Monday, 30 May 2011

Barcelona reminds me of a Wolf Pack

Watching the genius of Barcelona on Saturday night reminded me of a wolf pack, the way they seem to have some kind of telepathic connection between the whole team. They way they know exactly where each player is at all times, so they can pass effortlessly and without any sort of fuss. But the main thing I think that reminds me of a wolf pack is the way they hound the other team when they lose the ball, it’s like an elk is suddenly surrounded by a pack of wolves, eager to get the ball back, it’s quite incredible to watch. The other team look like a wounded animal lost and ready to give up, not knowing what the hell is going on. That is how Man U looked on Saturday night, lost and unable to fathom out what was going on around them.

They also have that illusive quality, and a sort of ability to deceive the opposition, a bit like a magician playing card tricks, they bamboozle and cajole the opposition into making mistakes. It must be difficult to keep up with what is going on, causing chaos and confusion. Against teams like Man U, who are not used to being pushed around and herded like gormless wildebeests, this must really unnerve them.

I can imagine that if you are selected to play for Barcelona at the moment, it must be like the Mafia when you are promoted to a ‘made man’. You must feel special, and this elevates your game and makes you a better player. The Barcelona team work as one, not as a bunch of brilliant individuals, but as one unit, they all succeed together.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Test Cricket is, as it says, a test. A test of concentration, patience and skill

Test cricket isn’t for most people, it is a typically English thing to like watching what may seem to some as nothing happening, but yesterdays batting performance by Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott was a master class in patience. 

Test cricket is all about patience and concentration, that is why it is called a test match.  I will admit yesterday watching Cook and Trott dredge it out, was quite tedious at times, but in the end they were still there undefeated.  Both were still batting at the crease with massive totals and the likelihood of getting bigger totals today.
Today we should hopefully see a more exciting batting performance, but we wouldn’t see that if C&T hadn’t batted through the hard slog parts of the day.  If as some may suggest they had batted more flamboyantly, they may have scored quicker but they would have probably been out.  And instead of being 287 –2 they could have been 320 -5, or worse.  Now they can bat well this morning and pick it up after lunch or even after an hour, and then the score rate should increase dramatically.  If England isn’t nearing 550 – 570, by the end of the day (weather permitting), then it will not have been a good day. 

If I was being optimistic I think England will pass 600 and still have an hour to get some Sri Lankan wickets before the day is done.  Maybe this is asking too much but this England team have the potential to do that sort of thing, just watch.

Wimbledon needs to move to make the tennis season easier

I have read some interesting comments from Rafa Nadal about what to do about the long tennis season.  He talks about how to protect players like Del Potro who are out for long periods of time and lose their ranking position.  He suggests a two year rolling ranking system, which would protect a ranking.  I agree with him there mind, it seems totally unfair to me that Djokovic had to play Del Potro in the third round, this match is more like a semi or quarter final encounter, the level these guys can play at.  I know you can say well it’s the same for everyone, but that still doesn’t make it fair for the players involved, especially if you look at some of the other ties.  If Del Potro had played nearly everyone one else, maybe apart from Federer, Nadal, Murray and Soderling, he would have probably won or been very close.  Djokovic has only lost nine sets this year, which is pretty incredible, Nadal has not even won a set off the great Serb on clay this year, yet Del Potro troubled Djoks on Friday night. At least he is nearly back to being in the top 10 which is good for tennis. 

I heard some other strange comments from the Director of the Madrid Open I think, saying they should make the sets only to 4 games instead of 6.  He said tennis was not as popular as it was, and making shorter sets might make it more popular.  I think this is utter rubbish; men’s tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world at present, they don’t need to change the format.  Yes get rid of let courts off serves, yes get rid of warm-ups, but no don’t make the sets shorter.
I even heard someone suggest that they make the balls bigger and easier to see, no, no, no!!! Don’t change the essence of the game when it is great.

The problem with tennis and the season is very simple; it is one word, Wimbledon.  Wimbledon is too close to the French Open, it means they cannot have a Masters 1000 tournament on grass and it means there is a long gap until the US hard court season begins.  Wimbledon needs to be a month later than it is or at least two weeks, but then this causes problems in itself because of the sheer size of Wimbledon, it is a leviathan monster.  Plus the British weather is at its best around then, or at least it is supposed to be.  As long as they have Wimbledon in late June, early July there will always be issues with the tennis season.

Then again you could do this; you could take Monte Carlo out as a Masters 1000 event, move Madrid forward a week and Rome, then move the French forward one week as well.  Move Wimbledon back one week, now you have a month between the end of the French and the start of Wimbledon.  Then they can fill that gap with a grass Masters 1000, which I think they need to do, grass should have a Masters 1000 event.  

Friday, 27 May 2011

French Open Riots – All they need is Lights

Scheduling headaches nearly cause riots at the French Open, but all this could easily be solved if they put lights on the main courts. 

