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The Sunday Stroll: 23 Jan, 2011

January 23, 2011

Greetings folks. We hope this Sunday morning finds you in good health. Time to take the dog for a walk? You need one of these. Contemplating a trip to the gym? Forget about it; fitness is overrated anyway. The kids want you to play ball with them in the garden? Here’s your answer: tetherball. Sunday morning can only mean one thing: it’s time for this week’s Sunday Stroll

Legendary Spanish golfer José María Olazábal has been confirmed as the European captain for the 2012 Ryder Cup. The widely respected and admired Spaniard will lead the side in a bid to retain the Cup over in Illinois next September, taking the reins from Colin Montgomerie after his successful leading of the European team in Wales last summer. All the best to Olly… let’s hope the 2012 Cup is as good as the 2010 classic.

Meanwhile, Scottish golfer Elliot Saltman has receieved a three month ban from golf after he was found guilty of committing a ‘serious breach’ of regulations at the Russian Challenge Cup even last September. He was accused by his fellow players of repeatedly marking his ball incorrectly throughout the first round and has subsequently been punished. It is a hefty price to pay for just a few centimetres of gain, but he was – we are told – intentionally cheating and golf is a proud and honest sport, and as such his punishment seems entirely justified.

This is why it was not a surprise to see Padraig Harrington disqualified from Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship earlier this week after he unfortunately signed for an incorrect card. The Irishman unintentionally failed to call a penalty on himself when his ball moved after replacing it. In his eyes the ball had returned to its original position, but TV replays subsequently showed the ball to have moved by ‘maybe a dimple and a half,’ which was enough to see him given the boot. ‘It’s a very unfortunate thing, obviously. But that’s how it is,’ said fellow golfer Martin Kaymer afterwards. A big penalty to pay for such an innocuous ‘crime’, but by heavily penalising the small offences you almost entirely eradicate the serious ones. Tough? Maybe. Correct? Definitely. Perhaps football could take note…

Down in Melbourne this week, Andy Murray has been chasing his maiden Grand Slam title, opening his Australian Open campaign with a comfortable victory over Slovakian Karol Beck. Murray was on the brink of completing a straight-sets triumph when Beck retired with a shoulder injury. In the second round the Scot breezed past Ukrainian Illya Marchenko with a 6-1 6-3 6-3 victory, before waltzing into the fourth round with a comprehensive 6-1 6-1 6-2 victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. It looks like Murray might well have to face both Nadal and Federer to claim the title, so it is just as well for the Scot that he appears to be in fine form, having made light work of his early-round opponents, not dropping a set in the process. We wish him well.

Luckily for Murray he doesn’t use the same racket as Agnieszka Radwańska…

And if that is a great example of how not to sell your rackets to the public, then this is a priceless example of how not to streak in public:

And to finish our tennis round-up, have a quick goosey at the following clip from Todd Woodbridge’s on-court post-match interview with Kim Clijsters, where the ex-Australian doubles great gets his comeuppance for suggesting the Belgian might be pregnant. Undoubtedly amusing, but you wouldn’t catch Sue saying that at Wimbledon now would you…

In the world of Formula One, Williams have announced that they are considering a stock market floatation, although not as a means of raising funds (despite the historically succesful team struggling to compete with their better-backed rivals over the last decade). The intention is with regard to securing ‘the long-term future of the team,’ which can be considered a prudent move given the age (nearly seventy) of current head honcho and F1 legend Sir Frank Williams. When he eventually steps down, all associated with the sport will be hoping his name – and team – stay in the sport for years to come, such is the heritage and respect that comes from 113 race victories (the third most by one team), 9 constructors’ titles, and 7 drivers’ titles.

