Stan Hey: 6-5 Against

Spin could just win World Cup for Proteas
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The Independent Online

If I put the words "cricket" and "betting" together, there's every likelihood that I will be visited by Scotland Yard, or castigated by men in "bacon and egg" ties for being decadent.

I'm sorry, gentlemen, but I'm just asserting a punter's right to bet on cricket without feeling sleazy. The ICC World Cup, which began this morning with a match between co-hosts India and Bangladesh is a fantastic sporting event.

England (9-1, generally) should reach the quarter-finals but weak batting makes it unlikely they'll clinch a title that has eluded them. India are obvious favourites (3-1, Paddy Power), with Sachin Tendulkar in his last one-day series determined to end with a flourish; while Australia (6-1, Stan James), winners of the last three World Cups, won't go down without a fight. Sri Lanka (9-2, Bet 365) have a great chance given the conditions.

I'm going for South Africa who have a powerful batting line-up and if the recently naturalised Imran Tahir can produce effective spin their bowling won't be too shabby. £20 win Proteas at 11-2, Ladbrokes, with £10, same firm, on Jacques Kallis for top tournament batsman at 25-1.

The WGC-World Match Play Championship starts next Wednesday at the spectacular Dove Mountain course in the Arizona desert with the top 64 players competing in knock-out format. Paul Casey, twice runner-up, and Geoff Ogilvy, twice a winner, are the bets, both £10 each-way.