Dunedin Draw Deserves To Be First Test favourite
Test match draws are not as commonplace as they were before Australia revolutionised five-day cricket with the likes of Adam Gilchrist playing aggressively at all times but there is a decent case for backing the First Test between New Zealand and the West Indies not to produce a winner.
Bookmakers have installed New Zealand as the First Test favourite, which is remarkable when one considers how the Black Caps have fared in not only their recent games versus the West Indies but also against opponents of other nations.
New Zealand has won only one of its last 18 Test matches and that victory came 10 games ago versus Sri Lanka in Colombo. Since that November 2012 match, New Zealand has lost twice in South Africa, drawn three times at home to England, lost twice in England and drawn twice in Bangladesh. Taking 20 wickets without conceding a lot of runs has proven beyond New Zealand’s bowlers time and time again and, as anyone who follow Test cricket knows, it does not matter how many runs one scores if one cannot skittle one’s opponents twice.
Less than 18 months ago New Zealand toured the West Indies and copped hidings in the two Test games. New Zealand lost the First Test at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua by nine wickets after allowing the West Indies to score 522 runs in its first innings. New Zealand slumped to a Second Test five-wicket defeat at Sabina Park in Jamaica because the Black Caps could not prevent the West Indies from reaching its second-innings target of 206 runs.
New Zealand has the advantage of playing at home on pitches that are very different to those that one finds in the West Indies but it is absolutely amazing that some bookmakers have the Black Caps at odds on to win the First Test at Dunedin’s University Oval. Even the best odds about New Zealand of 2.20 with Winner do not make any appeal.
There have been non-draw results in each of the last eight Test matches featuring the West Indies but those games have seen the Caribbean team beat New Zealand twice at home, defeat Bangladesh twice away, overcome Zimbabwe twice at home and lose twice to India away. Basically, all eight matches were likely to produce a non-draw result, with six of them featuring a relatively short-priced favourite.
The West Indies have taken 20 wickets more often than New Zealand in recent Test games but two of their bowlers, Marlon Samuels and Shane Shillingford, have had their actions reported, which means that Windies coach Ottis Gibson may elect not to select them for the match.
Factor in the medium-range Dunedin weather forecast from the Meteorological Service of New Zealand – it is projecting rain at two of the five days, with clouds being in the sky for most of the game – and the tendency of Kiwi pitches to be fairly lifeless and it is surprising that one can back the First Test draw at odds of 3.25 with William Hill.
Each of the last three Test matches between New Zealand and the West Indies in the land of the long white cloud have been draws and 18 of the 39 meetings between the sides, irrespective of venue, have not produced a winner.
Backing New Zealand and the West Indies to draw their Test series 0-0 would have been an interesting option had the available odds not been 21.00 Betfred. New Zealand and the West Indies are scheduled to play three games so odds of 21.00 equates to three draws priced at 2.75 apiece. When one can get odds of 3.25 about the First Test ending all square, one should not get sucked into odds of 21.00 about a 0-0 Test series. In truth, the 0-0 Test series odds are correct but the First Test draw is a much better value investment.