Tag Archives: Sky

What hiatus?

As some of readers may remember, amongst the many sports I follow, cricket sits large amongst them.  In the main because it’s one of the few (perhaps only) sports I was even passably good at.  After around 17 years devotion to the cause of Corstorphine in one guise or another, I found myself in the unusual position of having to attach myself to a new club.  A circumstance brought about after I moved from Livingston into the wilds of Nottinghamshire.

This has meant coming to terms with a few differences.  As a country, Scotland is not exactly open about it’s cricketing heritage.  We’re a dirty little secret, best kept under the rug.  Indeed, at times it felt it would be easier to come out as gay, than to come out as a cricketer.  When petty and ill-informed MSP’s are questioning whether matches should be shown on TV in Scotland you start to feel a little unwelcome.

So after a work and family induced move to the “dark lands” south of the wall, it’s a novel feeling to be involved somewhere where people other than the players know about their local club.

I’ve brought my scorebook keeping talents to Caythorpe, a small village in central Nottinghamshire who’ve had a club off and on for over 100 years.  The first XI play in the Notts Premier League, whilst the second XI (for whom I score) are in Division 1 of the Bassetlaw & District League.  The B&D is one of two feeder leagues for the NPL, covering the northern part of the county.

The first big difference I noticed was that there are always more people around on a game day than just the 22 players on the park.  Every match has two independent umpires, and each club has a scorer, yes, even at second XI level.  Not only that, but people actually come and watch.  OK, not huge crowds, but a couple of weeks ago we played at Edwinstowe, and there were never less than 30 or 40 people sat around the boundary.   Having a bar that’s open does marvellous things in terms of supporters, and funds!  The vast majority of clubs are village sides, with picture postcard settings, but even here there are professional players brought in.  The West Indian Cavaliers side visited Caythorpe for a cup match last weekend, bringing with them, ex Notts and England player Usman Afzaal and the Saqlain Mushtaq!!

There are quirks too.  The draw exists in league matches here, it’s 46 overs maximum for the side batting first, but the side batting second gets the balance of the 92 overs if any are unused.  Points are shared in the event of rain/cancellation, so no need for percentages.  Most strange of all is the fact that matches start at 2pm.  Most of the villages in the area were built up around the coal mines, with matches timed to start to allow men to finish off a shift in the morning before playing in the afternoon.  So, despite the fact that Mrs T finished off the mining industry round these parts in the early 80’s there are still enough traditionalists around to prevent the start time from changing.

So, instead of sitting in a green metal container squeezed in beside kit and a stale old bloke from the opposition, I sit in a large comfortable, electronic scorebox where there’s a better than average chance my counterpart will be female (women are heavily involved around the clubs down here) and whisper it quietly so none of the presidents of Scottish clubs hear I even get a bit of beer money thrown my way for the pleasure of doing it.  Cricket, god love it.

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There are some things not to love about cricket.  Match fixing, the length of a World Cup tournament, the ICC (the one body to make FIFA appear competent) to name but a few, but the chief irritant has to be Charles Colville.  The smug twat’s smug twat.

He has the world weary air of someone for whom everything came to easily, his condecension of those who fail to meet the standards of his favourites is renowned.  He is the single reason for watching Sky’s domestic cricket coverage with the sound off….well, OK, there’s Nick Knight too.  Even Mark ‘Lawro’ Lawrenson looks professional next to this guy.

Colville is the token non-England player in the Sky team, indeed, he never made it to county level.  He must be a contributory factor in Bob Willis’ biblical level sulk, one which is now entering it’s 10th year.

I can only assume this puffed up, patronising, wouldn’t look out of place at a Tory function with Flashman, Gideon et al, has some pretty good dirt on the head of Sky Sports.

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Just Another Winter’s Tale

January. A month for those of us in the northern hemisphere that is pretty much in the middle of winter. That’s winter, when you would expect to meet wintry weather, you know the sort of thing. Cold, fog, ice, maybe even some snow.

It’s also a month that provides Sky, ITN and BBC News with a great money-generating scheme. The chance to supply overseas TV stations with a years worth of slapstick comedy. Once again, the great nation of Britain has been brought to it’s knees by a little bit of winter weather, in winter, well who’d-a-thunk-it!

Aircraft, which can happily fly at night, when it’s dark, can’t fly in fog. Trains can’t run when it’s cold, even those that run underground in tunnels protected from the elements. As for drivers! I live on a street that winds down a slight incline in an ess shape. It’s not overly onerous to get out of, even with 6 inches of snow, but it is almost impossible at the moment, given the number of abandoned cars. It would appear that 90% of drivers feel that the best way to counter act the fact that their wheels are spinning is by pressing harder on the accelerator pedal. Yes, more gas is always the answer. When it doesn’t work, they reverse, try to start over with more power! Once they fail for the tenth time, it’s get out the car, slam the door shut and stomp home in a huff.

All across England, news reporters are falling over themselves to describe the apocalyptic conditions. Telling us of “blankets of snow”. Err, GRASS IS STILL CLEARLY VISIBLE!!!. People have been spending the night in department stores because they couldn’t get home!

Meanwhile, in parts of the world where a couple of inches of snow is a summers day, they tune to Sky News and lap up the comedy as we slip, slide, skid and complain about the place grinding to a halt.

“The Day After Tomorrow” this isn’t, and yet it’s only a matter of time before there’s a charity appeal for blankets for the south of England.

It may be closer than you think though. The BBC are currently running a special program dealing with the snow outbreak as I type.

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I think we already have a winner for best sport headline of 2010.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/athletics/8441196.stm

Speaks for itself really!

