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The Sunday Stroll: 28 Nov, 2010

November 28, 2010

‘Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die.’ Thank you, Lord Tennyson. However, seeing as we’re not at war – well not just yet anyway – this is hardly the time for war poetry. Being a Sunday morning however, what it is time for is a casual amble through this week’s goings-on in the world of sport. And if you’re not reading this… then you should be. Yep… this is The Sunday Stroll

First up Tennis, and the ATP World Tour Finals, where Andy Murray and Roger Federer began with wins last Sunday. Monday saw Rafael Nadal beat Andy Roddick (this was genuinely a thriller) whilst Novak Djokovic saw off Tomas Berdych. Then RFed beat our Andy whilst Soderling beat Ferrer. Nadal then defeated Djokovic, Berdych beat Roddick, Federer won again, Murray too, someone else beat another chap and so on and so on. So basically a lot of tennis got played this week and Rafa (who beat our favourite Scot in a humdinger of a semi) plays Federer later on today to decide the eventual winner.

Last weekend’s rugby union action saw England labour to victory over Samoa, whilst Wales endured a disappointing draw with Fiji which resulted in the sacking of skipper Ryan Jones. Ireland put up a brave fight but were well beaten in an exciting game against an impressive New Zealand, but Scotland stole the show by beating world champions South Africa at Murrayfield. Then yesterday England were outplayed by South Africa, Scotland narrowly beat Samoa, whilst Wales fought bravely in defeat to New Zealand. With next year’s World Cup in mind, it is plainly evident that New Zealand are shaping up to be the team to beat, especially as they are hosting the tournament. These 2010 Autumn internationals would suggest that 2007 champions South Africa are still half decent if a smidge inconsistent, whilst Ireland appear to have peaked with their 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam success. Australia seem to have stagnated, whilst Wales will be worried by their poor form. Only Scotland (and maybe England) have shown signs of progress, which bodes well for their campaigns. The best news to have emerged from these internationals is that the rule changes introduced to reduce negative tactics and speed the game up appear to have worked, with attacking rugby shining through. And that is certainly no bad thing…

Up in Scotland there has been a right hoo-ha in the footballing community about referees. It has all got somewhat out of hand really. It started with a few dodgy decisions, then a few lies, before escalating into a few entirely unacceptable death threats against officials involved in the Old Firm derby. Unsurprisingly after all this, some have since stepped down. We also learn that ‘Businesses in which referees are employed are being targeted by fans sending hate emails to employers saying things like, “why are you employing this guy?”,’ which borders on the absurd. Now, Scottish refs ‘at the end of their tether’ have voted to strike, leaving this weekend’s fixtures in doubt, something which is doubly frustrating for Motherwell due to the TV money they would lose should the game not go ahead. Icelandic refs (subsequently followed by Norwegian and Dutch officials) have since stated that they ‘will support [their] colleagues in Scotland’ by declining any opportunity to stand in for their Scottish counterparts. SportingBlogs not only commends the referees’ decision to strike, but also the decision of their Icelandic counterparts to offer some much-needed support. Whilst the clubs worry about losing a few extra pennies, the refs are made to feel bad about fearing for their lives… how can that possibly be right??

Nottinghamshire pugilist Carl Froch took on Arthur Abraham last night in the latest Super Six series round of boxing. In the build up to the fight, Abraham indulged in a somewhat customary bout of verbal sparring with his English opponent, taunting that ‘after the fight, Froch can plan his retirement,’ which given that 33-year-old Froch himself admitted that ‘if I lose, I’ll have to think about stopping,’ actually seemed like a prevalent threat. How wrong that proved. Froch defeated Abraham with an unanimous points victory, leaving the boot firmly on the other foot. Perhaps after back-to-back defeats, Abraham should be the one who considers afternoons spent watching the German version of Countdown whilst receiving warm cups of cocoa from those kind folk at mahlzeiten auf rädern (err that would be our dubious translation for the German equivalent of meals-on-wheels)…

The renovation of famous Brazilian stadium the Maracana began earlier this week. Admittedly it was six months behind schedule, but given how iconic it is, we should’t be too fussed. It will be a sight to behold when it hosts the 2014 World Cup final, although on FIFA recommendations it will take only 82,000 fans (ha, only) compared to the 200,000 it held in its heyday. The grand plan: ‘It will hold fewer people, but with better quality.’ Fair play. Kindly, the beeb have put together a photo slide-show so we can all see how the great stadium is getting on. Enjoy…

