England are tournament hosts and favourites at 22/10, followed by India at 5/2. South Africa are fourth favourites at 10/1, with Australia above them at 9/2. South Africa and India are my early picks, with West Indies at 14/1 being my dark horses, excuse the pun my brothers.
Watch out for rank outsiders Bangladesh at 100/1 to cause some upsets via Rashid Khan.
The opener is England hosting South Africa. Faf and his boys may fancy themselves if they pull a complete game together on the day. Batting first may determine the outcome of this match. England are 4/10 and Proteas are at 19/10. I favour England to win this opener as their batting line up is coming in hot.
Other action in England serves up football’s most lucrative match, at Wembley on Monday. Aston Villa play Derby, for promotion to the Premier League. I’d be surprised if Villa at 12/10 are not promoted. Frank Lampard’s Derby at 22/10, have done well to get to the final; perhaps next season may be their time?
In local play-offs, Maritzburg are ‘quarter to’ saving their dismal season. I’m glad KwaZulu-Natal will still have three teams in the top flight next season.
Next week it’s the Europa League final, and it’s an all English affair. Chelsea are priced at 13/10 and face Arsenal at 21/10. The underdog Gunners are desperate for Champions League football, and I fancy Unai Emery pulling it off.
Cross-kick to rugby where it’s round 15 in Super Rugby. The Rebels were first up this morning, away to the Sunwolves. Games in Japan are never easy and a win will be good enough for the visitors who are leaps ahead.
Next up is the Blues away to the Crusaders, who are leaps ahead and should come up trumps by the handicap of 13 points and more. Then it’s the Waratahs against the Jaguares. Both sides are full of running and it’s a crucial game, which could determine a play-off berth.
The last two games are local, and first up it’s the Stormers versus Highlanders. The home team will try to defend their way to a ‘w’ in Kaapstad. Unfortunately, the Highlanders will be desperate for a win too, after going down a week ago. I think the visitors may get one over the home team, and are at the saucy price of 12/10. That’s a dream price for a New Zealand team in South Africa. Last up it’s the local scrimmage, with Sharks hosting the Lions. The Sharks are off a bye after a good tour, and have returned seemingly a more united team. Taking a punt on this game is risky, but I call it Sharks by a try. The treble of Sharks and Crusaders by 13 and seven points respectively, with the addition of the Highlanders to win, will pay R1600 from a R200 bet.
Over to the opulence of the F1 race in Monaco. Hamilton will be on his ‘A game’ to try and take home the win to honour Niki Lauda, a legend of the sport. I think if anyone, Bottas or Leclerc may upset Lewis, where qualifying may determine the winner. Lauda will surely be honoured either way so make sure you watch, but I will leave you with some of his words... “A lot of people criticise F1 as an unnecessary risk, but what would life be if we did what is necessary?” Go take a risk with a cheeky punt!@shabsgunner
Independent on Saturday