Elsewhere in F1 this week, the Italian city of Rome has conceded defeat in its bid to host a street race on the F1 calendar, and young British hope Paul di Resta appears to have moved closer to racing in F1 next season after a number of sources linked him with taking a seat at Force India. Given his decent track record in the junior categories against recent world champions Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, and his claiming of the DTM Championship last season, having the talented Scot on the grid certainly bodes well for British motorsport fans in 2011…

Soccer now, and whilst Harry Redknapp was busy being pick-pocketed in Spain this week, Becks made his return to English football as he began training with Spurs. Memories of that goal against Wimbledon were brought flooding back after this similarly superb belter scored by Villareal’s Cani the other day…

Mind you, anything Cani can do, Porto’s Freddy Guarin can clearly do better:

Meanwhile, Roberto Carlos has transferred his immense free kick skills to the art of corner taking. Might try this one myself next week:

And in case you missed it, here’s Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti getting the boot from some old gal for sitting in the wrong seat…

The England cricket team announced their World Cup squad earlier this week with the only surprise inclusion being that of Matt Prior ahead of fellow wicketkeeper Steven Davies. Many felt that Prior had not taken previous opportunities in the shorter form of the game and that Davies – who has performed well for England recently in T20 and One Day formats – was likely to keep his place in the squad. Prior’s subsequent inclusion even caught him by surprise (‘I wasn’t expecting it’), but head coach Andy Flower admitted Prior’s inclusion and Davies’s exclusion came down to the fact that they felt Prior would be better suited to the subcontinent’s conditions. Fair play. More pressing for England however are injuries to spinner Graeme Swann and bowler Tim Bresnan that will keep Swann out for two weeks and Bresnan return home for treatment. They should both be fit for the WC, but hardly ideal preparation.

Meanwhile, here is a cracking bit of umpiring from the recent South Africa v. India series that might have escaped your attention:

If you have a spare fifteen minutes and want a fascinating and thought-provoking read then get your eyes around this. Sports Illustrated have taken a look at a whole host of allegations made against Tour de France great Lance Armstrong regarding the use of performance enhancing drugs. The Texan is currently entertaining the possibility that he might face indictment from a grand jury back in the States. Reading all of the evidence stacked against Armstrong is mighty intriguing, and although you can debate the merits of their sources and the potential one-sideness of their perspective all you like (not to mention Armstrong’s obvious denials). However, the simple fact that Sports Illustrated have chosen to publish this piece – especially considering they handed Armstrong the Sportsman of the Year accolade in 2002 – is remarkable and, perhaps, indicative in itself. Make your minds up either way, but we urge you to have a browse regardless…

There was further cycling drama this week in the Tour Down Under when Mark Cavendish had to cycle amongst road traffic after the green-light car (usually at the tail of the field) was called forward ahead of Cavendish’s group meaning that roads were reopened whilst Cav and a few other riders were still on the course (they had fallen behind the main pack after an earlier crash). Tour organisers are looking into it. You can understand why the riders might be a bit hacked off about the dangers entailed with road cars and bike racers sharing the same bits of tarmac, especially when you see this nutty clip from one of last summer’s cycle races…

The World Indoor Bowls Championships have been taking place this week, and there is an all-Scottish final today between Paul Foster and Alex Marshall should the bowls take your fancy. Not exactly renowned for being the most exhilerating of sports, we got busy browsing for exciting bowling green incidents over recent years. Obviously, Tracy Sergeant’s famous streak from a decade or so ago quite literally revealed itself, but it was this clip from a slightly different form of the sport – less bowls, more bowling – that caught our attention (although you might want to skip the first 45seconds of the clip). A great shot, it must be said…

Some of you might have heard about the epic greyhound race this week that finished with a seldom-seen three-way tie. The 8.50 from Romford [beeb video link] earlier this week went down to a photo finish, but even then race adjudicators could not separate Killishan Masai, Ayamzagirl and Droopys Djokovic. A spokesman for Coral (who own the track) said that ‘no-one can remember it happening in greyhound racing before,’ who compared the likelihood of this happening to ‘winning the national lottery and then getting struck by lightning minutes later.’ Quite remarkable.

Whilst those (albeit canine) sporting competitors could not be separated, the following two teams could. But only just, mind. Tyreke Evans (of the Sacramento Kings) showed us just how to win a game of basketball with this immense last-second match-winning score…

And from the sublime to the downright embarrassing. Steven Stamkos illustrates how not to take a penalty shot in ice hockey:

And finally, how not to ski. You can’t help but shudder when you see this one, although the commentary is just as amusing as the footage is wince-inducing. Poor ole Yannick Bertrand – that guy needs a hug…

Cheers for reading folks. All the best… SB

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