Betting 360 Podcast - Betting From All AnglesDave chats with Tony “The Badger” Hargraves about the long awaited Ashes series. Tony is a Betfair Trader with a ton of experience assessing the markets and finding a value edge.

In this episode, Tony shares not only his different approaches to Twenty20 and One Day Internationals, but he also gives out his predictions for The Ashes. As you could imagine, Tony’s got a different approach than most.

Punting Insights You’ll Find

  • The best trading and betting opportunities across the 3 forms of the game.
  • The one key advantage that can change the game for any punter.
  • What to look for in ODI’s to get a leg up on the competition.
  • The major impact that the grounds and weather will have on your games.
  • How to evaluate historical statistics to achieve future success.

Today’s Guest:

Tony’s Closing Tip:

“If the market sees there’s no wickets being taken, they tend to back the draw in rather than the team batting first.”

Episode 10 : Cricket Betting With Tony Hargraves

Welcome to Betting 360, your number one source for horse racing and sports betting insights. Coming around the bend is your host David Duffield, with another expert view to give you the winning edge.

David:  My special guest on today’s show is Tony Hargraves, better known as The Badger. Now he has plenty of experience as a Betfair trader, using a lot of different strategies there, a lot of them are involved in play. But also a lot of the work that he does is pregame, and so he uses some stats and other analysis pregame.
But also, just a lot of experience in assessing games and assessing the market, and trying to find a value edge there, and he often trades out of that once a profit has been found. So cricket is his true passion, he covers a few different sports including soccer, but cricket is his one true love, and he’s very excited about the upcoming Ashes series. So let’s have a chat with Tony now.

David: Welcome to the show Tony.

Tony: Thanks Dave, how are you going?

David: Yeah very well thanks. I suppose I should call you by your full name and that’s The Badger.

Tony: (laughs)

David:  So favourite time of year for you with the Ashes heating up, or just about to start. And cricket’s one of your true loves, so what do you love about cricket betting?

Tony: Well cricket has been my passion all of my life Dave. I’ve actually played it 32 of my 47 years, and I only sort of stoped when I moved to Scotland in 2008, because they don’t really play it there, there’s no teams and I was fairly remote. But now I’m back in London, I’ve looked at joining up with my old team again, and getting into it.
But Ashes fever’s really hit over here now, and they’re right into it. I think they’re going a bit overboard with what they think the result is, but I’m sure we’ll get into that in our chat. But it’s just been a passion all my life, my grandfather was right into it, my father was right into it, and I’ve been right into it, so it really is something that I’m very keen on.

David: And there’s obviously three distinct formats of the game, so we’ll start with Twenty20. What’s your approach to that? I know for a long time you’ve been a sceptic of the IPL, and been proven correct there, that maybe not all is above board. But just in general terms if you’re assessing a Twenty20 match, what are you looking for?

Tony: The IPL Dave is pretty well a marketing exercise for the franchises that own it. And because it’s not a real tournament, it’s not registered with the ICC. They can put it under the same sort of scheme as world championship wrestling you know, or the WWF whatever it’s called, you can choreograph things to suit everyone. So one day you’ll have Internationals sort of drop off of people are against it, but now it’s going to overtake, one day internationals I think they’ll start to drop off, and you’ll pretty well have Twenty20 games and Test matches.

But you know I’ve got right into it, I really only follow the international games, they’ve got tournaments you know like Big Bash and that’s okay. They’ve got domestic cricket over here in England which nobody sort of watches, the betting on it’s pretty terrible, so I really only follow the international games and I love the big international tournaments.

David: And so if you’re doing the form for a Twenty20 game, what are you looking at?

Tony: Oh if I’m doing the form for a Twenty20 game, well all you can really do there Dave is rate the batting, and then make a judgement on it. Because you know, it’s just the poor bowlers they just cop a hammering. So I tend to look at the first six or seven in the side, and how I rate them I look at, if they’re generally all-rounders in a Test team you know, or the West Indies at the moment, they’ve got a phenomenal Twenty20 side, probably the best in the world at it. Because they bat right down to number eight, and then you look at other teams.

England they try to sort of put in a few at the top, and they try to go with some bowlers as well, to try and restrict the runs. I don’t think you can restrict runs in Twenty20, you’ve just basically got to pick eleven batsmen, hope five of them can bowl, and go from there. But it is an advantage in batting second, you can time the run chase, it’s quite rare to be hit out of the game in the first innings, it does happen, but you know it’s not often.
I think once recently we saw the West Indies knock up you know 260 or something, and it was all over by half time. You also get the Duckworth-Lewis advantage, and you can adjust the batting order if required. You’ve seen teams batting second quite often, they’ll adjust the side they’re going to put in. So basically pregame, I just look at the batting, I rate the batting and then I make judgement.

