Wednesday 25 July 2001

July 18th, 2001 | 2001 Journals Ian Carnaby's Sports News

Australia won the Second Test easily enough, and are only 7’4 in places to complete a 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes series. As I wrote some time ago, there is no value at all in that sort of bet, although I imagine those who snapped up the 16’1 about a clean sweep before a ball was bowled are feeling on good terms with themselves.

They would be well advised to take a profit by laying the bet off at around 6’1 if they can find a taker, because I still doubt very much that England will be completely humiliated in the three remaining matches. The bookmakers do not think so, either. Remember, in offering 7’4, they are still hoping people will bet.

I have always thought the ‘other’ price should be quoted in a two-horse race. If Australia are 7’4 to complete the whitewash, does that mean I can have 4’9 or 2’5 that they don’t? No, of course it doesn’t. The bookmakers would not be interested in laying that bet. A few years ago, Southampton were 1’6 to be relegated with a handful of games remaining. I asked William Hill if there might be some 7’2 about their staying up. There was a dry laugh at the other end of the line. They stayed up, of course.

Despite attending football matches every week, I have always found the three-month break in summer more than welcome. Others may disagree, and the Racing Post is already full of prices and offers for the forthcoming season.

At this stage – and I not propose making specific recommendations until early August – the teams which interest me are: Wimbledon, Portsmouth, Huddersfield and the two Bristol clubs.

Wimbledon are no longer the ‘get it into the box at all costs’ outfit of a year or two ago, and Terry Burton had them playing some very attractive football towards the end of last season. I shall be interested in ‘buying’ their points with one of the spread firms.

Some cynics will say that Graham Rix is on borrowed time at Portsmouth, with Harry Redknapp becoming director of football. But the arrangement may work. Harry is keen enough on his outside interests to be happy with a back-seat role, especially if the team starts well. There is money available at Fratton Park, with two expensive new players arriving already, and Pompey could be a major buy if the spread bookmakers quote their total points at around a relegation mark. I see them as mid-table, at least.

Lou Macari made quite an impression when taking over at Huddersfield, but the team simply committed hari-kiri in the closing weeks, losing their place in Division One on the final day. They would be my each-way nap in Division Two this time, with Bristol City one of the main dangers. Reading have strengthened their left flank, the weakness costing them dearly in the closing weeks, and are certain to be thereabouts.

Bristol Rovers are nap material in Division Three, with Gerry Francis returning to the club he served so well a decade ago. Rovers have sold too many strikers over the years, but the board will not be making that mistake with Nathan Ellington (Norwich having already flirted with a £900,000 offer), and he should get a hatful of goals at this level. Rovers are available at 6’1, which is worth an early investment.

Ian Carnaby