Month: May 2012

Winning weekender

It was one of those rare weekends when everything went according to plan. As punters we are hard-wired to remember losing streaks and recall the pain of near-misses; I think it’s worth celebrating success for once – that’s my excuse for the following sick brag anyway!

Summer finally arrived and the sun shone on my fortune. My long term positions on the England v West Indies series look attractive. Having flip-flopped on Chanderpaul, disaster was averted as the little guy managed a match aggregate of 57 – disappointing by his standards – and the spread is likely to come down from 333-343. Long on the WI ‘Zero Tolerance’ market with Sporting Index, the men from the Caribbean obliged with no fewer than four ducks (40 points) across the match. Add that to the 35 make up from Lord’s and, having bought at 80, I’m pretty much free-rolling at Edgbaston. I also made a cheeky 86 point profit selling WI 2nd innings runs at 251. The only concern is my buy of Shillingford’s series bowling index. The off-spinner looked about as dangerous as Peter Such bowling a cushion and it would probably be the best outcome for me if he were dropped for the final test.

One man that did look dangerous this weekend was Carl Froch. The Nottingham pugilist pummeled Lucian Bute and secured victory in the fifth. I’d sold total rounds at 10 with the idea that Bute’s speed might be too much for Froch – I read the fight completely incorrectly but pocketed a nice profit nonetheless!

They’re happy, I’m happy

By far the biggest success of the weekend was Harlequins claiming the Aviva Premiership title at Twickers. Not only did I enjoy a glorious game at the home of rugby, I was also counting my winnings as Robshaw’s Quins secured the club’s first championship of the professional era. I made £12 on the supremacy market (selling Leicester at 5), added a pony buying Quins’ kicking metres at 150 (make up 258) and my outright buy of the West London fancy dans on the outright playoff index netted another £25.

Nice to be a winner for once; now to plot giving it all back on the Euros.

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The Chanderpaul conundrum

Oh Shiv. Watching you bat is like taking the N89 home after a night out – slow, uncomfortable, and marginally more tolerable when drunk. Can’t argue though – it does the job.

Oh Shiv. Your batting is like bad sex – taking one for the team, doggedly, you stay at the crease for as long as possible, too often falling short of that crucial milestone.

Oh Shiv. Your innings are like a sports writer groping for convoluted similes – tedious but ultimately effective (a bit meta there).

You scored a total of 178 runs in the Lord’s Test. I’d bought your series runs for 50p at 235 on Sporting Index. The spread is now up to 333-343. The question is what to do.

The cautious man might close out. Best part of fifty quid in the back pocket – thanks very much. The sane man might let the bet ride – watch you grind away at England once again and move serenely into profit.

Why, then, have I gone and sold your runs? Sure, I lock in the £50, but, it feels like I’ve watched you bat for days already this summer, I dream of you laconically pulling your bat inside the line, why am I setting myself up for a world of pain?

IT and Maths not wasted on me at school!

There’s the gut feeling that you are due a failure. Of course, gut feelings are rarely the punter’s friend.

However, even if you do get ‘in’ your slow scoring means you risk running out of partners before you can make a really damaging score. Unlike a Lara or a Gayle, your propensity to really hurt the spread bettor is limited. A couple of mediocre knocks at Trent Bridge and I can close out (or flip again) for a healthy profit ahead of the final test.

Nevertheless, the thought of opposing you makes me feel quite sick.

Feeling the power

First time at the darts last night and really got caught up in the atmosphere (even if it was £4.80 a pint. c’mon O2!).

There must be something deep within our human makeup which makes it impossible not to jump up, dance like a twat and grunt ‘oi oi oi’ when this comes on.

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However, it wasn’t a great night on the punting front. Despite decent efforts from The Machine and The Wizard, Taylor added the 2012 Premier League to his fifteen world titles and my misguided sell of The Power before a dart was thrown a few months ago reached its inevitable conclusion (i.e. a pony down the drain).

