Cricket finds it traditional home in England, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, the West Indies and the Indian sub-continent – but with exciting new formats making the action must faster, betting on and interest in the sport has never been greater.
Established in the former British Empire outposts, the sport is spreading through the world, with Afghanistan’s emergence following a war-torn past the most surprising and pleasing story.
Cricket now takes three main forms: the five-day Test match, 50-overs-a-sdie one day games and the crash-bash-smash excitement of Twenty20, a thrilling shorter form that takes merely a matter of hours and keeps fans and viewers on the edge of their seats.
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The ultimate Test over five days
The pick of the Test series is, of course, the Ashes. The England v Australia tussle has a rich history and offers the chance to become a hero or villain in front of millions.
In the 2010-11 series Aussie fast bowler Mitchell Johnson was mercilessly teased by the travelling Barmy Army when his form waned as England retained the urn.
But he came back in fine and ferocious fashion three years later, when his express pace secured his team a 5-0 whitewash and sweet revenge for the Queenslander.
That is the very nature of the Ashes.
Of the other Test teams, West Indies are a shadow of the powerhouse they were during the 19702 and 1980s, when fast, aggressive bowling and some of the finest batsmen ever to grace the game led them to world domination.
South Africa are also in a transitional period, although with swashbuckling batsman AB de Villiers and pace bowler Dale Steyn in their ranks they always pose a threat.
ODIs and T20 taking centre stage
While all the major countries play Test matches, for the past few decades it is the limited overs formats that have really captured the imagination in India and Pakistan.
The 50-overs matches often bring the countries to a standstill as any vantage point and television set is used to keep an eye on the action.
But it is T20 which now rules the roost. The Indian Premier League (IPL) was formed in 2008 to make the most of the interest and now sees millions of pounds change hands to secure the most exciting talents in the game, including West Indians icon Chris Gayle, controversial former England star Kevin Pietersen and all-rounder Ben Stokes.
There are also flourishing T20 tournaments in Australia (Big Bash), South Africa (Ram Slam), West Indies (Caribbean Premier League) and England (T20 Blast).
How to bet on cricket
All the major bookmakers offer odds on a huge range of matches, from Test series to T20 internationals domestic county and club cricket.
And there are a myriad of options of where to place your wager – from the obvious outright winner to which bowler will take the most wickets, top-scoring batsman in either or both innings and even the number of wides and no balls bowled by a particular team.
You can bet on the outcome of each ball, predict how many runs will be scored by the lunch interval, or the method of dismissal for a batsman – be it LBW (leg before wicket), caught, bowled or run-out.
You can add to the list some pretty interesting combination bets.
For example, Ladbrokes are offering 7/1 on Australian captain Steve Smith scoring 600-plus runs in the current Ashes series Down Under and his team winning 5-0.
Paddy Power will give you 5/1 for Joe Root and James Anderson to be England’s top runscorer and bowler of the series respectively.
Cricket is great fun and with all the market available it will keep you interested even throughout a five-day Test match.
FindBets will provide you with all the latest information on the players and pitches that could make all the difference to your betting outcomes.