“You never see a poor bookmaker,” my father would regularly say. It was one of his wiser comments, not quite as sage as “A great team will always beat a team of greats” but certainly cleverer than “I see both Oxford and Cambridge are in the final of the university boat race again.”
When we wrote our predictions for the Pakistan vs. England series, we should have added a warning about the risks of betting, or maybe the effects of drinking. We hope and we pray that none of our readers (we were going to say ‘neither’ of our readers, but that would be under-estimating by at least 33%) took notice of our wisdom or hastened to the local betting shop armed with their mortgage. Because, in short, our predictions were bunk.
To start, none of the eleven of us who were brave enough to volunteer themselves predicted a Pakistani series win; indeed only Matt H, Nichael and James envisaged an outcome other than a victory for England (2-1 being the most common guess). Actually, Nichael does deserve some credit (only a small amount, otherwise he’ll be back on the gin) for highlighting his worry about Eoin Morgan (“unable to grind out important runsh during his Tesht career so far” were his exact words). Presumably his other predictions included that his shit might smell a bit and that Ian Botham will complain about field placings. Meanwhile James, who thought he had played it safe by stating that Jonathan Trott will be key to England making large totals, did say that Umar Gul would be required to bowl well if Pakistan were to prevail. Yes, Gul did bowl very well at times, but he could have had figures that were frankly Amjad Khan-esque and Pakistan still would have prevailed, such were the control of their spinners.
Several of the party nominated Saeed Ajmal as Pakistan’s key man: Fyre in particular excelled by highlighting the spin attack in general and also airing doubt over both teams’ batting. Matt L also selected Ajmal and we think he will be satisfied with the spinner’s gift to youtubers by way of “funny, near incomprehensible interviews.” Nev, the Pakistani correspondent, also sung the praises of Ajmal in advance, but his criticism of the English attack was perhaps unfruitful – even if Graeme Swann was outbowled by the opposition. Likewise Matt R also voiced concerns about Swann before the series, but unfortunately all his other predictions have been lost. Nichael probably spilt gin on the paperwork.
Matt H mentioned Abdur Rehman, who of course constantly troubled England, so he deserves a glass of port as prize. Unfortunately he ruined the good work by pinpointing Ian Bell as the probable star for England. His punishment? One glass of port. Indeed Dan and Al also voted for Bell as the likely key man and are as such being sent to Wolverhampton and Frinton-on-the-Naze respectively for their punishment.
Oddly, Al was entirely correct when he predicted that “England’s middle-order could be the difference between the teams”, but despite his generally pessimistic outlook, we think he meant this to be to England’s advantage. Both Mercules and Anthony K will be chuffed that Younes Khan managed to find some runs in the third Test, having both expected him to be the star player. We should also mention Carlos who opted for Mohammed Hafeez; his bowling average suggests Carlos had a degree of sensibility, even if the batting average was on the low side.
Finally, David wins both a gold medal and a booby prize (editor’s note: does not contain real boobies) for picking Broad as key man – he wasn’t leading wicket-taker but as no-one expected Monty Panesar to play this point is debatable – but also mentioning “batting-friendly pitches” along with “dusty tracks” and “fast bowlers may struggle.” With his bets well and truly hedged, he would probably have broken even if he had wagered on the series.
So in summary: we’re about as clueless with predictions as England’s middle-order are facing quality spin. 51allout: providing biting satire and boosting bookmaker’s income since 2011.