David: So for Twenty20 being such an abbreviated format of the game, I know it can throw up some underdog results or unexpected results. One day internationals, obviously 50 overs a side, can be a little more predictable, but do you change the way you assess a game in a one day international game compared to a Twenty20?
Tony: Yeah. Well for betting on the Twenty20, that’s how I sort of analyse a Twenty20 for betting on it I love to back the team batting first. As they usually get a good start due to the power play, the fields in, and the market can overreact.

You know, you start going for eight or nine over in the first three or four, and the market really starts to hammer down. So generally I like to back the team batting first. For ODI’s the market is less volatile, you can take larger positions, as players can take a bit more time to settle, they know they’ve got 50 overs to bat. You can use more analysis as well on ground size, and historical scores. So you can generally look at, say in England, you can look at the grounds and you know what a par score is on that ground, and they’re generally pretty good.
Whereas Twenty20, even the scores are volatile, you can get a ground that averages 160, but that day you could end up with a score of 120, or 220, it’s that volatile. But ODI’s, you can look for average score trends, you can look for trends on teams batting second, like we just saw in the Champion’s Trophy, I think eight out of nine teams batting second won their matches there, so we were betting on that. I think we got 11 out of 12 right in our things there or something.

Because we’re just going off trends you know, eight out of nine teams, and Headingly we saw quite low scores compared to other grounds. So you could tend to lay the team batting first thinking they’re going to get a low score, the market will react to that. And as for sort of Test matches with them, they’re even less volatile. You can bet session to session. If you see a side that’s taking control of a session, you can just about assure they’ll hold that advantage until the next break of play. Because if a team really gets on top, the other team won’t try and combat it, they’ll try and get to the break, reassess, and have a crack at the next session. And as for analysis on them, you’d look at head to head, historical results on the Test ground being used, and recent series between the sides.

David: So for the one day international’s do you factor in the bowling a bit more? You said it’s a difficult one to assess pregame in Twenty20, what about for the ODI’s?

Tony: Yeah, they’re much more evenly balanced sides…you’ll probably look at sides that are better bowling sides, you’d think will go alright in the one day game. You see England, they’re a bowling side, and they made it to the final of the Champions Trophy. But they’re not a batting side really, one day cricket they seem to struggle, and always have, and of course you know they end up getting beaten. So I rate the batting higher than I do the bowling, so if you’ve got a good batting side against a good bowling side in a one day, I will always take the batting side.

David: Alright so moving onto Tests. And I know once again cricket is your true love and Tests may well be your true love within that. What’s your approach, pregame, in assessing whether there’s an edge in the market?

Tony: Yeah well like I say, you basically just look at head to head. Historical results, you know on the Test ground being used, and recent things between the sides. So you know the first Test is being played now at Trent Bridge, so you look at recent history there, Ashes Tests only on that ground. Of the 20 England have only won four of them, Australia’s won seven, and surprisingly on this ground there’s been nine draws. You even look at most Ashes runs on this ground, 526 by Don Bradman in four Tests, between ‘30 and 1948. But he only averaged 75, so you think when his average overall was 99, even he struggled to score on this ground. So you could be looking to think well, we might not be looking at a high scoring game, and then that surprises me that there’s so many draws. So it must just rain a lot in Nottingham. The most Ashes wickets is obviously Shane Warne, 29 in his four Tests.

And this is a good ground this one, this is the ground where Ponting was run out on 48 by Gary Pratt and Ponting teed off at Duncan Fletcher, and he lost 75% of his match fee. England got home by three wickets in that one, this was you know 2005, and they drew, they ended up at The Oval and won the Ashes, so that was that. So yeah I’m expecting a low scoring match, and I don’t think it’ll be a draw, but history says England’s only won four of them, so

I’m probably going to be on a lay then.

David: So how much of the analysis that you do depends on stats like that, and obviously some of them are going back a few years, versus all the watching of the games that you do, and I suppose gut feel or gut instinct?

Tony: Yeah well I see the point that you’re getting to and you’re right. For Test matches Dave I use a lot of stats, and then I just back it up a little bit by what I see. And then at the other end of the scale Twenty20, I don’t really go on history at all, only because it’s fairly recent. But it’s so volatile, just because the last ten matches between sides have ended in a certain way, there’s no guarantee this one’s going to. You really have to trade Twenty20 as you’re watching it.

