England have been eased for the Ashes series following the news that Kevin Pietersen will miss the last three Tests – but punters will be relieved to hear Sky Bet are refunding bets on him to be his team’s top run scorer, top overall series runscorer and Man of the Series.
Pietersen has been ruled out of action for six weeks following an operation on his Achilles tendon injury.
After being assessed by a leading specialist on Wednesday it was decided that surgery was the best option.
Pietersen said: “As an England cricketer the Ashes are the pinnacle of the game so I’m absolutely devastated to be missing the rest of this series.”
As a result Sky Bet have eased England’s odds of regaining the Ashes to even money from 4/5 and have trimmed Australia to 5/2 from 3/1. The draw has been cut to 9/4 from 5/2.
England, who are 1-0 up after two Tests, have been eased by most other firms, but not markedly – Ladbrokes go 10/11 from 5/6, Coral are evens from 10/11 and Blue Square are 11/10 from 4/5 and reaction was still a little mixed.
Sky Bet’s cricket compiler Tom Warburton said: “Although Pietersen’s absence will be felt by England, there are no major reasons for Strauss’ camp to hit the panic button just yet.
“England can now be backed at evens from 4/5 for the series, which could be value considering runs are being scored throughout the team.”
Coral’s David Stevens said: “Ironically, Kevin Pietersen may not have contributed many runs to England’s victory at Lord’s but he is undoubtedly a world class batsman, and his absence from the rest of the series leaves a massive hole in England’s top order.”
That was echoed by Ladbrokes’ Nick Weinberg who said: “Despite struggling to recapture the form of 2005 Pietersen will still be a huge loss for England.
“He has the ability to win games on his own and his absence will lessen the chances of Andrew Strauss lifting the famous urn.”
But Blue Square’s Alan Alger pointed out: “Is it that much of a blow? KP has clearly not been right – James Anderson looked like a better batsman during his second innings at Lord’s.
“Add to that the fact Ian Bell is currently averaging nearly 80 in county cricket, and he’ll come in to the side on his home track at Edgbaston.
“Obviously we have to push England out following the news, but we’ll be careful not to over-react.”
Meanwhile Paddy Power have also confirmed they will be refunding all Ashes bets on Pietersen and have eased England’s odds from 10/11 to Evens.
Darren Haines, spokesman for Paddy Power, said: “KP has struggled to get going in this series and, through not fault of his own, has never been able to give punters a real run for their money. This seems the fairest thing to do.”
Pietersen’s absence has also paved the way for Andrew Strauss to be England’s top series runscorer with the captain’s odds revised to 8/11 ahead of Paul Collingwood following at 9/4.
Haines added: “Even a one-legged Kevin Pietersen is a huge loss to the England line-up. He was without doubt the batsman the Aussies feared most and this has got plenty of punters sniffing at the value of a comeback for Ricky Ponting’s boys.”