Now that’s what I call a real choke!

There I was, about to write about what a great tournament Ravi Bopara had had in the Champions Trophy, how I owed him an apology for previously slagging him on this website and saying he should never play for England again, and how someone needed a massive pat on the back for having the balls to recall him.

I was all set to write my post, I had it all planned in my head, and then England go and choke in a manner that would have had even the most choke affected, mentally scarred South African’s laughing their tits off.

It was unbelievable, Tim Bresnan and Jos Buttler should wear disguises for the next week, their dismissals were embarrassing. In fairness to Buttler, he is a young man who should hopefully learn, but Bresnan’s run out was something else. As one commentator put it, there wasn’t even a quarter of a run there.

No excuses, as India deserved to win, but Ian Bell’s dismissal was a joke. Yes, it was probably the right decision, just! But the technology is there to give a definitive answer, not an opinion. Which is all we got on Sunday. And I would say that no matter who it was who got given out in those circumstances, English, Indian, etc, etc.

Anyway, never mind. India were by far the best side in the tournament, and deserved to win. This justifies Duncan Fletcher’s decision to ditch the old guard, and replace them with hungrier more athletic fielders. This Indian team is now the undisputed best 50 over team in the world, there can be no argument there.

From an English perspective, thank God for the Aussies. On a a day when England could have been getting panned by the media for their shortcomings, the Aussies took all the attention off England in a way no spin doctor could ever have done, with another explosion coming from their camp.

Although in fairness to them, I think this could end up being a good decision in the long run. Will it win them the Ashes this summer, only if England capitulate again.

Champions Trophy Betting – England V India

I’ve heard all last week that this is the final that everyone wanted, and organisers dreamed off. They’ve all got it now, so lets hope it’s a better game than the two semi-finals were, otherwise it could end up being a bit of a damp squib.

I’m not going to try to call this one, as I haven’t a clue. The odds for the Champions Trophy betting see India at 4/6, and England are 6/5.

On one hand India have looked imperious in this competition. They have only been under pressure the once, for a brief period in the opening game against South Africa, when AB de Villiers and Robin Peterson were seemingly coasting to India’s total of 331/4 in a 3rd wicket stand.

Once that partnership of 124 was broken, victory was reasonably comfortable. Since then, India have swatted West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka aside with ease. The wins have been so comfortable that the middle order has hardly had a bat since the opening day of the tournament.

Could that prove to be a problem for India today? Possibly, assuming England can get through to the middle order, that is.

On the other hand conditions at Edgbaston today should suit England. It is a damp, windy, miserable day, and there is rain in the air. England have by far the stronger seam attack, and if the conditions suit Jimmy Anderson and England bowl first, he could well exploit any morning moisture and make the new ball do plenty of talking.

England’s middle order haven’t really fired yet (apart from a couple of brief cameos from Ravi Bopara), and the form of Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan has to be a worry for the England management. Assuming Graeme Swann is passed fit, I’m not sure who will play out of him and Tredwell (I’d go with Tredwell myself), and there is a decision to be made between Steven Finn and Tim Bresnan.

Bresnan’s batting might come into the thinking when making a decision, mainly down to the misfiring middle order.  

The toss will be vital with possible swing in the air early on. Rain is due later though, and the prospect of Duckworth/Lewis coming into play will also have to be taken into account when deciding whether to bat first or second.

I hope the rain doesn’t spoil it, as all in all it has been quite an entertaining tournament. It is widely expected that this will be the last ever ICC Champions Trophy, and if it is, at least it has had a good send off. Let’s hope we get a final to finish with.

Champions Trophy Betting – India V Sri Lanka

Well, I think it’s safe to say I couldn’t have called yesterday’s game between England and South Africa much worse…. 300+ wicket on a pitch that should suit South Africa, two evenly matched sides, too close to call, etc…

In fairness to myself, it wasn’t a 175 all out wicket, the 9th wicket partnership of 95 for South Africa showed that, as well as Jonathan Trott’s batting. Also, I did mention that James Tredwell was an adequate replacement for Graeme Swann, so I at least did get something right (I think I may be clutching at straws here).

Briefly on the issue of Swann and Tredwell, you can’t drop Tredwell now in my opinion, so he has to play on Sunday if both are fit.

Today’s match between India and Sri Lanka seems destined to be rain effected, not as rain effected as predicted earlier in the week though. The Cardiff forecast seems much improved, and the doom and gloom predictions of a wash out seem to have now disappeared.

The bookmakers have India as strong favourites at 1/2, and Sri Lanka at 13/8. India have clearly been getting backed in, as they were 4/7 yesterday, and Sri Lanka were 11/8.

