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Neil Robertson

BBC Sport — usually right?

Saturday
There are many who hang on the word of the BBC for their sporting information. And a most reliable service they provide. But in churning out so many results, scores, flashes and words, occasionally someone, somewhere will get it wrong.

The Davis Cup

The Davis Cup

The more discerning and observant user of the Beeb’s website may have noticed a couple of instances where the pressure of delivery and deadline just got to some operatives. Take the Davis Cup tennis for instance. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in having a double-take when the tweet came through on the progress of Great Britain versus Croatia, namely; “@BBCSport: Croatia take third set tie-break 8-6, but England lead 2-1 #bbctennis.”

It was quickly deleted and amended, though possibly, would have been forgivable a few years ago had GB been represented by a Tim, or a Buster, or someone from the Home Counties like Greg Rusedski. Unfortunately, the England, sorry, Great Britain flag was being flown at that very minute by Andy Murray and Colin Fleming who, as we all know, are Scots. Still, no-one was hurt, unlike the feelings of the wee lassie who failed her examinations on history and geography in the same tweet.

Talking of hurt, some of us were left wondering what almighty blow someone in Glasgow must have taken to the head, or what they had sampled or sniffed, when we read about events at Firhill as Aberdeen took a two-goal lead against Partick Thistle. “GOAL- Partick 0-2 Aberdeen (Pawlett 19mins); Aberdeen would give Arrigo Sacchi’s famous AC Milan side a run for their money on this early first-half form.”

Now given my tacky-tabloid background, I have, I confess, been prone to the odd bit of exaggeration now and again. But this was quite literally Serie A-grade fantasy. Still, it did keep me amused on Saturday afternoon. Unlike Sky’s offering the next day …

Sunday
… which was of course the English Premier League meeting between Southampton and West Ham United, instantly forgettable, and exactly what Sky +’s fast-forward was made for. I’m often quick to praise what is served up by England’s top flight. But this, in all honesty, gave tripe a bad name …

Monday

Commonwealth Games Tickets over-subscribed

Commonwealth Games
Tickets over-subscribed

There are one million Commonwealth Games tickets available for Glasgow 2014. Today we find out that more than 2.3 million requests have been made for the briefs, with diving, swimming, athletics, cycling, gymnastics, judo, shooting and triathlon all oversubscribed, with tickets for these sports to be allocated via a draw.

So, for many, it will have been a case of book early to guarantee disappointed …

Tuesday
Stephen Lee began the 2002/03 professional snooker season ranked provisional world No.1. Today, he is firmly established as snooker’s No.1 cheat.

Lee, who had been suspended by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association for almost a year, was found guilty of match-fixing charges, described by authorities as “the worst case of snooker corruption we’ve seen.” The former world No.5 was accused that at the 2008 Malta Cup he conspired to lose to Ken Doherty and Marco Fu while also conspiring to lose to Neil Robertson by a pre-determined 5-1 score.

Stephen Lee Guilty of Cheating (pic: creative commons)

Stephen Lee
Guilty of Cheating
(pic: creative commons)

Lee was also charged that at the UK Championship that same year he agreed to lose the first frame in matches against Stephen Hendry and Mark King, while the following year he lost matches at the China Open and World Championship to Mark Selby and Ryan Day respectively, again by a pre-arranged score. That was the case, substantiated by the players who opposed Lee in those games, one claiming that Lee made no effort to win either frames or matches.

Lee protested his innocence, but Sport Resolutions, an independent body specialising in sports arbitration, said the bets placed on the seven matches were “substantially successful.” For ‘substantially successful’ read £40,000 paid into his wife’s bank account, and excluding possible cash-in-hand transactions.

Anyone who has hung around snooker long enough will have their own ideas and tales of suspected match-rigging, from the old pro ticket days, through to dodgy qualifying results and all kinds of tales about what went on in round-robin-based tournaments, which is probably where Ronnie O’Sullivan was coming from as well before he backtracked on his accusations.

In the real world, the verdict on Lee will be delivered next week, along with countless epitaphs and memorials on what had been his career …

Wednesday
September 18: that date will be etched in to Scottish history in 12 months time, the date of the Independence Referendum.

Today, 365 days before we put our cross in the box, there are all sorts of events, speeches and announcements to acknowledge the countdown, one of which is of a hugely sporting nature. Scottish Sports Minister Shona Robison says Scotland will press ahead with plans to have Olympic and Paralympic teams at Rio in 2016, if the country votes for independence this time next year.

