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Giving the blog away

06 Nov 11 01:57
Well, I gave blogging a short go and looking back over my posts I think I did a pretty decent job in calling some matches in the England v India and Sri Lanka v Australia test series.  Also made a big shout on Manly to win the NRL premiership (and Dragons to falter) months before they actually did.....but I'm not normally one to boast as I'll take money in the pocket over kudos any day of the week.

In the end there hasn't really been much interest in my blog.  Maybe only a dozen "hits" on most posts and many of those probably didn't stay to actually read my analysis with only a single comment received.  I've come to the conclusion that either punters don't care for sports analysis or I'm blogging in the wrong place.

Anyway, if you're reading this I thank you for your belated interest, but I'm signing off now.
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Big Bang Theory

07 Oct 11 04:49
I'm not normally one to bet big on the T20, let alone make any bold predictions because most games of T20 these days may as well be decided by flipping a coin as they can be so unpredicatable.  However, now that the preliminary games are over in the Champions League, there's less chance of a fix and there are a few things lining up ahead of tonites game of Bangalore vs NSW that even I (a self-confessed T20 skeptic) can't ignore in good conscience.

Both teams are on a winning streak, but the way in which Bangalore won thier last match was not only spectacular, but it's the sort of win that can really forge a teams resolve.  I'm no huge fan of the IPL teams (I'm actually a NSW supporter), largely because they seem to pull a lot of big name international players together who can draw crowds and yet the IPL "teams" often look more like a gaggle of individuals wearing the same color shirt than a team.  But this last win by Bangalore suggests to me that this team *can* and *is* coming together to play to their potential.

There's no question that with Gayle, Dilshan and Vettori this team has got 3 of the very best international players going around, so thier roster is stronger than NSW and if these guys all can fire the game will be a no-contest.  Yes, Warner was sensational for NSW last game, but he has a tendency to be inconsistent and he often doesn't put two good performances together.  I'm not sure why, perhaps he reads too much of his own press, but I'm expecting him to go cheaply tonite.  On the other hand, Gayle has a tendency to lack focus, but after being left in the shadows during that spectacular win and now being up against his old nemesis Watson, you can bet he will be focused and fired up for this match.  It will be interesting to see if we have any more fireworks between Gayle and Watson for this game. Devil

Also, don't discount the home ground advantage that Bangalore have.  I don't think that NSW have played at this ground, but this is the same ground where Bangalore just chased down 214 for that spectacular win.  Having experience with the pitch and conditions is a huge advantage for Bangalore than cannot be understated.

So overall, with a powerful momentum, stronger roster and home ground advantage I don't think any sane person could go past Bangalore for this match.  I got on them at 1.84 with a bookie to avoid the commission but they're currently at the same price on Betfair.  I'm also on them for most sixes at 2.10.
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Manly Finally Favourites

22 Sep 11 08:53
With only 4 teams left in the NRL competition we are right down to the business end of the season and it's no surprise to me that Manly has finally come into favourtism.  They've been under the radar for a while now, but the market has woken up to the threat and got the price right at 2.76 for them to win the competition.

Of course they've been helped by the fact that Broncos knocked out the Dragons and then have had Lockyer pull out of the next match, but with the sort of high-intensity football we see in finals you have to expect that injuries can (and will) happen.  That's why I was very happy to leave my big fat green on Manly during thier week off and have now seen them shorten from 4.30 to 2.76 without them even having to take the field ! Laugh

Yet this *IS* a finals series and anything can happen, so I'm taking the opporuntity now to cover my exposure on the other finalists by laying my initial Manly stake (backed at 5.50 in early August) off at 2.76.  This still leaves me with a large green on Manly but I don't have any downside should there be an upset.

Brisbane will get Thiaday back for this weekend.  He'll add plenty of fire and passion to the Bronco pack, but without the experience and leadership of Lockyer to steer the team around the park I am expecting the young broncos to wilt as the game wears on and there is every chance that Manly will blow them off the park by 20 if they can resume at the intensity where they finished off during the Cowboys game.

I still think that Melbourne are over-rated and thier performance against Newcastle was hardly convincing.  The Warriors would have taken a lot of confidence from thier upset win over the Tigers and if the bounce of the ball goes thier way they are capable of anything.  I'd expect the Warriors to approach the game with Melbourne with nothing to fear as I believe the pressure is right off them.  Nobody expects the Warriors to win and therefore they will be dangerous.  They've upset Melbourne in finals football before so I'm laying Manly for a tiny bit extra and I've used that to add a side bet on the Warriors at 8.00

Hence, a Manly v Warriors grand final would suit me down to the ground and if it goes this way we should see Manly into a sub 1.60 price on the big day.
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The end of Day 3 sees the Australian bowlers tired and wilting in the hot Sri Lankan conditions as the hosts enjoy thier strongest batting performance of the series so far.  Watson got the early breakthrough with his reverse swing and when Siddle took Sangakarra soon after it looked like the Aussies might have averted disaster, but the rest of the attack was fairly feeble and even the lower order Sri Lanka batsmen have been able to get runs.

