Local knowledge can take punters a long way in Durham
Seasoned cricket punters will not be surprised to see that the England selectors have opted for an extra pace option on the Riverside’s lively pitch for the Second Test against the West Indies that starts on Thursday.
Spinner Monty Panesar makes way for fit-again Ryan Sidebottom as the Three Lions look to build on their emphatic three-day romp at Lord's.
Sidebottom is chalked up at tempting betting odds of 4/1 to be leading England wicket taker at Chester-le-Street. Graeme Swann, hero of Lords with six wickets will surely attract support as well at 5/1. Swann has 25 wickets in four Tests this year, that’s more than anyone else playing Test cricket in 2009.
For that particular market - top England bowler - I prefer the chances of in-form Graham Onions who overcame some early nerves on his England debut to take five wickets in the first innings and two in the second.
Most significantly the Gateshead-born 26-year-old plays his club cricket at Durham and knows the Riverside pitch like the back of his hand.
Hill’s odds of 5/2 for him to lead the way in the home wicket-takers' list make genuine appeal.
In terms of the match betting, Hill’s odds of 8/11 England, 13/8 the draw and 13/2 West Indies give us a clear indication of how the odds makers feel things will pan out.
Certainly, if England match anywhere near their Lord's effort, that 8/11 could look like an absolute gift - British weather permitting!
Early Met Office reports predict cloudy but dry weather for Thursday and Friday and quite possibly beyond but what really stands out is the wind speed predictions.
Gusts of up to 43 mph are forecast to come in from the North Sea and that wind, allied to one of the liveliest batting tracks in the country, could well see some testing conditions for the willow wielders.
Bopara got 143 last week at Lord's
Ravi Bopara will naturally attract support at Hill’s odds of 9/2 to be top home batsman thanks to his eye-catching effort at Lord's. His knock of 143 when only three other batsmen could muster half centuries marks him out as the man the Windies must fear.
But, as with Onions in the home bowler market, I prefer the chances of a local man who will be desperate to prove his worth on local turf.
Paul Collingwood gets an 8/1 quote to be top England batsman and although he looked a touch shaky at Lord's his record against the West Indies at Chester-le-Street is pretty formidable.
In June 2007 he cracked 128 in the first innings on a track and weather conditions he understands so well - match that effort Colly and your backers will surely be smiling!
With the Three Lions odds-on for the two-series whitewash against the Windies, our thoughts will soon turn to the real business at hand - The 2009 Ashes.
Despite England’s solid efforts in the First Test against the West Indies, bookies Hills have not changed their Ashes Series betting.