England will be right as rain
The weather looks sure to play a part in the outcome of the second Test at Headingley, which is scheduled to start this morning, and the draw is already as short as 6/4 on Betdaq before a ball has even been bowled.
The batsmen certainly took control of the opening Test of the series at Lord’s last weekend with five centurions. A similar display, combined with plenty of rain about, makes another stalemate look the obvious result.
However, punters should be wary of the fact that dating back to the infamous 1981 Test match, there have only been two draws in the last 24 contests at Headingley – and none in the last nine.
England, who look sure to welcome back Andrew Flintoff, left, must be kicking themselves for not wrapping up victory at Lord’s, having forced South Africa to follow on. The hosts look decent value at around 4.0 on Betdaq to make swift amends following such a decent display last time.
Michael Vaughan’s side have a solid recent record at Headingley, beating West Indies last spring by an innings and 283 runs.
More interestingly, England are W10-D1-L2 at home in the second Tests of a series (W5-D0-L2 having drawn the first match) in the last six years.
South Africa are W5- D2-L5 away in the same circumstances. When considering that since 2004, England are W11-D3-L0 at home, having made 400 or more in the first innings of their previous Test (in the same series), a home win becomes even more appealing.
Of those three draws, one is the controversial forfeited match at The Oval from two summers ago and another Australia’s survival at Trent Bridge with one wicket to spare in the 2005 Ashes.
Over that same period, England are W8-D1-L2 at home in the second of back-to-back Tests (7-1-2 against non-minnows), while South Africa are W4-D2-L6 on their travels (3-2-6).
So, it appears that England look the value trade and the outcome of the toss later this morning may well be crucial. In the last 15 years, teams winning the toss at Headingley Test matches are W9-D2-L2 and have won the last five in a row.
So, if Vaughan, left, calls right, it seems sensible to side with his team as I’m sure they’ll bat. Yes, in the last 30 years, teams winning the toss and batting first have won only seven of 18 matches (W7-D3-L8).
However, that does include seven of the last 12 and four in a row.
Over the same period, teams electing to take the field first are W5-D2-L2, but that has happened only once in the last 10 years (eight Tests). Those spread betters among you should look carefully at Sporting Index’s first innings runs quotes for both sides as there may be some decent buying opportunities if batting conditions prevail.
The last 16 Tests in Leeds have seen nine first innings totals (as in first overall – not each side’s) of 400 or more. The average total in the last six matches there for the team batting first is 485.
In those last six Tests there, the average combined first innings totals of the two teams is 835, with the lowest being the 649 runs put on by South Africa and England in 2003 when both sides passed 300 in their first innings.