how can we spot it next time ? I'm going to post up three potential reasons for discussion.

1) Overvaluing the team batting last. Could it be that people see teams posting 350+ on a regular basis in the first innings and think "325 to win, yeah that's possible". Chasing 300+ is very difficult in any circumstances, least of all against Murali on a turning wicket. Not just because the wicket is rarely going to be good on the 4th and 5th days, but simply because of the pressure involved. It's also possible that a team with as weak a tail as England currently have is going to find it even more difficult. You don't knock 300+ off for five very often that's for sure.

2) Overvaluing England. Heart ruling the head ? There's an interesting theory I read about football, in that England are always underpriced against teams perceived to be weaker than them (Paraguay and Sweden spring to mind), but overpriced against the real top sides. People expect England to roll over no-name teams, but their natural pessimism kicks in when, say, Argentina or Italy come to town. Is the same happening in cricket ? Are England always going to be over-priced against Sri Lanka, and under-priced against Australia ? What about Pakistan who are up next ?

3) Hedging. As Alex pointed out, there were big swings in the odds during this match. It's a possibility that punters who had backed Sri Lanka earlier in the match were now laying them off to hedge, and so adjusting the odds. I'm not sold on this one. I don't think that the people who bet big are as keen to lay back as the likes of you and me (and especially Titmus who is a notorious wussy hedger). I could be wrong though, it's been known.

I'm saying a lot of 1), a bit of 2), but not much of 3) if any. Any thoughts ? Any more possible reasons ?


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