Monday 5 August 2019

Cricket not my favourite sport

Cricket to me is a marmite sport you like it or hate it. It is a strange sport not universally accepted ( a bit like American football or baseball) which is played by British Empire countries, yes the old colonies, probably the only export still widely accepted. Other UK origin sports are much bigger and more popular everywhere - football ( soccer for USA), golf and tennis.

I said cricket is strange, it has many variations from test matches, 50 over (World Cup) and 20/20. The test match is the most unfathomable with five days of play that can still end in a draw. Weather always stops play which seems strange for a game who's origins are in a country of showers.

Play it's self can be very tedious with most of the play being taken by the bowler running or walking. After a few minutes the batsman gets a chance to hit the ball then off we go again walking and running.

I believe there are too many sports in the world today and more are invented every day, how about culling some of these sports so that we can concentrate on the better ones. My first selection would be cricket and maybe water polo. What do you think?  It's possible I don't understand cricket and I certainly cannot swim that well.

F1 and Lewis Hamilton Hungary 2019

As Lewis said himself it has been talked about for ages. The battle between himself and Max Verstappen would be great when it happened. On Sunday we are used to seeing Mercedes disappear into the distance however this week at the twisty Hungaroring,  it was a Red Bull and a Mercedes linked together by an invisible short tether that went into the distance. This battle was everything it was billed to be and on a circuit where they say you cannot pass.

It turned out that the superior driver and team won the day, but you must congratulate Max and the Red Bull team for taking it to Mercedes. This was the most exciting "racing" race we have see for years, with side by side moves no one would have thought possible. What makes it even better it was just not Max and Lewis fighting, it was all throughout the field. This is what we want in F1.

Well done to all the teams, in particular to Haas for colliding with each other.

photo by F1

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Premier League Player Restrictions

We are all excited once again as the football season has started, but should we? The league appears again only to be driven by money and the even if we don't have it we are going to spend it type of attitude. This year sees the promotion of AFC Bournemouth to the top league for the first time in their long history. As the junior members and having just a few years ago nearly succumbed to financial ruin, they fielded highest numbers of players on the first day that could qualify for the national team with eight of the starting eleven. You might think that's good, but three teams only started one home player. Look at the detail below.

Only a third of those started were home players, no wonder we are useless when it comes to international matches and tournaments like the World Cup and Euros, if we actually qualify. It is two full years since I first suggested the idea of restricting the number of imports playing on match day, no limits on squad or spend. If you limited it to five players then only four of the twenty teams qualified. It all goes to show there is not a snowballs chance in hell that a home nation is going to win anything if home players are not developed and populate the Premier League in substantially increased numbers.

Monday 24 November 2014

Lewis Hamilton F1 World Champion 2014

What a year for Lewis Hamilton, eleven victories, world champion and elevated to legend status. Well that is my opinion and I won't apologise for it because I think Lewis has truly earned it. 

We all thought at the begining of the year during testing that Mercedes just may have car that could win the championship as a constructor however what we did expect was the domination. Red Bull and Renault missed the boat producing machinery that could not match the might of Mercedes. It was expected that Red Bull would come good later in the season but this only happened when Mercedes missed a beat and Ricciardo grabbed the opportuinty with both hands.  Before this happened it looked like Hamilton's season was going to be punctuated by bad luck, poor reliability and loss of emotional control. It be came clear at Silverstone that this was going to be a Lewis's year. The determination and drive he demonstrated at his home GP convinced me that Lewis would make it happen bad luck or not.

It was noticable throughout the season that the pundits were not going to pick a winner because of Rosberg's reliability and the double points at the end of the season. Even although Lewis was racking up the wins Rosberg was still there, just  ahead or just behind but always in touch. The complexities of the scoring system also meant that Daniel Ricciardo was also in touch highlighting the most surprising and unexpected outcome of the season - the failure of Sebastian Vetel to mount any sort of challenge to the Mercedes paring.

Lewis without doubt this season has attained the status of legend, not by winning his second championship alone. He has done it with a combination of achievements. Championships with two different teams, most GP wins by a Britain and most importantly his development into one of the most respected drivers on the grid and the most exciting and talented. He is now able to control his emotions a lot better and is an asset that I am sure Mecedes will do everything they can to ensure they keep him in contract. 

With all this mind I think Lewis will be the hot favourite for the BBC Sports Personaity of the Year followed closely by Rory McIllroy both worthy successors to Andy Murray.

Monday 14 July 2014

World Cup 2014 Brazil - Full time Report

Germany the deserved victors in the World Cup final, which delivered possibly the best goal of the tournament from Gotze. Was it the best World Cup ever, possibly. It was certainly the most watched final with over an estimated billion viewers worldwide. Did we see the best football possible, possbily not. Messi Neymar and Ronaldo are as ever, only one man in a team and cannot expect to be at their best without the support of their team mates with comparable skills.

This World Cup will be remembered for a few things:-

Quick exit of some of the favourites and former winners - Italy, Spain and of course England. England yes we expected to go out but not Itsly or defending champions Spain.

Surprise performances from Costa Rica and Columbia brought the tournament alive. These teams showed that the small teams must now be considered as real competitors. The USA also turned in some good performances and woke up their home audience with record TV numbers.

Dramatic penalty deciders, in particular Netherlands v Columbia. Van Gal's decision to substitute his goalkeeper at the last minute was sheer genius or total luck.

