Thursday, 6 March 2014

Legends and Losers


 I read a quote the other day which said, "Having an opinion doesn't mean you are informed", and I really liked it and thought that on occasion it may apply to me! So today, I am going to harp on another topic which I have broached on this blog before which is simply my opinion. And one which many may disagree with. So please bear with me.

 There were two big sporting contests involving Australian national teams overnight with both reaching a denouement this morning, one ending in glorious victory the other in ignominious defeat.

 At Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, Ryan Harris, struggling on one good knee and a bad hip flexor muscle, was asked by his captain, Michael Clark if he could could give his team just three more good overs. There was never any doubt that he would.


 It was late in the day. Five overs left. South Africa was stonewalling it's way to a draw in the Third Cricket Test. Two wickets to get for the Australians to record a great series victory. Five overs for South Africa to survive and save the series by leaving it at a Test victory each.

 The pitch was like bitumen and the Australians were struggling to make things happen. Struggling so badly that they had been warned for throwing the ball into the ground when returning it to the wicketkeeper from the outfield. The umpires thought it was a deliberate ploy to scuff the ball up which may induce reverse swing, the most unplayable method of delivery in Test cricket.

 Ryan Harris got off the canvas and bowled the last two South Africans out to record a famous victory and put Australian cricket back on top where it is so use to being. Beating South Africa, the world's number one team at home. A moment to savour for any Aussie sports fan.

 On the other side of the world, at Wembley Stadium in London no less, Australia's national football team, that is "Soccer", for the uninitiated, was playing Ecuador in an international friendly.

 The Socceroos went out to a 3-0 lead, Tim Cahill, Australia's best player was trending on Twitter after a magnificent header which scored a goal and all looked well in that nether world of Australian sport which is inhabited by those quirky characters who follow football.

 Alas, it was not to be as Ecuador scored four straight goals in reply, the winner coming in extra time to knock off the Aussies and no doubt cause them to lose plenty of sleep tonight as they try to digest such a loss, albeit in a friendly encounter.

 For me it highlights the stark contrast between cricket and soccer and what in my opinion makes a great sportsman and what doesn't.

 Cricketers get paid tremendous amounts of money to play the game nowadays but it doesn't restrict the drama of a Test Match between two highly skilled and aggressive teams  and it certainly doesn't restrict the romanticism of sport.

 The Aussies, reaching, struggling, grasping for victory, finally achieving it when all seemed lost, obtained for them by a fellow who should be in a hospital ward getting his knee reconstructed. All guts and passion and desperation masked by determination and skill. A victory for the ages.

 In contrast, the Socceroos, athletes who are paid vastly more than the average cricketer even though most of them are far from being the best in their field, throwaway an almost certain victory against a South American opponent which would have been a morale booster before the upcoming World Cup.

 There is plenty of passion and skill in Soccer. And fans of the game are as dedicated as any devotee could possibly be, sometimes to the point of causing civil disobedience to make the point of how great their team is. But for me, the results of these two games highlights the gulf in Australian sport between the Cricket and Soccer.

 Ryan Harris bowling Australia to victory, forgetting about the physical pain and exhaustion he was suffering, answering his captain's call for one last spell in the quest for victory is what great sport is all about.

 Overpaid, overrated prima donnas strutting their stuff and throwing away a game they should have won is not.

 A lot of people follow football in Australia and the game was watched on television and monitored on Twitter and many will be disappointed with the result.

 Perhaps one day I will be among the legion of fans who love and support the game. Perhaps it will win me over with it's skill and passion. But I doubt it.

 Ryan Harris' heroics will always make me appreciate what great sport is. The capitulation of the sort performed by the Socceroos this morning will not. It will take more than a hyped up national league and a few friendly internationals to make me appreciate football.

 And so, I will dodge the slings and arrows of football fans, now and into the future but until soccer players can display the same grit and determination as was shown by Ryan Harris this morning as he dragged his country to victory, I will stay assuredly on the sidelines when it comes to supporting the "World Game".

 Have a nice day.

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