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).