Weir’s Week: double-barrels, a two-horse race and a useless shower

The boat race – thrilling <em>Picture: Pointillist</em>
The boat race – thrilling Picture: Pointillist

By Stewart Weir

Saturday
The last quarter-final in the cricket world cup saw England humbled by Sri Lanka, whose openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga both hit centuries in a record-breaking run chase for a ten-wicket winning margin.

England looked a tired lot. But whose fault is that?

They obviously put more emphasis in winning the Ashes (the second most touted two-horse race in sport) than they do in preparing for anything that carries a world title.

England weren’t that good. Ireland showed that, so did Bangladesh, and they were lucky in beating a second-rate West Indies (probably fourth- or fifth-rate compared to the 1979 side).

So I’m not buying the fatigue excuse, as it takes away everything from a great display by Sri Lanka, who do have a world cup success to their name.

And names is what the world cup has helped the Sri Lanka become, the likes of Dilshan and Sangakkara likely to follow the likes of Jayasuriya and de Silva as household names, albeit slightly strange ones.

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However, they don’t compare to the names given to the Sri Lankan side by Aussie comedian The 12th Man, whose team from the early 1990s included the likes of Shewroteupona Returnasenda. For a laugh later, give this a listen.

Back in Blighty, Oxford won the 157th boat race. Fantastic how the same teams reach the final every year.

BBC dedicated over two hours to this two-horse race (the biggest in that category ahead of the Ashes), something of a feat given the winning time was around 17-and-a-half minutes. Well, they’d plenty of time on their schedule given that Sky had the cricket and European Championship football qualifiers, not to mention European and PGA golf, and a bit of horse-racing from Dubai.

So how did they pad out their programme? With some insightful comment and analysis, some of it provided by former Oxford winning cox Acer Nethercott who, when asked to pick out his key moment in the race, showed a replay – both in normal time and slow motion – of the coin toss.

Apparently, it makes a difference what side of the Thames you’re on. So it applies to rowing and property.

Sunday
Talking of names, Craig Mackail-Smith’s hasn’t gone unnoticed after his Scottish granny earned him a Scotland cap against Brazil – which, to be honest, his granny could have won herself.

Of course, us Scots are used to those with twin-surnames representing our country. I mean Charles Renny-Tailyour was on everyone’s lips, particularly those of us who were well read in the history of Association Football, his appearance for Scotland going back to ’73 – that’s 1873.

When I was growing up, Ian Storey-Moore was the hyphenated star at that time, his proposed big-money move from Nottingham Forest to Derby County falling through when he turned up at Manchester United.

There have been a few double-barrelled boys since. Sean Wright-Phillips and the other Wright-Phillips who’s not as good, and Chris Bart-Williams, Nigel Reo-Coker and Peter Rhodes-Brown, to name another three, or six.

And in Scotland, there is Useless Kirk-Broadfoot, although Rangers probably do hold some record or another in terms of names, having at one time had the double-double-barrelled José-Karl Pierre-Fanfan, who rather than hyphens was more deserving of two Ys’ in his last surname.

Anyway, Mackail-Smith’s name pales against the many monikers of Sunday’s opponents Brazil – who, of course, just make up and adopt names for the hell of it. Here, try it.

Pelé was actually Edison Arantes do Nascimento, while Artur Antunes Coimbra was simply Zico to the world. And Socrates, the bearded chain-smoking midfield doctor of the 80s, actually was Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira.

Imagine that name on the back of a shirt at £1 a letter.

But in the past we had Felix, so called for his cat-like qualities (curled up for long periods, rather than his agility). We also had Zito who had plooks, Wellington who booted legs, Parana who bit your legs, Nasa who was spaced out, Matheus whose future was rosy at one time, Dodo who was dead, China who was everyone’s pal and lastly Quarentinha, who didn’t play abroad because it took him six months to get rabies clearance. But every one a genuine Brazilian footballer.

And then there was former Celtic defender Rafael Scheidt (pronounced “shite”) who didn’t need a nickname. He was simply known by his first name, and played like his second name.

All of that aside, I read on the back page of my Daily Record on Saturday that losing against Brazil could drop the Scots 11 places in FIFA’s ratings, so making our 2018 World Cup qualifying group the “draw from hell”.

