Friday, 15 April 2011

McIlroy and Murray must conquer demons

Watching Rory McIlroy’s game disintegrate on Sunday under the strain of the chance to win his first Major Championship, I couldn’t help but be reminded of another talented British sportsman, tennis player Andy Murray.
Both of these players are among the best in the world in their chosen sport. Murray has now played in three Grand Slam finals in his relatively short career, but each time he has reached the final, he has frozen like a rabbit in the headlights, and not won a set as all three opportunities have passed him by.
McIlroy must ensure that the same fate doesn’t befall him. He is an outrageously talented player, who has the potential to be the best player of his generation. He must stay patient and trust that if he keeps working hard, and managed to keep his head, that the rewards that his talent so richly deserves will come. The problem that Murray has is that he wants it too much. The burden of having a nation that hasn’t experienced a Grand Slam success for over 75 years has proven too much for him. Next time he finds himself in a Grand Slam final (and there will be plenty of opportunities, he is that good) he must relax and play it like any other match, and forget his previous defeats.
McIlroy must do the same the next time he finds himself leading a Major with one day to go.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Time to ban drug cheats once and for all

I have been absolutely amazed to see over recent months that Tour De France winner Alberto Contandor has been allowed to continue competing after testing positive for banned substance, Clenbuterol, a muscle building drug. The positive test was provided after one of the stages in the Tour De France last year, which Contandor won.
He blamed ingesting contaminated beef for failing the test. It seems amazing to me that somebody like Contador can get away with it, whilst athletes like Lance Armstrong are constantly plagued by allegations of doping, despite never having failed a drugs test.
As far as I am concerned you are responsible for any substance that is found in your body, and believe that people like Contador and also Manchester City footballer Kolo Toure should be banned for failing tests, despite any pathetic excuses they might have.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Keys and Gray forced out for pub talk

Whilst it appears increasingly obvious that Andy Gray and Richard Keys have been forced out of Sky for nothing more than indulging in a conversation that millions of men have up and down the country every week, I must admit to finding it extremely satisfying not to have to see their smug, self indulgent faces on the Sky Football programming that they have dominated for the last twenty years.
I, for one, have stopped watching the Monday Night Football programme, as I have felt that that this show has no longer been about the match being shown that night, but has been the ‘Andy Gray’ show with his trusty sidekick ‘Dickie’ in some sort of bizarre Batman and Robin combination.
It is about time things were freshened up at the very top of Sky’s football coverage with young presenters such as Ben Shepherd and Ed Chamberlain looking likely to step up and fill the shoes of Keys, with Jamie Redknapp set to step in for Gray having shown promise over the last few years with some insightful and intelligent analysis of the matches that he covers.
If I was in charge of Sky, though, there would be one man for the job and that is Robbie Savage. I am sure anybody reading this (hello Mum!) might think this a strange appointment given his controversial playing career, and I think for that reason it is unlikely that they will go for someone as colourful as Savage.
However anybody who has ever heard his work as a co-commentator on Five Live will know that he takes his media work extremely seriously, whilst showing his more brash and amusing side on the phone in on a Saturday evening.
And nobody could say that Robbie Savage wasn’t in touch with his feminine side. More than once I have actually noticed a more than passing resemblance to BBC Sport presenter Hazel Irvine with his long flowing blonde locks.
It will be interesting to see where Sky now goes with this. It can only be hoped that they aren’t going to go with the soon to retire Gary Neville, who Daily Telegraph writer Jim White, this week called ‘the most charmless man in football’.
One thing is for certain though, we won’t be seeing Keys or Gray on our TV screens for a long time to come.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Ashes Preview: KP and Swann hold keys to success

