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The Sunday Stroll: 9 Jan, 2011

January 9, 2011

So the festive period is done and dusted and into 2011 we roll. Just what might the new year hold for us, we wonder? The England cricket team will dice with two strong nations when India and Sri Lanka tour in the summer, Spurs could win the Premier League and Blackpool could qualify for Europe, dear ole Sepp will undoubtedly meddle once more, as too will dear ole Bernie. Who knows. Anyways, that is for the future to decide, and in the meantime here’s the first Sunday Stroll of 2011 and a look back at the last week (or so) in the world of sport…

And where better to begin than with one of the most iconic footballers of his generation: David Beckham. Looks like Becks could well be gracing the hallowed turfs of Premier League grounds once again as Harry Redknapp looks to bring him in on loan for the next couple of months. Sure, we could be cynical and highlight the potential for increased shirt sales as well as tapping into the lucrative Asian markets through brand DB’s appeal over there (key for a club hoping to become title contenders), but it’s the new year. Let’s praise the fact that he’ll be back in the Prem because he is one hell of a talented footballer. Who knows, if Spurs could just get Man United in the next round of the FA Cup – now that’d be something. For the nostalgia-ites amongst us [pretty sure that’s not a phrase but who gives…] here’s the goal that made him famous:

And just to show the old dog’s still got it, check out this belting effort for LA Galaxy:

From one legend to another and Blackburn Rovers have been chasing Ronaldinho. It’s the sort of sentence that’ll have you spitting your cornflakes out but it’s damn true. Rovers fans will delight at the thought of seeing the two-times World Player of the Year tricking and flicking his way down the Ewood Park wing, and manager Steve Kean is still entertaining the prospect of a deal being done. But consider the following: firstly, new owners want exposure for their club, and this is a fine way to go about it; secondly, AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri recently stated that Ronaldinho was heading back to his homeland: ‘To lose a player with his quality is a shame for everyone […] however, he wanted to make a life choice by going to Brazil.’ Not looking so promising for Rovers then. But in the meantime they can warm themselves with the rumours that old boy Damien Duff might be on his way back to his former club…

A while back we showed you an epic miss from a Qatar footballer. Now, we’ve gone one better. Five better actually. A quintet of incredible misses from one team in a matter of seconds. Remarkable doesn’t do it justice…

Big news this week obviously was the decision by Liverpool to sack manager Roy Hodgson, replacing him until the end of the season with Anfield legend and fan-favourite Kenny Dalglish. We wrote earlier this season about how Hodgson has a track record that suggests patience was the best attitude to adopt, but sadly for the affable ex-Fulham boss his time on Merseyside has come to a premature end. Although, given home defeats to Blackpool and Wolves and League Two side Northampton Town, some Liverpool fans will be thinking that it could have come far sooner…

Just before the turn of the year, bottom of the Championship side Preston sacked their manager Darren Ferguson. Bottom of the table… that’s a fair cop, surely? To most, yes. But not according to his daddy Sir Alex Ferguson, who in a petty show of fatherly son-hugging opted to recall all of his Manchester United loanees from Deepdale early. “That’ll teach ’em to mess about with me boy…

To cap a mad festive period for Preston, their mascot – the Deepdale Duck – was shown from the pitch after allegedly distracting the opposing Derby goalkeeper. This sparked a protest from Sheffield mascot Captain Blade with his cardboard ‘FREE THE PRESTON ONE’ placard making sports headlines around the world.

Into F1 and the fall-out from Fernando Alonso’s failure to win the F1 title in 2010 – not exactly aided by a poor strategical call by his team in the decider that left him with several cars to pass on a track renowned for being tricky to overtake on – has continued with Pat Fry replacing Chris Dyer as head of racetrack engineering.  Not much more to say on that one really…

33-year-old Indian racing driver Narain Karthikeyan has revealed he will return to F1 next season after a five year absence with the Hispania team. He achieved moderate-to-negligible success on his previous outings with the Jordan team (his best was fourth in that controversial 2005 US Grand Prix where only six cars ran), and his return is undoubtedly down to the presence of an Indian Grand Prix on the F1 calender for 2011 and the ensuing potential financial benefits for his backers and general associates. Sadly it means Bruno Senna has lost his seat with HRT for 2011, and also that there is one less seat available for the incredibily talented German youngster Nico Hulkenberg. It will be a real travesty if he doesn’t get a seat for 2011. Anyways, here is one hell of a revealing video from the afore mentioned ’05 Indianapolis Grand Prix, where only six cars started because of fears over the ability of Michelin’s tyres to withstand the unique banked corners of Indy – but no one told the fans!…

It has been a busy week or so for the dart throwing world with Adrian Lewis claiming the PDC World Title in London on Monday. The legendary fifteen-time world champion Phil Taylor had been knocked out in the quarters. The BDO World Championships held at Frimley Green conclude this weekend, with Dutchman Jan Dekker meeting Yorkshireman Dean Winstanley in the one semi, and Martin Adams and Martin Phillips in the other. Adams won the first semi, whilst third-seed Winstanley triumphed in the other…

The 2011 tennis season is already under way with Roger Federer winning the season opener – the Qatar Open. He beat Nikolay Davydenko in the final, which puts him in good shape heading towards the Australian Open later this month.

Into cricket and the Pakistani ‘no ball’ corruption inquiry kicked off last week, with those involved seemingly offering differing statements on how their agent managed to correctly predict when the no-balls would be bowled. In their opening statements, Pakistan captain Salman Butt stated that he ‘did not know how his agent had predicted with such accuracy when no-balls would be bowled,’ something fellow-accusee Mohammad Amir agreed with. However, accused bowling culprit Mohammad Asif chose to suggest that he had ‘bowled a no ball by mistake after being instructed by Butt to bowl a faster delivery’ by his captain (Butt). With disparity in their opening statements one cannot help but feel a few skeletons might be exiting the odd closet or two as this inquiry progresses…

As we’re sure you all know by now, England completed a 3-1 Ashes series victory in Australia the other day. A brilliant effort. A huge part of their success has been down to a superior bowling attack which has been moulded, coached and informed by bowling coach David Saker. Saker’s knowledge of Australian conditions (he used to bowl for Victoria) also benefitted the English attack, so it is mighty fine news for the English team and fans alike that he has signed a new and deservedly improved contract to stay with the ECB for a further three years.

This is of course a significantly improved performance from English cricket’s powers-that-be this time, unlike after the 2005 Ashes success when their then-instrumental bowling coach Troy Cooley was snapped up by the Aussies after the ECB dithered over offering Cooley a new contract. Cooley had instructed that immense Ashes regaining attack of Flintoff, Jones, Harmison and Hoggard in the art of reverse swing… we’re sure you all remember these brilliant wicket-taking deliveries:

Not to forget Gilo, of course. Ashley ‘the king of Spain’ Giles had his moment too:

And to complete a trio of cricketing flashbacks, here’s a corker from KP that had escaped our attention until the other week. His appeal? Amusing. The reaction of the umpire? Even more so…:

And finally, the only way we could possibly finish is with this: legendary TMS commentator Jonathan Agnew doing ‘the Sprinkler’. Take it away Aggers:

Thanks for reading folks. All the best for 2011… SB

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