(Lazy stereotypes and tips for the historic Ireland vs Pakistan Test, May 11-15, Malahide)
Begorrah, be-Jaysus, top o' the mornin' to ya. Well Jeeesus, Mary and Joseph, who woulda thought dis day would ever come? Da first ever Test match played by Oirland.
[Enough of the casual stereotypes, ya little bollix – ed. And Ed, who as you can tell by his strident English tones, is half-Irish.]
Just as historic is the news that Guerilla Cricket is the official radio broadcaster for the game against Pakistan, sticking it to the mainstream media in the grand manner. We're as pleased as Punch. If only we were as good-looking.
There'll be previews galore as the week goes on so stay tuned. But I know what you lot are like. You'll want to know how to make a few quid out of this epoch-defining game. And who am I to disappoint?
Let's start with the match odds. Pakistan are, naturally, overwhelming favourites. Now, 4/9 isn't a bad price if you take the perfectly reasonable view that they should win this game at a canter by virtue of being an established Test side duking it out with a bunch of novices. I'd not put you off if you wanted to wade in – as they say, it's better than putting it in the bank. However, there are reasons to believe it might not be the penalty kick many observers assume. Not the least of those is the weather. OK, five-day weather forecasts are about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. But even if the rain that's currently forecast doesn't materialise, it's likely that a different batch could sweep in and wash out a portion of the game – we're in Ireland after all (careful, now – ed/Ed). So I'd give the draw a chance at 11/4. [Note: since this piece was written the match odds are 8/13 Pakistan, 7/4 the draw. Someone's been looking at the weather forecast.]
At almost 37 years of age, Tim Murtagh is certainly in the twilight (twoiloight, stop it!) of his career. He's been a great servant to Middlesex down the years and is a really canny operator with great new ball control. The giant Boyd Rankin heads Ireland's first-innings-top-bowler market at 9/4 but I expect Murtagh to pose more problems; nagging line and length with late movement through the air and off the pitch are traditionally more potent weapons than raw pace and bounce for Pakistan's batsman. So have a few quid on him at 7/2. Murtagh also has one of the finest nicknames in sport: Dial M.
In the top batsman market for Pakistan, Azhar Ali and Babar Azam are justifiably at the head of the betting. They're their side's best batsman, although Babar's Test record lags some way short of his impressive white-ball figures. I'm going to suggest a nibble instead on Asad Shafiq. He has an unbeaten daddy hundred to his name in the warm-up match versus Northants and also scored a ton in Pakistan's last Test, against Sri Lanka back in October. I'd say 6/1 is great value.
We can't wait to bring you coverage live from Dublin. To quote that great Irish revolutionary and writer Brendan Behan (who's name-checked in our title song), "I only drink on two occasions. When I am thirsty and when I'm not."
Goooood luck, ya gougers.
Drawn match Win/Draw/Lose market 2 points at 11/4
Tim Murtagh Top Ireland bowler first innings 3 points at 7/2
Asad Shafiq Top Pakistan batsman first innings 3 points at 6/1