You only have one chance to make a first impression. Sorry, that’s a terrible opening sentence – the kind of thing you hear when you’re cornered in a pub by a drunken recruiting consultant who’s been banned from LinkedIn for posting misogynistic jokes.
Ignore that and let’s do a new rack so I can share some thoughts on the critical importance of getting off to a good start. No, please don’t go – it will get better, I promise. It must.
As my attention span is regularly eroded by smartphone use, I am increasingly drawn to betting markets focused on early match and tournament trading: first goalscorer, best total in first six overs, leader of the first round, winner of the first set, the race to be at the top of the classification at Christmas.
Two venerable sporting institutions – the England Test Team and Liverpool Football Club – are on the villain list when it comes to these markets due to their habits of tripping over traps recently.
England’s second Test against South Africa begins at Old Trafford on Thursday and they will be hoping to bounce back from last week’s crushing loss to Proteas at Lord’s.
In England’s two legs at HQ they lost their first wicket with the score of six and 20, which is roughly even in the decade since Andrew Strauss’ retirement ended his tenure. illustrious alliance of openness with Alastair Cook.
Sure, Strauss and Cook had their failures – they were dismissed for one and three in their final innings together (in another Lord’s loss to South Africa) – but more often than not they provided a solid foundation for a hugely successful England side.
Opening batting in Test cricket is one of the toughest tasks in the sport, as a tattered army of England batters abandoned over the past decade has demonstrated, but Strauss and Cook have offered a sense of stability and security, not only for the team but for the nation.
The two left-handers amassed 5,253 runs in 132 innings together, making it the fifth-highest scoring partnership in Test history.
I’m not saying the Strauss-Cook axis was the glue that held our fragile planet together, but since they broke up we’ve had Brexit, Trump, pandemics, wars and economic crises. As Matt Le Tissier would say, it makes you think.
England’s latest struggling flyhalf Zak Crawley was backed by Brendon McCullum despite the manager’s admission that “his skill set is not to be a consistent cricketer”.
Some cynics might point out that Crawley is actually one of England’s most consistent performers, slipping for single-digit scores with the regularity of a Swiss clock.
It may not fit the ethos of England’s ultra-aggressive ‘Bazball’ approach to testing cricket, but most home fans would settle for a few low-key first-wicket stands of around 50 to Manchester this week.
A solid opening partnership sets up a nervous dressing room, sets the tone for the contest and deflates the opposition, and so does an early goal in a football game.
Remarkably, Liverpool have bestowed this precious gift on their last seven Premier League opponents, conceding the first goal in the 16th, 32nd, 32nd, 3rd, 13th, 3rd and 56th minutes.
The Reds have won three and drawn three of the first six games in this stretch, but a 1-0 loss every week is not sustainable, as they found out at Manchester United on Monday.
If Liverpool had struck the first blow at Old Trafford, United would surely have crumbled in front of a hostile home crowd haunted by this season’s defeats to Brighton and Brentford and last season’s 5-0 and 4-0 routs against the men. by Jürgen Klopp.
Instead, Jadon Sancho gave the Red Devils the lead in the opening 20 minutes, Erik ten Hag was vindicated in his decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire, and the usually exuberant Klopp looked like a third d an act of tribute to the disgruntled Bee Gees. who have just had their daily food and drink allowance cut by a miserly cruise ship entertainment manager.
Depending on their temperament, punters can turn to fast-starting or slow-burning teams. Some in-play punters are happy to back teams such as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, who only seemed to wake up once they were down 1-0 or 2-0, or Wolves, whose first goal in the during their three Premier League seasons under Nuno Espirito Santo was netted in the 68th minute (this stat might not be strictly true, but it seems right, which is arguably more important).
Less patient punters might be inclined to cling to teams on a streak like Arsenal’s this season as the Gunners opened the scoring in the 20th, 23rd and 5th minutes of their opening three league games.
Anyone backing Mikel Arteta’s side at Bournemouth last time out could have recovered in 11 minutes thanks to bet365’s excellent early payment offer on teams that are two goals up.
In terms of encouragement at home, nothing can match a comeback like Werder Bremen’s Bundesliga miracle at Borussia Dortmund last weekend – winning 3-2 after leading 2-0 in the 89th minute – but it There’s also fun in having a stress-free punt on a team that comes out of the blocks and gets the points signed, sealed and delivered at halftime.
Obviously, a winning bet at 3-1 pays the same whether the horse leads from the pillar to the post or gets up on the line under a Jamie Spencer special. After all, a the winner is a winner is a winner.
My apologies, what a bad signature. Can I have another crack? No, you’re absolutely right – you only have one chance to make a final impression and I’m gone and ruined everything…
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FIRST POSTED AT 5:00 PM, AUGUST 24, 2022