Month: March 2012

Join the procession

I’ll be honest, the Sri Lanka test series has rather crept up on me. One moment I was back at my old Cambridge college collecting an MA as reward for staying sane and out of jail for a few years (barely), the next I was watching a promising England bowling performance put into context by an abject batting display.

See caption left

Part of a procession of plonkers wearing faintly ridiculous gear










A double dose of déjà vu: being drunk on questionable red wine in Girton bar took me hurtling back to my undergraduate days; witnessing England’s top order crumble against sub-continent spin and we’re back in the desert and the best forgotten Pakistan series. The only question is, whose prat-fall was more embarrassing? Trott’s post-stumping pole-axing by Jayawardene, or, a certain MA (Cantab.), who can only be identified as ‘TK’, ploughing through one of the bar’s booths. At least TK had the excuse of being several pints to the worse.

Now the hangover has cleared, the 1st test is poised at an intriguing position. As appears to be a trend in modern test cricket, the match has got ahead of itself and, on the eve of day three, 25 of the potential 40 wickets have already fallen.

The draw is effectively out of play – available at 50/1 (Betfair) – and is only worth backing if you know a good rain dance. Back on the spreads, with the Sri Lankans at 84/5, Sporting Index go 176-184 on the home side’s total 2nd innings runs. If you’re brave enough, I think this could well be worth taking on and selling: the Lankan’s 1st innings century-maker Jayawardene is already back in the hutch and, should Swann and Anderson get it right tomorrow morning, one can easily see Sri Lanka struggling to get many more than 120.

Even if this were to happen, England would still be facing a last innings chase of 245 and I can’t imagine many would make them favourites – selling England at 7.5 on the outright index would still seem to be the call here.

Update – 28/3, 13:00

COP: Sri Lanka 2nd inns 214 all out, England 111/2 (target 340)

So Sri Lanka managed a few more than 176 thanks to handy partnerships for the last 2 wickets. However, you could have traded out for a healthy profit if you’d moved when the score was at 127/8.

England are up to 9-10.5 on the win index, but they are chasing a record target and, should they lose even more than 1 wicket in the first session tomorrow, that price will drop swiftly.

Update – 29/3 13:00

Result: England 2nd inns 264 all out (Trott 112) – Sri Lanka beat England by 75 runs

In the end it was not with a bang but a whimper that England folded to defeat in Galle, losing their final 5 wickets for 12 runs. However, hope of an England victory was alive with Trott and Prior comfortable at the crease – England’s price on the outright index rose as high as 16.5-18 before Prior’s freak dismissal. To me England’s price always seemed inflated and, having sold at 7.5 on day two and 9 at close on day three, I continued to sell through the Prior/Trott partnership on day 4 feeling that England were only ever one wicket away from trouble.

It was with a mixture of pleasure and disappointment that I was proven correct.





Where there’s muck

When George Osborne steps up to the despatch box on Wednesday the nation holds its collective breath as we wait to discover our economic fate. Essentially, that means how much more a packet of fags, a pint, and a litre of petrol is going to cost us come April.


One group will be paying particular attention to the Chancellor’s speech. No, not high-earning bankers, not owners of small business, not even one-legged single mothers from Runcorn. No, it is degenerate spread bettors who will be hanging on every plummy syllable.

As if to prove the notion that you can bet on pretty much anything, Sporting Index, as has become traditional, are offering a number of markets on the content of that famous red box. Don’t worry, it’s nothing so highbrow as spreads on percentage reductions in stamp duty or child tax credits (leave that stuff to the spivs at the city firms); Sporting lets you punt on what really matters – the number of sips of water Osborne takes (4.2-4.8) or shouts of “Order Order!” from the honourable speaker (0.4-0.6).

In a somewhat worrying reflection of political priority Sporting estimates that our George will utter the word “tax” between 90 and 95 times, but “education” only 3 to 4.  As if more proof were needed of the nation’s perilous deficit, Sporting goes 34-37 on mentions of “billion” but only 16-18 on mentions of “million”.

It’s difficult to recommend a strategy on these political novelty markets, and I’m certainly not going to sit through the previous 5 budgets making notes of every time “Euro” has been mentioned. Have a punt on what you fancy – what’s the worst that can happen? We’re all going to be poorer.