Shona Robison MSP Scottish Sports Minister

Shona Robison MSP
Scottish Sports Minister

This proclamation saw a resurrection of all the claims about how successful Scotland was at London 2012, with various ill-informed folk reeling off all the Scots medal winners in various sports, and detailing we’d have finished 12th in the overall medal table. What they again seem to have missed – just as they did 12 months ago – was the number of medals that Scots won as individuals; not as members of teams, boats, or partnerships with other representatives from elsewhere in the British Isles.

That totalled just three, albeit good ones, with Andy Murray and Sir Chris Hoy winning gold and a silver for swimmer Michael Jamieson. That is more 36th than top 12, behind Azerbaijan, those pesky Norwegians we’re always being likened to, Usain Bolt, Iran and North Korea. What could we learn from them? And, we haven’t even touched on who amongst the current crop of athletes would stay loyal to Team GB rather than represent Scotland.

Robison however said more Scots would get the chance to participate in Brazil and in future Olympic Games if independence became a reality. Remind me. This announcement was about sport, not trying to claim votes?

Thursday

Usain Bolt may appear at the Commonwealth Games (Pic: Nick Webb, Creative Commons)

Usain Bolt may appear at the Commonwealth Games
(Pic: Nick Webb, Creative Commons)

Mentioning Usain Bolt, today he gave his clearest hint yet that he will compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. That good news however was tempered by his suggestion that he will only run in the 200m. I suppose this news could be the way of determining whether someone was a pessimist or an optimist.

He intends running over just one distance, yes, but it’s double what he would have run had he just contested the 100m. See, pessimist, optimist. Being a pessimist or an optimist though will firstly come down to whether you had applied for tickets to watch the 100m or 200m. Still, there is always bowls …

Friday
Lastly, Fulham are to return the statue of Michael Jackson from outside Craven Cottage to the club’s former owner Mohamed Al Fayed. Al Fayed had the tribute to the late pop idol – who visited the ground in 1999 – placed on the approach to the Hammersmith Stand in 2011, but not surprisingly, its arrival divided opinions amongst fans and the wider football community.

So, as part of changes to the London venue following American businessman Shahid Khan’s £150m purchase of the club during the summer, Mr Al Fayed will have his Jackson effigy returned. Definitely an invite to Beat It …

The Copa del Rey – a bit bashed <em>Picture: Erik1980</em>

The Copa del Rey – a bit bashed Picture: Erik1980

By Stewart Weir

Saturday
Semi-final weekend in the respective premier knockout cup competitions either side of the border, with one tie holding a slight advantage when it came to national interest. And you’ve guessed – it wasn’t Motherwell–St Johnstone.

On a day when Wembley was filled with the blue and red of Manchester, Hampden looked somewhat sorry only a quarter-filled – or, more noticeably, three-quarters empty – with the “hordes” from the shires of Lanark and Perth.

Motherwell deservedly won 3–0, with Saints ‘keeper Peter Enckelman the unfortunate recipient of the “Estate Agents Award”, presented to the man who did most to sell a semi.

But while Jamie Murphy and John Sutton scored crackers, you couldn’t help but notice the empty seats around Hampden, which raises the question – as ever – of why a match like this is ever taken to the National Stadium.

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Justification for building it appears to be the only answer. Because with just under 12,000 deciding the big day wasn’t that big in reality, Tynecastle or Easter Road would have made much better sense.

In the south, City shocked United. The next day, Aberdeen and Bolton were just shocking.

Sunday
From Steeltown to Steel City. I know it began yesterday, but given that it lasts a mere 17 days, there was always going to be time to catch up with the action from Sheffield and the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship.

Saturday brought two big stories. One came before a ball was potted in anger, and was so big it even made the front page of the Scottish Sun. It was the collapse, or near-collapse, of 110sport, snooker’s biggest management stable and a twice-former employer of mine. Indeed, in healthier times, I once was a board director there.

It is a sad state of affairs, which is about all I’m willing to say on the matter as I am restricted for space, something that won’t be a problem when my tale comes out in book form. Take that as the first plug.

Damned or doomed, 110sport’s demise was of their making, nothing to do with events conspiring against them, bad luck, chance or fate.

And certainly not a curse – although the second big snooker headline from the weekend could fall into the category.

