Sportsmasnhip

Koreans rake sour Krauts over hot goals

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Not a sight you see every day but hearty congratulations to the Koreans who defeated Germany 2-0 to send the reigning world champs to the bottom of their pool and out of the World Cup. The Germans looked wooden the whole match. The Korean goalie had a blinder. Korean defence seemed everywhere. Was it a case of Sth Africa vs Japan in the 2015 Rugby World Cup where the favorites treated the game as a formality? Certainly felt like that. When the German goalie left to play attacker the final goal summed up how embarrassing the match was. Not even 9minutes extra time could see the Germans penetrate the Korean goal line. It would have been nice to see the German side shake the hands of the Koreans to acknowledge the achievement rather than sit solemnly on the pitch and contemplate the lashing to be received in the press. Good sportsmanship is the sign of good champions.

More digital diplomacy

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More digital diplomacy from Israel to Iran. This time using Iran’s solid performance against Portugal in the World Cup. The last time digital diplomacy was used by the Israeli PM was to push free drip irrigation technology to prevent farmers suffering any more from drought. Bibi Netanyahu is a polarizing figure at home, but his message here seems to be resonating with Iranians too.

Marc Marquez memes have mutated

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The memes have already started for the dodgem car race style of Marc Marquez. The fallout from this is likely to be huge. He is without doubt the greatest talent on track. To be able to do a ride through penalty after only 6 laps of a short track and still come out of pit lane ahead of a 5x world champ Jorge Lorenzo who is riding the most powerful bike on the grid speaks volumes about his skill. Yet he punted the 21 year veteran of the game who has more fans, history and records than most of the grid combined. Marquez will soon feel like the the barber in The Untouchables who cut Al Capone while shaving him. Deliberately cutting up Capone in front of the mob isn’t something they’ll forgive easily. The booing in Argentina was severe. Marquez is a 6x world champion but the question is can he act as one when it matters? He may have been forgiven in 2015 but not after yesterday.

Marquez said the move on Aleix Espargaro earlier on was far harsher than that on Rossi, just that the latter crashed in a racing incident (in his view “nothing crazy”) that copped the biggest penalty. Marquez tried to cover his mistake saying, “Honestly speaking I don’t care, I’m just focussed on my box and I know what happened. Of course today I did a few mistakes – a few of those mistakes were from Race Direction and a few were mine. And I recognise and will try to improve for the future.”

Yamaha Movistar Team boss Lin Jarvis said,

“I think it’s pretty obvious from anyone watching the TV images that it’s a move that is totally unacceptable…So it was the number X of many moves that were unacceptable throughout the weekend. We had issues in free practice when he very nearly missed Maverick one time…There have been several incidents against other riders – not our riders – but other riders throughout the weekend. In the race there was a big one with Aleix. There was another one with Nakagami and then with others. Finally he ran Valentino off the track. That’s just not acceptable – period.”

Rossi also sounded off after the collision,

“I’m okay but this is a very bad situation because he destroyed our sport, because he doesn’t have any respect for his rivals, never…If you take for example what’s happened this weekend, one by one these things can happen to everybody. You can make a mistake in braking. You can touch the other guy. Happens. This is racing…

…But from Friday morning he make like this with Vinales, Dovizioso. He made like this with me on Saturday morning. And today in the race he go straight into four riders…He does it purposely – and it’s not a mistake – because he points the leg, between the leg and the bike, because he knows that he don’t crash, but you crash. He hopes that you crash.

“So, if you start to play like this, it’s like you raise the level to a very dangerous point… Because if all the riders race like this, without any respect for the rivals, this is a very dangerous sport and it can finish in a bad way

 [His apology is] a joke. First of all he don’t have the balls to come in my office alone, but he come like always with his manager, with Honda, in front of all the cameras because what is important for him is this. He don’t care about you…So I don’t want to speak with him. I don’t want to see him close to me because I know it’s not true what he say to me…I hope that he is clever enough to don’t come…

MotoGP is worried that it is without a star to replace Rossi when he retires in several years. So much of the sport’s growth has been down to him. Marquez was supposed to be the coming rider to fill his boots. In skill he has it in spades, his ability to smile for cameras is a strong suit but these incidents against the man he was supposed to replace will create headaches for race organizer, Dorna Sports. He is now a villain and rebuilding that image looks like a lost cause. All smells a bit like the Aussie Cricket team antics in South Africa.

Grand Theft Moto

Current Moto GP World Champ Marc Marquez relived the video game Grand Theft Auto (Moto) in Argentina. He was the quickest rider by a good 1-2 seconds a lap throughout the entire weekend. Yet the red mist from his own screw ups got the better of him during the race seeing him collect three penalties – a ride through penalty for stalling on the grid (as above).

