CRICKET WORLD CUP: MATCH BETTING

YOU WON'T get rich backing England for a win in their match against Kenya today. Ladbrokes are the most generous with their prices and they make England white-hot favourites at 14-1 ON (you bet 14 to win one).

It gets worse. Stanley Racing make England 20-1 on; Coral go 33-1 on and William Hill, unbelievably make England 50-1 on. If you have just landed from another planet and think that Kenya can beat the host nation, don't expect these prices in reverse from the miserly bookies.

Ladbrokes offer a dreadful 6-1, Stanley an equally stingy 8-1, Coral 12-1 and William Hill 14-1. You'll be much better off backing the top-scoring batsmen.

Coral make the captain Alec Stewart favourite in the England side at 5-2, followed by 3-1 Hick, 10-3 Hussain, 4-1 Thorpe and 9-2 Nick Knight (who will not play if England stick to the side which beat Sri Lanka on Friday). William Hill makes Hick and Stewart joint favourites at 9-4 with Hussain and Knight 3-1 chances and Thorpe on 9-2.

Against weak opposition, there's a fair chance that batsmen further down the order may not get a chance to score so consider that before you place your bets.

Some good value bets can be made on the top Kenyan scorers at Canterbury. Steve Tikolo, the talented and occasionally prolific batsman, looks a snip at 9-2.

Tomorrow's matches between Zimbabwe and India, and South Africa and Sri Lanka, look to be more open betting contests. The word "open" is used only in the relative sense compared to today's match.

India's captain Sachin Tendulkar is the 9-4 favourite with Stanley to top-score against Zimbabwe. A better bet may be Saurav Ganguly. Given his sterling performance against South Africa, when he was arguably unlucky to fall only due to the remarkable talents in the field of Jonty Rhodes, it might be worth a small investment on him to be the top man for the Indians.

For Zimbabwe, Neil Johnson is the favourite to post the highest tally against India, at around 100-30.

For South Africa against Sri Lanka, Jacques Kallis is the favourite to top-score, at 100-30 with Stanley. Gary Kirsten, at around 7-2, just behind Kallis in the betting, as is Daryll Cullinan. If you fancy a more hopeful punt, there is always Allan Donald, who is priced at a modest 100-1.

The same odds can be had about Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka, not surprsingly given his forte is bowling the ball rather than hitting it.

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