Smith the rightful favorite but don’t discount Root to finish as Ashes top scorer

WITH the lead up to the Ashes series dominated by off-field talk, it might be worth checking out some of the more specific bets on offer if you’re looking to invest in the oldest of cricketing rivalries.

With racism scandals dominating the cricketing headlines in England, and Australia losing their skipper and wicketkeeper on the eve of the five-match series, the usual tit-for-tat verbal joust that dominates the build-up has been notably absent.

There are only two things you need to know about the Ashes – Steve Smith and Joe Root will score runs!

With that in mind it is worth checking out the odds with the Bet365 UK current offer for the top run scorer in the series with Smith favorite at 11/5 (+220) and Root second favorite at 13/5 (+260).

Smith has a superb record against the old enemy, but there are suggestions in some quarters that the 32-year-old is not the force of old. Once you’ve dismissed that talk then it’s difficult to see beyond him for top run scorer.

The statistics tell you all you need to know: in home Tests he averages 67.72, and his average against England at home and abroad is 65.11. In the 2019 series, he was arguably the reason Australia retained the Ashes, the 2-2 scoreline having much to do with the batting form of the former skipper.

His performances were up there with the very best in cricketing history. A total of 774 runs in seven innings – he missed a Test after getting struck on the head by Jofra Archer – at an average of 110. One double hundred, two more 100s and three 50s gave a return that was the best series run total since Brian Lara against England in 1993/94, and the West Indian great hit 375 in one innings!

Add to that it was done in just four games and he is one of only three players since the year 2000 who’s scored over 700 runs in four Tests; and just for good measure, Smith has achieved the feat twice.

The numbers in 2019 were up there with the greatest in history, and Smith was only just returning from a 12-month ban for his part in Sandpapergate, the scandal of Aussie players tampering with the ball during their tour of South Africa in 2018.

Two years ago in England he faced a constant barrage on the pitch from Archer’s short-pitched approach, and in the stands he was subjected to boos, jeers and worse every time he came out to bat.

While David Warner – also banned for his part in Sandpapergate – struggled under the intense pressure, Smith thrived. There are few sportsmen in the world better at coping with pressure than Smith, and there is no team he prefers playing against than England.

It’s true that since Ashes in England, his figures have fallen: he averaged 36.28 in the summer of 2019/20 and 44.71 last season. While those figures would make mere mortals permanent Test fixtures, Smith sets himself higher standards.

He’ll expect to finish top scorer and there appears to be only one player who could potentially challenge him, England skipper Joe Root.

Root has single-handedly been keeping England afloat during a difficult last 18 months, topping the ICC Test rankings and averaging above 60 in 2021.

When Root is out, the Aussies believe they have England on the rack; the main problem for the tourists is that many in their own dressing room are likely to agree with that synopsis. But Root knows he must perform for England to have any chance, so he’s worth a bet at 13/5 (+260).

The only other players of interest in the runs corer list appear to be David Warner at 4/1 (+400), with the left-hander having much to prove after his dismal run in 2019, and Ben Stokes at 8/1 (+800), because he’s Ben Stokes and anything can happen when he’s at the crease.

Sandpapergate: An Act That Took Cricket Cheating to a Whole Other Level

When it comes to shocking moments, cricket has had its fair share over the years. While many play the game in the right manner, there will always be those who are happy to bring the game into disrepute all for a bit of extra money. Yeah, we know, it is not like they do not get enough as it is! We are now going to take a look at one of the most shocking events to happen in recent cricket history and it is known as Sandpapergate.

Australia in South Africa 2018

Between February and April of 2018, Australia were in South Africa to play four Test games – this was actually the first four-Test match series between the two sides since South Africa’s readmission, so it was meant to be a joyous occasion. However, it was marred by what the Aussies were caught doing.

In the third Test of the series at Cape Town, with the score at 1-1, Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera trying to rough up one side of the cricket ball with some unknown material in order for it to reverse swing. For those who are new to cricket, reverse swing is when the ball starts swinging the opposite way to what it is supposed to. with conventional swing, the ball will move away from the shiny side, but with reverse swing it moves towards the shiny side and is much harder to play. He quickly realised that he had been seen on one of the many cameras and quickly hid the offending object in his pocket.

 

At a press conference later that same day, Bancroft, who was accompanied by Steve Smith, the Australian captain, admitted that he was trying to alter the condition of the cricket ball using some adhesive tape with dirt and grit stuck it to form an abrasive surface that would scruff up the ball and help with some reverse swing. Just five days later, after an investigation by Cricket Australia, he changed his story and admitted that he was using some sandpaper that batsmen use to maintain their cricket bats. Shockingly, Smith went on to admit that he knew about this tactic because the leadership group had discussed it at lunch time.

Cricket Australia Investigation and Subsequent Punishments

Cricket Australia launched their own investigation into this shocking attempt at cheating and Bancroft, Smith, and David Warner were all sanctioned for bringing the game into major disrepute. Below are the punishments that were handed out to each individual:

Warner: Received a one-year ban from all domestic and international cricket and will never be allowed to captain Australia ever again.

Smith: Received a one-year ban from all domestic and international cricket and had to serve a subsequent one-year ban from captaining Australia. While that ban is now over, it is highly unlikely that he will be chosen to captain his national team in any format ever again.

Bancroft: Receive a nine-month suspension from domestic and international cricket and, like Smith, he had to serve a subsequent 12-month leadership ban. However, also like Smith, it is highly unlikely that he will ever be considered for a leadership role by Cricket Australia.

It Will Be a Long Time Before This is Forgotten

There were many players in the cricketing world as well as plenty of fans and cricket betting enthusiasts who felt that these three Australia players got off pretty lightly to say the least. Many probably would have felt that a lifetime ban would have been the appropriate punishment, and this is something that we find hard to disagree with.

