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The Sunday Stroll: 17 Oct, 2010

October 17, 2010

It’s Sunday morning. There’s dew on the ground. Aah, Autumn’s on its way. A distant voice: “Fancy going for a walk, darling?” Your nonchalant reply: “You must be having a laugh”. It’s time for SportingBlogs’s weekly look back at the big – and not so big – moments from the last seven days in the sporting world. Here’s the latest installment of The Sunday Stroll

Well I suppose I should start with Jorge Lorenzo’s sealing of the MotoGP Riders’ Title in Malaysia last Sunday. Kudos, Jorge… a job well done. A few folk have suggested that injuries to and absences by his main rivals (Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa) have rendered his Championship fortunate, somewhat tainted, and less glorious than it should be considered. What fickle folk, eh. Try telling me that Rossi, perennial fan-favourite and winner of the previous two titles, didn’t benefit from Casey Stoner’s mystery illness and three race absence last year, or from Lorenzo’s crashes and resulting broken ankles, metatarsals and ligament damage in 2008. The facts are as follows: Lorenzo has thirteen podiums from fifteen races thus far, finished first or second in the first ten races of this season, and has only one win less (seven) than the rest of the field combined (right). Rossi or no Rossi, Jorge is a deserving champion in my book.

Mixed pre-Ashes news for England this week. Whilst India were busy beating the Australians, delightfully persuading Shane Warne to indulge in a spot of Ricky Ponting bating (no doubt much to the England side’s delight and amusement) and consequently knocking the Aussies from fourth to fifth in the ICC Test Rankings (now below England), it emerges England strike bowler Jimmy Anderson is doubtful for the start of the Ashes following an injury sustained whilst boxing on the recent widely-criticised German Boot Camp tour. A broken rib for Jimmy; The Sun blames Chris Tremlett. Funny that, I wonder who’s most likely to benefit if Anderson isn’t fit in time…???

During the afore-mentioned India vs Australia Test, a new landmark was reached. We all know India’s Sachin Tendulkar is a great batsman. How great? He just became the first player ever to score 14,000 runs in Test Match cricket. Aah, that great…

Over in Delhi at the Commonwealths on Tuesday, England claimed gold in both the men’s and women’s 100m relay, the latter of which was won thanks to a cracking final leg sprint from Mark Lewis-Francis as he closed down the seemingly-unbeatable front-running Jamaican and their last-legger Remaldo Rose in the dramatic final ten metres of the race. Drama elsewhere in Delhi saw the English men’s hockey team go out to hosts India in the semi-final match via penalty flicks. Obviously, from an English-supporting perspective, this was disappointing and a cruel way to be defeated, however I must admit it was mighty fine to see the Indian public finally embracing and supporting the games. Truly great scenes.

Empty stadiums form part of the reason why the London 2012 organisers have tried to make these Olympics as accessible as possible. They have implemented honest and fair pricing structures that include 2.5m tickets for under £20, 125,000 tickets set aside for school children, as well as discounts for the over 60s and juniors attending the non-premium events. Chairman Seb Coe’s thoughts: ‘tickets need to be affordable and accessible to as many people as possible, tickets are an important revenue stream for us to fund the Games and our ticketing plans have the clear aim of filling our venues to the rafters‘. Obviously it will be good that there won’t be a repeat of the disappointingly attended events seen in Delhi this month, but even better – in my opinion – is that they’re trying to enable as many of us as possible to be able to see the Olympics in 2012… which is great, considering we’re paying for it!

England produced a(nother) disappointing display against Montenegro in their latest qualifier for the Euro 2012s, labouring to a nil-nil draw which some considered fortuitous given the unfancied Montenegran’s cross-bar hitting antics late-on. Yes, it was uninspiring, and qualifying is made that bit trickier now, but if England win all of their remaining ties they top the group. Easy. Right?

Elsewhere in the myriadic spectrum of Euro 2012 qualifiers, there were ugly and entirely reprehensible scenes in Italy as the Serbian fans gave the watching world a lesson in how not to conduct oneself at a football game. With the Genoa-hosted game called off after seven minutes and FIFA investigation (and possible sanctions) likely to follow, it’s a credit to the English footballing authorities that Sepp Blatter had the following to say regarding football in England: ‘You have given to the world security in the stadiums. This is a big legacy. […] If only all the national associations in the world, and their leagues [had stadiums and organisation like ours.] If this had been the case we would not have had the problems we had in Genoa‘. In the context of England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup this should be considered high-praise indeed.

I suppose this week’s Sunday Stroll wouldn’t be complete without refering to the American antics at Anfield. It’s been nothing short of astonishing really, with new bids for the club, temporary (failed) injunctions, attempted billion pound lawsuits, the threat of administration with its ensuing nine point deductions, and an eventual sale that has left an apparently happy Liverpool FC in the hands of another American owner – one with a penchant for baseball teams and fat cigars. The bad news for Liverpool fans (if he follows his Boston model): expect pervasive advertising hoardings and ticket price hikes. The good news: he has a track record of achieving success in both on- and off-the-field matters, is likely to invest in the team, and attempt to resolve the stadium situation. Every cloud and all that…

And finally, and still in football (unbelievable, I know), have a gander at this stonking goal from Scotland’s Chris Maguire. Not half bad in my book…

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