Tonight, there will be millions of people across England who will break their sleeping pattern and risk the wrath of their time efficient bosses in the morning by staying up late and watching the first ball of The Ashes being bowled as England and Australia get ready for what is predicted to be one of the most closely fought series in years.
And it will be closely matched, don’t let anybody fool you. There are many fans and journalists who have been talking up the chances of England, saying that they will never have a better chance to claim a series win in Australia. And they may be right but Australia are no pushovers, especially in their own backyard.
However I do think England will do it. But to do so their hopes rest largely on the shoulders of two players. Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann. Pietersen hasn’t looked the same player ever since he was relieved of the captaincy at the beginning of 2009 after infamously trying to remove Peter Moores as coach. He has only scored one test century since. For England to win this series the egotistical South African needs to regain his mojo and get back to doing what he does best and that is dominating the best bowlers in world cricket as only he can do.
However Swann is the man that can decide the fate of this year’s contest. With England relying on a four man bowling attack it is crucial that Swann bowls with discipline and skill while the other three pace bowlers rotate at the other end. However he has to find the fine line between bowling with discipline and curbing his natural wicket tacking abilities. If Swann can find the right balance and James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn all chip in with wickets then England should have more than enough to take 20 Australian wickets.
Less than an hour to go until the first ball is bowled. England to win 2-1. Come on!!!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Wounded Tiger looks to come back fighting

So after much reported indecision it has finally been confirmed by America’s Ryder Cup Captain that Tiger Woods will be one of his picks for this year’s event due to be held at Celtic Manor.
After much speculation that Pavin was seriously considering leaving Woods out the team the decision was taken to include him after all.
I can’t say that I am overly surprised. Although Woods has a relatively poor record in the Ryder Cup (he has only been on the winning side once in his otherwise fine career) it would have been a huge call to leave out the player, who despite all his troubles is still ranked the best player in the world.
Imagine the uproar Pavin would have faced back in his home country if he had left out Woods and they had been resoundingly beaten by the European team. In many ways Pavin can’t win.
If you had asked me a month ago whether or not Woods deserved to be picked I would have said no. His form was terrible and his head was clearly all over the place. However there has undoubtedly been an upturn in his fortunes over the last couple of tournaments in which he has played solid golf if not spectacular. His divorce has been finalised and that will unquestionably have provided him with a clearer head in which to get his game back on track.
My main worry for the European is that they seem dangerously close to underestimating him. Rory McIllroy and other Europeans have expressed their belief that on Woods’ current form they believe themselves to be more than capable of beating him. You can bet that Woods is listening to every comment made about the so called malaise in his recent form.
A tiger is never more dangerous than when it is wounded. At Celtic Manor you will see Woods roar.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

I decided to tune in to Jonathan Ross last week due to the presence on the show of Amy Williams, the solitary gold medal winner from this country in the Winter Olympics recently held in Vancouver. I, like many millions around the country, had never heard of Williams until her astonishing success in the skeleton event that led to her achieving her lifelong Olympic dream.
I wanted to know more about Amy Williams and what she was like as a person and she seemed like an athlete completely unaffected by her extraordinary success. She seemed humble and somewhat overwhelmed by the fame and adulation that has quickly become part of her life.
It is so refreshing in this age of overpaid, arrogant sportsmen to see a genuinely world class talent appear so normal, and in the case of Williams I think that this is unlikely to change. People like John Terry and Ashley Cole should take a long hard look at somebody like Amy Williams and adjust their behaviour to match accordingly.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

New F1 season starts with a whimper

So after all the hype surrounding the first Formula One race of the season it turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. Over taking seemed virtually impossible, apart from on the first lap of the race when Fernando Alonso took advantage of a sluggish start by team-mate Felipe Massa to get into second place behind Sebastien Vettel.
The only way teams seemed to be able to gain an advantage over each other was when they brought their drivers in to change their tyres, and the lack of excitement doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season.
For the two British drivers on the grid it was a weekend of contrasting fortunes as Lewis Hamilton dominated his team-mate to gain an unlikely place on the podium while Jenson Button trailed home in seventh place.
It was also a difficult weekend for Michael Schumacher who found himself out performed by his team mate Nico Rosberg, in qualifying and then in the race itself. He also made his feelings clear that he was unhappy with the new regulations regarding fuels and tyres that make the car more difficult to manage and therefore make overtaking all but impossible.
And despite claims that this year could see one of the most closely fought competition for many years I think it is clear that the two best drivers on the grid this year are Fernando Alonso at Ferrari and Sebastien Vettel in the Red Bull, and the winner of the World Championship will be the one who has the most reliability from their car.
As a fan of the sport we can only hope that the next 18 races of the season are going to be more exciting than the first.