Latest Ashes Betting

The news that Kevin Pietersen is now out of the series against New Zealand starting in May hasn’t really had any impact with the online bookmakers‘ odds with regard to cricket betting for the Ashes series.

In reality, it shouldn’t impact Ashes betting, as what has the New Zealand series got to do with the Ashes? In short, the answer is nothing, but we have been here before with ECB injury updates.

When news of Pietersen’s knee injury first emerged, he was only supposed to be out of the IPL. Now he is out of the New Zealand series as well.

So what next? The Ashes as well!!

Obviously the injury is worse than first thought. Are the ECB not telling us the full story? Are the medical staff getting their diagnosis wrong? Is he really a doubt for the Ashes? Because if he is, the odds will certainly change.

The problem I see here is that we have been here before. We had similar problems a few years back with Michael Vaughan, Simon Jones, Andrew Flintoff and Chris Tremlett.

More recently we have had the issues with Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, and I’m convinced Stuart Broad isn’t right.

ECB injury updates remind me of a train delay when you are standing on a platform needing to get somewhere. It starts off as 5 minute delay, then a 10 minute delay, and so on…. I’m sure you get the picture.

Is this a deliberate drip feed of information, designed not to give the Aussies the complete picture of the England players health? Or is this (allegedly) misdiagnosis again?

I fully understand the ECB not wanting to give the Aussies a heads up about the medical conditions of some of our better players. My fear is that I’m not convinced this is what the ECB are actually doing.

Anyway, onto the cricket betting and with regard to the odds on the Ashes, they haven’t really changed. England are still around the 2/5 to 4/9 mark for a series victory. A drawn series is still around 5/1 to 11/2. The Aussies have slightly shortened, a few weeks back they were generally 7/2 to 4/1, with a couple of bookies going 3/1. They are still in that price range, but I’ve noticed quite a few bookmakers are now offering 10/3 – as well as 3/1, 7/2 and 4/1.

When betting on cricket I feel it is worthwhile keeping an eye on markets long term. As we get closer to the Ashes, if news of the injuries to Pietersen and Swann isn’t getting better, England will almost certainly drift on Betfair and the other betting exchanges. If you know where England’s price has been sitting, it’s easier to make a judgement call as to where you think it may go to.

Graeme Swann on 5 Live

I heard Graeme Swann giving an interview to Radio 5 Live earlier today and as usual Swanny was good value and pulled no punches in telling it like it was.

When asked to clarify his recent remarks about his views on ODI cricket, Swann denied saying it should be scrapped, but did say that it should be taking up a lesser part of the cricketing calender.

Swann said that 5 and 7 match series should be reduced to just 3 match series. His whole attitude sounded to me like he doesn’t have the heart and desire to play 50 over cricket any more.

In my opinion he basically said that he is sick and tired of playing too much international 50 over cricket and that he has fallen out of love with this format of the game.

If there is more than him with that view in the squad, then maybe it’s time for a shake up from Andy Flower.

He also added that the home series with India was far more enjoyable because it was a shorter series (due to the weather) and that the shorter ones are generally more competitive.

He gave some very interesting and forthright views and these remarks probably go a long way to explaining why England got thrashed off the park by India’s reserves in their most recent ODI series. 

I was pleased to hear him say how much he loves playing test cricket and that he believes this format and T20 is the best way forward. And in a further twist, when asked about his remarks about KP’s captaincy, he also added Alastair Cook’s name to the list of people he believes to not be natural leaders, although he did put ‘yet’ in that sentence.

Onto another of Swann’s targets in his book, Samit Patel, and I was pleased to read today that Samit has decided not to put himself up for next years IPL auction, instead deciding he wants to play Championship cricket in a bid to get himself in the test team.

I think that’s great, but I believe that he has no chance of getting in the side as a spinner and little chance of making the top 6 as a batsman. Maybe he could get the No.6 role as a batting all rounder if he could score shed loads of runs, but that’s as good as it will get for him.

