The Ashes: What We Can Learn for In-Play Betting

Mitchell Johnson of Australia (Getty)

The second Ashes test at Lord's is showing us that a five-day test is a long match, and that the fortunes of teams can change on a single decision. For this reason, it's worth reviewing the things you should do in order to protect your deposit and alter your betting as a cricket match goes on - and also, why you might want to do this.

Why Should You Pay Attention To Changes?

The conditions at Lord's for the second Ashes 2015 test illustrate perfectly the conundrum for a cricket supporter: the pitch, and the team's performance, changes from day to day. On the first day, we saw Australia pile on the runs, as England struggled to take wickets. People were talking about a batsman-friendly wicket.

What this means is a wicket that doesn't have too much pitch or variation when the ball is delivered, thus allowing the batsman the chance to anticipate what might happen before he plays the ball. This was what Australia found in the first innings, with Steve Smith in particular contributing enormously as the visitors, at a ground that they have traditionally enjoyed playing at, racked up 566 runs in a great innings.

When Australia's captain Michael Clarke declared, the feeling was that England would find similar benevolence from the pitch. However, before the team had achieved 40 runs, it was four wickets down, thanks to a powerful display of pace bowling from Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Johnson.

How much of England's top-order collapse was down to the home team being inferior, and how much was down to Australia? Were there other factors in play? Australia have bowled incredibly well - that's for certain. Line and length have been immaculate, England's weaknesses seem to have been analysed thoroughly prior to the game, and batsmen out of form such as Gary Ballance have been given no chance to settle and build an innings.

This is in sharp contrast to Australia's innings, when the top order were given the freedom of Lord's - it wasn't so much because of forgiving English fielding, as because the pitch felt true, there was little swing to be found, and Australian experience told.

This is why in-play betting is so valuable in test cricket. You get a match that moves and changes organically, with the conditions suiting teams more, or less, as the days roll on. You need to watch the players, how they are reacting, and how the ball is behaving, before making a decision on where your deposit goes. If you're not happy with a bet and you want to change, if you're with a bookmaker that allows it, don't be afraid to cash out.

What Can be Expected in the Latter Part of a Test Match?

We will see how the match develops - but as a general learning point, don't assume that a good batsman;s wicket on day one will still be one on day two. Equally, don't assume that both teams, no matter how evenly-matched, will be able to take equal advantage of what is a changing surface, with a changing (decaying) leather ball. The new ball can be bowled hard and aggressively to batsmen, but the old ball swings, and sometimes reverse-swings. On a blemished wicket, that can catch a few batsmen out, as England have found.