The Suarez incident, where after producing killer goals against England he falls into old eating habits and tries a bit of Italian and gets a record transfer to Barcelona. It seems that you only have to be totally unprofessional in football to succeed.

Without a doubt the most memorable part of the last four weeks was the total disintegration of the Brazil team going down 7 - 1 to Germany and then 3 - 0 to the Netherlands shortly afterwards. You cannot lay all of this on Neymar as he like Messi or Ronaldo is only one player in a team of eleven.

Two last things that must be mentioned. 
1 The introduction of the spray foam for the referees to control free kicks was a winner and cut out vast amounts of time wasting.
 2 Against all expectations the hosts Brazil produced an excellent tournament. There may have been a few elements not complete but who really noticed, the football won through. This ultimately gives Russia the next hosts a big "follow that" . They will have to overcome the exactly the same problems as Brazil - corruption, building delays, security and the size of the country. If they achieve the same level of success then we will have the prospect of another great tournament.

Saturday 5 July 2014

Messi - an example to all footballers

 Lionel Messi we all know his skills and have been impressed by his performance so far in Brazil. What is not always publicised is the way he plays. What do I mean? The example he is setting is for all footballers who when touched ever so slightly in tackle or just brushing past dive to the ground via a double somersault with twist and holding of an uninjured body part.
Tonights game against Belgium was a perfect example, attacking he had four or five Belgians take a hack at him but he continued to display fantastic football skills, it was only after one last hack he went down. This guy is a true professional footballer who has never been to drama school. Almost single handed he has guided Argentina to the World Cup semis without complaint and without argument. What is even more remarkable is that he is a target more than anyone else because of his skills and is often hacked out of a game but still his complaint are minimal and certainly you never see a dive. All footballers note, this is the star to copy. This is the image young footballers should aspire to not the Suarez one. Unfortunately with the money / business now involved in football what are the chances of this happening?

Thursday 26 June 2014

World Cup 2014 Brazil - Half Time Report

With the group stages of the World Cup  coming to a conclusion we have some big headlines and food for thought. The overall impression is a very positive one, some very good football and underdogs like Costa Rica going through. It bodes well for the knock out stages with more good football.

Ready or not ?

I think there was genuine worries about the readiness of the stadiums and the supporting infrastructure however normally you would get horror stories. Well they have been few and far between or I have been reading the wrong reports. The only one I have seen showed a video of a temporary staircase that looked very unsafe however the game started and finished without any reported dramas. All the stadiums have looked good and the playing surface up to standard with only one looking bare and one other cutting up a little. Overall I think Brazil have done well against all odds.

Manaus jungle game for England

Englands opening game in Manaus was hyped beyond belief - high temperature, high humidity, bad pitch, middle of nowhere and any other combo of excuses you can think of. As always the opponents have the same conditions and it all seemed to be a bit of a non event and England poor against a poor Italy.

England - Oh England

Whilst talking about England I will get it over now. Poor performances from all round from our so called highly paid stars. The team knew what they  were facing with Uruguay, we had at least four Liverpool players on the field and yet Suarez still scored two great goals. Were players not following Roy Hodgson's instructions or did he omit to tell them that Suarez was playing albiet slightly unfit. 

Champions Exit

Like England, Italy as former champions exit at the group stage but what was really surprising was the very early exit of the current champions Spain. Widely favoured to do well in their defence of the title, they were humiliated by the Netherlands and Chile. The other former champions are all through Brazil, Germany, Uruguay and France.

Star Teams

Two teams for me have stood out, because they are doing the unexpected. Netherlands having a dream start with victory over defending champions Spain. The Dutch shining with Robben and Van Persie. The USA have got through with Germany in a very tough group. What is more remarkable is the home support the team, it is reported that TV audiences have broken all records for football in the USA and even challenging the established sports of baseball and basketball. If they can get another result it will do wonders for football or soccer in the States.

Star Players

Who are the stars of the tournament, well for me that is easy Messi. He just exudes class that no other player displays. From his technical ability to the way he rides tackles and if downed he is straight up again back in play. He does not a drama star like some of the others who are playing - outstanding. He has also scored some of the best goals of the tournament so far along with Neymar, Mueller, Jones of the USA and the Dutchmen Robben and van Persie. I should also mention Miroslav Klose of Germany as he has now equalled Brazil's Ronaldo at 15 goals in World Cup finals.

Suarez Banned for 4 Months

We must have all seen it know now, football fan or not you cannot escape the Suarez biting during the Uruguay v Italy match. Loosing out on a tackle he immediately started to knaw at Chiellini's shoulder in front of the world. Then after being thrown off he checks his teeth - what is wrong with this man. It is all very sad as he is a very talented player but this cannot be excused for any reason. Interesting stat is that he has now been banned for over 40 matches, but none as a result of a red card. Not the kind of record a player wants on his CV. The losers here are Liverpool who will start the season without him and may even have to make a brave decision and get rid of him, it all goes against the Liverpool image. The man in all likelihood could suffer financial and career ruin as sponsers start to pullout. In case you did not know this the third time he has done this so deserves all the penalties he gets as a result.

Well half time over what can we expect in the second half. I hope for more goals and exciting skillful play. What will happen to Uruguay - disappear without trace with no Suarez? I think you will choose the champion from Netherlands, Germany, Brazil and possibliy France. I think it will be good. End note - Well done Brazil, it's all going extremely well.