The cynic in me though suggests that Patel is being very crafty here. The touring party for next year’s test series against Pakistan in the UAE is named shortly, and Patel has just showed how committed he is to England ahead of the selection of a tour party that will be spinner heavy.

This is one of those rare series in which England will probably pick two spinners in the team, and this is clearly Patel’s best chance of getting a test call up.

Tim Bresnan has showed how you can force your way into this team, there could be a window of opportunity opening up for Patel this winter, it will be interesting to see if he can make the most of it.

Just what England don’t need

I’ve got to be honest and say that despite all the ECB’s online press releases and briefings that all is great in the England camp, I’m not convinced that all these revelations from Graeme Swann’s book is not already causing, or won’t eventually cause, friction among the squad.

The ECB can dress it up all they like with their lines that Swann and Pietersen were seen laughing and joking on the day that it came out that Swann basically thought KP was a crap captain.

And he didn’t just call him a crap captain, Swann may as well have said he has no respect for Pietersen in stating that he wouldn’t cross a certain line with Strauss, but would with others.

It may have caused tension already, or it may not have, but one thing for certain is that no matter how thick skinned KP has become these days, he must be a bit annoyed (to say the least) at being publicly humiliated in this way by one of his (so called) team mates.

Surely there will come a time when relations will become strained between the two for any number of reasons, and I wouldn’t mind betting that it may be then that the true repercussions of these revelations will be felt.  

There is a time and a place for autobiography’s and the time for slagging off a team mate certainly isn’t while you are still playing in the same side as him.

This team is in the middle of an exceptional run, Swann has risked the unity and togetherness of the squad in pursuit of what can only be financial gains, there was no need for it at this stage of proceedings.

If this causes unrest in the squad and leads to a rift (and I can only assume it eventually will), we could be self destructing and throwing away our hard earned position as the top test side in world cricket, the rest of the world must be secretly laughing at us at the moment.

When this all eventually does hit the fan, I hope that the English management hold the guilty party accountable for what he has unnecessarily done.

Swann’s in Good Company

Ok, so Graeme Swann missed out on being named as ICC Cricketer of the Year with the award going to the legend that is Sachin Tendulkar, but there really is no disgrace in that.

I’m sure Swann isn’t too down hearted about missing out, after all – with the exception of his cat getting stuck under the floorboards – it has been a magnificent 12 months for the spinner in all formats of the game.

Just 18 months ago who would have imagined Swann’s name would be getting mentioned alongside Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Hashim Amla? Ok, I’ll give you Amla.

I certainly wouldn’t and I doubt Swann would have either. To get down to the final 4 shortlisted players in the Cricketer of the Year award is a remarkable achievement in itself.

On top of that Swann is a T20 World Champion, he is ranked No.2 in the test bowling rankings and he is No.3 in the ODI bowling rankings. Put these two rankings together and on average he would currently be the top bowler in the world.

Not a bad 12 months work.

I’ve wrote on this blog and on others in the past that a good run of form can only go on for so long. After a certain length of time you have to start to accept that maybe the player actually is the real deal, a top class performer.

Swann has well and truely made that transformation.

His uncanny knack of getting a wicket in the 1st over of a new spell is also priceless for Andrew Strauss and England, how many times has he got England out of a hole doing that lately?

I also believe that he has taken England to another level with his positive nature that seems to be rubbing off and making England more of an attacking team prepared to take risks to get wickets.

Another area of the team that has gone up a notch since his arrival in the side is the slip fielding. England had struggled to replace Trescothick and Flintoff in that department, moving Collingwood from his preferred gully position and having to try out the likes of the half asleep Alastair Cook to make up the numbers. Swann’s inclusion has solved that particular problem.

Add to that the fact that he is a useful lower order batsman and England have a very handy cricketer on their hands.

So heres to hoping that Swann can continue this outstanding run and cap it all off with an Ashes victory down under. I’m sure that will make up for missing out on this award.

Go for it Swanny!!

Who’s "oversight" was it?