Tommorrow morning the Aussie bowlers will be fresher and with the 2nd new ball due I'd expect they should be able to close out the Sri Lanka innings before lunch with Siddle the most likely wrecker.  Then the big question is whether Australia can bat for 4 sessions to prevent a Sri Lankan victory.  I think the pitch is still playing fairly true and the Aussie batsmen will be a bit more focused and determined than they were in the 1st innings so they should perform a lot better with fewer loose shots played.

Australia are now paying 60 and so I'm taking the opporuntity to green up across the board and shift my largest green from Sri Lanka (now laying at 2.86) to the draw at 1.58.  Australia don't need to win this test to win the series, so if they are good enough they are likely to bat well into Day 5.  We might see the draw price spike up early on Day 4 if/when the Sri Lankan wickets fall before lunch, but I'd expect it to crash again once the Aussies put together thier first decent partnership (probably after Hughes gets out).  Expect a gritty innings from Ponting on Day 4.  These situations bring out the best in him.
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Lanka on the road

18 Sep 11 03:25
No surprises from the first 2 days of this test match.  Australian batsmen getting out to loose shots and underperforming on a pitch that should have been ripe for a 400+ 1st innings score.  Hughes failing miserably again, but luckily Marsh and Hussey carried on from the 2nd test otherwise the Aussie score could have been much lower.

Also expected was the Aussie attack struggling in the absence of Harris.  Siddle has done well (all things considered) and atleast the Aussies can trust that he'll keep trying, but some of the other bowlers are in danger of allowing frustration to take them out of the game as they have a tendency to be mentally fragile in these situations.  I think the best Aussie hope will be the reverse swing of Watson.

Sangakarra and Jayawardene could put on a big partnership here, so again the 1st hour of play is crucial.  If Australia can't break through early these two could both be up for big hundreds and they have the potential to take the game right away from Australia.

The market has got the prices about right, but I am a little bit concerned that this match may be headed for another draw.  The Sri Lanka price may not improve a great deal even if they bat all day, but the draw price will.  Therefore I've trading out some of my Sri Lanka green at 3.45 and used that (plus some extra) to cover my exposure on the draw at 1.61.  I still have a healthy green on Sri Lanka, neutral on the draw and a red on Australia.  I'm expecting the Australian odds could be out to 30+ by the end of day 3 if Sri Lanka bat well and I will look to green up across the board at around this price mark.
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Adding Injury to Insult

15 Sep 11 23:08
With Harris ruled out of the 3rd test there goes my "Series Aussie Wicket Taker" bet and along with it goes a fair amount of the potency in Australias bowling attack.  This has probably helped the pre-match odds on the draw into 1.71 favourite and yet with the Sri Lankans 0-1 down with 1 test to go, you'd have to expect that they will be pushing for a result.  I'm wondering if they may try and serve up another dusty wicket to see if they can't ambush the high flying Aussies who would be feeling they deserved the win last test, but were robbed by the weather.  (That's certainly how I feel anyway !)

There were enough positives in the 2nd test for Sri Lanka to draw some confidence.  2nd Innings they fared a lot better than many expected and the old firm of Jayawardene/Sangakarra are showing signs that they can still be formidable when they focus.  Siddle adds a differrent dimension to the Aussie attack and he may well repeat his Melbourne heroics to become the top wicket taker for the Aussies this test, but I think his bowling is not well suited to the Sri Lankan conditions and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Aussie attack struggle without Harris.

Khawaja is unlucky to be dropped after not really getting a chance and while Ricky was showing glimpses of form before his departure, he may not be back in the right headspace for this test.  Marsh will also need to make sure his 2nd test success doesn't go to his head.  Hughes is lucky to still be there after some indifferrent innings and I don't expect much from him this test either.

All up, I think the Sri Lankans are value at 6.20 and my pre-game position is to back them outright.  Even though I'm not convinced they can actually win the test I think they will trade lower.  Particularly if they bat first and can post 400+ or if we see a dusty wicket they will be right in this contest.  I also think that anything over 4.50 for Jayawardene/Sangakarra Top Bat 1st Innings is good value and I've thrown a speculator on Watson for top Australian bowler 1st Innings at 7.50.
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Manly on course

11 Sep 11 00:56
Last night during the Manly v Cowboys game we saw two halves of football which were in stark contrast to each other.  The first half saw Manly, perhaps initially a little complacent, then nervous and uncertain as they found themselves put under significant pressure by a Cowboys team which was determined and desperate.

During this half I watched the young Manly halves with interest and groaned as my earlier concerns about thier inexperience and abilty to perform under pressure were starting to be realised.  Cherry-Evans was being charged down, putting rushed and misdirected kicks in.  The bigger surprise, however was that Foran was almost invisible.  The body language and intensity of the Manly team was uncharacteristically down.