Whereas for Test matches you can take a position before a game, and if you’ve done your analysis you can go out for the day, and you’ve got five days to you know, change your position or jump ship. But for Tests I like to really rely heavily on the stats, and you know looking at this in Ashes Testing, England have only won 4 of them here, so I think they’ll struggle.

David: So I know in soccer a lot of people want to lay the draw, in cricket is there an approach that you like to start with regardless of the teams, and see if it’s a good way of going? Like is there a standard way of assessing a Test, or is it really just on a case by case basis?

Tony: No, I do some fairly standard things. You know I have said in the past that I like to lay the team batting first in a Test match. I’m not sure that that’s sort of still the case here, there’s definitely an argument for it. Obviously two things are going to happen, possibly three. If the batting side loses an early wicket, their price is going to drift, the draw price drifts a bit, and the bowling side will firm. But if the batting side starts well, they don’t tend to firm a lot because if the market just sees, oh there’s no wickets been taken, they tend to really back the draw in, rather than back the team batting first in.

So, if you back the team batting first, there’s really no advantage, so I tended to lay them because if they make a good start it’s the draw price that comes in not them. And of course if you’ve laid them and they do lose early wickets, then you are on the right side of it. But you know if it’s a good wicket then I like to lay the fielding side at the start of the Test, because if they don’t get a wicket in the first hour Dave the price will double by lunch, if they haven’t got one. So they’ll go from you know three out to six or seven in the first hour without a wicket.

David: So when you’re trying to assess the pitches and see if there are going to be a lot of runs or whether it might deteriorate later, obviously when the games started you can make your own judgements, but before the game who do you believe, is it the captain, the curator, commentators, who do you listen to?

Tony: Well it depends on a couple of factors. You can look at history, you know obviously as I say you can go right back through history and get an average score of what’s there. But what’s also really important in a Test match is what the conditions are like leadng up to the match. Say the week before, and most particularly on the morning of the match. Because you can get vastly different outcomes just based on the weather. If England, say we’re in England, which we are you know for the Ashes at the minute. You’ve had a little bit of rain coming up to it, and on the morning of the match you’ve got overcast conditions, a bit of moisture in the air, and it’s warm, then you really don’t want to be laying England, because with the duke ball it’ll be swinging hoops.

But if you’ve had weather like we’ve got now where it’s 27, 28 degrees the week leading up to a Test, there’s no rain about, and it’s hot on the day, clear skies, England possibly won’t even swing the ball that much, even though it is a duke, and you’d want to be right against them. So you’ve really got to look at the weather, it’s a major factor with this England side.

David: So speaking of this England side, let’s have a chat about the Ashes, and we are recording this before the first Test. But I think by the time it’s published we’ll at least be day one or possibly day two. So there’s been a lot of negativity in the lead up, as you know the worst Australian team to leave our shores in twenty odd years. But with Darren Lehmann coming on board, and some reasonable form before the first Test, I think you’re fairly bullish on Australia’s chances?

Tony: I was very very pleased when they got rid of the coach, and put Darren Lehmann in. Mickey Arthur just wasn’t the right guy for the job. He thinks he did a brilliant job but you know, the team had no faith in him, there was infighting, you know all the problems are well documented. Lehmann will really galvanise them, he knows the English conditions so well, he played for Yorkshire over here, I think he’s still their leading run scorer, he was so good.

Well everyone over here is seriously tipping ten-nil as this is back to back Ashes series, we go from here straight back to Australia for another five. I think they need a brain scan, you know people think that I’ve had too much sun, but I’m going to tell anyone that’ll listen, the top scorer for Australia in this series will be Philip Hughes. He’s born to play on these wickets, forget the Indian wickets and his spin bowling, in my opinion he’s as good as Michael Slater on these English decks, and he will do well. Just this week he got runs, so did Clarke, Watson, Rogers, they’re all in good form.

And you know for England, Swan is not 100%, Broads unfit, Bresnan’s no threat, and only Anderson and Finn they’re the ones that worry me. If I asked any of your listeners Dave, who the top rated bowler in this series is, most of them would say Jimmy Anderson, they’re actually wrong it’s Peter Siddle. He’s rated number five in the world, and he’s higher rated than Swan and Anderson, and I think he’ll go very well over here as well. So any speculation that he’ll be left out is just ridiculous. These conditions really suit the Australian bowlers, the only concern I have is our spin option, basically we don’t really have any. So that’s where I think if we’re going to loose, where we’re going to go down that route. So do you want some predictions for the series, or (chuckles) what would you like?