Still, the cricket is a bit more positive. Chanderpaul clung to the crease like a crab on a rock (literally) yesterday and my buy of his series runs at 235 is looking good. Whilst it would have been nice to see Shiv reach his ton this morning, the fact that Broad snared Gabriel off the ‘Angel’ and the day’s first nut added a welcome 25 points to the Windies ‘Zero Tolerance’ index (bought at 80 for the series).

Elsewhere this weekend, I’m tempted to get with West Ham in the Playoff Final (0.65 over Blackpool) and, for some reason, I’ve got a feeling that Torres might go some way to repaying that £50 million; even though he is likely to start on the bench, I’ll be going long on his goal minutes at 16.

Welcome to summer

You wouldn’t have guessed it from the weather, but summer must finally be here. The Premier League limped to a climax (bit of a damp squib, eh?) and Sporting Index have released their prices for England’s three match Test series against the West Indies that starts at Lord’s on Thursday.

Recent home series against the Windies, of which there have been an inordinate number, have had a similar complexion. The men from the Caribbean have struggled with early season conditions: greenish pitches, seam movement, and chilly atmospheric conditions all causing problems. On one recent tour, the gloom got to Chris Gayle to such an extent (and through the five jumpers he was wearing) that the coolest man in cricket was driven to the verge of jacking in the five-day format. After one of the wettest springs on record, is there any evidence that things will be different this time out?

The Windies last tour (2009) was a nadir – called in as late replacements for Zimbabwe, WI shivered through the motions and were drubbed at both Lord’s and Chester-le-Street. Back in 2007 England won 3-0 and, as has become a theme, Shiv Chanderpaul was the only man to offer any substantial resistance. Add a 4-0 thrashing in 2004 as Michael Vaughan’s side built towards an Ashes triumph (a series that included a double-ton from Rob Key, where he?) and the days of Brian, Courtney and Curtley seem distant.

What can we expect from Darren Sammy’s charges in 2012? It appeared to be a case of same-old same-old against the England Lions as the Windies were bowled out for 147 in the first innings, whilst the hosts managed 341 in reply. However, as the sun peaked out, the Windies batting fired and they managed 390 in their second dig (108 from Kieran Powell and 77 from that man Chanderpaul). Michael Carberry and Joe Root did knock off the required 197 without loss, but there were glimpses that the West Indies might be competitive.

SpIn go 54-57 on England’s win index (25 per win, 10 per draw) suggesting they believe England will dominate the series. England series ton-ups are pitched at 138-148 – this might be worth a buy. Bopara, Pietersen and Cook have all made big hundreds against the West Indies in recent years and WI’s last day performance against the Lions suggests their bowling attack can be pummeled into toothlessness.

The ‘Zero Tolerance’ market (10 points per duck, 25 per first-baller) is pitched at 72-80 for WI; I might be tempted to have a small buy here. If the ball swings, a clatter of wickets is extremely possible – anything like this Andy Caddick over from the 2000 series and you’d be in profit straight away.

Looking at the player markets, a stand out bet looks to be a buy of Chanderpaul’s runs at 235. Tour after tour the crab-like Guyanese has shown the application and skill to succeed in the conditions – I’ll be happy to have him on side this time. Darren Bravo (Dwayne’s half brother), on the other hand, despite a stellar start to his test career (3 tons and an average of 49.6 from 16 matches) could be found out and I recommend a sell at 190.

As far as the bowlers are concerned, the England pacemen look fully priced. Perhaps it is worth opposing Swann (143-153: 10 points per wkt, 25 point bonus for a five-for) on the logic that the seamers might do the bulk of the damage. I also quite like the look of WI’s lanky off-spinner Shane Shillingford and, given England’s woeful efforts against spin on their winter tours, he is a potential buy at 115.

Shane Shillingford

The Thursday morning forecast for Lord’s is an overcast 10 degrees. Remember your jumpers and hand-warmers Mr Sammy!