When I talk to people about cricket, who maybe haven't seen a full game, or just haven't had a route into the sport through their family or a local club of some description, they often tell me a similar thing: "I've never really understood cricket," or "I've never seen the point in it, to be honest." This article is not here to explain the rules; there's another article that does that. However, it will give you some good reasons to watch and enjoy the game, and to consider putting your first betting deposit on a cricket match.
1. Big Personalities
Each cricketing nation has one or two standout players who rule the roost thanks to their personality, and their ability to be bigger than the game around them. For India, it used to be Sachin Tendulkar who would keep fans glued to their screens all year-round, but now the proud cricketing country has MS Dhoni's batting heroics. Not for nothing is Dhoni the highest-paid cricketer in the world; people go to see him alone at times.
New Zealand's Brendon McCullum is also the kind of player who seems like the captain we'd all like to have: authoritative, aggressive and encouraging, sometimes all at once. He also leads by example, swatting deliveries for six frequently during one-day internationals and Twenty20 games.
England, in the absence of Kevin Pietersen (who doesn't play for his adopted country any more), looks to Jimmy Anderson for its driving inspiration, the fast bowler staring into the faces of his opponents as he sends down 90mph deliveries that swing more than a dodgy election. However, young all-rounder Ben Stokes might take the Pietersen mantle in the future; fans love to watch his application when bowling, as well as his desire to find the boundary with the bat.
2. Short Forms of the Game Have Something for Everyone
There are two shortened forms of cricket, one-day matches and Twenty20, or T20, which began in 2003 in England, is a kind of high-octane, always-on challenge for cricket teams. They have 20 overs to do what, in a test match, they have several days to do. Although soccer and basketball fans will still see a T20 game as being longer than they are used to (typically three hours), tennis and NFL-watchers will lap it up.
However, the crowd T20 ought to suit the most is the baseball crowd. Just like baseball hitters can smash a home-run in baseball, T20 cricketers look to hit the ball over the boundary, for six runs, as the optimum goal. The game is also lightning fast, with constant pressure on players to either score runs, or to take wickets. If your complaint about cricket was that it was too slow, T20 should cure any doubts you have.
3. Anyone Can Beat Anyone Else
Obviously, you're still going to get some big scorelines for traditional cricketing superpowers in a World Cup against lesser opposition, but there's been a significant levelling-out of standards at the top of the world cricket game in recent years. Whereas there was a time when Bangladesh beating Pakistan in a one-day series might have been a shock, now no-one is doubting the Tigers, especially after further series wins over India and South Africa.
Not only has this meant cricket, which in any case was a national obsession in Bangladesh, is now watched and talked-about 24/7, but it's also brought new fans from other nations to cricket, who might previously have viewed it as a boring game because "the same teams always win". All sports need unpredictability in order to flourish, and cricket has that in spades.
4. There are So Many Smart Ways to Bet
Cricket is a game dominated by statistics. You can, like with a really good movie, either let a match flow in front of you, or crunch the numbers to find out how the game is progressing, and which team is likely to win. There are stats for run-rate, strike-rate, balls conceded by a bowler in an over, runs per wicket, and much, much more. You can bet on pretty much any of this, and that's what makes the sport so good for a bettor.
If you want a better idea of some of the less conventional lines and odds available when betting on cricket, head over to our article about how you can spread your deposit when watching a match. You'll be happy you did.