It was a massive problem for French Open organisers as they had to accommodate Federer, Djokovic, Del Potro and two top Frenchies, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on the main courts.  Due to Tsonga’s five setter with Stan Wawrinka, it meant Novak Djokovic’s much anticipated match-up with Juan Martin Del Potro was moved onto the other main court.  This change caused crowds to get a little bit angry; when they had paid probably a fortune to hopefully see the two Grand Slam winners battle it out on the main court Philippe Chatrier.

I think I would have been a bit pissed off myself if I had paid the large sums of money it probably costs to get a centre court ticket, and then they move the main event to another court.  But what could the organisers do under the circumstances, they had to play the top Frenchies on the main courts, and of course they have to accommodate the tedious women matches.  The problem is as always the women’s matches, I know it sounds really sexiest and I’m sorry to say this, but when it comes to tennis I just feel women’s tennis should take a back seat.  People pay the large sums of money to see the men play, the women is like a warm up band and nothing else these days, and if you look at the women’s matches on the main courts today, that is how it played out.  Can you imagine paying a fortune to see the Rolling Stones only to have them move over to another venue and you only got to see the Roly Poly’s.

As they have just said on, Game, Set and Mats, the men had 19 Grand Slams between them and the women had none.  The men had the greatest player ever Roger Federer, they had Mr Invincible, Novak Djokovic who has not been beaten and he was playing the only guy to ever beat Federer and Nadal in the same slam.  Whatever the situation they were the two main matches, then they had to the French stars Tsonga a crowd favourite and the recently rejuvenated Gasquet, it was never going to be easy.

Tomorrow if I was in charge I would move one of the women’s matches to a lesser court, so they can accommodate the end of the fascinating match between Djoks and Delpo, but they won’t and they may end up with another headache at the end of Super Saturday (tomorrow is going to be a great day for sport).

As far as the match between Delpo and Djoks, wow what a game so far, pity it couldn’t be finished tonight.  The hitting was incredible, Delpo can win the match and Djoks knows it.  It will be interesting to see what happens when they come on court tomorrow.

Federer also looked very good he seems to like the new balls and it is all starting to get very interesting for week two in the French Open.

More of a contest between Equals

The great thing about the grand slams, over say the normal three set Masters tournaments, is that it is over five sets, and it in some cases creates a sort of FA Cup atmosphere.  The little guy against the superstar, I can think of many matches down the years at Wimbledon which have been a bit like that. 

Yesterdays match between Nadal and fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar, was a bit like that, even though the score was 3-0, it felt a lot closer and Nadal was lucky to win in straight sets.  Andujar played well above himself, and it made for an exciting game, but this was mainly due to the third set, the set which would not have been played if this was a Masters match.  Nadal was 5-1 down, and faced three set points, but he battled back and ended up saving eight set points before winning the set and the match, in a tiebreaker.

I am not sure what to make of Nadal’s game; as I said yesterday, Nadal has amazing will power and determination and it showed in that third set.  If this was Wimbledon we would say this was a normal sort of situation, as he has had to face some massive battles in the past there.  But this is Roland Garros, Nadal is god there, he hardly ever loses a set, hardly ever is tested, yet now he has been tested twice and does not seem his usual focused, calm, self.  He made lots of unforced errors yesterday, more than you usually see from Rafa, he seemed to hit the ball long more than often and you have to wonder if the ball has had to leveling affect on his game.

As long as I have watched the French Open; it always seemed to me, especially when Rafa was playing Federer that the French crowd would prefer Rafa to lose.  The Parisian’s do not seem to have taken to Rafa, as other countries or tournaments have.  Normally a player as successful as Nadal has been at a Championship, is loved and revered, now I am sure he has plenty of fans in France, he just does not seem to have as many as other places.  Or maybe it is the weirdness of Roland Garros.

You could go all conspiratorial and say that the French have deliberately changed the balls to make it easier for others to beat Rafa.  He likes things to be the same, he is a little bit OCD with the way he handles tennis, and maybe just maybe, this change and the fact he has not been as convincing on clay recently, losing to Djokovic means the French Open is now harder for him to win.

We all know Nadal has the heart of a lion and will not give in, he will fight all the way, but after seeing how someone who I have never seen play before, who is just inside the top 50, give him a real run for his money.  This may give the likes of Soderling in the quarters, and Murray if he gets there into the semis, a real change of an upset.  I know yesterday I did not think that would happen, but hey anyone can change their mind.

I will say it has made the French Open far more exciting this year, not so much the games, great tennis matches are great on any surface and the French Open has had a fair few in recent years.  It is more to do with the expectancy, now others have a chance of winning, not just Nadal.  The courts are playing like red hard courts covered in dust, the balls are faster and it has made for a different sort of French Open. 

