In international cricket, bi-lateral series are very much the meat and drink, something which makes the sport a little different to many others where leagues and cups are the standard fare. For the uninitiated, by a bi-lateral series, we mean a group of games played between two separate nations.
Such contests can occur in any of the three formats available in the modern game. However, the most famous example of a bi-lateral cricket series is The Ashes. Whilst the term is sometimes used to refer to any England versus Australia clash, especially in cricket, technically The Ashes is the Test series between these two historic rivals.
In order to make a winner more likely, series are usually played over an odd number of games, most commonly three or five. The Ashes is always a five-match contest but other series may be over as many as seven matches, whilst series of two or four clashes are not unheard of. Over the course of such contests there are so many options available to fans of betting on cricket. One of the most popular is the series correct score market.
How does Series Correct Score betting work?
You do not need a vast knowledge of cricket, nor betting, to understand this bet, nor even to hazard a guess at what the market is if you do not know. It is, simply, a bet on what the score will be at the end of the series. If, for example, we take The Ashes themselves and imagine that England win the first two games, Australia the next two, and the final Test is a draw, the series score would be 2-2.
As said, series such as The Ashes take place in One Day Internationals (ODIs) and T20 too. They also take place between all the various nations, chiefly the major Test-playing ones. Whenever such a series is scheduled, you will find the top cricket betting sites offering correct score betting.
Odds in this market are generally relatively long due to the many factors that can come into play, especially in longer series. A two-match Test series between England and Ireland in a rare summer where good weather is forecast might have very short odds on a 2-0 for England. The prices on all other results would be much longer, with 1-0 (and one game drawn) likely to be the second favourite.
However, in a relatively open five-game series where there is a good chance that weather will interrupt a number of games, the bookies may have a tough task deciding what score deserves the shortest odds. Equally, were two strong sides to contest a seven-match T20 series, the prices for the various scores would also be quite lengthy. With seven games a whole range of scores are highly plausible, whilst with this short format the results are harder to predict due to the influence one or two great individual performances can have on the results.
An example of the correct score odds for the 2023 Ashes series can be seen below. Note this series is due to be played in England with the hosts priced as the warm favourites at odds of 10/11, with the Aussies at 6/4 and the draw at 6/1.
Example Correct Score Odds, 2023 Ashes
|England Win||Draw||Australia Win|
|1-0 – 100/1||0-0 – 100/1||1-0 – 100/1|
|2-0 – 80/1||1-1 – 55/1||2-0 – 90/1|
|3-0 – 25/1||2-2 – 5/1||3-0 – 60/1|
|4-0 – 16/1||4-0 – 45/1|
|5-0 – 22/1||5-0 – 90/1|
|2-1 – 12/1||2-1 – 16/1|
|3-1 – 11/2||3-1 – 10/1|
|4-1 – 13/2||4-1 – 14/1|
|3-2 – 9/2||3-2 – 6/1|
In days gone by the lower-scoring outcomes would have been priced at shorter odds due to the increased likelihood of a draw. When a match is drawn, unlike in some sports where each side might be awarded half a “point”, with cricket series, neither side scores anything. So if all five games were drawn, the series would finish 0-0.
Better drainage systems, pitch coverage and increased scoring rates have meant that the frequency of draws in Test cricket has decreased. This has been the case for a long time now but the trend was been massively accelerated with regards to England under the management of Kiwi Brendon McCullum and the captaincy of (New Zealand-born!) Ben Stokes.
It is worth noting that when it comes to ODIs and T20, or broadly white-ball cricket, the options might look very different. This is because draws cannot occur in this form of the game and depending on the rules, ties may not be possible too (see below). “No results” are not uncommon though, due to rain, so it is well worth looking at the forecast, especially for series with fewer games, or ones that are being played over a short period of time.
Rules to Note with Correct Score Series Betting
Cricket betting rules will sometimes vary from site to site though in many circumstances the key rules are applied in the same way by all cricket bookmakers. However, given the straightforward nature of this market, there really isn’t too much to concern yourself with. There are probably just two rules it might pay to be aware of and we suspect these will be the same at virtually all bookies.
First, if, for any reason, the number of games in the series changes, all bets will be void unless they are already settled. This is an unlikely occurrence but if for some strange reason the cricket boards agreed to reduce (or even less likely extend) the series, bets would be deemed void.
A five-match series might, for example, be curtailed after four games due to civil unrest or a global health crisis(!). If you backed 5-0 and the score was anything other than 4-0, the bet would be a loser, as 5-0 would be impossible. If the series was 4-0 the bet would be void and your stake returned but you would not receive any winnings. Of course, this does not apply to games that are rained off (or abandoned due to other weather issues) but were otherwise scheduled.
