Stan Hey: 6-5 Against
Saturday 26 July 2008
When it first appeared a few years ago, Twenty20 cricket appeared to be a bit of summer fun, equivalent to a pub match at a village fête – disco music, crowds in fancy dress, and hot tubs on the boundary. Now it's the game that ate cricket.
This year's Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 tournament between teams of international cricketers "bought" at auction for huge fees, upped the ante. The English authorities have responded and in 2010, Twenty20 leagues will replace the 40-over competition. There's also the multi-million dollar "Stanford Challenge" winner-takes-all slog in the Caribbean, with today's winners' qualifying, and the Twenty20 Champions League this autumn.
So when the teams trot out at the Rose Bowl, it will be anything but frivolous. Holders Kent play Essex in the first semi-final, with Joe Denly looking to score quickly. But Essex have been in rattling form with Graham Napier hitting 16 sixes in a previous round. Ravi Bopara can hit, too, while Danesh Kaneria's spin is a weapon. £5 on Essex to qualify, 6-5 Totesport.
In the second semi, Durham meet Middlesex, who saw batsman Dawid Malan smash an extraordinary century to beat Lancashire in the quarter-finals. Durham have all-round power with Paul Collingwood and Steve Harmison needing performances with Test recalls in mind. Anyway, I tipped Durham for this at the start of the season – £5 at 9-1 – so that will do.
Last week's wagers
The Open was a washout with £50 lost – but did anyone back Padraig Harrington when he drifted to 40-1 as his wrist became an issue? The recovery Patent just missed – horses finishing second, third, second – while Nick Heidfeld was a split-second out of the money in fourth at Hockenheim. German for b******s!
Phil Neville and his fellow Match of the Day pundits given warning by the BBC after 'smash them' comment
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea could leave for FREE; £38m for Marquinhos; £37m bid for Mats Hummels;
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