It’s hard to believe a controversial penalty was all that sat between the Socceroos and eventual champions Italy at the 2006 World Cup. Incredible, really.
What a long weekend! It was the sport nut’s equivalent of the modern pentathlon, with top-class rugby, league, cricket, football and tennis all on show. Here’s what I learned from way too many hours of viewing.
1. The Wallabies can play
Sat behind the northern goal-line on Saturday night (the corner where Balshaw scored for the Barbarians) and was pretty impressed. Giteau’s acceleration, creativity and kicking were all first-class, while the defence was robust and the support play outstanding. Get on the good guys for the Tri-Nations – in Deans we trust!
2. Chris Gayle can hit ‘em
If Brett Lee was fitter than ever before bowling to Chris Gayle in the World Twenty20, he sure must be fit now. That is, assuming he had to run and fetch the ball each time the West Indies skipper and Snoop Dogg-lookalike whacked one out of The Oval. It was an OH&S inspector’s nightmare as the Gayle hit with eponymous force – one ball landed in a school, another on the road outside and another on the roof of the grandstand. Wow!
3. So can Tom de Grooth
Until last Friday, the greatest moment in Dutch sport would have been a contest between Marco van Basten’s goal versus Russia in the final Euro 88, Fanny Blankers-Koen’s quadrella in the ’48 Olympics and Richard Krajicek’s surprise Wimbledon victory in 1996, which interrupted Pete Sampras’s run of seven. However, the unsung de Grooth (no relation, I believe, to Captain De Groot, who broke the NSW Government’s flimsy offside trap and snipped the ribbon first on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932) blasted 49 off 30 balls to help defeat England in the opening match of the World Twenty20 at Lord’s. Brilliant!
4. Qatari TV coverage is not as good as Qatari goalkeeping
Managed to catch probably 60 minutes of the World Cup Qualifier on replay, admittedly over the shoulders of some fellow poker players, and not once did I see a progress score on the screen. Admittedly, there was no scoring, hence no progress (except that of the Socceroos into the World Cup Finals), but it wouldn’t have hurt to let casual viewers know what was actually happening in the game. Perhaps the Qatari TV producers should replace themselves with the Qatari goalkeeper, who was outstanding.
5. My love for Roger Federer, while unrequited, is well-founded
I have expressed deep man-love for Federer in this column previously, and it was a thrill to see him complete the career Grand Slam last night – Robin Soderling kindly playing the Chris Lewis role (the Kiwi tennis player, not the drug-importing – and arguably mercurial – cricketer). Despite his unfavourable record against Nadal, Roger has every claim to being the best tennis player of all time. Only Laver, Borg or Budge might challenge him, but I like to think Roger Federer is on top of the dais.