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CONTENTS ISSUE 02, AUG/SEP 2012 5 A Quick Word
A quick word from the sportsdesk before we get the ball rolling.
6 Olympics in numbers
Sometimes sport ain’t nothing but a numbers game.
8 Tennis - London Calling Andy Murray is a man on a mission, and he’s not the only one.
13 Football - A New Generation A breeding ground for some of the worlds finest talent, this year’s Olympics could be the best yet.
16 Golf - Age Old Foe
USA and Europe will resume rivalry’s at the 39th Ryder Cup in Medinah later this year.
24 Cricket - Taking Off
T20 cricket is here to stay, like it or not. We take a look at the upcoming World Cup.
28 The Months Ahead
The world of sport never sleeps. Don’t miss a thing with our look at the months ahead.
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A Quick Word
LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN
WE’RE UP AND RUNNING AND ONTO BETTER THINGS. TAKE YOUR MARKS.
So we’re out the blocks and shifting gears. Where we are heading is anyone’s guess, but hell, you bought the ticket, now enjoy the ride.
“We at Just The Tip aren’t soppy romantics with bleeding hearts, we’re hardened gamblers that are looking for a way to profit. “
record breaking run from Beijing, or perhaps that’s just Chris Martin’s angelic voice wreaking havoc with my emotions. Either way, the Olympics have a way of captivating the world’s attention, and The first stop, London. Coming once every refuse to relinquish their grasp for the four years as it does, The Olympics hold full 17 days of competition. a special affinity for sports followers throughout the world. Much is said about The Olympic flame though remains a the spirit of the games, but we at Just fleeting object, and once extinguished The Tip aren’t soppy romantics with our attention shifts elsewhere. The subbleeding hearts, we’re hardened gamcontinent will host the latest edition of blers that are looking for a way to profit. the T20 World Cup, as the shortest form That’s not to say that we’re completely of the game continues its exponential immune to the magic of The Olympics, growth, seeping into every corner of the we are sports fans after all. It’s hard globe. It may not be one for the purists, not to get goosebumps when watching but it is one for the gamblers among us. highlights of Usain Bolt’s stupendous
Finally, we take a look at the simmering rivalry between Europe and America as we gear up for the Ryder Cup. Undoubtedly the highlight of the golfing calendar, this competition is never far from controversy and we expect this year to be no different. Enough aimless ramblings from this side though. Let’s jump to it why don’t we? Yours Truly Commodore Vegas
CONTRIBUTORS: Commodore Vegas | Maverick White | BlueskiPalooski | Matt Cee | Damien Kayat blog.hollywoodbets.net
number of tickets that will go on sale for the London 2012 games
number of gold medals to be won
900,000 different items of sports equipment that will be used in the games including footballs, towels, trampolines, hurdles, basketballs and shuttlecocks
amount of skeletons removed from the prehistoric settlement discovered on the sight of the Aquatics Centre.
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60,000 the number of spectators who watched the first Modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece
number of miles necessary for Games Maker uniforms
tonnes of fruit and vegetables the athletes will consume over the 17 days
the maximum amount by which the Olympic running track can deviate
number of athletes competing at London 2012
number of athletes who took part in the first Modern Games in 1896
number of journalists and broadcasters at the event
75,000 litres of milk the athletes will consume over the 17 days of competition
tonnes of steel used to build the Olympic stadium
number of Olympic sports
number of events at the first modern Olympics in 1896. Fourteen countries participated in the competition in Athens, Greece.
3 number of times London has hosted the Modern Olympic Games
torch bearers will run the flame across Great Britain
number of newts relocated from The Olympic Park to The Waterworks Nature Reserve
number of volunteers involved in London 2012
776BC the year the first Olympic Games were held in Ancient Greece
13 62 the age of Marjorie Gestring when she won a gold medal in diving in 1936. The American is the youngest gold-medal winner in Olympic history.
the age of Swedenâ€™s Oscar Swahn when he won a gold medal in shooting in 1912. He is the oldest gold-medal winner in Olympic history.
12 17 4,892 37 30 1.34% 14 205 the number of years there wasnâ€™t an Olympic Games because of World War II
number of days London 2012 will last
number of women expected to compete at London 2012
the percentage of gold in an Olympic gold medal today.