With the exception of the opening game between India and South Africa, Sophia Gardens has had low scoring games. The uncertainty of what to expect is deepened by virtue of the fact that a new wicket is being used today.

On the whole I would normally expect a lot of runs between these two sides, but it is expected to be a rain interrupted match today, so scoring might not be as high as expected. Add to that the new wicket, previous low scoring on this ground, etc, and it’s hard to know what to expect (after yesterdays high scoring prediction, I’m sitting firmly on the fence today).

Onto the outright winner betting, and England now find themselves as favourites again. The betting markets seem to have already made up their minds that it will be an England  V India final. I think India may well return to favourites should they make the final.

If you are betting on the Outright Winner Market, bear in mind that if today’s game is a ‘No Result,’ India qualify by virtue of the fact that they won their group.

Champions Trophy Betting

England 10/11
India 5/4
Sri Lanka 6/1

Champions Trophy Betting – England V South Africa

The first semi-final is to be played at the Oval today and on paper it looks too close to call.

The bookmakers make England 4/5 favourites, and have South Africa at Even money.

I’m  not too sure I would agree with that, I believe the conditions will slightly suit the South Africans better today. It looks a perfect day for batting, and I believe that this could be a 300+ runs wicket, which isn’t playing to England’s strengths.

On the flip side, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are both out , and with no Jacque Kallis in the squad, the Protea’s bowling does look very short. It struggled badly against India (who I believe to be a better batting unit than England), so the English batsmen should fancy their chances today.

England have no Graeme Swann, but like I wrote in the New Zealand match preview, James Tredwell is a more than adequate replacement.

So there’s pluses and minuses for both teams. I don’t expect weather to play a part, although thunder storms could turn up anywhere in the UK today.

England have won the toss and elected to field. I hope they don’t live to regret that, as I eluded too above, I’m not convinced England are a side equipped to chase 300+.

I reckon De Villiers would have batted first if he won the toss. Experience suggests South Africa might lose their nerve chasing, so I believe England have already handed the initiative to South Africa. If on the other hand, England take early wickets, Cook’s gamble will have paid off.

In the outright winner betting, India remain strong favourites.  Heavy rain is forecast on the day of their semi-final, so they could be in the final without bowling a ball (group winners qualify in the event of a washed out match).

Champions Trophy Betting

India 5/4
England 9/4
South Africa 3/1
Sri Lanka 6/1

Champions Trophy Betting – Australia V Sri Lanka

It’s great that at this stage of the tournament there is still six teams who are officially still in with a chance of lifting the Champions Trophy, although looking at the permutations just for Australia to qualify for the semi’s, I’d confidently say that there are only really five teams still with a realistic chance of being the last nation to lift the trophy.

And the Aussies are not even favourites to win the game outright today, never mind qualify. Sri Lanka are 8/11, Australia 11/10.

To qualify for the semi-finals, Australia will need to hammer Sri Lanka today. If batting first, Australia need to win by (approximately) more than 120 runs. If they bat second, it will obviously depend on what Sri Lanka get, but it is safe to say that the Aussies will have to knock whatever runs they are chasing off in far less than their allocated overs.

Sri Lanka just need to win, and if they do win they qualify at the expense of New Zealand. A wash out puts New Zealand through on net run rate. Or an Aussie win by a relatively smallish margin will see the Kiwi’s through.

The match is being played at the Oval. The new pitch used on Thursday by England and Sri Lanka provided plenty of runs, but today is expected to see plenty of cloud and patches of rain. So it could be a day for the bowlers (he says with little confidence).

Onto the outright winner betting, and with New Zealand waiting on today’s result to see if they are to further participate in the tournament, their cricket betting odds have drifted from 6/1 to 12/1. England meanwhile, have been cut from 5/1 to 9/4, following yesterday’s qualification for the semi-finals.

There is still a little chance Sri Lanka might top Group A, ahead of England. A reasonably large beating of Australia today would see Sri Lanka top the group. That would put England into a semi-final against India, and lead to England’s price drifting.

Australia are now out to 20/1, which looks very short to me considering their task today against Sri Lanka. I’d want 20/1 on them qualifying for the semi-finals, never mind winning the tournament.

Champions Trophy Betting

India 7/4
England 9/4
South Africa 11/4
Sri Lanka 7/1
New Zealand 12/1
Australia 20/1

Champions Trophy Betting – England V New Zealand

Not quite a straight knock out, as New Zealand would still have a chance to qualify if they lose today (they would need Australia to beat Sr Lanka, but not by enough to make their net run rate better than New Zealand’s) . England on the other hand, are out if they lose.

Rain is also likely to play apart in the outcome. In which case a wash out would see the Kiwi’s go through, and England relying on other results (again, an Aussie win against Sri Lanka, but this time not by enough to put them above England on net run rate).