I’m not sure what to make of ICC’s decision to add Graeme Swann’s name to the longlist for the ICC Cricketer of the Year Award, after originally overlooking him. It is another highly embarrassing incident for ICC.

Justice has certainly been done, as Swann should have been one of the first names on the list. He is probably in the top 4 or 5 cricketers in the world over the last year, let alone the top 16.

But why he was originally left out is another question. Was it just a stupid oversight? Or is there more too it than that?

One of the five members of the selection panel is a certain Duncan Fletcher. The same man who deemed Swann not good enough for England during the majority of his tenure as national team coach.

To those of us outside the sport looking in, Fletcher seems an incredibly hard man to read. He seemed to be a stone faced, dour man devoid of any personality while he was coach of England. But during his stint on Test Match Special last winter he came across as a very articulate, decent friendly man with a dry sense of humour, he was in fact very interesting to listen too.

One thing that I think is obvious about Fletcher though, is his unbreakable, stubborn belief that he is never wrong.

Could it be that to name Swann as one of the worlds top cricketers would be an admission that he got it wrong in the past?

And how wrong Fletcher got it, is quite amazing really. I think back to the public clamour for Monty Panesar to be included in the England team, and the way Fletcher seemed totally opposed to this.

He hated certain aspects of Panesar’s game, mainly his fielding and batting. While he desperately wanted Ashley Giles back as he was the all round complete package, could field at gully, and bat at 8, as well as do his bowling duties properly.

Without Giles – and having to replace him with Monty – the whole axis of Fletcher’s team was compromised. And all the time, the perfect like-for-like replacement for Giles was plugging away in county cricket with absolutely no chance of getting a game, simply because Fletcher didn’t like his personality.

Maybe Swann wasn’t ready for test cricket back in 2006-07, who knows? Under Fletcher we certainly were never going to find out, thats for sure.

Duncan Fletcher did a brilliant job as England coach, and I’m sure I speak for all England fans when I say we owe him a massive debt of gratitude for the 2005 Ashes victory.

And in Fletcher’s defence, there was 4 other members on the selection panel, so Fletcher would probably have had to do well to persuade others not to select Swann.

But I really do hope this isn’t another episode of the bitterness that seemed to surface with the release of his book. The kind of revenge that Fletcher seemed hell bent on dishing out when he released his thoughts on anyone who dared cross him during his time in charge.

I like to try and think of Fletcher as he came across on TMS, as I mentioned earlier in the article, but it does leave me wondering.

Is Graeme Swann, England’s missing link?

Without getting carried away with one win, albeit an exceptional one. In Graeme Swann, England may just be unearthing the gem in their attack they have been searching for, for many years now.

It is often said that England’s attack is a top fast/strike bowler short of being a top class attack. Anderson, Broad and Onions are decent honest swing and seam bowlers who on their day, or in helpful conditions can destroy batting line ups.

With comparison, put them on a flat track and they can at times look clueless and lack that bit of extra creativeness or explosiveness you can get from a McGrath or a Steyn.

If, and it is a big if, Swann can continue at this rate, he might be able to become that elusive bowler that can prise out a top batsman on an unhelpful surface. In having that bowler who can unlock the door it would surely give the rest of the of the attack more confidence too.

He could also be the answer to the five or six batsmen conundrum if he could become a wicket taker, one which also offers an element of control and the option to hold up one end for the majority of a day. Almost two bowlers in one. Leaving the not so positive Strauss and Flower the option of playing six batsmen, a safer policy in their eyes, which I think they would much prefer.

Lets not get carried away with Swann’s performances though, after all Monty was supposed to be the new world beating spinner just 2 to 3 years ago and where is he now? Swann needs to keep performing at this level for many years to come yet if he to become a great test player.

Swann’s other assets for England are his positive, attacking batting, he is a good fielder and he seems to add a lot of colour and humour to the England dressing room, which I imagine could be a bit bland at times with some of the characters in there.

Let’s hope this is not another false dawn for England, and that Swann is the real deal and he can continue to perform at this high level rather than this just being an exceptional one off year.

Only time will tell.