Union Jack’s Sporting Roundup May 2012
England In Sri Lanka
ENGLAND opened their tour of Sri Lanka, March 15-April 17, with an innings and 15 run win over a Sri Lankan Board XI, and then beat a Sri Lanka Development XI at Columbo, by four wickets in another three day match.
SLD XI 431(Chamara Silva 163)-6 dec and 199-4 dec. England 272 (Andy Strauss retd at 100, Jonathan Trott retd at 100)-4 dec and 360-6 at close.
During the first Test match at Galle, batsmen struggled with a bowlers wicket, and it was Sri Lanka that took the honours by 75 runs. Sri Lanka 318 (Mahela Jawardene 180) and 214. England 193 and 264 (Jonathan Trott 112) England won the second and final Test of the short series by eight wickets at Colombo, thus retaining their status as the world’s top Test nation. Sri Lanka 275 (Mahela Jawardene 105) and 278. England 460 (Kevin Pietersen 151) and 97-2 at close.
England returned home to face a Test series against the West Indies, beginning later this month.
County champions Lancashire opened the new cricket season with an exhibition game in Abu Dhabi, where they beat the MCC by six wickets. MCC 266 (Ian Blackwell 102 not out) and 84. Lancashire 199 and 152-4 at close. Returning to the home counties they played a three day draw against Cambridge University at Fenners. Essex got their season of to a great start with an innings and 38 run victory at Chelmsford against Gloucestershire. Essex 364 (Billy Godleman 130). Glouc’s 180 and 146.
Pakistan won the Asia Cup in a tightly fought match against Bangladesh, winning by just two runs. Bangladesh 234-8 at 50 overs. Pakistan 236-9 at 50 overs.… Australia won the First Test in Bridgetown, beat the West Indies by three wickets. West Indies 449 (Shiv Chanderpaul 103 not out)-9 dec and 148.Australia 406-9 dec and 192-7 at close. Rain interfered in the second Test in Trinidad which was drawn. Australia 311 and 160-8 dec. West Indies 257 and 53-2 at close.
Afghanistan and Ireland beat out a bunch of second tier nations seeking to qualify for the 12 nation ICC World Twenty20 Cup scheduled for Sri Lanka, September 18-October 7. Ireland will join England in Group B, with Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe.
American Cricket In Court
The administrative dysfunctionality of US Cricket came to a San Jose court room last month, where Ram Varadarajan and his co-plaintiff the California Cricket Academy, challenged the elimination of some 32 cricket leagues across the country from the election process of the United States of America Cricket Association. The president of the USACA, Gladstone Dainty, has allegedly denied voting rights to State and local cricket associations that do not support his presidency contends Varadarajan. Under Dainty, the USACA has twice been suspended by the ICC since 2005, mainly for a lack of transparency in the way the Association is run, and they have not received any ICC funding in 2012. Many of the 2011-12 scheduled US competitions were not played, and an ICC sponsored event hosted by the USACA for regional nations due to be played this month was cancelled. Dainty removed former CEO Don Lockerby, over a year ago and he has not been replaced. Then recently, he suspended secretary John Aaron. Opponents of Gladstone Dainty, received no assistance from the Judge however, who refused to get involved and instructed the USACA to sort its own problems out. Dainty was voted back in as were most incumbents in the mid-April elections. The ICC is not happy that most of its funding ends up in litigation costs, when most of these problems could be solved face to face in committee, and a third suspension could be in the offing.
Murray In Final, Davis Cup Disaster For Britain
Andy Murray reached the final of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, April 1, after getting a walkover in the semi-finals when Rafael Nadal pulled out with an injury. In the final, the Scot got off to a slow start against old rival Novak Djokovic, which he never recovered from. The Serbian earned his third Ericsson title with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), victory, putting him in an 8-5 lead over Murray in career encounters. Earlier, the Scot had beaten Milos Raonic of Canada, Alejandro Falla of Colombia and Serbian, Janko Tipsarovic. Murray had won here in 2009.
Andy Murray’s appearance at the Ericsson Open meant he was not available for Britain’s Davis Cup encounter with Belgium, at the Braehead Arena, Glasgow, April 5-7. The Murray-less team got off to a disappointing start with Josh Woodall and Dan Evans losing their singles on the first day of competition. Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins beat Ruben Bemelmans and David Goffin 4-6, 7-5, 6-3,6-4, on the second day doubles schedule. Britain lost the remaining third day singles to lose the match 4-1.
