Archive for the 'Sport' Category

Ridiculous, game winning play

This is from College American Football. If you don’t know American Football, this sort of play is really really unusual.

What on earth has happened to cricket?

First we had Bob Woolmer’s death. Sad, but not terribly unexpected for a man with a congenital weight problem. Then, they said it was murder – which seemed incredibly unlikely.

Now it transpires he was poisoned too! So somebody sneaked into his hotel, went to his room, poisoned him, held him down until the poison took effect, and then strangled him. On an island that is awash with handguns, machines designed for no purpose other than killing people. This is very very weird.

Then, perhaps even more strangely, the ICC have managed to concoct a cricket competition that lasts too long. For anyone who knows cricket, the idea that anyone involved in the game could find anything taking too long is incredible. A good 5 match test series takes 25 days. Anything shorter than that isn’t a proper competition. That the World Cup has managed to take too long is a real achievement.

Finally, they have managed to appoint match officials who don’t know the laws of the game. Whatever else happens in international cricket, you can always rely on the umpires and referees to be absolutely on top of the rules. Even when making rather capricious decisions (as Darrell Hair did at The Oval when he decided Pakistan had forfeited), they are within the laws.

The ludicrous behaviour at the World Cup final was so un-cricket it’s hard to believe that’s the sport they were playing. Even club games have umpires with more clue and common sense.

Since the latter two problems are attributable directly to the ICC, it’s tempting to blame the first on them too. So, you heard it here first: Malcolm Speed snuck into Bob Woolmer’s room, poisoned and then strangled him.  Just like he did for the World Cup.  Presumably the motive was the same – money.

Pubs

A post on [MeFi](http://www.metafilter.com/58954/Britain-for-Americans) directed me to [a sociologists report on Pubs](http://www.sirc.org/publik/ptpintro.html). It goes in great detail into the social etiquette in Pubs — how to get served, what privileges regulars get, how to distinguish between ‘local’, ‘circuit’ and ‘estate’ pubs. All stuff you know already, but you didn’t know you knew.

Weirdly gripping.

The greatest drunk on earth

A marvellous [article about Andre the Giant](http://www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com/issues/10_06/10_06_andre_giant.html) in [Modern Drunkard Magazine](http://www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com/index.html). Truly heroic behaviour, and I have known some heroic drunks in my time. Just check this out:

> Sixteen bottles of wine in four hours is a considerable feat, but it gets better. Andre proceeded straight to the ring and wrestled three matches, including a twenty-man battle royal. The 16 bottles of plum wine had no discernible effect on Andre’s in-ring ability. By the end of the evening, Andre had sweated off the wine and found himself growing cranky. He dispatched Hogan for a few cases of beer. Hogan hurried to do as Andre asked, knowing from painful experience that a drunken Giant was a happy Giant, and a happy Giant was less likely to fracture some vital part of an opponent’s anatomy in a fit of grumpiness.

This man was such a hero he had Hulk Hogan around *just to go buy him booze*.

5-0

Yes, Australia were fantastic, but there is no excuse for the utter capitulation of the England side. Flintoff has proved to be a poor captain in adversity, and the only player who seemed to have any answer to the Aussies was Pietersen — who is in a different class to the rest of the team.

Frankly, a pretty feeble display.

463 days

Well, it was nice to have them, for a bit at least. What a depressing way to lose them though: 3-0, out of 3 games. I had hoped that we would do rather better than that. England have had a torrid time since the last ashes with a lot of injuries and the rest of the team unable to settle, while Australia have clobbered all-comers and Ricky Ponting has discovered the inner Bradman. It wasn’t very auspicious, but I had managed the same level of unquestioning hope that I had for the 2005 Ashes, and that proved virtually Delphic then.

A lot of the responsibility for this catastrophic failure has to go on the team management who have consistently failed to look forwards and play their best team. The business about Michael Vaughan being the real England Captain, even when he was in a different country, was just weird. Flintoff’s selection as (Acting?) Captain now looks very suspect too. Strauss would have been a better choice I think, especially after Flintoff’s injury (although I defended the Flintoff decision at the time).

Geraint Jones now looks like a cock-up too, although I don’t think anyone is to blame for that other than Jones himself. He has the ability, he just didn’t make use of it. In the circumstances in which England found themselves Read might have been a better batsman. He doesn’t have great technique, but he has a lot of guts.

And of course there is Monty Panesar. Selecting him instead of Giles wouldn’t have made much difference on it’s own I think, but it certainly is a sign of the management’s attitude.

Finally the decision to only play a couple of short games against state sides as warm up seems very suspect too. The players themselves will never blame lack of match practice, since they want to spend more time with their families — but several players looked distinctly undercooked: Harmison and Flintoff especially, both of whom had to perform if England were going to retain the Ashes.

I wonder how different things might have been if we’d had Strauss as captain, with Monty and Read in the side for Giles and Jones. I suspect those who have to decide on Fletcher’s future will be wondering that too.

Blaming Fletcher for everything is unfair, of course. He only pursued the same selectorial policy begun at the start of his reign, which successfully built a team to win the 2005 Ashes.

To put things in perspective, the Australians in Australia are very, very hard to beat. [Very few have managed it](http://stats.cricinfo.com/guru?sdb=team;team=AUS;class=testteam;filter=advanced;opposition=0;notopposition=0;homeaway=home;continent=0;country=0;notcountry=0;groundid=0;season=0;startdefault=1877-03-15;start=1877-03-15;decade=0;enddefault=2006-12-05;end=2006-12-05;tourneyid=0;finals=0;daynight=0;toss=0;scheduleddays=0;scheduledovers=0;innings=0;followon=0;result=0;seriesresult=lost;captainid=0;recent=;viewtype=series;runslow=;runshigh=;wicketslow=;wicketshigh=;ballslow=;ballshigh=;overslow=;overslow=;overshigh=;overshigh=;bpo=0;batevent=0;conclow=;conchigh=;takenlow=;takenhigh=;ballsbowledlow=;ballsbowledhigh=;oversbowledlow=;oversbowledlow=;oversbowledhigh=;oversbowledhigh=;bpobowled=0;bowlevent=0;submit=1;.cgifields=viewtype) (England 13 times, West Indies 4 times and New Zealand once). It is quite possible that no matter which team we fielded, with no injuries and clairvoyant management, we would still have lost the Ashes.

Bizarre run out

You need to go to around 02:40.

I am in two minds about this. Leaving your crease before the ball is dead is pretty dumb — but poor show from the kiwis frankly, even if this was within the laws.

Darrell Hair Sacked

It sounds like Darrel Hair, involved in the controversy around the forfeited test at the Oval, has [been sacked](http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/ci/content/current/story/266825.html). More disturbing is the obvious split between white nations and everyone else in the votes.

The reason Hair has always been such a charged issue is the accusations of ‘bias against the subcontinent’, which is a thinly veiled accusation of racism. If a top umpire really is racist then obviously he has no place in the sport. But I can’t help feeling that he has lost his job basically because he is not a very likable fellow. With all the accusations of bias I have never seen any statistics, which surely would make a strong case for bias.

This sort of feels a bit like justice in a way — nobody likes an officious bastard, which is certainly how he comes across. Being a nice chap is not, and should not be, a criteria for being an umpire however. I’d rather have correct decisions than an open and friendly personality.

The whole affair leaves a very sour taste in the mouth. I’d love to know what the other elite umpires think of this, but I fear there will be a long wait for their autobiographies. I await Hair’s with interest — if he spills the beans in his autobiography, this panel of beaurocrats may yet find they are victims of a little foot-shooting.