Welsh Rare Bet

Dec 12, 2019 by

Welsh Rare Bet

Ben Stokes cricketing heroics back in the summer appeared to have as good as secured him this year’s SPOTY title. That was until early October when a highly unreliable social media source produced a picture taken at the Professional Cricketers’ Association Awards showing Stokes holding his wife Clare by the throat.

This saw the SPOTY 2019 market go into meltdown on Betfair with Stokes drifting out to as big as 4 only for the allegation of any physical abuse to be swiftly denied by Clare Stokes. It was telling at the time no reputable media outlet ran with the story and in an era of fake news it came as no surprise it had been taken out of context.

Stokes later emerged from the episode in a positive light by going on the record as saying how appalled he was by this fabricated story as it cheapened the ordeal of genuine domestic abuse victims. He was an easy target after his involvement in an altercation at a Bristol nightclub which led him to be found not guilty of affray back in August last year.

Stokes is expected to be there in person at Sunday night’s star-studded ceremony taking place in Aberdeen this year, missing England’s first warm-up match of their South Africa tour in order to attend.

His dramatic one-day innings in the Cricket World Cup final, helping England win the competition for the first ever time, was followed up by one of the greatest test innings of all-time to carry England to an improbable Ashes test win at Headingley.

Barring voter apathy, Stokes looks a near certainty to win on Sunday evening. Of more interest is the competitive battle for the likely podium places behind him.

Dina Asher-Smith looked in pole position in the w/o Stokes market only for Welsh rugby legend Alun Wyn Jones and England footballer Raheem Sterling to turn up as surprise nominees on the BBC’s 6-strong shortlist.

You get the distinct impression the BBC endured its lowest SPOTY polling figures ever last year

After last year’s ill-judged reveal of the shortlisted 6 only on the night of the awards ceremony itself, you get the distinct impression the BBC endured its lowest SPOTY polling figures ever last year. Which probably explains why this list appears to have been crafted this year with a view to including candidates who will activate much higher vote motivation among viewers. And returning to the old format of revealing the shortlist ahead of time has actively encouraged people to engage in the SPOTY debate once more.

Alun Wyn Jones is a rugby legend in Wales and looks capable of hauling in a massive, patriotic vote on the night. It matters not a jot that Wales got knocked out in the rugby World Cup semi-final, this will be a lifetime achievement-type vote for a captain of the national team Welsh rugby fans deify. A 6 Nations win, incorporating the Grand Slam earlier in the year, will also aid AWJ.

Raheem Sterling’s inclusion seems to be more as a role model for his anti-discrimination, kick racism out stance, than his actual achievements as a footballer this year. Ironically, the BBC seemed to ditch the early reveal of shortlisted SPOTY candidates for the very reason it feared ‘campaign’ winners, like Jonathan Rea and Kevin Sinfield in recent years who both went close to achieving upset wins.

While racism has reared its ugly head in recent high profile football matches, Sterling is relying on a campaign vote kicking in for him but there has been very little social media noise surrounding his inclusion.

Dina Asher-Smith won a first ever British female athletics sprint gold at the World Championships in the 200 metres, and also took silver in the 100 metres and the women’s 4 x 100 metres relay. This all helped cement her position as the new golden girl of British athletics and has worked wonders in terms of building her sporting profile.

Sterling’s inclusion seems to be more as a role model for his anti-discrimination, kick racism out stance, than his actual achievements as a footballer this year

We should probably anticipate pimp treatment for Dina on Sunday evening as the BBC being the BBC it will ideally want a sportswoman in the top 3, perhaps even more so with a view to its coverage of next year’s Summer Olympics. With heptathlon gold medalist Katarina Johnson-Thompson also shortlisted, it could be on the cards for a KJT segment to open proceedings, and Dina AS taking the 6th and final segment, just before phone lines open.

Lewis Hamilton could still be in the mix for a top 3 finish, especially if they don’t give Dina any sort of push on the night, with a solid petrol head vote for him all but assured. But there is always a feeling of same old, same old with Hamilton winning the F1 world title and ending up on the SPOTY shortlist.

It could also turn out to be a year in which his default F1 fanatics vote isn’t enough to earn him a podium spot as 50,000-odd votes might prove short of top 3 requirements this year, based on the notion all of Stokes, AWJ and DAS will provoke greater vote motivation among the general SPOTY viewer on the night.

It won’t make you rich but Evens for AWJ to finish in the Top 3 looks a solid investment.

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