The hosts start as favourites, England are 4/6, and New Zealand are 6/5.

For England Graeme Swann is injured, but Jonathan Trott is passed fit to play. The absence of Swann is not the disaster for England it would have been 18 months or so back, as James Tredwell has proved himself to be a more than adequate replacement.

Trott’s inclusion will no doubt upset his ODI knockers, but he is a major part of the English blueprint for playing at home (at the very least).

The Kiwi’s are without Tim Southee, which is a big blow for them, although he is yet to take a wicket for them in this tournament.

Previous results on this ground in the Champions Trophy don’t give any clues as to what sort of wicket it is, as they have seen high and low scoring matches. Along with the weather, expect another toss of the coin outcome.

In the outright Champions Trophy betting, Sri Lanka have been cut from 10/1 to 7/1 overnight without bowling a ball (or a match being played in their group). It appears cricket bettors have finally woken up and realised they have world class players, who can play in these (English) conditions.

Apart from that there is no real overall change in the outright winner betting. India are still favourites, they have been slightly cut from 7/4 to 13/8. While South Africa have been gently eased from 9/4 to 5/2.

Champions Trophy Betting

India 13/8
South Africa 5/2
England 5/1
New Zealand 6/1
Sri Lanka 7/1
Australia 16/1

Champions Trophy Betting – India V Pakistan

It’s a shame there isn’t a lot more riding on this game as there currently is with Pakistan already out of the tournament. The schedule was perfect, a Saturday fixture in the final group match for both these teams, with the potential for a winner takes all knock out.

Unfortunately that’s not the case as Pakistan have had a poor tournament and were the first team to be eliminated. That’s not to say that this game is irrelevant, as it obviously isn’t….. as when on earth is a fixture between these two teams ever irrelevant?

India go in to the fixture as 8/15 favourites, Pakistan are 6/4.

Not sure I’d be taking India at 8/15 when they have already qualified and may choose to rotate a couple of players. I think I would be wanting to know the Indian team first.

India may also have the bigger picture on their minds, as they have the chance to hold both ICC 50 Over Trophies. While for Pakistan, they will surely be right up for this game. Today’s fixture is effectively their final, and it would certainly make arriving back home next week a lot more comfortable if they can defeat India here today.

The match is being played at Edgbaston, and the conditions will be typically British with plenty of wind, and some rain expected. I’m not expecting this to be conducive to high scoring, and Pakistan’s form with the bat doesn’t suggest they are likely to contradict that opinion.

Outright Winner Champions Trophy Betting

West Indies are now out after their remarkable tie with South Africa yesterday. The Proteas now find themselves into 9/4 second favourites in the betting to lift the trophy.

It was an amazing finish to what turned out to be a remarkable game. I’d imagine that West Indies are kicking themselves this morning.

Could this turn out to be the catalyst that South Africa need to finally win a major tournament? On the whole, they have a side that looks more than capable. It’s just winning that initial tournament in the first place to get them going.

Outright Winner Champions Trophy Betting

India 7/4
South Africa 9/4
England 5/1
New Zealand 6/1
Sri Lanka 10/1
Australia 16/1

Champions Trophy Betting – South Africa V West Indies

Today’s match in Cardiff is effectively a straight knock out between South Africa and West Indies. There is plenty of rain in the air, and the possibility of a wash out is a real threat. I expect some play to take place, but will there be enough to constitute a match?

The match betting has South Africa as favourites at 4/6, and West Indies at 6/5.

If the game is a ‘no result,’ then South Africa will go through on net run rate. Not the worst outcome for a team renowned for blowing big matches, and maybe just the stroke of good fortune required to help them on their way to finally burying the ‘chokers’ tag.

In West Indies two games to date, they have been well beat by India, and they had a good go at blowing what should have been a reasonably comfortable run chase against Pakistan, only winning by 2 wickets in the end (chasing 171).

South Africa had a reasonable go at chasing down a large Indian total (331/7) in their first game, but fell short (305). And then restricted Pakistan to 167, while defending a modest total (234) to record their first win, in their second match.

Form says that West Indies batting has failed so far in this competition, and I thought that South Africa bowled poorly against India, although it was improved against Pakistan (who have had no form whatsoever), and they should have Dale Steyn back today.

Can the West Indies batting be totally written off though? We all know what they are capable off, and depending on what time the rain turns up, we could end up with a shortened match of 20-25 overs. And West Indies are current ICC World T20 Champions.

In short, I haven’t a clue what will happen today. Given the unpredictable nature of West Indies, the potential to choke from South Africa, and the British weather thrown into the mix as well, anything is possible.

Onto the outright winner market, and it’s all change again after Sri Lanka’s magnificent win over England yesterday.

