Sunday, July 28, 2013

A champion’s work of the death,
Hour upon hour until laid to rest.
Lay-up after lay-up until an optic sees red no less,
With stamina strained as wearied limbs ache for timbers sheets

Friday, July 12, 2013

Some folk are swingers: that they go both ways is their thing, and, quite rightly, each to their own.

Take Jimmy Anderson, for example. He is the sort that has an infectious zest for life. A firm believer in variety being the spice of life, swinging is where it is at for him.

One moment he’ll go one way, the next he is off on a tangent to a totally different but no less appealing location. It is nothing kinky of course, just a gifted bowler using the talents, and the conditions, available to him to operate to the best of his rather substantial ability.

That the thirty year old Lancashire raised player has achieved this goes without saying.

Sure, he may have been gifted with unnatural levels of talent, but he is the one that persevered year in, year out. No one made him go through untold amounts of blood, sweat and tears. It was all him. Not only is he the better for it, but cricket has had the privilege of witnessing the rise and rise of one the noughties pre-eminent swing bowlers.

And swing he sure does, as often as any. What is more, this artisan of worldly talents swings at quite the pace, too.

Regularly over eighty miles per hour, the lurid coatings of winter's disdain launch one discontented storm after another, seeking out the nectar of desire with its icy demeanour and sending chills of apprehension through the troubled minds of defenceless batsmen.

Like Michael Clarke, on the first day of the first test of this 2013 Ashes series. A fine batsman, with an average to die for, he was outdone by the most imperious of Anderson's deliveries. There was nothing the Australian Captain could do as winter's wrath - in this most summer of sports - summoned itself upon the cloudy uncertainty of a mind bogged down in resentment.

Well, other than stand idly by and witness a delivery induce the sweet smell of nervous sweat as the winds of the willow were woefully exposed by the naked intimacy of a cherry cannoning into a shaken foe.

It's not like the Englishman is only an occasional harasser of fretful foes, either. Indeed, he has gleefully sent 307 victims packing thus far in this increasingly fabled career. Debuting in the 2002/03 season, many an enemy must be thoroughly fed up with the sight of a batsman's biggest tormentor.

He is a star for sure, but don't mistake him for a show pony. For this goliath of the bowling underground can and will toil with the best. Just because he isn't always in the vista of England's stunning swing bowling conditions doesn't mean he'll pack a sad or feign an injury. Land him in India, where the elements mock speed merchants, and he will willingly hit the soil, slogging away all day for the betterment of his team.

There is always an upside though. With India often producing a spinners paradise, there is the opportunity for him at one end to create havoc and his great mate, the Mad Hatter of English cricket, Graeme Swann, at the other to do justice to mayhem.

It is anywhere really. That is talent for you. It may take time in unfriendly conditions, but perseverance becomes them. At other times, with a snap of the fingers, they conjure up instant success. As always, the best find a way to slay a batsman away.

Like on yesterday's second day of play. Only early in the first session, Anderson's form was a mesmerising fountain of prosperity salivating continuous outpourings of majestic reverence for the artistry he brings to his hallowed occupation. A perfectionist to the last, preparation came and excellence was regularly dispensed. Within a blink of an eye he had removed an Australian middle to lower order that had no answer to his genius. Fifty-four for four and floundering, he did what any self-respecting champion would do: go in for the kill.

Like anyone, though, he is not invincible. Such are the vagaries of an elite sportsperson’s confidence levels, one minute they will be painting the town red, the next, hiding in a corner brooding over a cherished abilities inability to seize the moment.

But not for long.

After all, his is an arm of deceit, tentacles far reaching into the heat of the devious, striking a blow to many a mind reeling from the cold-hearted blackness of defeat.

Because Anderson much prefers to fraternise with success. Of which he is well acquainted to.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The fervour of a drink beyond repair,
On borrowed time, an ale lifting spirits.
Life's covert mission averting tides fear,
While pain's boil sings the outsiders lyrics.
The precipice of a nightmare exists,
For a sporting woman, a sporting man.
Indiscriminate, it always persists,
With shivering reality a fan.
Stripped of sanity one cannot withstand,
Torment rages towards a mirror not so clear.
A tortured mind barren as winter's land,
And laid bare with the dry sands of despair.
Never give up as hope is always free,
Shining lights glee vividly upon thee.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

All hail the almighty Andy Murray.

A king has been crowned. At long last the British, after seventy-seven years, have found their home grown winner. The peasants awaited with bated breath. Seventy-seven years - oh, the despair.