Update (21/3/12):

Selected makeups:

Sips of water: 5 (op: 4.2-4.8)

“Order, order!”: 4 (op: 0.4-0.6!)

Tax: 119 (90-95)

The final furlong

The two most agonisingly anticipated milestones in sport have finally materialized: Sachin’s century of tons and a Torres goal for Chelski. It was with an entirely fitting sense of bathos that they came against Bangladesh and Leicester respectively – hardly the most exalted of opponents.

Unfortunately, my wait to back a winner at Cheltenham will last another year (at least). I had a torrid festival on the fixed-odds markets – congratulations to Paddy Power for luring me in with that fantastic Sprinter Sacre offer – and was left wondering which is more painful – the faller-at-the-first or the narrowly-beaten-by-a-neck. The only silver lining was a decent win on Sporting’s top jockey market, thanks Barry!


Sir Alex Ferguson's horse What a Friend falls at Cheltenham. Will United stumble with the finishing line in sight?

Meanwhile in the Premier League we are fast approaching the equivalent of the Cheltenham hill, what a certain Scotsman likes to call “squeaky bum time” and, unlike the Gold Cup, this is very much a two horse race.

In time-honoured fashion United have seized the initiative at the crucial moment and are now favourites over their city rivals for the title (United currently enjoy a 4 point lead but City have a game in hand).

Sporting Index, on the Premier League Outright Index (60/40/30/20/10/5), quote Ferguson’s men at 52-54 with Balotelli and co at 46-48. Effectively, if you fancy City for the title, you’d be risking 8pts to win 12. If you took the 2/1 available about City on Betfair you’d be getting a 16pt return for your 8 pt risk.

Perhaps more attractively, in form Arsenal are offered at 21-23, giving a decent risk/reward ratio on the Gunners achieving a third place finish.

Six Nations redux

6 Nations: Wales vs Italy (Sat, 14.30), Ireland vs Scotland (Sat, 17.00), France vs England (Sun, 15.00)

Rugby - in case you were wondering

After stumbling around like Roger Johnson on the training ground with my last set of 6 Nations predictions, I’ve dusted myself down and got back in the saddle to have a crack at this weekend’s fixtures. (If you can’t indulge in a convoluted mixed metaphor in a betting blog, then where can you!)

With the Irish having held the French in last weekend’s rearranged fixture, Wales are now the only side eyeing the Grand Slam and Saturday’s visit of the Italians to the Millennium Stadium shouldn’t prove too much of an obstacle.

Nevertheless, Sporting Index’s supremacy spread of 21-24 looks to give Wales full credit and I’m not sure there’s much room for a buy. Indeed, it might be worth a cheeky sell, in the hope that the Azzurri set off like Berlusconi at a Bunga Bunga party and you can trade out before things get too sticky.

Wales/Italy games in Cardiff tend to be free scoring affairs (2010, 47-16; 2008, 47-8; 2006, 18-18) but the total points spread of 45-48 is high enough not to be an especially attractive buy. A tempting market could well be the shirt supremacy (a wholly less volatile affair in rugby than soccer as show-offs and squad players with ridiculous numbers aren’t a factor): Sporting Index go 33-37 Wales over Italy, and with the Taffs’ major try threats, Halfpenny and Davies, wearing the high numbers, this could be worth a go.

Over in Dublin, the dour Scots, enjoying something of a try bonanza by their standards (3 in 3 matches), visit an Irish side who’ve managed three times as many (that’s 9 for those of you who struggled in maths). However, five of those touchdowns came against the Italians and, taking into consideration Scotland’s bullish defense, I’d recommend a hefty sell of total match tries (3.6-4.1).

Interestingly, SpIn make France significant favourites over England for Sunday’s match in Paris (6-9). This seems a little harsh on Lancaster’s men, who battled valiantly against the Welsh and, but for the bounce of a ball or the indecision of the television ref, might have been unbeaten in the tournament. Given the fact that the French were at their Gallic worst against Ireland in the first half and are playing a back-to-back fixture, why not go short on the French?

Swing Low.