Although it is three years ago now, these three players cannot play cricket anywhere without the fans in attendance reminding them about it. In the last Ashes series in England, they had to put up with England fans waving pieces of sandpaper about in the crowd. The Aussies have never been a much-loved cricket nation, and this dented their reputation even more. The players involved have worked hard to try and earn some respect back, but they will never be fully respected ever again.

Bullseye – The Good and Bad and the Bully

A darts themed TV show doesn’t immediately leap out as a gameshow idea that’s going to grip the nation. In 1980’s Britian though, Bullseye, presented by Jim Bowen, did just that. The premise was simple, pairs of contestants work their way through rounds that require both general knowledge and dart playing ability. The winning pair then move on to the prize board round, and from there have the option to play for the star prize (anyone after a speedboat?). Midway through the show an actual professional darts player throws nine darts with the total in UK pounds going to charity of his or her choice. Yes, there’s a lot going on!

One thing that stands out more than anything (yes, more than the unfathomable fashion, crazy hair styles, and ‘Tony’ getting the scores wrong) is the variance in darting skill. Below I’ve presented a contrast of what Bullseye had to offer. A Youtube video entitled ‘Bullseye – Worst Ever Darts Player’ demonstrating someone who clearly can’t throw darts for toffee, followed by a a clip of a professional darts player, Alan Evans, scoring the highest ever total in the 9 dart charity throw round in the show’s history.

 

Win, lose or draw, contestants would go home with a silver tankard, and a ‘Bully’, a rubber model of the mascot of the show. In fact the catchphrase of the show was ‘You can’t beat a bit of Bully’! The show retains its strangely addictive quality to this very day! As for the charity throw segment, unfortunately the highest ever total came a series before the show started handing out a much coveted ‘Bronze Bully’ to the highest scorer of the series (see below).

The highest scores for the Charity darts segments by series after Alan Evan’s 401 score are below:

Series Year Name Score
Series 5 1985—86 John Lowe 380
Series 6 1986—87 Lionel Smith 365
Series 7 1987—88 Ray Farrell 340
Series 8 1988—89 Mike Gregory 380
Series 9 1989—90 Eric Bristow 380
Series 10 1990—91 Bob Anderson 380
Series 11 1991—92 Mandy Solomons 363
Series 12 1992—93 Mike Gregory 340
Series 13 1993—94 Kevin Painter 380

Tyson Fury Edges Deontay Wilder in a world heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas

Tyson Fury defeated Deontay Wilder in an epic heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas.

The Gypsy King, who had to overcome a short-notice opponent and personal problems outside the ring during his hiatus from boxing, knocked down the American four times to win and become the lineal champion of the world. And for punters on NetBet who selected Fury to win couldn’t wait to cash out their winnings. Fury (32 Wins, 22 KOs) got off to a slow start but started to find his range in rounds five and six.

A dramatic first fight between heavyweight rivals Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder lived up to the pre-fight hype. Over ten rounds, Fury proved he can mix it with the world’s best, occasionally confusing Wilder with lateral movement, accurate snapshots and punishing low kicks.

Tyson Fury claimed the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world, beating Deontay Wilder at ten rounds in an epic showdown in Las Vegas. Fury’s victory means he now has three versions of the world title, having consistently held the WBO and WBA belts. The fight was thrilling, brutal and controversial. Fury landed the bigger punches – both men fought well – but Wilder stalked his opponent almost throughout the final rounds. As expected, neither man was willing to give ground at any stage.

Fury, 33, had been written off by many American supporters after he was knocked down in the fourth when he was caught by a strong right hand; he appeared to be on his way to losing his WBC belt. He, however, staged a startling recovery and rallied to drop Wilder with a left hook in the 11th. The undefeated champion rose his legs buckled and made it to the other side of the ring to celebrate.

By the third round, Wilder had already tasted a glimpse of the canvas. Yet, this did not stop the American as he pulled off an impressive fightback in the fourth round before Fury regained command and later broke the resistance due to the exhaustion of his challenger. It seemed like Fury was on his way to one of the most stunning comebacks in boxing history, enjoying a frenetic fourth round and attacking wildly with his right hand and also utilizing the head and body shots and showboating.

A tense opening round of the fight saw both fighters look to employ aggressive tactics, with Wilder forced to execute a fight plan that did not suit him. The beef between the two fighters could be equated to Tyson- Holyfield fights. The American, however, did display his usual high punch output and looked to pin Fury onto the ropes.

WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and challenger Tyson Fury put on a show for the ages on October 9th. The two fighters clashed heads repeatedly, Wilder had his face bleeding broken by a hammering of rights to the head, and referees had to rush in at one point as the two fighters became overly amped up and out of control. It was an all-out war, and maybe one of the most memorable heavyweight championship fights in history.

Wilder was breathing heavily in the second, and he landed a massive right hand on Fury’s right ear, which caused him to tumble through the ropes, but the strong Briton kept his feet on the ground. Wilder connected two huge left hooks on Fury in the fourth round, wobbling and covered up, but somehow managed to stay on his feet. Fury swung with a big right hand, but he couldn’t land clean as Wilder moved forward with his gloves by his waist. Fury began to find the range with his hurtful straight right hand in the third, then unloaded it perfectly to daze Wilder, who was cuffed to the canvas.

The fight went back and forth, with both men giving the other some problems. At 2.06m, Fury was taller than 2.01m Wilder, able to use his height to his advantage. The Irishman eventually wore out the American big man, who was often forced to chase Fury. Though Wilder had the power, Fury was overall more consistent in his accuracy and delivery of it. Quite a spectacular showdown at T-Mobile Arena as Fury finally confirmed that Wielder was no match for him for the third time in a row.