We have looked at the market for The Hundred outright and the one for the top batter ahead of the tournament getting underway on Tuesday but before the first ball is bowled there is just enough time to look at the leading bowler for the event too.
We had a trio of leading wicket takers last season with Paul Walter, Jordan Thompson and Tom Helm taking the most scalps. All three return looking for more wickets but they are joined by a world class list of bowlers.
2022 – Paul Walter, Jordan Thompson & Tom Helm
2021 – Adam Milne, Marchant de Lange, Adil Rashid & Rashid Khan
Shaheen Shah Afridi is the 12/1 favourite to lead the bowling charts in The Hundred this season. The Welsh Fire import enjoyed a very profitable spell at Nottinghamshire in the T20 Blast earlier in the summer and is widely regarded as one of the best white ball bowlers in the world. The problem is that Pakistan have the Asia Cup at the end of August and Afridi is a leading contender to be in their squad for that in which case he would leave mid-tournament.
Nathan Ellis and Adil Rashid come next in the betting at 14/1. Ellis had another good season at Hampshire but teams are starting to play him out a little and respect his death bowling which will be a concern. Rashid missed the T20 Blast with an injury so it remains to be seen what state he is in going into this tournament but if he is fully fit then he showed in the opening season of this that he can be among the wickets. I’m not sure he is at the peak of his powers though.
There are a host of players at 16/1 in the betting for this market. Chief among them are Chris Jordan, one of the best England white ball bowlers who the Southern Brave need to have a good season, Adam Milne, Tom Helm and Kane Richardson, who might all steal each other’s wickets at the Birmingham Phoenix, Usama Mir who did well for Worcestershire in the T20 Blast, and Luke Wood. None of them massively appeal although if Milne bowls like he did in 2021 he could take some beating.
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Narrowing the Field
Unlike with the batsmen, there isn’t really too many ways to narrow down the field here. There aren’t many bowler friendly tracks in England at the present time and the ones that there are, notably Cardiff and Edgbaston are only such because of the amount of cricket that has been on those grounds rather than any natural assistance in the wickets.
With that in mind, the only real way to narrow down this field is to choose whether to take seamers or spinners and to make sure that we get on players who we think will be in the semi-final and hopefully the final. By and large it has been the seamers who have gone the best in the opening two seasons of the tournament and I suspect that is largely down to some cheaper wickets in the death sets of the innings.
I’m not convinced there is going to be a huge amount for the spinners in this tournament, certainly not in terms of assistance in the pitches, and any wickets they do pick up will come from false shots or the need to score so I’m firmly in the camp of picking seamers for this tournament. There isn’t really a wicket which has a huge reputation for being bowler friendly so other than maybe go with the longer boundaries where mishits might fall into the lap of the fielder there isn’t a huge amount to go by.
Jake Ball had a quiet T20 Blast campaign by his standards but I think he can come to life in this competition where he might be the beneficiary of the economical wicket taking skills of Shaheen Shah Afridi while he is around in Cardiff. While Afridi and Haris Rauf are around someone is going to need to be targeted in this competition when facing the Welsh Fire and with David Willey and expert with the new ball it might well be Ball who has to be taken down.
He bowls that back of a length delivery which can be hard to get away though and although he wasn’t as much of a feature in the Blast as he usually is, he still picked up 14 wickets in just nine outings for a poorer than usual Nottinghamshire side. When the Pakistan pair depart Ball will most likely bowl at the death and if he has claimed a few scalps prior to the Pakistani pair leaving then he will be in a very good position to capitalise. At 25/1 I’ll pay to see how he goes.
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