The darkened clouds that had prevailed for those decades long trials and tribulations finally evaporated. Though not before encasing a Nation in a claustrophobic bubble of searing expectations and heart rendering angst.

Those same peasants, full of hope and regularly mingling with desire, were never quite sure whether their patience was to acquire anything more tangible than the nearly man. Every July they would flock to the summer oasis of Wimbledon. A sprawling expanse of blossoming ambition and longing, it never did seem to quite match up to the desires of a Country lost in the brooding masses of melodramatic anxieties.

Those Spring offshoots had sprouted only to be decimated by the withering spear of dread blasting through centre court each time their best attempted to give the Tennis world a good shake. By mid July there was to be a black hole of negativity that had sucked those buds up, along with an eternity worth of hope.

Long before Murray arrived on the scene there was Tim Henman. Though not on the same stratospheric level of talent as Murray, nothing less than winning each and every year was expected of him. They even named a hill after the poor bloke. Henman hill became a byword for over hyped hope. It's not that Henman didn't have the talent - He did, but when you haven't won since 1936, the expectations that occur do overwhelm.

Initially they did for Murray, too. He may be the champion now, but it wasn't always the case. The twenty-six year old, who turned pro in 2005, never quite had the game to match the talented array of superstars in the forms of Federer, Nadal and Djockovic. Or so it seemed. Some wondered, often loudly, whether the Scot had the mental fortitude to scale the heights of Grand Slam greatness.

Finals had been lost, usually in three dismal sets and all at the Australian Open. The Tennis gods didn't approve of him there and they sure didn't think much of him at the other three slams, either. Not surprising really. More often than not he would be seen moping around the court when things were not going his way. Instead of fighting back, thoughts were of missed opportunities. There were the constant looks to his support box for reassurance. Oh, and that support box. Usually overflowing. Rather stunningly, in breaking news, only one person can play the singles game on each side. Intriguingly, it has been ascertained that Murray himself was indeed best suited for this particular job.

Then it all began to change. He hired former great Ivan Lendl as his coach. Known for his ruthlessness during his own playing career, the Czechoslovakian slowly but surely began to instil that same hard edge into Murray.

Finally, after twelve months of working with Lendl, the breakthrough came. He won. No, not Wimbledon. Instead it was the US Open. Not quite the same but not too bad either. The big three had now turned into an even larger big four.

A glowing example to all, the 6ft3" Scot had shown what hard work and perseverance could achieve. It was onwards and upwards for him. There was to be no looking back this time. Hard work, perseverance, talent and belief - He had all the bases covered. Or at least it was presumed so. There was just one tiny hurdle . . . Wimbledon.

But as we now know, this major obstacle was treated like a minor blip by the battle hardened Murray. After many years of British sufferance, it happened; their hero had finally generated what no other since the great Fred Perry had -A treasured win at Wimbledon. No more angst for all involved.

Autumn's will bring less soul searching, Winter's will be all that much warmer, Spring will bounce into a summer, that as far as Murray is concerned, will last an eternity.

Undoubtedly, there will always be pressure for as long as he decides to compete. But the tension has now been released. At the beginning of July, it could have been predicted that there were three more grand slam titles in his future. Now? Ten, twelve . . . who really knows, maybe it will surpass even that.

His psyche had endured so much for so long. Many wondered whether it could withstand. In the end it did. And we are all glad of that. Well, maybe not all. Federer, Nadal and Djockovic are presumably none too pleased. But, all the same, the general populace love a great story.

This sure is one of those.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


How hath thou defied humble origins?
Future's lie threatened with eternal hope,
As dreams aspired beyond frenzied margins.
Moreover, a work ethic designed to cope.
Demons traversed many rocky highways,
Though a sanctuary one step too far.
The angst, this angst, a sinner; move away,
Crest fallen beyond despair for a tsar.
But, one day, thy guard began to wither,
By way of unfettered success, no more.
Summer's glow to Winter's bankrupt slither,
Hell's snake to its indomitable core
Torso's shuddering, branches wavering,
And a reputation disfavoring.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Boom Boom Galore

Sabine Lisicki's serve is so fast it should be given a citation for speeding. Not that she would mind if that were the case. After all, it pays to possess a weapon of deadly intent.

When you are in a spot of bother, fermentation all the rage, with nerves rattling your cage, simply call in the heavy artillery. Nothing like a reminder to your foe.

Just when that pest was preparing to pounce, your one and only puts her back in her rightful place. A cautionary tale, that is for sure.

Though this German is no one shot wonder. A game designed to grace the hallowed grass courts of the world with her scintillating ground strokes and ability to volley. Backed up by a sense of perspective of the importance to which a tennis match brings, the twenty-three year old is never short of a smile on court.