No first-time winner of the world title had ever successfully defended the title in Sheffield, hence “the Crucible Curse”. And as if by magic, or other powers we cannot explain, title holder Neil Robertson crashed out, beaten 10–8 by Judd Trump, who this year looks to be fulfilling the potential everyone knew he had.

Speaking to Stephen Hendry last week, he believed Robertson could have been the one to break that trend. But he also conceded that few, other than the person who returned the cup from the previous year, could appreciate the enormity of the task and the expectation around being champion – because regardless of who you are, what you’ve done or how well you are playing, all anyone wants to mention is the dreaded curse.

So the next first-time champ, whoever you may be, be afraid… be very afraid!

Sunday also saw Mandy Fisher, who founded the World Ladies Billiards and Snooker Association 30 years ago, resign as chairman, chairwoman or chairperson (delete where applicable).

Fisher, 49, began the women’s circuit in 1981 and her commitment has been the main reasons it has survived this long. That said, it has always been the very poor relation in the snooker family. While the winner of the world title (an event open to men and women) pockets a quarter of a million, ladies winner Reanne Evans won just £1,000 for retaining her world title in 2010.

“Mandy’s heart was always in the right place,” said former WLBSA secretary and tournament director Jane O’Neill, “[but] there were always the knockers.”

Which many give as the reason why women can’t play…

Monday
And still in Sheffield, Barry Hearn, the Don King of snooker, unveils announcement after announcement for next season.

A ranking event staged in Australia in July (on the back of Robertson’s success), a World Cup in Bangkok, a biennial event where Scotland will be defending champions (and holders since 1996 when since the tournament has been absent never mind bi-anything), and a new format for the Premier League as it becomes a World Snooker event,

Sky Sports will broadcast an event for the next three years, prize money on the circuit will rise to over £6m (although it was once above that) and there will also be the Brazilian Masters, with traditional rules, namely unwaxed balls…

Hearn did however threaten that he wants players to come forward to record a new version of the Chas ‘n’ Dave “classic” Snooker Loopy, which reached number six in the chart 25 years ago.

Who will step up? Hopefully not some clown.

I can also exclusively reveal the song might be revamped to include an instrumental halfway through, just in case Ronnie O’Sullivan doesn’t turn up for his verse.

Tuesday
And the sale of Rangers takes another twist after the club’s chairman, Alastair Johnston, questioned the ability of would-be owner Craig Whyte to fund the reigning Scottish champions to the level required.

Whyte has been reportedly trying to purchase David Murray’s 85 per cent stake in Rangers since last November, thus wiping out their debt with Lloyds Bank.

However, Johnston and some of his fellow board members also want to see money spent on the team.

“Based on the documents we have only been able to review within the last week,” Johnston said, “we are disappointed that they ultimately did not reflect the investment in the club that we were led to believe for the last few months would be a commitment in the purchase agreement.

“Given the requirement to repay the bank in full under the proposed transaction, there appears to be only a relatively modest amount of money available that would positively impact the club’s operations, especially as it relates to an urgent requirement to replenish and upgrade the playing squad.”

As much as he is disappointed, there isn’t a queue outside Ibrox willing to part with £30-odd million to be then told what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their money.

Indeed, there is only one other offer on the table – this sees Rangers FC being exchanged for an apple, a kite (in good repair), a dead rat and a string to swing it with, 12 marbles, part of a Jew’s-harp, a piece of blue bottle glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar (but no dog), the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel and a dilapidated old window sash.

That bid offer comes from a Mr T Sawyer, USA. Negotiations are ongoing, although they say there is nothing of significance in the last item listed.

On the field, Rangers ease past an equally dilapidated Dundee United 4–0. So easy was it that striker Nikica Jelavić had to amuse himself in other ways.

And this week’s competition is: from Paul Mitchell’s commentary, what would you pay good money for?

Wednesday
And as if nothing ever happened, Paul McBride QC will not now face legal action from the Scottish Football Association after expressing regret over recent criticism.

McBride had attacked the SFA after Rangers trio Ally McCoist, Madjid Bougherra and El-Hadji Diouf escaped further bans for their part the “Debacle of Parkhead XXVII” (as you can tell, there have been a few over the years).

McBride had represented Celtic boss Neil Lennon over his disciplinary charge and had accused the SFA of bias, publically stating they were “the laughing stock of world football” and “had been shown to be not merely dysfunctional and not merely dishonest but biased”.