Class tells in the end, and with their backs to the wall and in real danger of exiting the competition after just two matches, the class act that is Kumar Sangakkara showed the world why he is one of the best batsmen of his generation with a magnificent 134 not out against a fairly decent English attack.

As a result of yesterday’s defeat England have been pushed out in the betting. They are now third favourites in the outright winner champions trophy betting at 9/2, after having been 11/4 ahead of yesterday’s match.

Sri Lanka are in to 7/1 from 16/1, on the back of that magnificent win. Current ICC 50 Over World Champions, India still head the betting at 7/4.

Champions Trophy Betting

India 7/4
South Africa 7/2
England 9/2
New Zealand 6/1
Sri Lanka 7/1
West Indies 10/1
Australia 14/1

Champions Trophy Betting – England V Sri Lanka

In hindsight England’s performance against Australia at Edgbaston on Saturday was pretty much text book. A grinding, modest total, defended by good tight, disciplined bowling, and athletic aggressive fielding. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s what England have been building towards for some time now.
It’s not a policy that I think will win in Asian conditions, but in English conditions, it has a chance (which is why I also think New Zealand are serious contenders in this tournament).
The online bookmakers have Alastair Cooks men as favourites today, England are now 4/7, Sri Lanka are 11/8. It seems England must be getting heavily backed as they were 4/6 last night.     
Defeat today sees Sri Lanka eliminated, while victory will open the group right up. It seems hard to believe that a team with Lasith Malinga, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in it are the tournament outsiders after playing just one match, but such is the tournament format, that is unfortunately the case for the Sri Lankans. 
The wicket being used at The Oval today is apparently a new one, so recent results there shouldn’t be used as too much of a form guide. This might prompt the re-inclusion of Steven Finn, and there is again a bit of overcast gloomy typical English weather around at the moment. This could explain why in the betting, England getting backed in over the last few hours. 
In the overall tournament winner betting, Australia seem to be the losers after yesterday’s washout. They have now drifted in the betting from 10/1 to 16/1, with New Zealand trimmed from 13/2 to 11/2. So the bookmakers clearly see New Zealand as the main beneficiaries of the splitting of the points.
England and Sri Lanka have slightly drifted, while India still head the betting.
Outright Champions Trophy Betting
India 7/4
England 3/1
South Africa 4/1
New Zealand 11/2
West Indies 10/1
Australia 16/1
Sri Lanka 16/1  

Champions Trophy Betting – Australia V New Zealand

The Kiwi’s must be relishing the chance to possibly kick their antipodean neighbours out of the Champions Trophy at such an early stage, if they can upset the odds and beat Australia at Edgbaston today.

The odds were heavily stacked in the Aussies favour. Yesterday, online bookmakers had Australia favourites at 4/6, and had New Zealand at 6/5. Personally, given current form, I thought that was a bit harsh on New Zealand.

Since then things have changed, and it has now emerged that David Warner has been stood down from today’s match for allegedly being involved in a late night altercation with an England player, rumoured to be the well built, Joe Root.

News of this seems to have been the catalyst for the punters to get stuck in to the Kiwi’s, as New Zealand are now into 11/10, with Australia drifting out to 8/11. This seems a bit more of a realistic price in my view.

Anyway, what would I know, I predicted a high scoring match between India and West Indies yesterday, and I clearly got that wrong. Although India did back up my theory that the previous low scoring game at The Oval was down to poor batting, by chasing down West Indies’ modest total with little fuss.

Back to today’s game, and look at the facts. New Zealand are in form, Australia aren’t. Australia are still without their best batsman – and now David Warner as well, so do they justify being favourites?

Surely this can only be down to previous results between the two, the fact that New Zealand are generally regarded as the ‘inferior team’ when it comes to playing Australia.

From the Kiwi’s point of view though, they have to ask themselves will they ever get a better chance to put the boot into Australia? This is their perfect chance to kick them while they are down.

The Edgbaston pitch seems to be playing in a competitive manner. Both games so far have been won by the team batting first, England with 269 and South Africa 234, so no one has got away yet and smashed a big total.

There is also rain in the air today, and I believe that these scrappy low scoring conditions play into the hands of teams like New Zealand and England. Obviously the toss will be important though, with the possibility of Duckworth/Lewis coming into play.

Outright Champions Trophy Betting

Pakistan are gone with a game still to play, as a result of India’s win yesterday. That win also sees India into outright favourite to win the Champions Trophy, the betting now has them in to a short looking 7/4.

West Indies are the big losers, their loss to India sees them drift from 11/2, out to 10/1.

Champions Trophy Betting

India 7/4
England 11/4
South Africa 9/2
New Zealand 13/2
Australia 10/1
West Indies 10/1
Sri Lanka 14/1