Month: July 2012

Knowing Jacques

Mr. South Africa

In recent years I’ve forced myself to have a grudging respect for Jacques Kallis. It’s not been easy – a perennial thorn in England’s side, the man strikes me as arrogant, self-satisfied, and just too bloody good. But how can you not admire a cricketer who has scored over 12 thousand runs and taken 250 wickets (not to mention the 183 catches)? It’s perhaps surprising that Jacques, a man as South Afrian as a braai fuelled by simmering racial tension, is not mentioned more often in discussions of the greats to have played the game.

Thanks Jacques

Nevertheless, during The Oval test I learned again to loathe those broad shoulders and proud chin as Kallis piled on the runs and piled on the misery in an extraordinary partnership with Hashim Amla. Can there be anything more dispiriting than being on the short side of a batsman’s runs quote when he’s 150 not out, the pitch is flat and the third new ball isn’t threatening to deviate?

My 75p sell of Kallis’ series runs at 225 would cost me £99 to close; it looks like I’m locked in hoping for successive failures from the big man at Headingley and Lord’s. Proof, as the firms are obliged to tell you, that spread betting can cost you more than your original stake – considerably.

The Kallis debacle aside (although it’s difficult to ignore), my other bets panned out quite well as England suffered a humiliating defeat, taking 2 wickets to the South Africans 20. My £1 buy of Graeme Smith’s series ton-ups at 24 is already in profit (31) and my sell of England’s series performance at 39 is sitting pretty with a current make up of, naturally, zero.

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Test Match jitters

Just a quick clarification: yesterday’s post might have given the impression that Sporting Index were making England massive favourites over SA on a supremacy market. The 39-43 price was in fact England’s outright series performance price, which I do believe is worth opposing.

Happy betting, can’t wait to get underway.

Bopara in the last chance saloon

Bit of a break on the blogging front as I have spent consecutive weekends pootling up and down the M40 in search of a game of cricket, only to be continuously thwarted by the piss poor weather. Not a great excuse for failing to write, but true nonetheless.

Can the new generation of SA quicks meet the standards set by Donald

Anyway, the summer is now threatening to stutter into gear. There’s the small matter of the Olympics coming up (why not give GB hockey-ist and ratified ‘good bloke’ Dan Fox a follow on twitter @danfox450), but first we have England’s test series against South Africa, which gets underway at The Oval on Thursday.

Meetings between the two sides have, since SA’s readmission, been hyper-competitive affairs and have always appealed to the punters (if sometimes a little too much).

I remember Allan Donald’s scorching battle with Mike Atherton in 1998 and I’ve got high hopes that we might see a similar intensity of fast bowling this time around with Steyn, Philander and Morkel a much-hyped attack.

South Africa go into the opening test somewhat undercooked with only a few days warm-up cricket under their belts; perhaps one reason why England are 39-43 on the Sporting Index series market (25 pts per test won, 10 pts per draw, 3 match series).

England might gallantly be clinging to the top of the ICC Test Rankings, but they did look vulnerable at times against the West Indies and, against a more mature international cricket side, might have been punished. I can’t see England white-washing the Proteas, indeed, I’d expect SA to win at least one Test and, consequently, would look to oppose England’ s outright index.

One of the series’ more interesting sub-plots is the international return of Ravi Bopara. This is surely the Essex man’s last tilt at securing a test spot; with a raft of young talent (Hales, Bairstow, Vince to name but a few) waiting in the wings Bopara needs to act now or join the likes of Ramprakash, Shah, Key and Hick in the category of county championship bullies who never quite did the business for England.

Last chance for the Ravster?

SpIn go 160-175 on Ravi’s series runs, by a distance the lowest quote of England’s top six (Cook is top of the shop at 230-245). I’m struggling to see a great deal of value on either side of the spread. If you’re looking for a sell, I think Jonathan Trott might be pitched a shade high (225-240) against his ‘native’ South Africa.

Looking at the South African batsmen, I’m interested in buying Graeme Smith’s series ton-ups at 18-24 as the skipper’s mega-tons on recent tours (I recall a seemingly interminable 277) live long in the memory and being on the right side of his tons quote is the only way of making watching him bat for long periods bearable. An interesting piece on Cricinfo pointed out Jacques Kallis relative failure in English conditions and following the impeccable analysis of Mr Rajesh a sell of Jacques’ series runs at 220 might well be in order.

On a sad note, as, myself, a member of the keepers’ union it’s a terrible shame to hear of Mark Boucher’s eye injury that has forced his retirement from international cricket. Your skills and competitiveness will be fondly remembered, especially this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bm6bpAlgDL0