Monday, 4 April 2011

Sporting Spring

So, here we are in April and the sporting season really cranks up a gear now. Congratulations today go to India on securing their second cricket World Cup win over the weekend. The pre-tournament favourites certainly lived up to that billing and were worthy winners of the trophy, defeating Sri Lanka by 6 wickets in Saturday’s final. Over the course of the last 6 weeks there have been a number of memorable matches, most notably Ireland’s triumph over England during the group stage. England’s progress was stilted at best, and they were eventually eliminated at the quarter-final stage after squeezing their way out of their group. A thorough rethink needs to be carried out in the corridors of power if the home of cricket is ever to see a World Cup victory.

Elsewhere, as I said, the sporting season is now really kicking in. Having enjoyed the start of the F1 season a week ago, and the culmination of the cricket World Cup this last weekend, the next few weeks are crammed full with major sporting events. This coming week we have the US Masters at Augusta, Georgia – the first major golf tournament of the year. With 5 of the world’s top 6 players coming from this side of the pond, will we be seeing the first European victory at the Augusta National since Jose Maria Olazabal triumphed back in 1999? I have my doubts, but I will certainly be glued to the BBC’s much-truncated coverage over the weekend. Quite why they have chosen to only have live coverage for the last two days I don’t know – maybe budget cuts? Whatever the reason, it is another kick in the teeth for us non-Sky Sports subscribers. Sport is so becoming the pastime of the rich – or at least of the more well off.

This weekend will also see the 164th running of the Grand National, and hence my yearly flutter! Not that I will be risking large sums of money on my non-existent horsey knowledge. Rather I will be randomly picking 2 horses out of the list of runners, and along with other members of my family, I will put a massive 40p into the pot, with the person whose horse finishes nearest the front taking the whole darned lot home with them! Back in the day we used to get our dog to pick out a horse (by stepping on the list of horses) and he had a remarkably good record of choosing winners, or at least top 3 finishers. In other words, this race really is a lottery and I guess that is why it is the nation’s favourite.

The National is one of those events by which I mark the passing of the year. And another one will be coming along the following weekend, when the London Marathon takes place in the capital. That weekend London will also host both FA Cup semi-finals, which as I have discussed before, is geographically perverse (given this year’s participants) but financially understandable. That we have reached the penultimate stage of the premier cup competition in the country shows us that the end of the football season is very nearly upon us – although for some we are pretty much there already (I’m looking at you Swindon Town!). Then the great summer of sport will be upon us – one event of which I will be attending in person – but I will talk about all of that at a later date. Until then, just enjoy the feast of sporting fun that awaits us over these coming few weeks.

Til next time.

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