Summer Diary 9
We all focus on the problems in football but all sports have their difficulties as we’ve seen in recent days in cricket, Formula 1 and tennis.
Tues 2 July
Another mid – season surprise managerial appointment. Right up there with Joe Kinnear to Newcastle. Steve McLaren joins Q.P.R. as a coach. Spot the odd one out; chalk and cheese, oil and water, Redknapp and McLaren…oh, there isn’t one!
It’s not cricket…
Sometimes things happen in other sports that I just cannot let slip by without comment. We are well and truly in the close season now after all. Only a matter of time before I start to suffer the football withdrawal symptoms and try and redress all our defeats from last year on FIFA 13.
It was on Sky Sports News this morning (Sky incidentally scooped at the weekend along with the BBC and every other major UK news outlet by Logan’s piece covering Paulinho’s announcement on Twitter that he will be joining Spurs) that Australia had rushed through citizenship for a Pakistani bowler so that he could play in the first Ashes Test against England in a few days’ time.
Now I know that historically England are not exactly blameless in the working of citizenship rules in sport but the latest desperate move by Australia is one of Zola Budd proportions. The organisation of their tour of this country has been a shambles with discipline and performance issue wherever you look. Management sackings too but the much publicised “punishments” are all geared to delivering the strongest possible team for the Ashes. The guy who assaulted Jo Root has had a nice break but will he be back for the first test? You bet he will – and now this.
I know that especially since their dismal Olympic performances, the under achieving Aussies want to beat us at all costs (witness the constant physical attrition of the British Lions in the warm up games in the run up to the Rugby Union Tests) but how proud will they really feel deep down if their new mercenary spinner bowls us out whilst using them as a flag of convenience? It would be like Spurs signing Neymar on loan to play Arsenal in the Cup Final. Even in the crazy world of football, there are rules against that.
Dedication of a True Cricket Fan
Contrast that development to this example of the dedication of a true cricket fan…My good friend Richard is one such creature, a died-in-the wool Hampshire supporter. He spends the summer travelling the country with his very understanding wife following them in the county game. 1 day matches, 50 overs, 20-20, you name it. I am a fair-weather follower of England, like in all sports but Richard follows the county game and Hampshire through thick and thin. Last week, he drove all the way from Bournemouth to Chelmsford in Essex to watch them. He had pre-booked his accommodation and by the time the weather forecast got a bit dodgy it was too late to cancel it. I’ll let him finish the story in his own words:-
“Anyway we drove up with only a few showers and did not have any continuous rain until we were near Chelmsford. It was raining well when we arrived at 2.45 but by 3.30 the rain had stopped. When we arrived at the ground at 4.45 the sun came out for a while. We still had no rain until 6.25 when the players came out for the toss, but sure enough it was raining at 6.30 to delay the toss. The rain did stop just before 8pm, although it was 8.35 before they were able to get started and sure enough the rain returned after 12 minutes play. The match was eventually abandoned at 9.35.
Oh well the pub was really good and we had a nice meal Saturday evening, whilst the weather on Saturday and Sunday was of course perfect!! I’m now just about to send away for the refund on our tickets.”
There is something quintessentially English about that story. With hardly a ball bowled it embodies the spirit of the game of cricket residing in the true fan. The uncomplaining optimism and stoicism of a true supporter, finding a bright spot in even the most disappointing of days. Something to hold on to as a Spurs and England supporter in the challenging months to come.
Whilst I am skipping from sport to sport – Formula 1 – what a farce. I know they say there is no such thing as bad publicity but having watched those tyres shredding again and again at Silverstone, would you buy a set of Pirellis for your daily commute in your pride and joy and to take the wife and kids on holiday? They have announced that they are going to allow in-season testing in an attempt to put the problems right before the next Grand Prix. For all teams except Mercedes that is, because of their previous breach of the rules. It will be interesting to see them trying to explain that away if Lewis Hamilton dies from a tyre blow out in the next race.
I have been surprised to see the number of top seeds falling by the wayside. Some of them have blamed the grass. D’uh? – It’s Wimbledon! It reminds me of British Rail in the winter, “wrong type of snow on the line”. Where is the consistency in the administration of the dress code? We all know it’s supposed to be all white. Roger Federer is told, allegedly, that he can’t wear his tennis shoes with the orange soles and immediately suffers a shock defeat and exit in the next round. In contrast Serena Williams was allowed to wear a pair of garish pink knickers as she crashed out. Still I suppose that’s preferable to making her take them off. Personal taste, I know but I am glad I don’t have to suffer those anymore.
Wed 3 July, 6.30 am.
Press full of news of more signings and rumours. Still nothing official from Spurs.