Glory & Tragedy At Aintree
Neptune Collonges (33-1) won the closest Grand National finish in the race’s history, April 14, where a photo-finish decided that Sunnihillboy (16-1) had been beaten by a nose. Collonges, becomes the first grey to win the National since Nicolas Silver in 1961. Trained by Paul Nicholls, ridden by Daryl Jacobs and owned by John Hales the close run in had crowds on their feet.
Five lengths distant in third was Seabass (8-1jf) ridden by Kate Walsh, who made history by attaining the highest finish ever for a women in this race. Cappa Bleu (16-1) was fourth. The winner’s purse was £547,268. Only 15 finished from the original 40 starters.
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Synchronised (10-1), seeking an extra-ordinary double came to grief at Becher’s Brook, unseated her jockey, and suffered a fatal injury after running loose and taking a few jumps jockeyless. She was put down, as was According To Pete, another previous Gold Cup winner.… Big Buck (2-9f) went into the history books recording his 17th consecutive victory after winning the Liverpool Hurdle.
Bubba Bursts The British Bubble
Lee Westwood got the Masters off to a great start at Augusta, Georgia, April 5-8, where four birdies on the opening nine aided him to lead the field after the first round by one stroke with a five under 67. Former British open winner Paul Lawrie was lurking just two strokes back. By the second round, Jason Dufner and 1992 winner, Fred Couples, led with five under pars, with Westwood and Rory McIIroy a stroke behind, and Paul Lawrie a stroke behind them. A surge from the field after the third round put Sweden’s Peter Hanson in the lead with a nine under par and Phil Mickelson, a stroke behind. Westwood dropped back to four under, Lawrie was three under while, McIIroy went ten off the lead. On the final round, Westwood kept close, but a 10 under 278 by Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen, saw the two go in a play-off with Watson claiming his first Masters and very first Major. Westwood finished two off the lead, Ian Poulter (-5) and Justin Rose (-6) were other Brits near the top.
Earlier, Tiger Woods captured his first PGA title since his women troubles, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida, late March. Chris Wood equaled the course record with a spectacular eight under 64, during the final round of the Sicilian Open at Ventura, April 1. But Thorbjorn Oleson of Denmark’s three under 69, was enough to force the Englishman into second place, one stroke distant from the Dane’s winning 15 under 273.
The Boat Race
The 158th University Boat Race, April 7, proved an anticlimactic contest this year when a series of incidents disturbed the usually well planned, River Thames event. Just after the Chiswick Steps, and halfway through the race a man in a wet suit was spotted swimming directly in front of the boats. Both Oxford and Cambridge crews brought their vessels to a stop and police arrested a wet intruder who turned out to be a political activist trying to make a point.
Officials decided to restart the race at the half-way mark, and did so, thirty minutes later. Oxford crept ahead, but a clash of oars, further disrupted the event and one of Oxford’s rowers ended with up a broken oar. Cambridge easily took advantage to win one of the strangest boat races in history. Pre-race favourites Oxford requested a re-row, but it was denied. At the finish, Oxford bow-man Dr Alex Woods, collapsed and was rushed to the hospital which led to many of the ending ceremonies being cancelled out of concern for his well-being. Cambridge leads the contest 81-76. Concern continues to grow that each year the number of Britons on the two teams decreases. This year of the 16 rowers, only five were British born.
Britain’s cycling squad showed their talent off in Australia, and prospects for Olympic medals remain extremely likely. Britain’s womens pursuit team got the nation off to a gold medal at the Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne, April 4-8. Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Laura Trott took the honours, beating the Australian team in the final. Laura Trott would earn another gold by winning the omnium world title. A battered and bruised Victoria Pendleton, took gold in the sprint. She came off her bike in the semi-finals against the reigning world champion Anna Meares, where officials ruled the Australian had not stayed in her sprint lane, and the Briton went through to the final against Simone Krupeckaile. It was ruled that the Lithuanian had strayed from her sprint lane too, so the black and blue Briton, who had climbed back on her bike suffering extreme pain and discomfort was delighted to accept the gold medal. Sir Chris Hoy produced a fiery finish in the Keirin to take the gold, with Jason Kenny getting the bronze. Ben Swift took gold in the scratch race, silver in the points race, and another silver with Geraint Thomas in the Madison. Wendy Houvenaghel captured silver in the individual time trial, and Jess Varnish got a bronze in the women’s 500m time trial.
The Volvo Ocean race (formerly the Whitbread round the world race) completed its fifth leg, when Puma Ocean Racing led the way into Itajai, Brazil, followed by Team Telefonica, after a very bumpy ride across the southern oceans from Auckland, New Zealand. Five of the six boats have suffered varying degrees of damage, and three had still not completed the fifth leg by mid-April.
