The stock quote is that Australia has “never truly embraced the shortest form of the game”. A more accurate line would be that we are just rubbish at it. You can make all the excuses you like, but when it comes to the crunch the Aussies struggle to get the job done in T20 matches of any importance (if there even is such a thing). The team’s showing at the 2014 World Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh only cemented our reputation as the stragglers in modern limited-overs cricket.
It doesn’t matter how well they did in qualifying, or how strong the squad looks on paper – you simply do not EVER drop a bet on the Three Lions in a major tournament. This includes the broadest, most conservative wagers you can dream up. Whether it’s to beat one of those making-up-the-numbers minnow teams, or to finish top of the weakest group in the competition, or (heaven forbid) to win a penalty shoot-out, England will screw you over. For key examples, read Chris Waddle’s spectacular penalty miss in the semi-final at Italia 1990, David Beckham’s infamous red card against Argentina at France 1998, and the all-out farce that was the quarter-final against Portugal at Germany 2006. If there was a World Cup for killing a nation’s hopes and dreams, the Poms would blitz it.
This one is borne purely out of personal hardship. Let’s examine an incident from March 2014, shall we? The (Not So) Mighty Ducks are top of the Pacific Conference, boasting the second-best points tally in the whole NHL. The Calgary Flames, meanwhile, come in with a rather miserable 25-33-7 record – some 36 points adrift of their high-flying opponents. Seems a monty, right? Anaheim to wrap it up in normal time, surely? Of course, the Ducks ship four goals in the first period and wind up losing 7-2. The lesson: never bet on poultry, kids (especially against a team called ‘the Flames’).
Before you fly off the handle at this one, hear us out. Yes, Barcelona is one of the most successful football clubs of the past decade; and yes, the Catalans regularly demolish their opponents in La Liga. But as a betting option, backing Barca is fraught with danger. For one, the club’s dominance in recent seasons means its outright odds seldom get anywhere near even money, so there is little value there. For another, in the past few years the Blaugrana have developed an alarming dependance upon the performances of one Lionel Messi – so if he is injured or out of form, chances are that sure thing at $1.10 will trip you up. In summary: a serial multi-killer.
For all South Africa’s achievements in Test cricket since rejoining the international stage in the early ’90s, its record in the coloured kit is underwhelming, to put it nicely. The Proteas have taken some excellent teams into the Cricket World Cup – Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher, Jonty Rhodes, et al – but when those make-or-break moments arise, they have this uncanny ability to conjure disaster out of thin air. Remember Alan Donald running himself out in the final over of the 1999 World Cup semi-final? And what about four years later when, on home soil, they miscalculated their run requirements under the Duckworth-Lewis method, thus only tying with Sri Lanka and failing to make the Super Six round? South Africa has yet to even reach the World Cup final, and we wouldn’t dare bet on that to change.
Search the term ‘laughing stock’ and Google will ask, “Did you mean: Newcastle United?” The Toon boasts one of the most fanatical supporter bases in the English Premier League – a fact which baffles many observers, given the club’s farcical state of affairs both on and off the pitch. After being the nearly-men of the ’90s when they pushed Manchester United and Arsenal and featured regularly in Europe, Newcastle have fallen into complete disarray under the ownership of Mike Ashley. Putting money on this team and expecting a return is like trying to revive a dissected frog.
What Newcastle is to the EPL, Richmond is to the AFL: a proud club with lots of noisy fans and no success to speak of. What makes the Tigers more annoying than anything is that they really ought to be better. They have had tons of high draft picks after decades of mediocrity; they boast a mega midfield with Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin and Brett Deledio; and yet, you know that week in, week out, this team will find a way to throw away results. Richmond’s form in 2014 shows that its brief participation in the finals in 2013 (after an 11-year absence) was nothing but false hope.
Australia has produced some fine tennis players in recent decades: two-time US Open winner Pat Rafter; Wimbledon champions Pat Cash and Lleyton Hewitt; US Open ladies champ Sam Stosur; and Mark Philippoussis, runner up at both the US Open and Wimbledon. And yet since 1978, not one Aussie – male or female – has managed to claim the Australian Open singles title. Indeed, of the recent crop, only Hewitt has managed to reach the final; former world number one Rafter couldn’t crack the semis, while great white hope Philippoussis never even made it past the fourth round. In short: Melbourne Park is cursed, and money wagered is money wasted when it comes to homegrown talent at the Australian Open.