The summer of 2009 has been one to remember for cricket spread betting fans and regardless of whether spread punters got with England at the start of the Ashes or not, the scenes of celebration at the Oval were joyous. The series was constantly swinging to and fro throughout the summer – a feeling most spread bettors can relate to – and those who had sold Australia on the series win index would have been sinking beers ‘Flintoff 2005-style’ on Sunday night.
The first Test at Cardiff seems a long time ago, but that very much set the tone for the series and it was the spread buyers of runs who drew first blood in the opening Test; well at least the first innings of the first Test. Sporting Index set England’s first innings runs spread at 358-373 and although Pietersen top-scored on just 69 runs (no jokes about Liberty X please), a spirited middle order display saw buyers make a 62-point profit with a final total of 435.
However, those punters who thought the Aussies were going to lie-down were cruelly mistaken and anyone who bought Ponting, Katich, North or Haddin runs on the spreads were looking at a very healthy profit – never mind those who had bought the innings runs at 390. The final total of 674 resulted in a huge profit of 284 times the initial stake. It all got very boring then – only joking, Panesar and Anderson’s historic last man stand meant English spread bettors felt their team had won rather than drawn.
Next stop – the home of cricket – and anyone supporting Australia on the spreads would have been quite within their rights to be brimming with confidence. England hadn’t beaten the Baggy Greens here since 1934 and although Strauss and Cook put on an excellent 196 for the first wicket, the typical collapse was just around the corner. Ravi Bopara’s 18 meant he had scored just 54 runs from his first three innings and those spread bettors who had sold his series runs at 350 were cheering every bit as loudly as the Aussie fans when he was sent packing.
Although England’s total of 425 produced a 20-point profit for first innings run buyers at 405, it could have been so much better and with the Aussies so strong at Lord’s, was another monster total on the cards? Jimmy Anderson had other ideas. After dismissing Hughes for just 4, he also took the crucial wicket of captain Ricky Ponting for 2 (even though he wasn’t actually out). Spread punters who had bravely sold Ponting runs following his century in the previous Test may have been encouraged to do so by his poor average of 17.25 at Lord’s in Tests against England. The rest is history and following a decent second innings display from England, Andrew Flintoff’s inspired spell set up a 115-run victory and everything was looking rosy in the garden of England’s patriotic spread bettors.
Birmingham in general makes a habit of bringing people back down to earth and so it proved. Mother Nature decided to ruin the party, but there was still some joy for Australia first innings runs sellers after they registered just 263. The Sporting Index traders had quoted them at 390-410, but the combination of raw Onions and Anderson was too much for the men in green. England performed better with the bat and those who were still keen to keep Strauss on side after his Lord’s heroics were paid off when he notched another 69. He had already amassed 240 runs before the start of the third Test, so any spread bettor who had bought his series runs at 390 was looking potentially at a decent return.
It’s unfair to say that the rest of the Test turned into a bit of a damp squib, but the Aussies were disciplined when they had to be and decent scores from Watson, Hussey, North and Clarke left supporters of the Aussies on the spreads knowing they only needed to win at Headingley to be in with a serious shout of retaining the urn.
The signs weren’t great for England before the fourth Test with the news that Flintoff would miss out and Australia’s win index spread was continually increased in the days leading up to the Test. Unfortunately for those spread punters who didn’t want to see an Aussie revival, the money proved to be right and England suffered one of their worst Ashes innings totals, a paltry 102. Spread sellers at 355 certainly weren’t crying into their lunches though. That set the tone for the three days and Marcus North’s second century of the series meant England had to make 344 just to make the Aussies bat again. That didn’t happen, but at least some English spread punters were happy having bought England’s ‘Tails of the Unexpected’ market with Sporting Index (total number of runs scored by English batsmen number 8 – number 11). Broad and Swann’s 108-run 8th wicket partnership led to a total at this stage of 462 and a spread of 700-710 going into the crucial final Test.
So here we are again, the Oval at the end of the summer, with England in with a chance of winning the Ashes – déjà vu anyone? England bat first and are given a first innings spread of 388-403 – you’d have to be quite a brave buyer after the capitulation at Headingley. It turned out that a sell was the right option, with a final total of 332 all-out, but it could have been a lot worse had the ‘Sherminator’ not contributed with a gutsy 72. The ball was now quite literally in England’s court and spread supporters of the home side would have been mightily concerned when Watson and Katich raced to 73-0. However, we’ve all seen during this series how quickly a game can turn and this was Stuart Broad’s time. He was given a bowling performance quote of 150-165 by the Sporting Index traders at the start of the series and buyers were thrilled when he took a quick-fire five wickets to add 75 points to his tally. Australia could be bought at 395 for their first innings runs before the openers emerged and following an England-style collapse, their 160 total led to a profit of 215 points for any spread bettor lucky enough to sell them.
So that was that, Jonathan Trott’s excellent debut century in the second innings made him the toast of the individual match runs spread punters and although Mike Hussey fought doggedly to claim his first ton of the series, it was all too late. Freddie’s amazing run out brought the curtain down on another fantastic Ashes series for England fans and spread bettors.