Insects in Asia is a popular betting event, which sees cricket fans placed side-by-side at betting venues around the world to watch and wager on cricket matches. It all started in the UK in 2016, and has since grown to a global event held in Australia, India, and Sri Lanka, with the 2020 edition set to take place in Pakistan.
The event was first held in the United Kingdom as a one-off fixture in June 2016. The first match of the day was Australia vs. Pakistan, and thousands travelled from all over the world to catch a glimpse of the cricketing greats. The UK betting market took a nosedive that day, with Ladbrokes reporting a fall of 14% in wagers placed on Australia.
The event continued to grow in popularity in the UK after being held annually since then. In 2020, the eleventh instalment will be held at three locations in London: the Emirates Stadium (home of the Emirates FA Cup), London Stadium (home of the NFL), and the Riverside Ground (home of the Surrey County Cricket Club).
In Pakistan, the cricket world’s largest country, the event was first held in October 2019, with the first ever day of the 10th edition set to take place at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium in Lahore. The PCA is one of the world’s most popular cricket venues, with the largest outfield you’ll ever see, and is used to hold national and international matches.
In Sri Lanka, the event was first held in Colombo, with the game split between two venues in the country: Rangiri Dyers Cricket Club (RDC) and Galle Face Green. The series between Australia and the UK this year is set to be held at the latter, located in the capital city.
The popularity of the event in the UK is undoubtedly down to its novelty value. Cricket is a relatively unknown sport in the UK, with only 5-6 million followers on Twitter, compared to 125 million users for the NBA (@NBA) and MLB (@MLB).
The game provides a wonderful spectacle, with fans able to bet on the outcome of every single ball, and a TV audience able to follow every minute of action, as the ball is bowled, or a catch is made.
The lack of betting shops near many of the UK venues, as well as the unavailability of certain sports on TV, also helped to create a niche for the event. Cricket is one of the only sports whose matches are shown live worldwide, including in the UK, so dedicated fans are able to follow the action. Additionally, social media has played a huge role in spreading the word about the event, with over 70,000 people in the UK following the live updates from the cricket world’s biggest stars on Twitter (@CricketPAK), (@CricketAUS), (@CricketSL), and (@CricketENG).
The cricket world’s biggest stars have also lent their support to the event, with former captains David Gower and Michael Vaughan publicly backing the initiative, as did ex-England cricketers Ian Botham, Gary Lineker, and Paul Dacre.
The event’s organizers have worked hard to ensure that cricket is promoted as a popular betting option in the UK, with over 100 venues advertising in TV ads and billboards across the three cities, as well as online and social media. Betting companies in the UK have also created special betting markets for the event, with Ladbrokes offering odds of 1/32 on the first ball to be bowled in the first over, and 1/16 for the first run scored.
The first ever Cricket World Cup was held in England in June 2019, and following the UK’s hosting of the event, several other cricket competitions have been held there, including England’s home games in the 2020 season. This saw a rise in interest in the sport in the country, with cricket becoming the fourth most popular sport there after football (soccer), rugby, and tennis.
The 2019 Cricket World Cup saw India take the trophy, and the country quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the cricket green. The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the annual cricket tournament in India, with teams representing all facets of the country’s society coming together to battle it out on the cricket pitch. The competition is one of the most popular sporting events in the country, with over 200 million fans regularly tuning in to watch the games. One of the most popular players in the competition is Virat Kohli, the leader of the Indian cricket team and the most followed athlete on social media, with over 125 million followers on Twitter.
There are also a number of other prominent cricket competitions, with numerous one-off fixtures, throughout the year. This has helped to create a rich cricketing culture in the country, which the betting event will undoubtedly draw upon.
Pakistan is another country that has rapidly risen to prominence on the cricketing world stage, having won the ICC World Cricket League in 2008, only to suffer a 9-year hiatus prior to their triumphant return to the top of the form. The country has produced some of the greatest batsmen and bowlers of all time, with legends such as Muttiah Muralithi, Imran Khan, and Javed Miadad still gracing the sport in some capacity. The country’s biggest city, Karachi, routinely hosts international cricket matches and has a team in every province. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is also responsible for the country’s domestic cricket, with matches held in all of its 75 stadiums. The 2020 edition of the event will be held in Lahore, the country’s second-largest city.
Sri Lanka is another country whose rapidly improving cricketing ranks were on full display this year. After missing out on the 2019 Cricket World Cup, due to not meeting the required criteria, they made an immediate return, with their campaign in the 2020 edition of the tournament setting a record for the most wins in a Cricket World Cup campaign. The island nation’s cricketing culture is rich, with matches dating back to the 1800s, and it has produced many greats, including the legendary players Ranjeewa Sumanadewa and Duleep Mendis. The island’s biggest city, Colombo, is home to the country’s highest cricket stadium, which holds over 25,000 spectators, and has hosted international and domestic matches. The 2020 edition of the event is set to take place in Galle Face Green, located in the country’s southern peninsula. The Galle Face Green, a suburb of Colombo, also has a magnificent cricket ground with a capacity of over 45,000, which has hosted international matches, including a World XI vs. Sri Lanka XI in February 2020.
In the near future, the UK’s leading sportsbooks, such as William Hill and Coral, will be extending odds on the cricket world cup, with William Hill offering a combined total of 8/11 on England to retain the trophy, and Coral offering a massive 13/2 on India to retain the title.
The UK event is already drawing upon the Asian market. In the last year, the popularity of the event has seen a boom in bookmakers taking bets from across the pond. Betting companies have also seen an increase in customers placing bets from Asia, with a 35% rise in 2019, and this is expected to continue into the future.