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The Sunday Stroll: 16 Jan, 2011

January 16, 2011

Greetings folks and folkesses. This weekend we take a glance back towards cupsets and sewer rats from last weekend’s FA Cup Third Round action, look back fondly on Colly’s fine catching ability and forward to Eoin Morgan’s unorthodox approach to batting, a few snap-shots from elsewhere in the world of sport and finally, a stroll through Kimi’s WRC 2010 endeavours. Put your feet up and light your pipe, it’s time for your weekly Sunday Stroll…

FA Cup Third Round kicked off last weekend. Top of the billing was Manchester United against Liverpool, with the Red Devils winning 1-0 thanks to a controversial Dimitar Berbatov-earned penalty. Steven Gerrard also saw red for a reckless tackle, although it was a seemingly innocuous challenge between QPR’s Jamie Mackie and Blackburn’s Gael Givet that left Mackie with a double fracture. However, it was El-Hadji Diouf’s conduct that once again drew the headlines, as he was castigated by QPR manager Neil Warnock for allegedly abusing the stricken Mackie. Given Diouf’s previous penchant for vulgar controversies, we should not be too surprised. Surprise results of the round involved Newcastle losing away to League Two Stevenage and high-flying Sunderland losing 1-2 at home to League One side Notts County, but both were topped by non-league Crawley Town who dumped Championship side Derby County out of the cup on Monday evening [highlights below]… now that is why we love the cup.

Debate has raged this week with regards to bids by Spurs and West Ham to take control of the Olympic stadium after 2012. Tottenham have worked out that it will cost them roughly £200m less (!) to knock down the Olympic stadium and build their own new ground their (as well as refurbish the Crystal Palace athletics venue) than it would for them to go ahead with their redevelopment plans at White Hart Lane. However, as Spurs would do away with the running track, this would mean no legacy for athletes – a big bone of contention – on the Olympic site after 2012, which the athletes are struggling to stomach and the IOC are not too chuffed about either. West Ham would keep the track, although many argue that this places fans too far away from the action, but there are doubts over whether West Ham could fill the 60,000 stadium, let alone afford it should they get relegated. Spurs appear better placed to take on the site, although West Ham appear better suited to appeasing athletes and the various Olympic authorities by meeting the legacy pledge.

Into darts, and Martin Adams claimed the BDO World Championship against debutant Dean Winstanley. Adams retained the title he won last year. Fascinating stuff. This, of course, is the same Martin Adams who faced Tony Fleet on the Aussie’s not-so-impressive BDO big-stage debut. The clip title says it all really…

Paul Collingwood announced his retirement from Test cricket last week. ‘Colly’ was never the most eye-catching of batsmen (a tad bottom-handed for the purists…), but he tried his heart out for England and still averaged more than previous captains Mike Atherton, Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain – albeit in a more run-friendly era. He finished on a high by helping England retain the Ashes, and although he did not have a profitable series with the bat, he took several good catches (and one great one) as well as taking the crucial wicket of Mike Hussey with his final ball in test cricket. Best known for his fielding, Colly contributed several run outs and a countless stunning catches throughout his Test career, although the catch shown below – from a one day game – is perhaps best at showing just what he has been capable of:

Debate will gather momentum in the build up to the Sri Lanka test series this summer over who should replace him. Number one candidate (for now) must be Eoin Morgan who has made runs for fun in the game’s various shorter formats. He has a slightly unorthodox style, to say the least. Here are a handful of reverse sweeps he played for Middlesex a while back – the last one is possibly the barmiest shot we have seen played in a cricket match:

Those with an interest in horse racing will undoubtedly be aware that legendary horse Kauto Star ran in the rescheduled King George VI Chase this weekend. The Paul Nicholls-trained ride was seeking a fifth victory in ‘one of the most prestigious races on the calendar.’ With Kauto’s regular and back-up jockeys both unable to take the ride, BBC Sports Personality of the Year winner Tony McCoy took the reins and attempted to take Kauto Star to record-breaking heights. It was inevitable really wasn’t it? He had to win? Fate, surely? Well, no. Third place actually. But near enough. No landmark victory, but he’s still a legendary horse regardless…

Into F1 and McLaren-Mercedes have announced that they will run their 2010 car at the first pre-season test for the up-and-coming 2011 F1 campaign. Red Bull did something similar last year and consequently suffered from reliability problems in the opening rounds (spark plug issues costing Seb Vettel victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix), but McLaren have been quite to suggest that this strategy is one that will benefit their drivers and the team as a whole, stating that their ‘timetable is optimal with regard to providing Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton with the best possible package for the first race.’ On what basis, you might ask? Well, it is speculated that the extra time in the factory might be beneficial, but more prevalent is that they will be testing the new Pirelli tyres with a set-up (from their 2010 cars) that they are already familiar with. Maybe, maybe. The proof will be in the pudding as they say…

McLaren’s perennial rivals Ferrari were in Northern Italy at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort earlier this week for their annual joint do with the Ducati MotoGP team. Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, and MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden were in attendance as Ducati unveiled their 2011 bike – the Desmosedici GP11 – with the key developments being ‘new aerodynamics, changes to engine torque, the stiffness of the chassis and revised electronics,’ according to designer Filippo Preziosi. Ferrari should launch their car in the final week of January, but for now the elite red machine riders and drivers from the world of two- and four-wheeled motorsport enjoy a week of winter sport activities in the build up to their respective 2011 campaigns. It’s a tough life for some…

Meanwhile, the real reason for Ferrari’s decision not to bring back ex-champ Kimi Räikkönen was unearthed earlier this week – he hit a child. Well, kind of. You’ll see what we mean:

Poor ole Kimi eh. Now racing in the World Rally Championship, we thought we’d take a peak at how he’s been getting on. Here he is in action in France last year:

Not so great then. But racing a new sport in a foreign country like France can’t be easy for the Iceman. Surely he’d be more suited to a homely ice-based rally, like this one in Sweden for instance:

Hmm… possibly not then. Well, clearly, if a cold and icy rally is not to the Finn’s liking then surely one in a warmer country must be. How about Spain? Cataluña, to be precise. Much warmer there. We reckon Kimi’s got to be a dab hand at rallying there…

No? Bizarre. But obviously Spain isn’t hot enough for the Iceman. Mexico must be then. Surely?

Baffling. All of these countries one would logically assume Kimi to succeed at rallying in – he keeps failing in. So, how about a completely abstract country then. Let’s try, err, Bulgaria???

Well at least that was a relatively innocuous slide off the course. No lasting damage. Still, it’s not as if he wrote his car off later on in the same rally, is it? Oh it is. Hmm…

Alas, poor Kimi – he appears to not know rallying so well. But at least the Iceman can drink!…

Cheers for reading. All the best folks… SB

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