Back Stokes to Lead England with the Bat in 2nd Test
Eric Roberts 2015-05-27 in SBO Weekly
England secured a wonderful win in the first test against New Zealand, in what must be one of the best test matches in recent memory. The thriller at Lord’s ebbed and flowed, and demonstrated why the five day format can still produce some of the most intense and exciting cricket.
England have found a new hero in all-rounder Ben Stokes, and his brilliant display with bat and ball galvanized the England team to victory. New Zealand played their part in the enthralling match as well though, it must be said, and their insistence on attacking play where other sides might have been defensive, is a credit to their approach to the game. Stokes is worth backing at a big price to continue his good work with the bat for England in Friday’s 2nd test in Leeds, but the value in the betting markets lies with a New Zealand win.
A Thrilling First Test
The first test at Lord’s served up one of the best test matches the ground has ever seen, breaking numerous records as England and New Zealand slugged out a titanic battle. England’s first-innings deficit of 134 is the 10th biggest in test history of a side that went on to win the game. It’s the second highest first-innings deficit England have ever overcome, while New Zealand had never lost a test match before when they’d scored 523 runs or more in their first innings. To cap it all off, the match featured 1,610 runs overall – a test match record at Lord’s.
Those huge figures go some way to representing the achievement of this England side to come back with such style, and the media have been quick to label Ben Stokes as the ‘Next Ian Botham’, but the celebrations should be cautious, with a long hard summer ahead. For England to produce such a miraculous comeback, they had to fall behind in the first place, and if New Zealand had stood up to the England onslaught on the final day a little better it could have been a different story. Beyond the 2nd test, England have the Ashes against Australia to look forward to, and there is a huge amount of work to do to rebuild English cricket, despite the very positive signs that were evident at Lord’s.
England have quickly shortened in price to take the 2nd test after that dramatic victory, and with the feel-good factor back in the camp it’s easy to see why many are rushing to back them. However, they don’t have a great record at Headingley, and New Zealand’s quality with the bat will suit on what has been a high-scoring ground in recent years.
England have only won once in five tests at Headingley, although that was against New Zealand in the 2013 test series, when England won by 247 runs. They’ve lost to South Africa, Australia and Sri Lanka in Leeds in tests over the last few years, and were also held to a draw by South Africa – the only draw at Headingley in fifteen tests.
The weather could play its part in this match, with possible showers forecast, and it’s worth keeping a close eye on the potential conditions before placing a bet.
The value in the match betting has to be with New Zealand. In Guptill, Latham, Williamson and Taylor they have some great talent with the bat, and the opening pair in particular will be keen to make up for their second-innings ducks in the first test. England still have a fragile look about them and it seems that at the moment they are relying on an extraordinary performance from one player to pull them from the mire, be it James Anderson or Ben Stokes, but that can’t happen in every game. For all England’s brilliance in their comeback, it’s worth remembering that New Zealand racked up 523 in their first innings, and realistically should have gone on to win the match.
Top England Batsman
Ben Stokes – 10/111.00+100010.0010.00-0.10 with PaddyPower
One way of backing Ben Stokes to continue his rise to prominence is by backing him to be England’s top batsman, as he was in the first test. He notched a marvelous century in the second innings at Lord’s to complement the 92 he scored in the first, and along with his brilliant three wickets to help dispatch New Zealand, that’s what won him man of the match. Alastair Cook only managed 16 in his first innings, but scored a hugely impressive 162 in his second innings, and he’ll be brimming with confidence after leading England to victory. However, his captaincy can sometimes take away from his performance with the bat, and we’d rather take Stokes as an outsider at a very appealing price. Joe Root, of course, is the other option, and he’s been in superb form in the middle order as another player who is part of the future of English cricket. He’s less than half the price of Stokes though, so we’re going with the value call.
Top England Bowler
Stuart Broad – 7/24.50+3503.503.50-0.29 with Boylesports
In the bowling stakes Stuart Broad has gone under the radar over recent weeks, with Anderson rightly earning the plaudits for overtaking Ian Botham’s test match wicket record, and Stokes taking the praise for his fine double against New Zealand. However, it was Broad who ended up England’s top wicket taker in the first test with three wickets in each innings, and he was also second best wicket taker behind Anderson in the tour of the West Indies. He looks another great value bet to be England’s top bowler in the 2nd test, considering he’s in such good consistent form.
England v New Zealand 2nd Test, Friday 29th May, 11am
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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