AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

LOOK SHARPE: Howzat! You Bet Them’s The Rules…

Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE writes…

WHAT DID YOU MAKE of the Aussies acting entirely within the rules/laws of the game of cricket, albeit entirely outside of the spirit of the game of cricket, in order to improve greatly their chances of winning that Second Test Match against England, which outcome they eventually achieved?

I booed along with most England supporters. But, which of us can honestly say we have never attempted to bend the rules of, well, all sort of things, in order to bring about an outcome which might suit us better than the otherwise almost inevitable result?

Shamefacedly, I have to admit that my own claimed record of always sticking to the rules was slightly brought into disrepute when my son began working for his (and mine) local County Football Association some years ago.

A few weeks into the job he came home for his dinner one evening and remarked, ‘Someone showed me your disciplinary file at work today, Dad.’

‘Oh, yes?’ I said, already fearing the worst.

‘They said it was the thickest one they know of.’

I quickly closed the subject down, claiming that the vast majority of these minor infractions were for verbal discussions, so not really relevant to the context under discussion.

I don’t think I got away with it, somehow. But the Aussies did. I didn’t like it any more than the next England supporter.

But then I began to recall some racing-related events of similar nature – particularly the one by wily jockey Davy Russell back in November, 2008 when he was partnering unfancied (by most) Dix Villez in the cross country race at Cheltenham, during which they brazenly cut one of the corners of the course during this 3m6f marathon, by steering his horse inside, rather than round, some laurel bushes after jumping the 22nd obstacle, in the process saving considerable ground over his rivals.

They went on to win by three lengths but rode straight into a storm of controversy, with some alleging the move had been against the rules and should result in disqualification.

But the scheming old fox of a rider had sought clearance from the stewards BEFORE the race for such a move, so was home and dry on the sparsely backed (by those not in the know, of course) 28/1 shot, who came home by three lengths from 13/8 favourite, Garde Champetre – almost certainly less than had been gained by the course-cutting wheeze.

A stewards enquiry cleared Russell of any wrongdoing and the result stood.

Russell explained later: “There are little short-cuts here and there and they make a difference. I was speaking to the stewards beforehand about that short-cut and the bushes don’t matter as markers.’

Favourite backers were up in arms – just as were England supporters at the cricket – both feeling hard done by. The England fans were clearly convinced that with the given-out Bairstow allowed to remain, the game would have swung in England’s favour – just look at the way Ben Stokes went about blasting fours and sixes off of the Aussie bowlers, albeit finally being caught out and England falling short of the required runs and losing.

But who is to say that had Bairstow been reprieved, Stokes would have still produced a magnificent innings of that nature? He might well have felt he didn’t need to at that point, with a competent batter (as I believe is currently the preferred term) like Bairstow in support, and we spectators would probably have been deprived of watching his absolutely compelling and thrilling innings of 155 when he opened up with both barrels. Surely seeing that was worth the price of admission alone, win or lose!

But, if you think these two events were controversial, consider what happened in Goodwood’s 1983 Richmond Stakes in which 1/3 favourite, Vacarme went past the post first to win, only for Lester Piggott’s mount to be disqualified and placed last for interfering with 3rd placed Godstone – which meant runner-up Creag-an-Sgor was promoted to winner.

Except that the Stewards then decided that Creag-an-Sgor had caused accidental interference to 14/1 Godstone, who should therefore be moved up ahead of that runner (which also resulted in Creag-an-Sgor being demoted but finishing where he had actually finished in any case) – thus ‘winning’ the race. Confused?

So were the bookies, some of which ended up paying out on three winners in one race.


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.



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