After serving the ride through he was lucky to escape penalty for ramming Aleix Espargaro on the charge back through the field.

Then Marquez received a one position penalty for overtaking on the grass.

Then he clattered 9-time World Champ Valentino Rossi needlessly out of the race when he would have swallowed him safely in two corners to take 5th position after he which he was handed a 30 second penalty which knocked him back out of the points.

It was an ugly display. It was almost a reversal of the 2015 Malaysian GP when Marquez, out of reach of the title, carved up Rossi in a way that wasn’t racing but ensured he’d lose time to eventual World Champ Jorge Lorenzo (who in that race wasn’t penalized for overtaking on a yellow flag). Rossi ran Marquez wide in an attempt to stop him playing games and allow a fair fight for the championship Before the latter crashed in the infamous ‘kicking incident’.

Rossi was relegated to the back of the grid for the final race and lost the championship as a result. He almost caught up through the field in the final race in Valencia but even then Marquez cut up his own team mate Pedrosa in the dying laps to slow Rossi, denying a 10th title. When the Spanish King crowned a Spanish 2015 world champ in Spain and a Spanish crowd booed at the lack of sportsmanship it told us everything how the fans felt at the poor governance showed by the race organizers, Dorna.

While Marquez did go to apologize to Rossi for his blatant stuff-up in this race his team wasn’t having any of it.

Race Direction actually ruined the entire Argentina race for pole sitter Jack Miller by him being the only one to opt for slicks and all others on rain tyres. They stopped the race as all others dived to change to slicks causing a restart which ruined Miller’s chance of winning through a better strategy. Marquez should have started from the pits after the stall but Race Direction botched that too.

Throw in Marquez’s multiple indiscretions and one wonders how he wasn’t black flagged. Rubbing may be racing but Marquez was ramming not riding. Will he be summarily punished? Yes, Marquez is without a doubt a far better rider than anyone else out there but he needs to work on winning at all costs.

 

Wider World created by Warner

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To be honest my elder brother sounded more sincere when he apologized in front of my parents after smashing my orthodontic brace-filled mouth 35 years ago. Dave Warner’s media appearance showed next to no contrition. Sure there were tears. References to the stress on his family and how he’d be lost without them. Indeed, had he considered his family before deciding to cheat then he’d never have to run a rearguard action to protect them. That doesn’t condone the actions of social media thuggery on family members but there was absolutely no surprise in the fast pace bouncers peppered at him from the press gallery, all of which he dodged with the same insincerity for someone whom apparently “only ever wanted to bring glory to my country!” Strange way of showing it.

At least in Steve Smith’s case he projected absolute authenticity in his admission of failure. Bancroft was just a startled bunny in the headlights. Warner seemed to be begging for forgiveness in that at some point might allow resumption to expand his property empire in Maroubra than pleading to restore the lost glory back into the ‘game.’

Warner typifies the ‘win at all costs’ mentality cultivated from the top of Cricket Australia. It isn’t just his two teammates that have worn this failure of leadership. Magellan has already pulled $20m in sponsorship, countless others will follow and the upper hand in negotiations over broadcast rights has all but vanished. That means that Cricket Australia will have $100s of millions less in the kitty to pay players, develop kids at tender ages to sustain the game in the future and draw crowds. Less for facilities, less for promotion, less for match bonuses. Less, less, less. Cricket Australia needs a total overhaul too.

Cricket to Aussies is like Rugby Union to Kiwis. It is on another level to other sports. Our hall of fame includes the likes of Bradman, Spofforth, Trumper, Woodful, McCabe, Morris, Simpson, Border, Waugh, Ponting, Taylor, McGrath, Warne…the list goes on. Were Buck Shelford, Sean Fitzpatrick, Jonah Lomu or Richie McCaw found guilty of bringing the All Blacks side into disrepute through blatant tampering they’d be publicly hung, drawn and quartered with their heads tossed into the mud pools of Rotarua. The New Zealand media would not be calling on people to give any cheater a ‘fair go.’ That is the irony. Most of these elite sportsmen have had way more than a fair go but it wasn’t enough. Otherwise there was no reason to cheat.

Some in the Aussie media now cry out for leniency. They made a mistake, apologized…all lessons learnt. Then again it isn’t any surprise that the media is also short on ethics much of the time. Go back to bed like it was just a bad dream. Talk about being ‘role models’ for kids?!? Most Aussie fans won’t view it that way. Talks of two years in the penalty box and then Steve Smith can resume the captaincy shows how shallow the thinking is. While he may have shown himself to be a sincere individual he most certainly proved he has no place leading the team ever again. He should refuse to take it on if he ever plays again.