The number of women who competed in the 1908 London Games
number of bridges spanning the rivers and railways of the Olympic Park
number of countries that took part in the 1896 Games
number of countries involved in the London 2012 Olympics
4.7 billion number of people that watched the Beijing Olympics on television
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LONDON CALLING JUST THREE WEEKS AFTER THE CONCLUSION OF WIMBLEDON, THE WORLD’S FINEST TENNIS PLAYERS WILL ONCE AGAIN DESCEND ON SW19, THIS TIME WITH OLYMPIC MEDALS UP FOR GRABS. ALL EYES WILL BE ON ONE MAN IN PARTICULAR AS HE SEEKS TO CLAIM GOLD FOR TEAM GB, AND GIVE THE LOCAL CROWDS SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT. HIS OLD NEMESIS, ROGER FEDERER, STANDS IN HIS WAY. Murray’s Mission
Andy Murray. What can be said that hasn’t been said before? A whole nation believed in him. Or to put it more plainly, the idea of him. His somewhat aloof and incorrigible demeanour made him an uncharacteristic hero for the British public to get behind, but get behind him they did. After playing some of his best tennis during intermittent phases of the Wimbledon final against Roger Federer, he was still unable to give a desperate public what they had not had since Fred Perry in 1936; a Grand Slam singles champion. His subsequent emotional outburst at the post-match presentation spoke volumes for the enormity of the pressure on the young man’s shoulders, but one can’t help but feel somewhat sorry for someone reduced to tears in much the same way that Federer himself had been at the hands of Rafael Nadal in the 2007 final. And now the eyes of the world are once again fixated on the grass courts of Wimbledon. This may not be a Grand Slam but you can rest assured that Olympic tennis gold will go some way to alleviate the agonising pain of the Wimbledon defeat. And perhaps Wimbledon was the perfect preparation for Murray’s quest to win at tennis’ great cathedral. In many ways, the added burden of representing ones country that the Olympics presents, is something that
Murray should be adequately prepared for. The withdrawal of Rafael Nadal from the competition due to a persistent knee injury should only further galvanise the Scot in his quest for gold. Former world number one Novak Djokovic has shown some vulnerability in his game; his semi-final defeat to Federer at Wimbledon saw perhaps his worse performance at a Slam in some time. Djokovic will definitely present a threat, yet a more tantalizing prospect could be a duel between Murray and his nemesis, Roger Federer.
Roger Federer and the Other guys
World number one, again. Few envisaged that Roger Federer could come back and break Pete Sampras’ record for most weeks spent at number one in the world. Yet the man defies the odds, and his Wimbledon singles victory results comprehensively in the veritable return of the king. Having never won the Olympics singles crown (he managed to win the doubles crown with Stanislas Warwrinka in Beijing in 2008) he will be keen to add the missing piece to his version of sporting immortality. Jimmy Connors recently said that “we are in an era of specialists; you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist. Or you’re Roger Federer.” This embodies the versatility and longevity of the great man, and with the Olympics
being held at his beloved Wimbledon, few would bet against the ‘new’ world number one from creating history in London. It will most certainly be his last shot at Olympic glory and few could deny the poetic appeal of a Federer victory in London this year. Since Athens 2004, the ATP and WTA have both recognised the Olympics as an official part of the calendar year, and as such there is much more than just national pride to play for. Djokovic can reclaim his status as world number one were he to win, as the fascinating battle for supremacy in men’s tennis continues to perpetuate its own legacy. All the matches aside from the men’s final are contested over a best of three sets format, which would ostensibly serve to favour some of the bigger hitting players if they were to find any level of consistency in their game. Players like Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro could be dangerous in this format where clinical power-hitting has a distinct edge over the durability usually required to win a Grand Slam. Janko Tipsarivic comes into the tournament on the back of good form, and the seventh seeded Serbian could have just the game to make an extended challenge at this year’s event. Another aspect of the team format that shouldn’t be neglected is the relative experience of certain players with the Davis Cup format. In that respect big serving
Olympic Tennis Over The Years With the Summer Olympics nearly upon us it seems appropriate to countdown some of the more memorable moments in recent Olympic tennis history.
The concept of a golden slam, all four grand slams in one year plus Olympic singles gold, only came into being with the exploits of West German dynamo Steffi Graf. Such an unimaginable feat seems almost impossible in a day and age where no woman player can string consecutive Grand Slam victories.
Before her well documented spiral into drug and alcohol abuse, a fresh faced, 16 year old Jennifer Capriati beat defending champion Steffi Graf to win Olympic gold.
