Stan Hey: 6-5 Against
Saturday 25 July 2009
We are only two Tests into the Ashes series but already there's a compelling tapestry being stitched across the summer, detailing the thrust and counter-thrust of the teams; the fall of champions; the rise of unexpected heroes.
And if there's a King Harold in view, it must represent the one-eyed decisions of umpires that have favoured England – not that we care.
The next Test at Edgbaston isn't until Thursday, but I'd take the worst seat in the ground ahead of "Glorious Goodwood" or being Ryanaired to Galway's Festival. The match hinges on the fitness of Brett Lee and Andrew Flintoff. Australia needs Lee's toe-crushing yorkers to do the damage that Mitchell Johnson has not delivered, while England without Flintoff will be light on bite.
The bookies reacted strongly to Kevin Pietersen's absence, making Australia 15-8 (Stan James) for this Test, fearing that Ian Bell, a "bunny" for the Aussie bowlers, won't shore up England's middle order. England are 4-1 (bet365), extraordinary after a crushing win. Time to play safe – £20 win, 11-10 generally, on a draw.
Hampshire and Sussex fill the void in the Friends Provident Trophy final at Lord's today. Sussex are favourites (5-6 Paddy Power) but Hampshire have shed their "gin and Jag" image and could prevail – £10 win, at evens, Totesport. Today's other bet is £10 on Roaring Forte (11-2 Totesport) in Ascot's Abu Dhabi International.
*The Open ended as Theatre of Cruelty with so many hopes dashed, most notably Tom Watson's. His play-off defeat was heart-breaking but also launched a wave of bad puns – "Cink in the Armour" anyone?
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