The second rule to note applies to tied games. This is only really an issue in white-ball cricket but should a game be tied, correct score bets will be settled according to the official result. This means that if a Super Over or other tiebreaker is used, and thus a winner of the match is declared, that team will be declared the winner of the game. This will be reflected in the official series score and this is the score that bets will be settled in accordance with.
Other Related Bets
In terms of the correct score aspect of this wager, there are not really any other similar markets. If there is a particularly one-sided-looking series you might find a handicap bet for the score though this is not common. There are other series-based bets however that may pique your interest if you are looking for a wager to last a whole summer or tour.
The most obvious such market is a straight bet on which side will win a series (or if it will be a draw). This is a lower-risk option than plumping for the correct score with correspondingly smaller odds. Other series bets include who will be the top overall run scorer and who will be the chief wicket taker, with both of these usually offered specifically relating to a team or covering either side. Sometimes these markets can be combined, so for example you might see the option to back the series result, the top run scorer and the top wicket taker in one single bet (or some combination of these three markets).
Ashes Series Stats
For many punters The Ashes series is perhaps the time they are most likely to take an interest in Test cricket and series betting. They might have a bet on the World Cups (T20 and ODI) and perhaps the odd other occasion but the clashes with the Aussies really are something special. If you fancy a correct score bet on the Series against Australia, the following facts and stats might be of use.
The Ashes were first contested way back in 1882/83 and over the years there has not always been five matches. There have been series of two Tests, the odd one-off fixture, several that featured three matches, the occasional four-game series, as well as meetings that saw six and even seven Tests. That said, since the 1998/99 series in Australia, all clashes have witnessed five matches.
Given battles in the 19th century clearly have little relevance on how we might expect current clashes to play out, we will focus on the series since (and including) 1998/99. Not only have these all featured five matches, but the period covering the last 25 years or so seems like a reasonable place to start. In addition, a sample size of 13 is big enough to allow us to draw some tentative conclusions, even if the state of English and Australian cricket has changed a lot since the late 1990s.
- Since 1998/99 there have been just two away wins plus a 2-2 draw in England in 2019
- In those 13 series there have been just 11 draws
- Only four times has a side failed to register a win, England’s only shut-out coming in a 3-0 home win in 2013
- England have only won one of the last five series … though they won five out of seven between 2005 and 2015
- Australia’s most common wins have been 4-1, 4-0 and 5-0 (twice each)
- England’s wins have been much closer, with two 2-1 wins and no series win seeing them win more than four games
- At home England have won two or three Tests in each series aside from 2001 (when they lost 4-1), averaging 2.17 wins per series on home soil
- In England the Aussies have averaged 1.67 wins per series, with 1.17 matches ending in draws
Strategy and Tips
When it comes to trying to decide what correct score to plump for, much of the time you will have to accept that you will need a good degree of luck to land this bet. This is because there are many options and it runs over (up to) 25 days of cricket. In that time just one brilliant spell with the ball, one terrible piece of bad luck or one amazing partnership could be enough to scupper your entire wager.
So, this is often a tricky market in which to land winners, but what about finding value? As with correct score betting in football matches, and markets with many “runners” and lengthier odds in general, the bookies operate the correct score series margin with a large overround. In simple terms, that means that even finding value is going to be very tricky.
The overround can be seen as the margin betting sites allow for profit and in the example we gave for The Ashes correct score odds, the overround is more than 33%. That compares to less than 7% for who will win the series itself and as little as 2% on some of the most competitive markets bookies offer. This means that even if the bookies are wrong in their assessment of a series, they need to be very wrong for punters to be able to find genuine value.
Watch the Weather
That said, there are certainly things that fans of this market should be looking out for. When it comes to Test cricket the influence of the weather may be the most important. This will have a big impact on the likelihood of a draw. In addition, looking at the approach of the teams is important: will they go for the win at the risk of losing, or will they play for the draw when they are up against it?
The weather is not to be ignored in series in the shorter forms of the game though. Bad weather can easily see games abandoned and so what you might think is a nailed-on 5-0 win for the home team becomes a 4-0 win and you lose your bet.
Ultimately betting on this market requires the same assessment, analysis and research that you would apply to a single match. You then need to extend that to five games, often played at different venues. As an extra complication, you will not, of course, know the team news for at least four of the games (in a five-match series), whilst long-range weather forecasting remains unreliable as well.
All in all then this bet is certainly one you should regard as a bit of fun. So we wish you luck! And come on England!