So, if that is the case, whose bright idea was it to take this game on? You can almost hear the thought process: “Free international weekend, Brazil v Scotland, in London, anyone?”

“We’ll take it … cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching …”

“What about the 2018 draw?”

“What about it? … cha-ching, cha-ching …”

Brazil won 2–0, both goals scored by Neymar, a player of undoubted talent, unlike his barber. Afterwards, Neymar claimed Scots fans had been racist towards him after a banana had been thrown on to the pitch. Yes, we suddenly had a “gate” on our hands – “Bananagate”!

Given that some of the Tartan Army were there with full Carmen Miranda headgear, the odd Fyffe might have dropped off. But no one believed the claims. Simply, Scotland fans just don’t do racism.

“Okay lads, another song. If yi’ hate the f*ckin’, English clap yir hands…”

Monday
Having managed to condense a grand prix into just 90 seconds last year, the BBC revert to online highlights of the first race of the season. In short, Sebastian Vettel on pole, Vettel first off the line, Vettel wins. I’m sure they could adopt that for the boat race if they tried. Toss the coin, Oxford win.

This year, KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) was again supposed to be the big thing. And of course, Vettel’s Red Bull team would be using it in Melbourne. Except they didn’t, and they still won.

I have offered my ideas before on how to make F1 more entertaining, and have spent time (around three minutes) modifying them for the new season.

First, qualifying in the dark. No need for a TV audience because, like the drivers, you will see nothing.

Next, teams could have three cars, one driven by a mother on school-run duty – who, despite designated bays in the pits, can park anywhere. Double parking is permitted – particularly on the starting grid – if you can prove you are running late for a party or a dental appointment.

Refuelling should be reintroduced, with three different petrol stations along the route that constantly change their prices. Drivers have only limited cash per race and have to seek out the best bargain. They also have to pay at the cash till. Can’t wait to see Schumacher’s reaction when he finds himself behind someone who is cashing-in their Lottery ticket, paying for a paper and hasn’t read the two-for-one offer properly, especially when it turns out they don’t even have a car!

Wheel-changes are randomly performed by recognised dealerships, who can then see what it’s like to try and get a rim off after a gorilla fitter somewhere else had welded the wheel-nuts on with a pneumatic gun.

Drive-through penalties could be done at McDonald’s or KFC (great for sponsorship). Drivers then have to eat while driving. Steering with your knees through Monaco (already benefiting from the several dozen potholes we’d donated) would be terrific TV. Any missing items in the order (ketchup, napkins, chips) would result in another drive-through penalty, and another meal, so introducing a weight handicap for the next race.

So Bernie Ecclestone, up for it? Just remember where you saw this first, again…

Tuesday
All is revealed in Bananagate when a German teenager – who was amongst the Brazilian fans – admitted it was he who threw the offending fruit on to the pitch.

Authorities put the incident down to over-exuberance, although I do like the theory that he could have been the grandson of one of The Boys from Brazil

Wednesday
India beat Pakistan to reach the cricket world cup final. The Indians played well. But Pakistan?

They are a conspiracy theorist’s dream after everything that has surrounded their cricket team in the last few years.

What a day for Umar Gul to produce his worst bowling performance of the tournament, eight overs for 69 runs. Or what about the lack of urgency during the run chase and that forgotten powerplay?

Or imagine dropping six catches, four of them to reprieve Sachin Tendulkar, the only Indian batsman to make a half-century?

Of course, there are no reports of anything untoward with the Pakistan performance, just a lot of people thinking it…

Thursday
This week he parted company with part-time consultant Alex Corretja who had previously worked in tandem with Miles Maclagan, who was sacked last summer. Before that he was coached by Mark Petchey, who then gave way to Brad Gilbert.

Now Andy Murray wants to appoint a new coach. With that history, might it not be a case of finding a coach who wants to appoint Andy Murray?

Friday
It’s been a great week for Scottish golf, with Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird winning either side of the Atlantic. And a different week for Marc Warren, who participates in the Kenya Open, but does so while injured.

A few years ago, while competing in Ireland at the Seve Trophy, Warren badly lacerated himself on the head, arms, chest and stomach when he showered himself in glass after smashing a chandelier in his bedroom while practicing his swing, naked.

On Monday, having showered himself in water, Warren managed to injure two muscles in the back of his neck, when he was drying his hair.

Perhaps he treats his body as a temple – of doom…

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