Then he changed his mind, mentioning in his excuse note that he recognised “that offence has been taken to my remarks by the Scottish Football Association as an organisation, its council and its staff, and for that I express regret. I have a lot of respect for many individuals within the SFA…”.

What brought about that change of mind isn’t clear. Legal action, or of being reported to his bosses, who could say? Or did the threat of a parcel bomb just focus things a wee bit more?

I should say, I am not making light of what is a serious matter, and particularly dangerous series of events, least of all for the poor buggers collecting and delivering our post. But I’m surprised no one from the cry wolf brigade hasn’t commented on the potential of a conspiracy, given the Royal Mail have been entrusted with the safe passage of these unsafe parcels.

Terrorist officers from Strathclyde Police have conducted searches and enquiries into who is behind these threats, and have focused extensively on Ayrshire – where despite using ultra-modern and groundbreaking profiling techniques, they have been unable to track down the perpetrators as everyone in that area shares the same DNA…

Thursday
And in the wee small hours, Real Madrid return home from Valencia to triumphant scenes where the city celebrates their winning of the Copa del Rey after beating arch-rivals Barcelona 1–0.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s extra-time header gave Jose Mourinho his first trophy as Real Madrid coach. But it was more about what happened on the team coach – or, more accurately, what happened under it – that made this particularly memorable.

It brings back memories of other cup celebrations gone wrong, like the night in 1988 when Dean Richards and John Jeffrey took the Calcutta Cup for a walk down Rose Street.

Of course, Sergio Ramos will be reminded for evermore about dropping that cup off the bus.

But what is the best case of dropsy after a cup final? Steve Morrow, Arsenal’s League Cup goalscoring hero, takes some beating – or rather took a beating.

Friday
Two days to go to the final Old Firm game of the season and Strathclyde Police chief constable Stephen House believes everything from three league points, to the climate and a day off work could brew up mayhem in the west of Scotland.

“It’s a Bank Holiday,” House said, “it is the last meeting of the season – which is crucial for a result – and the weather forecast is hot. That means people will be drunk and they will get injured or raped, assaults go up and so does domestic violence.

“We do not see the clubs as the enemy. We do not blame Celtic or Rangers for the violence. The people who are responsible are those who use knives, fists or whatever other weapons on their fellow human beings.”

And I don’t disagree. I have seen the frightening aftermath of an Old Firm game first hand. But I’ve seen similar scenes throughout the country when there is not a Celtic or Rangers top to be seen.

Not meaning to trivialise in any way the concerns of some, but I do wonder on occasions whether all this reported serious crime is down to the factors the chief constable details, or the fact the same gentleman has vowed to put 1,000 extra officers on the streets.

More cops doing their job usually means more arrests and more frightening statistics. And more calls for more resources for more of the same and more overtime next time.

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Bob Carolgees and Spit the Dog. <em>Picture: eSkeleton</em>

Bob Carolgees and Spit the Dog. Picture: eSkeleton

By Stewart Weir

Saturday
Blackpool Tower Circus was once home to Charlie Cairoli. Oh, and Mr Norman’s multi-coloured budgies. This weekend, it’s multi-coloured balls which are centre stage, as snooker’s eagerly-awaited Shoot Out takes place.

The top 64 players in the world, a knock-out format, each match decided in one frame. It was fast, furious, and probably exactly what TV wanted. What no-one wanted was another match tarnished by the inference of suspicious betting patterns.
World Snooker, the sport’s governing body, announced the match between Jimmy Michie and Marcus Campbell had been flagged up by bookies concerned by the number of bets placed on Campbell to win.

It’s not what snooker needed. Or Michie for that matter. Rumours were rife afterwards that he had retired from the game with immediate effect, as was the subsequent speculation over his innocence or guilt.

No-one is sure whether Michie has quit or not, while his status is under investigation. What can’t be questioned is Michie’s ability to attract the wrong kind of attention.

In 1998, betting was suspended for his match against Mark Gray, when Gary was backed down from 11/10 to 3/1 on. And in 2000, Sean Storey was heavily backed to beat Michie at the Scottish Open, which he duly did. On both counts, Michie was deemed not to have breached any disciplinary rules.

Sunday
And in the LV Cup, Harlequins beat Wasps in Abu Dhabi in the first UK domestic rugby fixture played overseas.

Scores of supporters signed up for the trip. Of course travelling abroad for club rugby fans is nothing new. The European Cup has meant weekends away in Ireland, France and Italy. But the UAE is something a bit new.