Leg six sees them leave Brazil headed for Miami.
The Clipper 2011-12 race, boasting 450 adventurous souls crewing ten, sixty foot ocean racers on a marathon sea journey around the world led by a professional skipper on each boat, reached Oakland, California, after a long trip from Qingdao, China. The US coastguard went out to aid the Geraldton Western Australia, off the Californian coast early April, after a random wave destroyed steering and communication systems. Gold Coast Australia leads the fleet. Last month, they began stage seven of the journey, heading down to Panama City.
Tyson Fury retained his unbeaten record in Belfast, April 14, where the former British heavyweight champion stopped Irish veteran, Martin Rogan after five rounds. The Manchester man (18-0) put Rogan on the canvas in the third, and in the fourth a fierce body shot severely winded the Irishman. The 40-year-old Rogan went down again in the fifth, and his corner signaled enough was enough.… Britain’s World Triathlon Champion Helen Jenkins, started the 2012 world series opener with a second place finish in Sydney, behind Aussie, Erin Densham… Fernando Alonso won the Malaysian Grand Prix, late March, with Sergio Perez second and Lewis Hamilton third. Nico Rosberg not only scored his very first pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix, April 15, but also won the race. Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton followed him home. After three Formula One races, Lewis Hamilton leads the driver’s table with 45pts with Jenson Button just two points behind.
Chelsea, Britain’s last remaining club in Europe, made it through the quarter-finals of the Champions League with two wins over Benfica. In Portugal, in front of a 65,000 plus crowd, Chelsea move confidently and were rewarded in the 75th minute when Salomon Kalou, scored the only goal of the match. At Stamford Bridge, Frank Lampard hit a penalty in the 21st minute, and then Maxi Peirera was sent off six minutes before the break leaving the blues with a ten man opposition. Javi Garcia got one back five minutes before the end and Chelsea’s European dreams looked terribly uncertain until Raul Meireles scored the winner on the whistle for a 2-1 winning result. Other quarter-finals results saw Real Madrid oust Apoel Nicosia (a3-0, h5-3), Barcelona eliminated AC Milan (a0-0,h3-1) and Bayern Munich beat Marseille 2-0, home and away.
In the first leg of the semi-finals, April 17-18 & April 24-25, a Didier Drogba goal on half-time gave Chelsea a 1-0 advantage to take to Barcelona. In Germany, Bayern Munich beat Real Madrid 2-1 in their first leg encounter. The Europa League semi-final first legs saw Atletico Madrid overwhelm Valencia 4-2, and Sporting Lisbon beat Atletico Bibao 2-1 in the first leg in Portugal.
Liverpool And Chelsea To Clash In FA Cup Final
The sixth round Spurs-Bolton replay at White Hart Lane, saw the hosts move into the semi-finals after a 3-1 victory. The game was goalless until the 74th minute when Ryan Nelson found the Bolton net, and Gareth Bale made it two, three minutes later. The final minute saw two goals, one by the Trotters’ Kevin Davies, while Louis Saha made it three for the Spurs. The other replay, saw Sunderland fall 2-0 at home to Everton. Nikica Jelavic scored after 24 minutes, while Sunderland’s David Vaughan found his own net in the 57th minute.
The semi-finals April 14-15, saw Liverpool edge Everton 2-1, after a Andy Carroll goal three minutes from the end decided the tie. Nikica Jelavic put the toffees ahead in the 24th minute, while Luis Suarez leveled the game in the 62nd minute. Liverpool was forced to play third choice goal-keeper Brad Jones, after suspension and a series of injuries curtailed the more experience men.
Chelsea savaged Tottenham 5-1 in the other semi-final. Didier Drogba got the goal machine moving two minutes after the break, six minutes later Juan Mata made it two. Ramires made it three in the 77th minute and four minutes later Frank Lampard hit the net. Florent Malouda made it five in the closing minutes. Gareth Bale got one for Spurs in the 56th minute. Both semi-final games played at Wembley, drew over 85,000 plus crowds.
Chesterfield won the Johnstone Paint Trophy at Wembley, beating Swindon 2-0, where an attendance of 40,000-plus proved an exhilarating experience for both teams. An own goal by Swindon’s Olivier Risser gave Chesterfield the impetus, while Craig Westcarr added the second during stoppage time. Swindon, irked by a disallowed goal, continued to push forward.… Fleetwood Town won the Blue Square Conference Championship, and will play Division II soccer next year.
