How to bet on the Champions Trophy
Betting on cricket is the hot new craze that they're all talking about in the cricketing world's bookmakers' shops, illegal gambling dens and IPL players' dressing rooms, but it can be confusing for the novice. Should you have a win-double on Jonathan Trott to score a century but still be held directly responsible for England losing? Is a spread bet on the number of men called Mitchell in the Australia v New Zealand match a good idea? Is Tino Best a misprinted accusation of wrongdoing? What is a Yankee? And can Australia teach one legspin and get him a passport in time for the Ashes?
With its atypically comprehensible format and lack of minnows to humiliate England, the Champions Trophy of Champions is an ideal training ground for the aspiring "puntist", as cricket gamblers are called. If you don't know how to place a bet, don't worry. A friendly man saying that he's a player's agent will be along to help you directly. If you're not sure that you need a leather jacket in this weather, remember that England's cricket grounds can become very chilly in the evenings, as indeed can her prisons.
Picking the winner of the tournament was always going to be difficult. England's Test-style approach had made them favourites but it appears that the rigorous programme of hypnotherapeutic conditioning implemented by Ashley Giles has worked too well, with many of the batsmen convinced they are actually trying to save a timeless Test on a Madras dustbowl sometime shortly after the Second World War. However, they look a reasonable value bet to bore themselves to death at 3/1, and there might be possibilities on hilarious back-page pun accumulators at 66/1 if "Buttler takes Root to Cook Swann's Bell" although the chance of the cricket tournament edging "Jose Mourinho scratches stubble sexily" off the backpage is an outsider at 100/1.
Australia escape from Edgbaston to join circus could well be worth a flutter at 6/1, especially if Michael Clarke's back does not improve and one of the more mentally agile Mitchells works out how to open the child-lock on the team bus. Michael Gove steps in to solve Aussie homework crisis is a possibility at 10/1 but the odds about Warnie touts self for return (1/33) are prohibitive.
South African bowler makes it through match uninjured is one for the brave at 14/1 but they are already making the early running in the comedy run-out leaders table (4/7). The winning ticket in the player most likely to become an MP during the tournament stakes seems sure to come from Sri Lanka, but this requires careful study of the form.
The Kiwi player to be described most often as "an underrated and useful cricketer" by a commentator handicap is always a hot contest and notoriously hard to pick. Most erratic Indian bowler already looks a tricky pick between Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav (both 4/5).
Chris Gayle looks excellent value in the player most likely to be of interest to a female non-cricket fan who happens to glance at the telly and realise to her surprise that they don't all look like fat accountants as she had surmised from that one dreadfully boring club game she once watched in exchange for him going to her sister's barbeque later that evening at even money.
Finally, betting on Pakistan is best left to the professionals.
More cricketing skulduggery in WG Grace Ate My Pedale, here