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The NFL’s regular season ground to a halt on Sunday night, with the final playoff positions being sorted out and, in a surprising development, the Jets have snuck in there. Much to the chagrin of commentators and pundits alike in the States, who seem to think that by resting star players last week, the Colts handed it all to the Jets on a plate. This does kind of over look the previous 15 weeks of play where teams had a chance to arrange themselves a playoff berth.

America is a strange nation when it comes to sports. It’s a country built on capitalist ideals of free market economies and deserving everything you earn through hard work. Where the poorest members of society are expected to haul themselves up with no help, support or healthcare. Where the most exalted members of society tend to have inherited their money rather than earned it. Fair play is to be expected of others, but you should use any means necessary to gain an edge. And yet, the sports leagues exist in a bubble of communism. The worst teams get first pick of the best young players in an effort to allow them to become better. Revenues are centrally pooled and shared equally throughout the league. Can you see Manchester United allowing Liverpool to benefit from their shirt sales? Salaries are capped so that the teams with the richest owners can’t just hoover up the best players. That won’t fly in the UK. Apart from anything else, European Employment law wouldn’t allow it.

For a couple of weeks now, people have been up in arms because the Colts decided that having a couple of players fit for the playoffs outweighed a couple of extra wins, and this allowed the Jets a slightly easier passage. Bollocks. It shows a lack of depth in the squad if the so-called back up players are so poor that the team stops performing when they come in to the game. Perhaps if the administrators of the teams managed their finances better they’d have more able reserves. Perhaps if the teams who were relying on one or two teams beating other teams had actually taken care of their own business in preceding weeks and won games the situation wouldn’t have arisen.

Sport is big business. There are large amounts of money to be had by the winners. While that remains the case, teams are not going to “look out for the good of the league”, they are going to look out for the good of themselves.

Another argument that has been linked in to the discussion is the possibility of moving to a 17 or 18 game season. This, the nay-sayers argue would see yet more meaningless end of season games and increase the risk of player injuries. Well, boo-hoo. Again, teams that are managed properly will be able to field a decent level of back up player. It’s called building a squad. Besides which, if a team does well enough through the season to be in a position where it has things wrapped up with a couple of weeks to spare, they’ve earned the right. The rest of them need to look at themselves and improve.

The records themselves are fairly moot anyway. There are 32 teams in the NFL, split into two conferences of 16, which are in turn split into four divisions of four. Each team play the other teams in its division home and away. They then play one of the other divisions from their conference and one division from the other conference, on a rotating basis. The last two games are defined by finishing position the previous season. In effect, teams may only have a handful of opponents in common over the season, yet they are compared as if they’ve played the same schedule.

It’s impractical to play a season where everyone plays everyone else, the shear physical toll on the players would be too great, however, this pretence that everyone is equal and should be treated as such is downright un-American!

The big pre-season talking point as I recall, was the height of the new scoreboard at the new Dallas stadium. How it was going to be peppered by punters and make a mockery of the game. Well, after 8 regular season games, it seems to have been hit less than once. At least, it’s gone unreported and there would surely have been an avalanche of “I told you so” valedictory pieces from the various talking heads predicting football Armageddon.

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It’s here….runaway….runaway….

The news that a honeymooning couple from Falkirk have returned home from Cancun with Swine Flu, has predictably set the UK’s tabloid press into a frenzy of doomsday scenario related speculation.  Personally, I feel this is all going to fizzle out, in much the same way as it did a couple of years ago when they found a seagull in Fife that had died of bird flu, quarantined the area (except for the rolling news trucks of the BBC, Sky and CNN), told us we were doomed and then neglected to tell us of exactly how few people had promptly dropped dead of the dreaded H5N1 virus.  (None).

Stupidly thinking that the “quality” press might be a safer haven, I once again purchased the Independent.  (I find the Scotsman too parochial, the Telegraph too Tory, the Guardian unreadable and my dislike for Murdoch precludes me from getting the Times).  I was, of course, wrong.  Once again, hysteria appears to have taken over with the paper somehow contriving to make Simon Calder the voice of reason.  He’s advising us to carry on as normal….but then he would, he’s a travel journalist.   If the airlines start to struggle because we’ve all locked ourselves up at home, he’s out of a job!

Marvelously though, there’s another Q&A panel on page 5, with more of the burning questions and “reassuring” answers the discerning tabloid shaped broadsheet reader wants.  I was going to do a similar extract exercise to yesterdays, but then I read this and fear I may incur the wrath of Mr Morozov.  Oh fuck it, no one reads this anyway so what are the odds?

Q. Do masks provide protection against swine flu?

A. Yes, but probably not to the person wearing them.  Well thanks so much for that, very reassuring.  Plus it gives all those bastards wearing one another reason to be all sanctimonious.  Besides, that’s not a great shade of blue, how are you supposed to accessorise a face mask?

Q. Now swine flu has arrived in Britain how likely is it to spread?

A. Highly likely – if it hasn’t already.  Christ!!  Really piling on the happy thoughts today.  It’s time to head for the hills, live in caves as hermits.  It seems “Survivors” on BBC last Autumn wasn’t a drama, it was a public information film. We’re doooooooooomed.

Q. Should Britian screen travellers at it’s borders?

Flu is one of the most infectious illnesses known – one cough by an infected person can transmit the virus to a whole room.  Thank Christ this isn’t the Daily Mail.  This is a cue for a whole diatribe of invective railing against immigrants, coming over here, infecting us with swine flu, taking our low paid menial jobs no one wants anyway, dating our women and generally not being English.

Fred Goodwin must be loving this.  It’s actually taken the heat off him for a while.  Maybe he had something to do with it!?!?

I’m off to sit in a bath of Dettol, popping Tamiflu in my cave in the hills.

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Filed under Current Events, Swine Flu, Travel