Sports Betting: Zimbabwe's odds just not cricket

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The Independent Online
It must say something about the regard in which England's cricketers are presently held that bookmakers are even bothering to offer prices on their tour of Zimbabwe, while the precise odds available only serve to underline just how far England have fallen.

With the cloud of injury hovering above Mike Atherton, whose own performances seem to define that of his team, England are just 4-9 with Hills to win the first one-day international on Sunday, with Zimbabwe on 13-8, while the series odds are 30-100 England, 9-4 Zimbabwe. England may be odds- on, but a few years ago they would have been unbackable.

At those prices victory for Zimbabwe would represent less of a shock than, for instance, Sheffield Wednesday's win at Anfield on Saturday. Yesterday's one-day win over Matabeleland would hardly inspire confidence after the two previous losses on tour. In betting on the two-match Test series, England are drifting with each fresh disappointment. Ladbrokes offer them at 8-13 (from 4-9), with a drawn series 2-1 (from 9-4) and victory for the hosts just a 5-1 chance (from 7-1). Shrewd punters will be waiting until this week's four-day game with Matabeleland is out of the way.

The German Open snooker championship begins today with Stephen Hendry a 15-8 favourite with the Tote and, on recent UK Championship form, apparently a solid bet.

But Hendry is rarely at his peak for anything other than the top events these days, and is vulnerable in best-of-nines (he is only 1-3 for his first-round match against Darren Morgan). The other side of the draw is the one to study, with Ken Doherty a decent 12-1 chance with the Tote.

GERMAN OPEN SNOOKER: Best prices: 15-8 Hendry (T); 5-1 Higgins (L); 7- 1 O'Sullivan (T); 9-1 Williams (L); 12-1 Doherty (T); 14-1 Bond (H, L, T); 20-1 Robidoux (H), S Davis (H,L,T); 28-1 Harold (L); 33-1 Hicks (H, L, T); Gray (L, H); 40-1 Morgan (H); 50-1 Clarke (H, L); 66-1 Drago (T); 80-1 Ferguson (H), M Davis (H).

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