David: I think so. I mean obviously with the first Tests like I said we’re behind the eight ball, just recording a couple of days early. So I think some overall series predictions and you know, people want to back a winner, so basically the market has us as huge underdogs, so you think less of..that’s not quite right. So I suppose how people can take advantage of it, even if we don’t end up you know winning the series, how people can back a few winners, so yeah fire away.

Tony: Yeah well because all the English commentators are so bullish people are believing them, and they’re backing England into sort of quite silly prices. But if we just look at the five Test matches that are on now, forget the second lot in Australia, that’s completely irrelevant, look at these five Tests. I’m predicting a 3-1 result, and I think it’ll be 3-1 to the side that wins the first Test, I see one draw in the series. So if you lay the draw in every Test, you’re very likely to win 80% of them, so you’re going to loose one, possibly the first one if you look at the stats because there’s been nine out of twenty Ashes matches that have been drawn. So on this ground…

David: But that’s weather permitting as well, like it’s hard for you to predict the weather a few weeks or a couple of months out.

Tony: Yeah. Well if you’re looking you know at the first Test that the weathers not really going to be a factor.  So yeah, you know I think England’s in a strong position having won seven of the last ten on this ground, but they’ve only won four of twenty against Australia on the ground. So a bit of conflicting things there.

I think England are too short just based on sentimental value Dave, you know like, the Black Caviar sort of thing in Frankel, they always start too short don’t they? So yeah I think that England are a bit short, I’m going to take them on for the series, I’m going to back Australia to win 3-1. People think I’m mad, it could possibly end up 2-2, and they’ll be one draw. So you know looking at the Australian side, the openers are sorted, we’ve got Watson, and Rogers, you’ve got Hughes, Cowan, and Warner, Khawaja, and Steve Smith, all fighting for the two or three remaining spots there.

And that’s going to depend on whether Australia play four bowls or five. You look at Alistair Cook, Jonathon Trott, Pietersen, Bell, they look quite strong on paper up the top four. And the difference between the sides is pretty stark, when you compare the stats on the batting positions over the last forty months. So you look at since March 2010, England have a record of 22 and 9, compared to Australia’s 16 and 13, so that’s quite stark. And they’ve scored 40 runs per wicket in England, compared to Australia’s 34. The England openers have averaged 45, and our openers have only averaged 36. But you look at the top four Dave, we’re in a bit of trouble, because England at number three are averaging 53 runs, and at number three Australia’s averaging at 27. And at number four England are averaging 51, and Australia’s averaging 29, that’s our problem.

But at number five, England average 35, we average 64, that’s mainly due to Michael Clarke batting there, which you know he does phenomenally well at number five. Number six we’re pretty even, 33 with England, we average 38. And number seven England average 44, and Australia average 34, and numbers eight to eleven it’s equal mate, so it’s 18 apiece. But you know there’s some pretty scary numbers if you just look at the England number three and four, since that 2010’s Trotts averaging 54, Pietersen 55, Bell 59, and then you look at us. Ricky Ponting 34, well he’s gone, Clarke’s averaging 22 when he bats up there, and Watson 28. So I think you know, the top four’s the key. If Watson and Rogers do their job, we’re a massive chance lower order and with our bowling, but if they can get through our top order we’re going to struggle.

David: Good stuff. Alright we’ll leave it there for now Tony, thanks for joining us today. There’s plenty of excitement with the Ashes, we’ve got rare back to back series coming up, but for the overseas series it’s some late nights here in Oz. You’re alright over there, daylight hours for you, but yeah for us it’s plenty of late nights coming up.

Tony: Yeah I remember the old days in Australia, I would always watch the first session then go to bed at lunch, because I couldn’t stay awake for forty minutes until they came back on. But no it’s good to be here, love being here for the Ashes. So yeah look Dave if you want to chat to me before each Test, happy to do that. You’ve got back to back Tests this year so you’ll have to catch me straight after the first one. But I’m happy to talk to you anytime mate.

David: Good stuff. Alright thanks for joining us and all the best, and all the best to the Aussie’s as well.

Tony: Thanks Dave.

Thanks for tuning in to Betting 360.  Get more in depth analysis, tips and that betting edge by heading over to ChampionPicks.com.au where you’ll find a full transcript of this episode.  If you liked the show, share us with a fellow punter or drop by iTunes to leave us your thoughts.  Betting 360, punting from all angles.

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