For which she endears herself to the crowds.

Beware though, her bark sure is outweighed by her bite. Twenty-three in the world, it is a ranking that does not do justice to the top ten talent that exists within. Just when one thinks an easy assignment is on their doorstep, the appropriately nicknamed "Boom Boom" steps up to douse the pretentions of the starry eyed.

This smiling assassin has upset the plans of many a victim. Only three days ago it was Serena Williams, and then Kaia Kanepi in the quarter-final to book herself a semi-final appearance today. Back to where she left off in 2011, a Wimbledon Semi-final. Then, it was Maria Sharapova she went down to 6-3,6-4.

Now is the chance for her to spread her wings. To go one better and raise her game aloft.

But do not let complacency set in. One big win does not make a champion. There will always be those that delight in one's downfall.

Like Agnieszka Radwanska.

Seeded number four, she is power's antithesis. Not for her to overpower anyone. No 6ft3"amazon, this Polish dynamo prefers to head to port with the stealthiest of intentions. If Lisicki is the smiling assassin, then Radwanska is a silent one.

That she does not blast a foe off the court in an instant is without doubt. Indeed, her serve is so slow it runs out of breathe by the time it reaches 160kph. Instead, she relies on the art of deception. Out of sheer necessity the World number four must send her foe scurrying from one side to the other, front to back, this way and that. Once she has them off balance and going one way, she will send the ball to a much more enlightened destination.

Such a highly effective strategy. As many will attest too through the years. She has scaled the edifice of tennis heights the hard way. Intelligence with hard work her mainstay. There are no easy points coming to her aid. As sure as day follows night she is home made. She will make you work for every point.

So be alert Sabine Lisicki. This could be your moment of all moments. Where you rise past the safety of the pack. But watch one's back, for stealth sniggers within.

Here is the loftiest of your ventures. A time to show that you are the real deal. To use your natural attributes to their fullest, yet at the same time display the variations within one's game. That there is an added dimension in play that will see a deserving talent achieve a first; A grand slam finals appearance.

Then anything could be possible.

Maybe a flight straight past the moon and into the sun to become the mightiest of all stars.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Waiting, Wishing and Wanting . . . A Young Brits Purgatory.

Ah, those pesky home town expectations. They peek through no matter how unwanted. Never knowing when enough is enough. You know the ones, where anyone is struck down. No one is immune regardless of age.

Though the inexperienced sure suffer. More than anyone the young are its victims. Never sure how to cope, they are alone. Cancerous thoughts prevailing with despair. Like all, they fear the terrors of failure. Such is life, lessons learnt now are gold mint. Only two ways to go, you sink or swim.

Take Laura Robson, she is a fighter. British, nineteen years of age and such hope. Of British women, best for some time now. And a deep reservoir of potential.

If only the young lady realised this. One day soon, no doubt, she will and watch out. A top ten future awaits this talent. Ground strokes are her modus operandi. They are big, especially that forehand. A left hander to boot, a handy attribute. A demons serve just for variety. But consistency is what makes a pro. Not to mention strong mental fortitude.

That she has not quite taken hold of yet.

For lack of effort Robson does not fail. Fail she has not, long may it continue. Round four beckoned, she accepted with glee. Not before being leaden by Wimbledon. All those eyes, waiting, wishing and wanting. It must be purgatory for one so young. Wanting to please and wanting to prevail. Life could never be that simplistic though. Of course there is a foe to contend with. Then you have those home town expectations. Importantly, one's mind needs to triumph.

She struggles but struggles courageously.

Rounds two and three, her nerves invaded thee. She entered round two a strong favourite. A slow start against a qualifier. She battled, overcame and did not blame. The tightest of first sets, the next a romp. Slow to start, eventually she conquered. She is learning how to fight, come what may.

Round three and up against a strong Kiwi. Erakovic by name, she has got game. The kiwi formed a crush on the first set. Winning six to one, odds with underdog. Pressure, the pressure, oh mighty pressure. First it was one and then the other one. Tireless in its ulterior motives. Let it pass and leave innocence alone. In the end one mastered its artistry. One set down and the dream appeared over. Last it did not though as the Brit fought back. Robson rallied and her class prevailed. Three sets needed but a win is a win.

A work in progress, yet too near to fear. There will be ups and there will be some downs. But she is a fighter, she finds a way.

Which is fortunate because life gets tougher. Today she attempts to beat Kaia Kanepi. An unseeded opponent, such a chance.

Now is the hour, a quarterfinal waits.