Going into half time 8-0 down it was up to the great man Hasler to snap this team out of the doldrums, and that he did - which is why I put Hasler up there with Bellamy and Bennett as one of the best coaches in the league.  Manly came out in the 2nd half a team transformed.

The way Manly destroyed the Cowboys in the 2nd half was nothing short of awesome.  How often do you see a team put on 42 unanswered points in a 40 minute half of football - let alone a 40 minute half of FINALS football ?  The intensity came back and with it the confidence and comraderie the team was lacking.  But what was most significant was that the inexperienced Manly halves stepped up.  Foran put the game in Manlys hands with that brilliant offload to Stewart when the game was still in the balance and Cherry-Evans returned to his strong tactical kicking for the corners and confident ball-playing.  His kick that hit the upright was admittedly a fluke, but I think it helped him a lot to kick back into gear (pun intended).

The significance of this game is that the Manly halves have just had their "baptism of fire" in finals football and they (plus the rest of the team) will draw a lot of confidence from turning around this game and be a lot stronger for it.  If they can play the rest of the season like they did the 2nd half last night they will be unstoppable.

Manly are now the 1st team to confirm a week off and will be one of only 4 teams to contest for spots in the grand final - yet this morning they are still paying 4.30 to win the premiership.  I was originally planning to lay off half my previous Manly premiership wager at this point (see previous blog post), but the market has got it wrong.  On the bright side, this price suggests that Manly will go into their next match in 2 weeks as underdogs, so we are unlikely to see any more complacency or low intensity football from Manly.  I'll be very happy to see them keep flying under the radar.

Unless the market changes I'm letting my Manly wager ride.
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Singing in the Rain

10 Sep 11 09:19
Day 3 is not over yet, but it's raining and so there's a break in play.  Unsurprisingly, the draw price has crashed as a result even though there have been wickets falling.  Despite the fact that there may be no more play today, there is still 2 more days and so there's plenty of time for Australia to bowl out Sri Lanka a 2nd time. 

The Aussies may be wound up around the 450 mark, which is lower than I had expected, but still enough to put significant pressure on Sri Lanka for their 2nd innings.  We are starting to see some turn in this pitch and there's enough in it for the bowlers to cause more problems for this wilting Sri Lankan line-up.  As such I've shifted my position, laying off much of my draw position at 2.64 and putting it back into Australia at 1.62.  I'm still keeping Sri Lanka neutral as I think their price is about right at 60, so it's not worth backing or laying them.

I do find it amusing how the market always panics when there is a spot of rain. 
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All Green (and Gold)

10 Sep 11 02:36
Steady going for Australia on Day 2 with a fantastic partnership between Marsh and Hussey who were both denied opportunity to reach the century mark by bad light.

The first hour of Day 3 is pretty important for Sri Lanka, because if these two get re-settled they could both go on to make big hundreds and the test will be pretty much gone for Sri Lanka who will then be fighting just to survive.  Sri Lanka don't look like a team with a lot of fight in them, however....

The short days have helped to keep the draw price down and there isn't much hope of a full days play for the remainder of the test, so in combination with a pitch that still looks reasonably good I'm maintaining my largest green on the draw and am cheering for Aussie runs.

Regardless of my Draw/Aust bias I've now covered my Sri Lanka exposure at 29.00 to be neutral on them (at the time of writing this they are now into the 30's).  If Sri Lanka pick up Marsh and Hussey before they can settle in this morning the game will be back on, but if they don't I can see them at 60+ by lunch and an outcome in this test could well be decided by bad light.

It's always nice to be all green.  Time to kick back now and enjoy the batting. Mischief
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Day 1 Domination

08 Sep 11 13:48
I was expecting Australia to dominate this test, but the Day 1 result of Sri Lanka all out for 174 with Australia 60/0 in reply was even more one-sided then I had imagined.  Not that I'm complaining...

I'm starting to get the feeling that this series may end up similarly to the recent England vs India series - with a sub-continent team tired and wilting in the face of mounting pressure from an enthusiastic and determined team on the rise.

There's a big differrence in the pitch quality from the 1st test which is good to see.  I'm expecting the Aussies to be able to put on some very decent runs in the 1st innings and if the pitch starts to flatten they might even get as far as a declaration some time after tea on Day 3 with a couple of centurions amongst the top 6.

The big question then is whether the Sri Lankans can dig in for a decent 2nd innings score on a flattenning pitch.  Currently the draw price is a very juicy 5.90 so I'm laying off a portion of my Aussie green at 1.30 and diving into the draw for an even bigger green.  I figure that if Australia bat well into Day 3 (as I expect) then the draw price is bound to shorten anyway and there will be opportunity to re-asses the pitch and lay off in a couple of days if neccessary.
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