Cricket is a game full of stats, where almost every phase of play can be broken down into smaller increments and every action can be measured. Such a sport lends itself brilliantly to betting and cricket offers punters so many different betting options and markets. Whilst many focus on runs, in this feature we are looking instead at wickets.
Batsmen often get more of the glory, certainly among those who are less familiar with the game. However, it is bowlers who can change a game most dramatically and prove a matchwinner almost in the blink of an eye. If you think you can identify the sort of bowler capable of taking lots of wickets, then the top wicket taker market is the one for you – or rather markets, as there are several options.
As with many betting markets it is largely self-descriptive: you are betting on a bowler to be the leading wicket taker. To many punters the obvious next question is “leading wicket taker in what?” and this is a market that is offered in various ways. The usual options are:
- As an outright bet covering a particular league, cup, competition or series – so for example the leading wicket taker in the IPL, County Championship or Ashes.
- A game-specific bet – so which player will take the most wickets in an ODI between Pakistan and Ireland.
- Team-specific – a further option covers betting on who will take the most wickets for a certain team, with this market usually offered in both of the scenarios mentioned above. So, one might bet on who will take the most wickets for Pakistan in our ODI example. Alternatively, one might bet on who the leading wicket taker will be for the Chennai Super Kings across the whole IPL season.
Different Wicket Taking Markets
There are lots and lots of betting markets that relate to the taking of wickets. For example you might bet on the method of the next dismissal in a game, or which bowler will take the first wicket in a game. However, in terms of top wicket taker betting, we have really covered the main range of options above.
When these different bets are offered they will be very clearly described, so it should be obvious what exactly you are betting on. So, for example, a bet on who will take the most wickets in the whole IPL will be listed as “Top tournament wicket taker”, within the IPL outrights section of your cricket betting site of choice. On the other hand, in the same outrights area, you might see “Top Mumbai Indians Tournament Wicket Taker”, so it should always be very apparent what market you are betting on.
If you want to make a wager that settles rather quicker, on a single game, you will find this listed among the options, either under popular markets, player bets, or wickets, depending on which bookmaker you use. Again, it will be made clear whether the bet relates to the match overall, or just one of the teams.
Perhaps the only other markets to mention here are certain specials that bookies may offer. These combine wicket-taker wagers with other markets, effectively creating mini bet builder-type wagers. One such option might be a same-game double on the top wicket taker and top run scorer. Again, this might be team specific or might cover the entire match. Another option might include the match result and leading wicket taker.
Wicket Taker Rules to Look Out For
There is nothing in particular to catch you out when it comes to betting on these markets. That said, as with all bets, there are certain things it pays to be aware of. As ever, in the event of anything that doesn’t seem right when it comes to a bet on the top wicket taker being settled, your first port of call should be the bookmaker’s customer service team. Perhaps you think a bet has won but you have only received your stake back, or a smaller payout – or even nothing at all. Head to live chat and the bookie should be able to explain why and/or adjust any mistakes.
However, being aware of the following might also help you understand why your bet has been settled as it has:
- Dead heat rules – dead heat rules will apply to all of these markets as standard. This means that if two players both take five wickets and tie for leading wicket taker in a match, only half of your stake will be settled as a winner. It is possible that even more players could dead heat in different markets and we have a separate feature that explains dead heat rules in full
- First innings only – in Test matches, County Championship games and similar formats, unless stated, leading wicket taker bets on individual games refer to the first innings only. Separate markets may exist for the second innings or the match overall
- Reduced match – bets may be deemed void if the weather or other factors reduce the length of a game. The precise details of this will vary depending on the type of game and sometimes the bookie too
- Player not selected – if your player is not among the starting XI, bets will usually be made void. If the player in question starts but does not bowl for any reason then your bet will lose. However, for series or tournament wagers, bets will usually stand even if the bowler does not feature
- No wickets taken – should no wickets be taken in the relevant innings or match, all bets will be voided and you will get your stake back (this also applies if the only wickets to fall are run outs)
- Super Over – unless stated (for example with a specific bet on the Super Over), wickets taken during Super Overs will not count
With various betting options falling under the umbrella of top wicket taker betting, how you approach this will depend on which particular market you are using. As always, trying to find value is key and in order to do that you need to understand the market and research the game, series or tournament fully.
As an example, when it comes to betting on the leading wicket taker in a Test, we now know that bets apply to the first innings only (assuming you read the rules section above). As such, the fact that a wicket is expected to crumble on day three and four and become a spinner’s paradise is irrelevant: their performance in the second innings will not affect the bet. What will, though, is the fact that, perhaps, the ball is expected to seam and swing a lot on the first morning. As such, backing one of the opening fast bowlers is likely to make sense.
Style of Play
Another thing to look for is bowlers who tend to take wickets in groups. A steady-as-she-goes type who regularly chips in with two or three wickets is a great asset to a team. Such a player may occasionally take the most wickets in an innings and could certainly be a good bet across a series, league or tournament. However, a player who is streaky could offer better value in terms of a wager on a single game.
Given Stuart Broad has 576 Test wickets at the time of writing it would be hugely unfair to dismiss him as streaky. However, there is no denying that he can be hit and miss at times and even less denying that when he is hot, he is really hot. Broad is capable of bowling a devastating spell and taking four or five wickets in a flash, and so could offer value. Many would consider Jimmy Anderson to be by far the better of the dynamic duo but Broad’s tally of 27 four-wicket innings is only just behind Anderson’s 32, despite the Lancastrian having played considerably more Test matches.
Number of Games Played
One last factor to think about applies to outright bets over entire competitions rather than matches. In many events, particularly the County Championship, the leading wicket takers are not always the big names. This is the case for a range of reasons, including international call-ups and the number of overs bowled. For example in 2022 Toby Roland-Jones was the top wicket taker in English cricket.
It is often a similar picture in tournaments like the IPL. In these events it is vital you look for a player who is likely to feature at the business end of the competition and play as many games as possible. The most wickets any player has ever taken across a whole IPL season is 32. The two men to have done that, Dwayne Bravo (in 2013) and Harshal Patel (2021), offered great value before the campaigns began and would not have been obvious choices to many.
Stats and Facts
Quite how many wickets a player will need to land your bet will, of course, depend chiefly on whether you are betting on a single game or a whole competition. As we have seen above, the leading wicket taker for an IPL season will usually need around 25 to 30 wickets. The following stats and facts may help you with this market but they will certainly help you in cricket trivia quizzes!
- Leading Test wicket taker – Muttiah Muralitharan has an insane total of 800 Test wickets, and he took five in an innings on 67 occasions!
- IPL Purple Cap – the season’s leading wicket taker wins the Purple Cap. From 2008 to 2022 inclusive the average number of wickets needed has been 25.87. The lowest has been 21 and the highest 32.
- Most Purple Caps – Indian players have won the award seven times out of 15 and Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the only man to win it in consecutive seasons.
- Ashes – Deadly duo Shane Warne and Glen McGrath are first and second respectively in terms of all-time Ashes wicket takers. However, Stuart Broad is fourth and boasts eight five-wicket hauls.
- More Ashes – in 1956 Jim Laker took a record 46 wickets in an Ashes series. That included 19 in the fourth Test alone! Shane Warne is the only man to take 40 or more this century, incredibly doing so away from home too.