May 18, 2024

Cricket Man of the Match: bettors’ puzzle

For those people who love cricket as a sport, the Man of the Match award is the greatest celebration and recognition a player can get for his extraordinary performance during a match and his unparalleled contribution to the team’s results. For the players themselves, being granted this award is the absolute reward for trying to be leaders at the same time they are giving everything they’ve got on the pitch to make their team win. And for punters – who obviously constitute a significant stakeholder group as well – this award remains some sort of a puzzle! 

Why is this so? Well, for one thing it is that if you look closely at the different markets and different odds offered by the various sportsbooks, whether we are talking about a traditional, brick-n-mortar bookmaker in Bangladesh or a bkash betting site, you will find that there is no coherence or market homogeneity -at least in some level. Bookies might have great differences in odds and markets compared to their rivals and this emerges from the fact that the Man of the Match as an award – and as a betting market – is volatile. 

The truth is that it is volatile, while it should not actually be volatile. In the great majority of cases, the Man of the Match award in cricket games is given to an anticipated player, who has been riding his team towards victory. So, the award in these cases goes directly to the winning team. But the history of the Man of the Match award has taught us differently. Sometimes, it doesn’t go to the winning team, but to the side that has lost!

If you go back and look how the awards have been granted, you will notice that in some cases, big athletes have won them without being on the winning side. This is mostly because some players have been giving it all for their team, but they haven’t been able to drive them towards the end and get the trophy. They have been driving their team all the way to the end, but they’ve been unable to get past the finish line. 

To name a few cases, there is the all-time record six Man of the Match awards given to a losing cause to Sachin Tendulkar from 1989 to 2012, there are five awards given to Javed Miandad up to 1996 and four awards given to the Flower brothers – Andy and Grant, Chris Gayle and Inzamam ul-Haq. Just think that all of them – including many others with more than one award to a losing cause and even more with exactly one award, despite being on the losing side – have managed to excel and shine without even lifting the trophy in the end!

The unpredictability -at least to a certain extent – of the Man of the Match award is appealing to bettors. While, as we said earlier, the majority of awards given doesn’t yield surprises, there are several instances where the audiences and the fans alike have been taken aback. Most fans expect that he who stands out is a player that has achieved an extraordinary, superior performance. But this might also be the case for someone who doesn’t necessarily win in the end. 

As it is not a standard procedure with explicit criteria, the decision over who will receive the award may be quite subjective. And as it is the commentators who are burdened with this decision – note that they have experience and great knowledge of the sport – there is always the chance that they see something more in some players and they reward their contribution to the whole team. 

So, if you are interested in betting on the Man of the Match in a cricket game, then you should be rather cautious on your picks. Look at the commentators, look at the match, carefully watch who is leading and try to guess who will get the award, without considering necessarily which team wins in the end. 

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