Of course, football fans have been doing it for much longer. However, there preferred mode of transport is the good old coach or bus, something that would be a tad uncomfortable and impractical for a trip to the Gulf.

I mean, you can just imagine the bus convener for the Abu Dhabi trip telling his load; “We’ll only be stopping the once for a pish – and that will be in Bulgaria!”

Monday
Recession, what recession? The January football transfer window closes but not before fantasy football becomes the reality.

In the biggest deals of all Fernando Torres leaves Liverpool for Chelsea for £50 million, with some of that cash – £35 million of it – used to bring Andy Carroll from Newcastle to Anfield.

That price tag in an instant made Carroll the eighth most expensive player in history. Of course, there is a colossal difference in being the eighth most expensive player and the eighth best player of all time.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic; Kaka, Torres, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Hernan Crespo have cost more.

Staggering, given that Carroll wouldn’t make the top eight of all-time English players, or Liverpool players, or probably even Newcastle centre forwards.

However with £35 million dangled in front of them, and transfer request written in his best writing by the player, it was an offer Newcastle couldn’t ignore.

But Newcastle claim, quite vehemently, that did not want to sell Carroll. That explains why Magpies owner Mike Ashley used his own helicopter to drop Carroll on Merseyside before the deadline.

Tuesday
Five-time Olympic champion swimmer Ian Thorpe confirms his retirement is over and that he will compete at the 2012 London Olympics. Great news for those who enjoy Olympic sport, great news for Seb Coe and Boris Johnson, not so good news if you spend all your time facedown in a 50m pool.

The “Thorpedo” quit five years ago. But his return to competition was sparked after a trip to the London Olympic swimming venue, and not by being chased by a series of agents brandishing lucrative endorsement contracts.

Former Olympians returning to the fold is nothing new, even in the pool which is seen more as a young man’s game.

I recall 20-something years ago being put on the trail of a certain David Wilkie, the 1976 gold medallist from Montreal who was attempting to gain selection for Seoul. Seemed to be going swimmingly well, the budding Olympic correspondent and the former champion, that was until it came time for racing the qualifying clock. We were closer to South Queensferry than South Korea after that …

Wednesday
I made my feelings known about El Hadji Diouf a week or so back. So imagine my pleasure when I found him signing a loan deal with Rangers on Monday. Come Wednesday, he was making his Ibrox debut against Hearts.

The newspapers had been full for a few days of their take on the arrival of the Senegalese striker, leading Walter Smith to comment on the negativity surrounding Diouf’s past. “In Scotland, it’s not unexpected, the reaction you get. Better treatment than a serial killer, I suppose, but there you are.”

Smith was referring to the mentions of Diouf’s previous indiscretions, which include spitting at rival fans. Walter also hired David Healy as a partner for Diouf, although maybe Bob Carolgees would have made a better double act …

Thursday
I recall going abroad with various football teams, gathering at airports where before departure, players would line up like wee school laddies to be handed their travel documents. It all looked a terribly organised system, until you realised it was done for a purpose, namely, that fitba players couldn’t be trusted to remember their own passports and flight tickets.

So I for one am not surprised when it emerges that Tottenham’s captain Ledley King has to delayed a groin operation at a German clinic by a week because he was unable to find his passport. His boss Harry Redknapp explained it away as it being “a long story”.

But before we only mock footballers, the same thing happened to world snooker champion Neil Robertson – a far travelled Australian – who also missed his flight to Berlin for the same reason.

He however did manage to find his passport and travelled a day late, though he didn’t need a groin op, even though he missed his balls when losing to Anthony Hamilton.

Friday
Having been released by Rangers on Monday, Hearts sign defender Andy Webster on a two-and-a-half year deal. I doubt any of the regulars at Ibrox will notice life without him as they’ve not really seen much of him anyway. Even when he was performing with Dundee United on loan last term, he had to sit out games against those who held his contract.

I was hosting a radio show when Webster invoked a little-known transfer clause to join Wigan – a “foreign” club for the purposes of the transfer regulations – in the third year of a four-year contract.

We discussed how like Bosman, Webster would be synonymous with certain contractual scenarios, and would probably end up with ‘Rule’ suffix.