One has to question whether the bowlers knew something was up. It is not a question of being complicit in the crime rather a fast bowler spends 6 minutes every over staring at the ball in his walk back to his mark, polishing one side on his trousers, checking the condition of the rough side to consider what type of delivery to bowl. Every. Single. Ball. A bowler usually has 5 to 6 overs a spell so at least half an hour to study the curious round object in his hands. Bat strikes leave particular types of marks as does the pitch and fence. So a sandpaper mark should look rather ‘manufactured.’ Certainly surprising that this would go unnoticed.

In any event, this is not the last we’ve heard form this fall out. Warner should never be able to play for Australia again. He neither represents the country, takes pride in the honour of donning a ‘baggy green’ and most certainly has a very weird way of bringing glory to his country. The only one that matters for Warner is himself.

The sincerity of Steve Smith

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Two things were evident in his Sydney press conference. Three if you include the sick stunt pulled off by KIIS FM to mock Smith’s cheating as a distant second to a couple from Married at First Sight (MAFS). First, Steve Smith sounded sincere in his apology and his eyes looked like a man in utter distress. Second, we saw a man who was clearly intimidated by his deputy and let that get the better of him. Smith knows this will haunt him forever, as it should. At least he took ‘full’ responsibility.

Still for all of the millions these sports stars are paid, he buried his judgement and did something so monumentally stupid. How much Warner, the team ruffian, pushed him into accepting they would cheat is beside the point. The captain should have exercised his position there and then. Smith knows it was a catastrophic moment of weakness. Therefore why there is speculation he might have a shot at the position to be captain again in a couple of years is kind of pointless. He has shown he is well out of his depth in leading that team. It is a folly often made by groups to appoint the best performer as the leader.

With the bat, Smith has reached the top through sheer talent. No tampering has affected his ability to amass an average that is close to approaching the late, great Sir Don Bradman. That was his ability. Being at the top should have meant that he never needed to cheat. Still, greed acts in ways that makes people do foolish things. To think his golden goose has now been well and truly crisped. It is one thing to be sorry, it is another to willfully dupe others for considerable personal financial gain with the hope one isn’t caught red-handed.

It is fraud in any other language. In the finance industry one can go to jail for market manipulation. Should sports stars get more leniency than bankers? After all had ball tampering allowed the players to extract bigger match fees and bonuses over years isn’t that the same as rigging interest rates or insider trading?

After listening to Bancroft’s press conference, it was surprising no questions touched on the sugar in the pocket during the Ashes series. He claimed Newlands was it. Should it be found that the cheating has been going on for longer, then the bans set out for the perpetrators is way too short. The problem with lying is that the truth is easier to remember.

The Jester’s Court hands down a verdict on the cheats

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It is a good job that Cricket Australia (CA) doesn’t conduct murder forensics. It would be fascinating to know how the investigations over ball tampering were conducted. The case would appear open and shut. Only three people knew according to CA. Job done. Inside 3 days. All facts have been collected and harsher punishments will be dealt later on. Does this seem like a thorough investigation for the biggest scandal in Australian cricket? Not for a minute.

Was each team member, coaching staff and support crew separately asked and interrogated several times, not only  in front of a panel, but each individual investigator in order to make sure the stories corroborated with post the briefings over several days and weeks? Were follow up meetings conducted in consecutive days to make sure the stories didn’t change? Was evidence of team WhatsApp chats voluntarily offered to exonerate players? By the sounds of it, this looks like a severe containment exercise within a private club. Seemingly no independent investigation and an expedited trial to limit damage.

The tweet from Cricket Australia telling us that the CEO reports Steve Smith is distraught speaks volumes. Apart from being the least valuable information possible, it almost wants fans to feel sympathy for his remorse. It is a joke. A man earning millions a year bet his career on allowing his team to cheat. Whether Warner pressured him and he was too weak to stop him is no excuse. Anyone with half a brain would know better. Still it shows the true light of the investigation – Steve is upset…don’t go too hard on him because he is a nice guy, no really….

The recent reports that staff within the CA can’t stand ring leader David Warner for his “bullsh1t” paint a picture of ridiculously poor ethics throughout the organisation’s senior  management. If Warner has gone rogue, then it is worth investigating every claim he makes no matter how far fetched to get to the truth. Sadly it seems that the investigation wanted to sandpaper a scripted outcome to ensure the reverse swing on the trial whizzes straight by the fans so things can get back to normal ASAP. The jig is up. Cricket Australia will likely find sponsorship from the local butchers going forward because it will be hard for mainstream corporates to back such a sham. The future of cricket is far bleaker than we think.