Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Ashes regained

Let’s not go over the top, a cricket match is not a life defining moment, but being there as England regained the Ashes is something that will live with me for the rest of my life and I’m already looking to frame my ticket stub!

I have spent the vast majority of this Summer travelling around the country watching what was a fascinating series. A big change from last Summer which saw my cricket tickets gather dust or be used by friends as I was in and out of hospital! From a week in Cardiff, to two days at Edgbaston to the Headingley disaster before one day at the Oval, which turned out to be a lucky choice.

I never thought I would get to the Oval. When tickets went on general sale, I booked the day off work and waited for tickets to go on general sale, only for the Oval to refuse to allow new customers to sign up to buy tickets online. I don’t know how that qualifies as general sale but I was resigned to missing the last test.

Further, when the ECB offered tickets to the Supporters club, they combined the two London tests, and as I wanted to make a first trip to Lord’s, I put that down as my first two choices with day four at the Oval being the third and last choice. And the rest as they say, was history.

It really was a fantastic summer, full of sun, beer and over-priced food. Too much of the last one and probably too much of the second one! Was the cricket as high in quality as 2005? No. Was it as widely embraced by the public as 2005? No. However, that should not take away from the Series because it was still full of highs and lows, drama and good cricket contested in absolutely the right way. I would even say that the booing of Ricky Ponting, whilst unfortunate, was more in a pantomime villain type of way as opposed to being full of any real malice. His standing ovation on Sunday proved that.

As for the cricket, I am amazed at those who look at the statistics and therefore declare England “lucky”. It’s like looking at a football league table and thinking that the table should be arranged by goal difference.

Of course Australia will have the better statistics. When they played well, they dominated statistically. Of course they will lead the wicket tables; they took 19 wickets in Cardiff to England’s 6, and 20 to 10 in Headingley. Meanwhile, England’s victories saw them take 40 wickets to 35. Let us also not forget that Australia had two innings to England’s one at Edgbaston and their dominance at Cardiff.

Yet, and this is the key distinction, where former Australian outfits were like trained SAS marksmen, able to knock you out with military precision from 200 metres, this outfit were unable to knock you out from 5 yards out with any assortment of weaponry.

In Cardiff for example, Ricky Ponting declared too late. Forget the praise he got for taking two wickets at the end of Saturday. Why were Australia batting all through Saturday morning with a poor weather forecast? At this point, they were 150 ahead with a maximum of 5 sessions remaining (The weather forecast had all but ruled out Saturday evening). Therefore, even if England were to score at 100 runs per session, they would need to bat at least four sessions before they could be safe of not losing, and if Ponting could not trust his team to bat out one session, then Australia did not deserve the win. It was this indiscretion, and the obvious fighting qualities of the England team that gave them the edge going forward.

Let’s also not forget the Australian collapses in the first innings at Lord’s, Edgbaston and the Oval. Those wickets were hardly unplayable and Australia were largely able to escape from Edgbaston due to the rain; the majority of their runs coming once the match was all but over as a contest and given their batting to date, it would not have inspired confidence that they would have been able to hold out had the prospect of a result been realistic.

Even when they did win, they did so when any team would have been able to capitalise on a dire England performance. So yes, the Series was close, and the statistics show Australia to have more runs, but let’s remember that at Crunch time, the Aussies folded like a deckchair and that is the reason why England have, deservedly, regained the Ashes on a day that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

As for my trading, I managed to achieve my worst ever loss this weekend on the cricket. Despite the above analysis, my natural pessimism lead me to constantly back Australia. Heck, if they were to somehow win this, then I would want a refund for the rest of the Summer! This, plus if it was going to go to Day 5, I would want some money in the bank to allow me to buy a ticket from somewhere! However, with my phone battery still acting up, and with me not being 100% aware of all the bets I placed (I had forgot that some were unmatched), it ended up with me losing a lot more than what I thought I had! But given the England victory, it’s hard to really be too upset!

My other trading for the week was fairly impressive. Whilst I never foresaw the way the two TV games went on Thursday and Friday, I managed to react to claim around £100 on each and whilst I didn’t have a great week predicting, I did manage to almost break even thanks to Wakefield’s victory although Harlequins’ loss to Hull did really surprise me.

I also managed to complete some great Formula 1 Trades over the weekend despite not seeing any of the racing! Some of it was undoubtedly luck however! And I’ll expand on that in my next post, as I will with a good football trade from last night on the Liverpool v Aston Villa match whilst I will also look forward to the Challenge Cup final on Saturday although it is obviously disappointing to only have one RL game to look forward to this weekend!

Finally, I was trying to complete another free bet offer only to be cut off halfway through, re-inforcing my opinions of bookmakers. They only make the free bets offer to take advantage of those who can’t resist, and whilst I can’t really blame them for looking to turn away custom from regular winners, the fact that they are seemingly so happy to take money from people who might not be able to help themselves is nothing short of a complete disgrace. I almost had the last laugh, as a 25/1 shot almost came in from a £50 stake but despite reaching as low as 4 on Betfair, it didn’t win. (And whilst I had only laid off 80% of my stake, I did not manage to profit as the market crashed so soon and so quickly that I couldn’t respond quickly enough due to eating my lunch! Ah well, c’est la vie!)


  1. Enjoyed the cricket thoughts. Forgive me I "borrowed" some of them in quotes to my Aussie friend's (who deny the series happened).

  2. No worries mate! Just glad to know that someone reads my drivel! :-)

    Another case of lies, damned lies and statistics!

  3. Hi Craig

    Regarding the free bets, you can sometimes get a bet accepted in another sport where it doesn't stand out so much. Perhaps you might have some luck betting on the England football match as the bookies take some large and unusual bets on internationals.

    Another alternative is to change your userneame so it's not flagged up to other bookies.