Archive for August 2010
There’s something really smug about the way in which Ricky Ponting explains that the English batting line-up provides no surprises for this winter’s Ashes series in Australia. I don’t know what he has got planned for his own batting line-up, but it really makes me want Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook to take their first guards in Brisbane as right-handed batsmen.
Just to look at Ponting’s face and see if he’s at all surprised.
Robert Karlsson is one of Colin Montgomerie’s wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup in October. My dad told me. He heard it from my uncle after Karlsson’s caddie let it slip to him at an exhibition event last Monday.
Maybe the mischievous bagman was enjoying a joke at my uncle’s expense. Maybe my dear aged relative is beginning to go doolally. Either way, the revelation is not entirely implausible even if Karlsson has only been fleetingly mentioned in predictive debates.
It may be that Montgomerie considers the Ryder Cup not so much as a contest between the residents of two opposing landmasses more a battle of representatives of rival tours. And as such the more vaunted names of Casey, Donald, Harrington and Rose may not be jostling as near to the front of Montgomerie’s mind as previously thought. It seems that familiarity with the enemy may have bred diffidence, as demonstrated by a unilateral refusal to attempt automatic qualification at Gleneagles this week, each man citing a reluctance to tamper with their schedule with more lucrative gains on offer Stateside.
Potentially this has given Montgomerie the mother of all selection migraines, but has also corroded the appeal of the final event of the European qualification term, as the permutations have been pared down to a disappointingly small number.
Montgomerie has stoutly borne the standard for the European tour throughout his career, and perhaps this final snub is too much for him to bear. Maybe he has grown tired of trying to woo the American dissidents as they wander off with Fed Ex points in their eyes.
Maybe Robert Karlsson won’t be the only surprising pick.
Historians have revealed that in order to revive flagging spirits among his generals, Adolf Hitler once promised to shave off his moustache should Germany win the Second World War. It is claimed that the bet was made in the final days of the Third Reich as Hitler explained to his most trusted advisors that the missus didn’t like it that much anyway.
One of his inner circle is reported to have said: “team morale is important and growing a moustache is all part of the banter”, but adding that “although doing a Joey Barton impression whilst celebrating the surrender of France was beyond the pale, even for Adolf”.
He’s an understated character with little to say for himself, either in interviews or any form of social media. He never hits the headlines away from cricket and has never found himself embroiled in any misadventures involving a cat. His recent form has been poor: he didn’t just achieve his best bowling figures and he is nowhere near any wicket milestones. He wasn’t a vital part of the last side to win an ICC limited overs tournament.
Maybe the selection panel had to be somewhere and were in a hurry. Maybe it was all an elaborate prank. Maybe the entire selection process is flawed. It did after all create the most pointless long list ever by nominating every possible candidate for Best Umpire.
Mohammad Yousuf must have overslept on the morning the rest of the Pakistani squad were finally taught to catch. Or too preoccupied in the nets reminding himself how to bat again.
Yousuf’s batting may be rusty, but he’s alway been rubbish at fielding. He fields like someone’s rheumatoid granddad has wandered onto the field. He sort of bats a bit like that too, managing to amass runs in geriatrically sluggish style. The last time Pakistan played a test match at the Oval, Yousuf fannied around scoring 128 in six turgid hours. It was an innings that straddled two rainy days, both of which I had tickets for. The showers were the best bit.
Part of the appeal of watching golf is that its ultimate aim is so absolute: get the ball in the hole. There is no requirement for endless high-motion replays or referrals to a man in a hut to ascertain whether it’s gone in or not. The regulations of the game are codified in similar categorical terms. The margin for doubt is so tiny that the players are charged with keeping their own score.
But when some berk creates a golf course with a over thousand bunkers designed simply for decorative purposes the issue can be clouded somewhat. Aesthetically speaking, a bunker isn’t really in the same league as a rhododendron bush at Augusta. And the selection at Whistling Straits pales in comparison to riveted parapets of a Scottish links trap or the clean white sand of a manicured Floridian course. They more resemble something that a shoddy builder has left behind in your back garden.
That said, Dustin Johnson should feel no sense of injustice and his ignorance of the local rules cannot be blamed on the course architect. This latest major misadventure has added to his reputation for haplessness, a feeling reinforced by a dopey Southern drawl and a vague resemblance to a proboscis monkey.
It seems that his tribulations at the 18th have overshadowed the achievement of Martin Kaymer, who should be applauded not only for securing his first major title but also cheerfully embracing every German stereotype that the Sky commentary team hurled at him. We should have known that he would have won in the play-off. The Germans always win in play-offs.
A Spanish man is being questioned on suspicion of murder following the discovery of the mutilated remains of a bunker by the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. The bunker was attacked as it innocently stood by a green on the Whistling Straits course. A wedge with traces of sand was found in a bush near the scene of the crime, and a detective from the Milwaukee homicide department has confirmed that the fingerprints match those of the arrested man.
Police have also released CCTV footage of the incident, which further incriminates the suspect. You may find these images upsetting.