Harris Sportsthoughts

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When Sport Gets Dumped On

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Having been subjected to attack from what one might suggest was friendly fire, it has been a torrid old week for some of our more venerable sporting institutions. First Chris Gayle smacks test cricket for  six over its head by confessing that he wouldn’t be so sad if it died out. And then Rory McIlroy delivered a fearful whack to the Ryder Cup, arguing that it’s just an exhibition and ‘not that important to me’. I shouldn’t be surprised to read in my paper tomorrow that Sir Steve Redgrave has claimed that Olympic gold medals are ‘not all that’ or Sir Alex has revealed his true feelings by taking a crap in the European Cup.

McIlroy’s outburst can probably be attributed to adolescent recalcitrance. He is only twelve after all. His captain and playing partner today Colin Montgomerie probably took this into consideration when he politely asked the press not to make a war between him and the younger man (although in truth it’s something we’d probably all like to see: the young scrapper against the sheer bulk of the Scot).

Gayle claims he was misrepresented. You can judge for yourself by listening to the audioclip here. The strange thing about this interview is that it sounds as if Gayle and the female journalist are on a date. Gayle comes across slightly coy and flirty and definitely a bit pissed. It would certainly explain why his defensive technique deserted him on this occasion.

Test cricket had an immediate opportunity to stand up for itself and say ‘now listen here my good man’ at Chester-le-Street today on the first day of the Second Test. Unfortunately, on a play-doh pitch in front of a soupcon of spectators, it was more: ‘actually Chris maybe you’ve got a point.’

In fact, perversely, the most interesting section of play was when Gayle brought himself  onto bowl early against Andrew Strauss, the self-appointed champion of the test game. It was like he was countering his own argument.

The debate continues tomorrow.

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It’s Fun Being Fergie

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So Colin Montgomerie is seeking the counsel of Sir Alex Ferguson in preparation for his leadership of the 2010 Ryder Cup team. The prospect of  Monty assuming Fergusonian management techniques in South Wales is a fascinating one. One wonders how much of Sir Alex’s advice the portly Scot will take to heart, but there are several intriguing scenarios:

1. The referees

John Paramore, you have been warned: there are no technical areas on the fairways. There is no fourth official to divert the wrath of Colin against the chief referee of the European tour and his hardy crew of officials. If Ferguson’s vituperative attitude towards the ref is replicated by Montgomerie on the golf course then we could find ourselves in an unpleasant situation. A red-faced Monty, jabbing an accusing finger into a disbelieving referee, while being forcibly restrained by a couple of stewards. All for a minor disagreement over the invocation of rule 18-6 (ball at rest moved in measuring).

And think of the final fourballs on the Saturday afternoon. Donald rolls in a four-footer at the last to halve his match with Casey against Mickelson and Kim. Handshakes all round and off to the bar. But no. In front of a baying crowd, Monty is pointing at his watch, eyeing down the referee. And we’re back off to the first tee to see if we can get Europe that point.

2. The Americans

Sir Alex is notorious for winding up his opponents with his wily mind games. Wenger, Mourinho, most recently Benitez and most hilariously little Kevin Keegan.

Monty’s opposite number Corey Pavin is a character who will not shrink away from a scrap. This a man who donned a Desert Storm army cap during ‘The War on the Shore’ Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island in 1991. What a prick.

So let’s hope that Montgomerie can get under Pavin’s skin, maybe by questioning the professionalism of some of his American team: “When you do things like that about a man like Jim Furyk, I tell you what, I would LOVE it if we beat them in September”.

In truth Monty has form in this particular regard: maybe he could teach Ferguson a thing or two. He suggested that Brad Faxon may not be at the peak of his mental game in the run up to the 1997 Ryder Cup because he was in the middle of sticky divorce proceedings. It didn’t go down too well over the pond.

3. The Europeans

So Justin Rose takes Rory McIroy out for a night in downtown Newport the week before festivities: booze, drugs, strippers, a half-arsed orgy back at the hotel suite. Cue Monty. He is furious. The curly whippersnapper is hauled out by his ear and Rose is dropped from the team, banished to an South American satellite tour. Only to resurface on Celebrity Love Island reluctantly cavorting with Abi Titmuss.

And woe betide anyone who should three-stab on the 17th green to hand the Americans a vital point. Because Monty will be aiming a size 11 Footjoy straight for your forehead. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for the telltale studmarks on Robert Karlsson’s large Swedish noggin.

4. The press

And more particularly the BBC. Ferguson’s relationship with the Beeb disintegrated into nothing following a documentary shown on the channel about his son Jason. So what can we expect if Sir Alex’s mistrust has polluted the Monty view?

A vice-captain, lets say Paul Broadhurst, is pushed forward to take all press conferencs? A broadside is aimed at Peter Alliss, the commentator dismissed as “arrogant beyond belief”? Or even a shove in Hazel Irvine’s face as she proffers a hopeful microphone?

We can but dream…

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