A Champion Weekend

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We’ve just witnessed one of the most significant weekends in British sporting history. No, I’m not talking about Aston Villa’s home defeat to Watford (which cemented their status as the worst team in Premiership history) I’m referring of course to our triumphs in the tennis and boxing. How unexpected and extraordinary. I’m as happy as a cat rolling in luxury catnip.

First the tennis. Did you see it? I thought our team were magnificent. I just don’t understand people who dislike Andy Murray. He’s an absolute legend in my book. I love the fact he’s emotionally awkward; I love the way that smiling seems to cause him physical discomfort. He’s just so, well, human.

Some people demand so much from Murray. They want him to have the charisma of Andre Agassi and the grace of Roger Federer. They expect him to be as suave as David Beckham but as modest and lucid as Frank Lampard.

I’m sorry, but these people want the impossible. Andy Murray can only be who he is: a Scot with oodles of skill, a veritable cask of determination, and a sense of humour drier than a crisp glass of Muscadet. He’s a world-class tennis player, one of the best we’ve ever had, and we should savour the last few years of his career.

I know some people took umbrage at his comments about the England football team a few years ago, but it’s time to let it go. It was just a bit of banter. What do you expect a young Scotland fan to say? Murray has grown up a hell of a lot since then too. He’s from a country that overwhelming backed the SNP in the last election, but he represents Great Britain with great pride. It’s time to give him the credit he deserves.

We shouldn’t overlook the contribution of the other players though. Jamie Murray and James Ward also made big contributions throughout the campaign, and the captain Leon Smith has also done a fine job. Together they’ve achieved something pretty remarkable. I remember the days when merely competing in the top tier of the Davis Cup seemed like a pipedream. To actually win the thing is utterly surreal.

Now we move on to the boxing. I know Tyson Fury isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – he’s not exactly mine either – but beating Wladimir Klitschko is an impressive feat. He’d been the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world for as long as I can remember, yet Fury beat him comprehensively. He made a lot of so called experts look pretty stupid in the process.

It’s easy to dismiss Fury’s achievement by arguing that the fight was boring, or that Klitschko was over the hill (or never particularly good anyway) but to do so would be unfair. Fury had never fought anyone remotely world-class before, so to win so comfortably against a quality opponent was mightily impressive.

Although Fury’s behaviour is often bizarre, and he’s said some very unsavoury things over the years, he’s still one of ours. To hear the British national anthem played in Germany, and then watch a Mancunian comprehensively defeat a boxer the Germans had taken to their hearts, was one of the sweeter moments of the weekend. It was hardly a 5-1 ‘don’t mention the score’ moment, but it was a good night nevertheless.

Fury is our first proper heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis, and that’s something to celebrate – even if the celebrations come with something of a caveat. Boxing is hardly the glamorous sport it used to be, and it can make my stomach turn on occasions, but I found the fight strangely gripping. I have no appetite to analyse the psychological reasons why.

The final piece of news from the weekend was Australia’s victory in the Adelaide test match. Most people seem to think the game was a success. Fair enough. But the low scores did raise an eyebrow or two.

Adelaide is generally known as one of the better batting wickets in world cricket. It’s a bit disappointing they had to prepare a greenish pitch because the pink balls aren’t particularly hardy. I was hoping for a typical test match, with the added quirk of floodlit final sessions. I neither hoped for, nor expected, a completely different ballgame. Each to his own I suppose.

James Morgan

8 Comments

  1. With regard the adelaide test after the run fests that were Brisbane, and more particularly Perth, it was somewhat of a relief to see some wickets. It seems they overdid it with the amount of grass, perhaps they will find the right amount or the balls will improve over time.

    The format needs some perfection to be sure, but with 120,000 at the ground over 3 days and an audience of over 3 million to watch the finish cricket Australia will no doubt be running more of these. AS I said on the other thread it was the fifth highest rating rating program on TV this year in Aus after the cricket WC final the two codes of football (AFL, Rugby league), the Aus Open final. Which is not bad for a test match against NZ.

    I would expect they may try to do more than one next year if they can get the opposition interested. The Gabba being the most obvious candidate with lower attendance than SCG or MCG.

    Will England agree to play 2 day/night tests for ashes 17/18?

    • If we do agree to play day night tests in Australia I hope that, as the visiting team, they give us the option to bowl first 😉

      You’re right though Steve. If these games are making money they’ll continue. That’s the bottom line. It’s not test attendances in Australia that need revitalising though; it’s the audiences in India, Sri Lanka etc that need improving. I wonder if they’ll trial day-night tests over there?

    • If England get the opportunity to play day-nighters in Oz they should grab it with both hands. It should be a leveller on Aussie wickets.

  2. Nice to see in another weekend sporting story that the RFU made a huge pile of cash despite the utter shitfest they served up on the pitch.

  3. Really pleased to see your comments on Andy Murray, I couldn’t agree more. Not only is he an absolutely outstanding player, he always seems to talk complete sense about the game. Take his comments today on the LTA for example, whose pocket-lining to success ratio the RFU can only dream of. Tennis should be one of the easier games to get people to participate in – just build some flipping asphalt courts in parks and make them accessible to all, for free. For my entire life there has been a dearth of supply, crap quality and some impossible means of payment to gain access to whatever is available. The flipside is the eye-wateringly expensive tennis club, with its elitist and intimidating attitude and unpleasant personnel. There’s nothing in the middle. As for Murray, for me he’s by miles the best we’ve ever produced. He’s been desperately unfortunate to have had his career run in parallel to 3 other players who are probably in the top 10 in history, yet he’s still won 2 slams, Olympic Gold, been a Slam finalist multiple times and virtually won the Davis Cup on his own. He’s a legend and I hope he has the stomach to get involved in the game’s administration after he’s retired. Sadly, I suspect he’ll be ground down by the Oxbridge suits. What a waste.

    • Here here. I’m not sure he’s got the personality for punditry / commentary so maybe administration might suit him. I can see him involved in coaching too, maybe.

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