One commentator was saying they think that it might now be as fast as, or faster than Wimbledon, and maybe there is a bit of jealousy between the top championships.  Let’s be honest Wimbledon is classed as the more prestigious to win, it has had the great finals recently as well, mainly due to the fact they realised they had to slow their courts and balls down, to make it more of a contest between equals.  Maybe the French Open has speeded up for the same reasons.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Green Sky instead of Blue

It’s really strange when you think about it how the mind and all the fluctuating emotions, oscillating constantly in the strange environment of life. At least it is to me, my mind always feels like it is a wild stallion, uncontrolled, never likely to be broken in. It constantly fights against what it perceives as an incorrect vision of reality. That may sound a convoluted answered but it is how I see it at present. I feel fine or at least far better today than I have felt all week. I have felt basically weak and feeble since Monday, yet now I feel stronger and feel at least in part, some hope that I will succeed and not succumb to the scarier, more frightening parts of my creative imagination and the concepts it forces on me, as its perception of reality.

The thing I sometimes find hard to fathom and I suppose it is one of the main reasons I am ill, is that I find it sometimes difficult to realise that when many people see something as true and one person is against that truth then it is likely that the one will be seen as the abnormal. If you saw the sky as green instead of blue I suppose would be a simple version of this. Yet I feel my mind works like this against everyone else at times, and I need to understand this more.

I feel I am the one person that sees the sky as green, and so I think everyone else are the crazy ones, and it is hard to change my mind over this, because it is my mind, and my mind has decided that it must be correct.

Anyway that is how it feels at the moment.

Whether One

Whether one lives or dies,

Makes love forever,

Whether one is moved and cries,

A true romance is severed,

Whether one is sick of lies,

Doomed to fail and suffer,

Whether one prays and sighs,

Yet saved from lust never,

Whether one cuts and ties,

Emotion running clearer,

Whether one wants and relies,

To carry her favour,

Whether one sees and decides,

Cruellest feelings she savours,

Whether one finally survives,

To see beyond her endeavour.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Notice Things

When you look into the distance,

What can you see?

Nothingness and emptiness,

Just plain misery.

Or can you see past the grime,

Have a look closer, use that time,

Notice beauty and strength,

Pause and wonder at length.

Calm the mind and deliberate,

Make sure you understand and communicate,

Allow the pleasure to envelop your mind,

Then hopefully without knowing, pass on to your kind.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead!!!

Well, well I am definitely surprised to wake up this morning and hear that Osama Bin Laden is dead. So now the world’s most wanted man is no more, what will it mean for Islamic terrorism in future? Everyone is now saying his death is a major setback to al-Qaeda, I’m sure it may seem that way but I somehow doubt it. I suspect the former very old and very ill Bin Laden has had little to do with terrorism in recent years. It is a disgrace that such a man has been able to live in relative luxury for many years without anyone knowing he was there mind, it just shows you even the most wanted can live right under authority’s noses without being seen. It reminds of the old adage hide in plain sight, which seems to be the case here.

I am sure it will be a huge relief for many Americans; finally they can lay the dreadful ghost of 911 to rest. Let’s hope Bin Laden does not become some sort of martyr to the cause of terrorism around the world. I am sure everyone is very relieved he was not captured alive, as the media circus that would follow possibly could have been far worse.

It would be good to think that this evil man can be discussed now in the news, and then forgotten about for the rest of history.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Different Cricket Attitudes

I read a brilliant article in the Daily Mail online this morning; it was from Jimmy Anderson, England’s top wicket taker in the recent Ashes victory in Australia. One thing that stands out apart from the obvious one about him being totally knackered by the end of the gruelling Ashes, then World Cup tours away, was his massive desire to want to play test cricket for England for as long as possible. This attitude seems different to the attitude of Lasith Malinga, who would prefer to get as much money playing IPL. Now I am not condoning Malinga’s philosophy here, he says his body is put through hell every time he bowls, and the shorter game will not cause him as much distress. It is more to do with the mind set, Jimmy Anderson is also a fast bowler and also has to put his body through hell to play but he wants to play on, he wants to play for as long as possible.

Malinga and Anderson are around the same age but it seems to show a worrying trend for the sub continent players to be lured by the money of the IPL, than playing the pure form of the game. Over time it may cause a shift in who plays what format. Australia still have a strong tradition of playing the longer game and of course England do as well, I think India, South Africa and Pakistan are still teams who want to play test cricket, but it seems that Sri Lanka and West indies are declining in that form.

I think if players are not prepared to want to play a five day test, then it will ultimately lessen the quality in cricket overall. Test cricket is the supreme TEST, hence its name and the wham bam, thank you mam of 20/20 is not going to produce quality batsmen or bowlers. It will create a type of player that is good for short sharp bursts and likely turn the game, making it less exciting.

Let’s not forget that nearly all of the marquee players in world cricket are the great test players, not the great 20/20 ones and players like Malinga need to remember they made their names in Test cricket not 20/20. The IPL is unlikely to pick a player from Sri Lanka and pay them hundreds of thousands or even millions, unless they are a great test player with a name. Otherwise they will have to go and play for peanuts like I suspect the majority of Indian IPL players play for. It seems that only the Aussies can send over their specialist one day players and maybe England, all other countries, you need to be a name.

Something tells me the IPL will not be the great cash cow it is at present in future, so trying to be the best cricketer you can be should be the goal of every cricketer. That means trying to play test cricket for your country, and not playing IPL in India.