Celtic Scottish Champions
UEFA have informed Rangers that because of their uncertain financial situation the club will not be allowed to compete in Europe next season. Recent estimates put the club as being £124m in debt, most of it owed in taxes. Complications were added to the takeover process when the SPL decided to vote on new rules regarding clubs entering bankruptcy. The main three consortiums want talks with the SPL before making their final bids. The old firm met at the Ibrox Stadium late March, and Rangers gathered a little sweetness in a season soured by financial problems by beating Celtic 3-2; having led 3-0 until the closing minutes of the game. The ref sent three players off, including Ranger’s US International Carlos Bocanegra, while Hoops’ Cha du Ri and Victor Wanyama were removed too. Sone Aluko broke the Celtic defense in the eleventh minute, Andy Little made it two in the 72nd minute, while Lee Wallace got a third, five minutes later. A Scott Brown penalty in the last minute put the Hoops on the card, and Thomas Rogne added a second in injury time. Celtic however, claimed their 46th Scottish Championship, April 7, taking revenge for the Scottish League Cup final defeat by Kilmarnock; this time slaughtering the Killies 6-0 on their own pitch. Charlie Mulgrew and Gary Hooper got two apiece, Glenn Loovens and Joe Ledley added to the merriment.
Hearts may have had problems making the monthly payroll recently, but in the quarter-final Scottish Cup replay at Paisley against St Mirren, owner Vladimir Romanov, saw his problems lessen after a 2-0 away win. A goal in each half by Jamie Hamill and Rudi Skacel, did the trick.
The semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, April 14-15, witnessed a late goal by Leigh Griffiths give Hibernian a 2-1 victory over Aberdeen. Garry O’Connor scored in the third minute to put Hibs in front, while Rory Fallon hit back for the Dons in the 59th minute.… A contentious penalty in the closing minutes had Celtic in an uproar, as Craig Beattie put the ball away to give Hearts a stunning 2-1 win. Rudi Skacel put Hearts ahead two minutes after the break, while Gary Hooper got one for the Hoops three minutes from time. The Kilmarnock versus Hearts, Scottish Cup Final will be the first all Edinburgh final since 1896.
Falkirk won the Ramsden Challenge Cup for a record fourth time, at the Almondvale Stadium, April 1. Coming off a run of five games without a victory, the Bairns were hardly brimming with confidence. But an early goal, just eighty seconds into the match saw Darren Dods pierce the netting with a terrific header that ultimately gave Falkirk a 1-0 win over Hamilton Academicals.
Jocky Wilson was part of a small band of dart enthusiasts that ultimately put the world of professional darts on the corporate circuit and steadily enhanced the reputation that the indoor sport boasts today. He turned professional in 1979, and would win two BDO world championships during his sixteen year pro-career. He beat John Lowe 5-3, in 1982, and Eric Bristow 6-4, in 1989. Incredibly, his imbibing of prodigious amounts of beer during competition did not impede his talent at the oche. When the professional game split into two organisations, litigations and lawsuits led the Kirkaldy born Scot, to become increasing disillusioned with the game and his enthusiasm waned considerably. John “Jocky” Wilson was 62.
Born in Italy, but raised in an Italian restaurant owned by his father in Cardiff, Giorgio Chinaglia thoughts soon turned to the game of soccer. Swansea Town signed him up, but his fiery personality soon brought about a parting of the ways. He moved back to his homeland, playing for Massese, before starting an illustrious career at Lazio in 1969, where he also made 14 appearances for Italy. He joined the Pele dominated New York Cosmos in 1976, scoring 242 goals, that rendered him a firm favourite with big apple fans. Giorgio Chinaglia was 65.
The Virgin London Marathon, April 22, witnessed a Kenyan double as the East Africans once again made themselves very much at home at the 32nd running of this race. Wilson Kipsang led the field for the final seven miles and was close to a course record time with a winning time of 2hrs 04.44, former winner Kenyan, Martin Lel was second and Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia third. Guernsey runner Lee Merrien was the top British finisher in 17th with a time of 2hrs 13.41, with fellow Brits, John Beattie (19th) and Phil Anthony (20th).
Mary Keitany won the women’s race for the second year running with a time of 2hrs 18.37, followed by fellow Kenyans, Edna Kipagat and Pristah Jeptoo. Claire Hallissey, whose last marathon outing earned her a sixth place finish in the Chicago Marathon, ran an Olympic qualify time as the top British finisher in eleventh place, and looks for a place on the British Olympic team. Brits, Freya Murray, Louise Damian and Sonia Samuels were top twenty finishers too. David Weir won the wheelchair race for the sixth time, while fellow Brit, Shelly Woods won the women’s wheelchair.