Kevin Pietersen took time out from his ‘movember’ contributions and the hectic Ashes build up to sign a county contract with Surrey for next season. Surrey are obviously delighted, because when he featured for them at the end of last season he proved ‘a strong positive influence in the dressing room, especially with [Surrey’s] younger players.’ That’s just dandy, isn’t it. But hold your horses for a second folks… what about the ‘packed schedule of International cricket in 2011’ that will take KP away from Surrey for large chunks of the season?? Surrey must be devastated. Fear not… his presence at Surrey should drag a few extra bums on to seats on the odd occasion that he does feature. What a relief…

Eric Cantona has gone all revolutionary on us. Well he is French afterall. His grand plan… ‘go to the bank in your country and withdraw your money, and if there are a lot of people withdrawing their money the system collapses. No weapons, no blood, or anything like that.’ Alas, a conscientious revolutionary, it seems. Hmm. Anyways, his desires are for everyone to withdraw their money so the banks head paddle-less towards the shitty creeks. Cheers, Eric… but seeing as banks only hold roughly 5-10% of our savings in cash (with the rest invested or loaned), we fail to see how prevalent a threat this actually might be. A great footballer (and, erm, actor (and – dare we say it – kung-fu enthusiast)) you might have been, but a successful economic revolutionary, peut-être? Perhaps not. Nonetheless, here are the somewhat remarkable thoughts of Mr Cantona…

Jose Mourinho is back in trouble once again. Never one to shy away from controversy, he is rumoured to have instructed two of his players to earn second yellow cards whilst 4-0 up in Europe midweek, thereby getting sent off and missing the final group game (which seeing as they had already qualified wouldn’t be too disastrous) instead of the first leg of the next round. UEFA are investigating, which has ‘surprised’ Real, and consequently the Special One and four of his players are left ‘facing the threat of suspension from the last-16 round of the Champions League.’ Yes, Madrid might have been attempting to manipulate the rules, but one has to hope that UEFA don’t go over the top with any punishment. Our solution, if guilty, would be to delay the two sent off players’ suspensions until the next round. Simple…

In golf this week, Graeme McDowell has been dueling with Martin Kaymer as both bid to end the season as number one on the European Tour. Pre-tournament McDowell stated that the ‘money lists [that decide the rankings] are very important as they define careers,’ so he was naturally disappointed that he carded a second round 73 to slip to joint forty-second when he needed to finish at least in the top three to challenge the German for the title. Sure enough, with third round performances drifting in his favour, Kaymer secured top spot as he became the youngest European number one for twenty-one years. A quite superb achievement, we hope you all agree…

Finally, in case you were wondering, yes – the Ashes did begin this week. Saving the best until last. Err, obviously. Ian Bell-aside, England batted like donkeys in their first innings, and were luckless with the ball for large parts of the Australian reply. Naturally the ‘See Pom, Hate Pom’ inclined Aussie press declared this a traditional bout of pom-bashing (‘Ten Pounded Poms’ being the headline of choice for the Sydney Morning Herald) completely choosing to ignore the fact that one impressive (and initially luck-ridden) partnership aside, the Australian batsman had performed just as ineffectively as their English counterparts. All this on what has turned out to be a rather flat and surprisingly slow Gabba wicket. No surprises therefore that captain Strauss and Alastair Cook filled their boots on the fourth day with a ton each as England racked up 309-1. Eleven Pounded Convicts, per chance? Not really. Just a couple of batsmen finally doing what’s expected of them on a relatively benign wicket…

Out of interest, should any of you folk fancy an alternative form of Ashes coverage this winter, then SportingBlogs would like to direct you towards the Lego Ashes being run on twitter (http://twitter.com/legoashes) and facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?sk=group_105726836165939&ap=1). From what we have seen so far, Lego Ashes are offering wicket-by-wicket coverage (for example, Hussey’s day three dismissal) with additional highlights of key moments (such as Cook’s century). There also appear to be a few amusingly positioned characters in the background… it’s worth a peruse for sure.

So in light of Eric’s latest career switch from actor/director to economic revolutionally, here is the Frenchman right back at the very beginning, with King Cantona the Controversial at his kung-fu kicking best…

Thanks for reading folks…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 11, 2010 7:26 pm

    awesome, just awesome

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