Former world number one Andre Agassi manages to win gold on home soil saying that the feeling of winning gold had surpassed any of the previous victories he had enjoyed.
“We are in an era of specialists; you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist. Or you’re Roger Federer.” John Isner of the United States is a player who has shown he is more than capable of raising his game for patriotic endeavour, having managed to defeat Roger Federer in Davis Cup competition before. The three set format could play right into the American’s hands and it should come as no surprise that he will be a player that the others will secretly not want to see on the opposite side of the net. The men’s draw for the Olympics seems a tantalizing affair directly reminiscent of this year’s Wimbledon. Rafa’s withdrawal from defending his crown strikes an eerie resonance with his ignominious defeat at the hands of Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon. Murray mania will be at the forefront again, while Federer’s unquenchable thirst for victory could take him even further into the mythical iconography of the sporting elite.
It is quite bizarre to think that Serena Williams has never won gold in the singles event at the Olympics. The omnipotent American has dominated the woman’s game so completely over the last 15 years that one would have thought it inconceivable that she would not possess individual gold in addition to the two gold medals that she has won in doubles with her sister Venus, who won the individual gold in Sydney in 2000. And given her absolutely dominant display at Wimbledon this year, few would bet against her finally claiming a gold medal to place alongside her 14 Grand Slam singles titles. Her clinical display of aggressive ground strokes and
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The revolutionary Williams sisters dominate the games, with Venus winning singles gold whist also winning the doubles title with her sister Serena.
pinpoint serving resulted in one of the most complete Grand Slam performances in recent history. If she is able to replicate 2008, Beijing anything like that kind of form in London, Spanish great Rafael Nadal wins Olympic it is impossible to conceive of anyone gold, denying his great rival Federer whom else being able to usurp her. bows in the early stages. Federer however Maria Sharapova probably represents the greatest challenge to Serena’s quest for rallies to win the doubles with fellow Swiss gold this year. The Russian starlet won Stanislas Warwrinka, beating the Bryan her first Grand Slam at the All England brothers of America in the final. Club in 2004, toppling Serena in the final. Yet, despite a lacklustre showing at this ity of hometown revelry à la Murray remains a distinct years tournament she is in a rich vain of form that saw long shot in team GB’s race for Olympic gold. It really her momentarily recapture the world number one spot. If does seem that rather than agonising over Murray’s she is able to serve accurately and execute her powerful inability to seal the deal in Grand Slams British tennis, baseline play she could be the one woman who can authorities should actually place more scrutiny on the match the ruthless aggression of the American. She will slow progress of many of their young female hopefuls. be hoping to emulate Elena Dementieva’s gold medal Ultimately it seems that the stage is perfectly set for performance at Beijing and will be a strong candidate to Serena to bring home the gold for the United States at least achieve a medal at the London games. The Rus- and in so doing finally attain individual gold. There sian will lead a strong contingent of Eastern European does seem to be a stark sense of destiny about these pretenders to the throne of Serena Williams. World games, and a strong correlation between the exploits number one Victoria Azarenka will be a strong medal of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. The Wimbledon contender as will be the Czech Wimbledon Champion of Champions look odds-on to defy age and cement their 2011 Petra Kvitova. places as the two greatest players of theirs, or in fact any British hopes look far bleaker in the women’s side of the generation. draw. Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha have both been given wildcard entires into the singles draw at the Damien Kayat games (highlighting the rather depressing reality that no British women qualified automatically) and the possibil-
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TWO CONTINENTS, DIVIDED BY THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, UNITED IN THEIR QUEST FOR ONE THING; THE RYDER CUP. TEAM USA WILL HAVE HOMEGROUND ADVANTAGE THIS TIME AROUND AS THEY LOOK TO RECLAIM THE TROPHY THEY SURRENDERED AT CELTIC MANOR IN 2010. EXPECT THE PATRIOTIC FERVOUR TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS,FOR THIS IS A RIVALRY THEY RUNS DEEP. Rivalry between the United States of America and the continent of Europe has been fierce in sport since I can remember. From the Olympic Games, to the humble Mosconi Cup, the feud runs deep. Golf is no different. Between September 28 and September 30, Europe and the USA will be competing for bragging rights in the 39th Ryder Cup. This year the tournament makes its way to Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, after it was played at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales in 2010. Last time around Europe narrowly edged out the team from the USA to win by a single point in a captivating 3 days of golf. This time, the USA will be looking to regain the Cup on their home turf, but do they have it in them to do it? Only time will tell. So often the deciding factor when it comes down to it, the course will play a key role in the outcome. Since it was announced that the tournament will be hosted at Medinah Country Club, a $1.5 million greens renovation has been undertaken. This will ensure that the course will be in tip top shape come September. Medinah is well known in golfing circles and has played host to three US Opens and two PGA Championships. It is worth noting that Tiger Woods won both PGA Championships held here. He loves the course and could prove a real thorn in the Europeans side. At the time of writing, the teams have not been finalised. What we do know is who has been selected as captain. For the USA, Davis Love III will steer the ship whilst Jose Maria Olazabal will be skippering team Europe. But how will the teams be chosen?