But no. He hasn’t been a sub let alone a suffix. Back at Hearts, and with his old boss from Tannadice in charge of Scotland, he can probably look forward to an international call in a day or two …

<em>Picture: Stuart Caie</em>

Picture: Stuart Caie

By Stewart Weir

Saturday
A phrase seldom heard in a football context these days is about anyone being able to name a team, one to 11. Even 30 and 40 years ago, not everyone wore the same shirt week in, week out or conformed with the norm. Johan Cruyff was always 14 when none of his mates got past eleven, and I recall Hans Gillhaus, Aberdeen’s Dutch striker, once wearing the No 3 shirt in a game I covered. But then was nothing to now.

Hamilton Accies forward Mickael Antoine-Curier has hit the top of the shop, No 99. Using the old boating lake joke, he has already been shouted at by one referee; “Get up 66,” only to be asked 10 seconds later: “Are you in trouble 99?”

No 99 is of course an interesting choice of number for Antoine-Curier, although it may have something to do with him being a wee bit Flakey …

Sunday
Snooker, and the Wembley Masters reaches its climax with Ding Junhui and Marco Fu making it an all-Chinese final. That earns them 100 million viewers back home, Ding’s victory earns him £150,000, but not his body-weight in pies that his 2009 UK victory brought him. Fu earns plaudits for getting to the final, beating Mark Allen in the semi-finals.

Allen, like many in sport, suffered the misfortune of doing everyone else’s hard work for them by beating the big names, namely Ronnie O’Sullivan in the opening round, and world champion Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals. But again, the Ulsterman failed to convert an appearance in the last four in to a final berth for the fifth time in a major tournaments.

He will crack it one day. But in the meantime, when everyone in snooker needs a nickname to be recognised, maybe he should change his from “The Pistol” to “The Estate Agent” – for all the semis he’s sold …

Monday
For a time it looked like Kenny Miller was Florence-bound. But that just didn’t happen. And none of the other Magic Roundabout characters wanted him either. Birmingham did happen either, but Bursaspor arrive to offer the Scotland striker his latest dream move.

One out, but these days at Ibrox, that doesn’t necessarily mean one in. Rangers are linked with a loan move for unwanted Sunderland striker David Healy, and Newcastle’s Alan Smith. The shock there would be a transfer window where that particular pairing isn’t mentioned in despatches with an Ibrox switch.

Tuesday
There are times, when, regardless of what you have seen or heard before, football still has the capacity to make you shake your head. Today, it was again in disbelief as word emerged that Darren Bent had just moved from Sunderland to Aston Villa for a club record £18 million, rising to £24 million should certain targets be achieved.

Bent’s strike rate isn’t bad. Only Rooney and Drogba are ahead of him in the scoring charts.

But how many think of him in that kind of company – and how many still think of Bent being ridiculed by Harry Redknapp who reckoned his “missus could have scored” following Bent’s glaring late miss against Portsmouth. I know what camp I belong to.

Wednesday
Samit Patel is an all-rounder, which in cricket terms means he bats and bowls, or according to England coach Andy Flower’s definition, is something to do with his physical shape.

Patel was first dropped for being overweight by England two years ago, but was in the running for England’s squad for the forthcoming World Cup squad until he failed a fatness, sorry fitness test.

“Samit was chosen in the provisional 30-man squad … but it was on condition that he improved his physical state for him to be in contention. He hasn’t done that,” said Flower.

Cricket like football, has evolved over the years. And in both cases, athletic prowess is often preferred to actual ability. God only knows what would have happened if Flower and his ilk had been in charge of cricketing policy when a certain Ian Terence Botham came on the scene.

The greatest all-rounder of all-time could have been lost, just because he was Beefy.

Thursday
Davis Love III is appointed captain of the United States team for the 2012 Ryder Cup. The 46-year-old – with six appearances as a player to his name – was selected to try and recapture the trophy lost to Europe at Celtic Manor in October.

No bad player Love. But any time I’ve heard mention of him it’s always made me wonder just what kind of golfers Love I and II were.

Friday
Multiple Majors winner Padraig Harrington is disqualified from the Abu Dhabi Championship after signing for a wrong score in his first-round 65 – all thanks to an eagle-eyed TV viewer.

Harrington’s hand brushed the ball on the 7th hole as he replaced it in front of his marker.

And someone sitting at home called the European Tour, alerting them to Harrington’s actions after the Dubliner had signed his scorecard, resulting in the disqualification.

This could probably only ever happen in golf, given the gap between rounds. Good every dodgy decision in football can’t be challenged by phone.

An Old Firm game would have the capacity to bring down BT’s network, the National Grid and this country’s satellite and digital infrastructure.