Team Europe The leading five players on the Ryder Cup European Points List will be included, as will the leading five players (who are not qualified from that list) on the Ryder Cup World Points list. There will then be two captain’s picks and these are the ones which generally give rise to the most controversy. As it stands team Europe looks like this: Rory McIlroy
As far as captain’s picks go, it’s going to be interesting to see who Jose Maria Olazabal chooses to be on this European team. Only a fool would attempt to guess who the lucky two could be, so here are my predictions as to who may get the coveted positions.
Ian Poulter would have hoped for a stronger finish in the Open Championship to help him secure a position in the team, but he should be fairly confident that he is on the shortlist. He has a formidable record which should work to his advantage. He was top scorer in either side in 2008 and was defeated only once in 2010. His current form also impresses. He has become a very consistent, all round player and in 2012 he’s hitting more greens and fairways than ever. This, combined with his experience, will be a massive asset.
Paul Casey is an immense talent and his experience will be invaluable in this Ryder Cup team. He has had a rough 2012 season, having gone through injury and personal problems. A snowboarding accident last year led to his injury, and I’m sure he’s become well aware that he should stay away from the slopes. Now he’s back and his record in this tournament speaks for itself. The next two weeks are going to be crunch time for the former world number 3, so keep an eye on him.
Yes, the Italian is still young, but in the future he is going to become a big part of European golf. Once he gets into the 100 yard range he is virtually unstoppable and in the team events, this accuracy could be used to great effect if he’s paired with a team mate that is accurate off the tee. This doesn’t mean he can't drive the ball, his accuracy is superb. His temperament may also be an asset to the team as he manages to keep a cool head in tough situations.
The Ryder Cup is a team tournament and we have seen occasions where the weaker team has won simply based on the way they gelled. If you’re looking for a player who can improve the general vibe on the course and help calm nerves, look no farther than Karlsson. He’s no slouch on the course either; his long drives and ability to drain the longest of putts make him an ideal partner for anyone.
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Team USA The make-up of Team USA differs slightly. Here, the top 8 players on the Ryder Cup Points List will be selected and these will be supplemented by 4 captain’s picks. At the time of writing this is how Team USA looks: Bubba Watson Zach Johnson Matt Kuchar
As far as captain’s picks go, guessing who Love will pick is difficult. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge though so here are my predictions:
I don’t know why golfers feel the need to participate in extreme sports, but before Johnson injured himself on a jet-ski the week before the Master’s, he was in the running for an automatic qualification. He’s a massive talent and seems laid back in his approach to making the team, but with the wealth of talent in the US, it won’t be an easy task for him. However, his experience in the President’s Cup and Ryder Cup will certainly work to his advantage. If I were captain he’d be in my team.
Any captain would kill to have a player with Furyk’s experience on the team and in my mind he is a shoo-in for this one. Despite his hideous swing, he has immense talent and I can’t see him not being on this US team. Jim Furyk has been a captain’s pick before, it will happen again this year.
Snedeker has to have a huge chance of making it. Despite the fact that this will be his Ryder Cup debut, he has had a good season and this was highlighted when he won the Farmers Insurance Open in January. It remains to be seen how he will handle the pressure but he’s improving all the time, so expect him to be on the shortlist.
When it comes to consistency, there are few players who can compete with Steve Stricker. He’s won 12 tournaments on the PGA Tour and always seems to be in the mix at the big tournaments, despite having never won a Major. He has managed 8 top 10’s though and can obviously mix it up with the big boys. If he makes this year’s team, 2012 will be his third Ryder Cup in succession. At a glance, I know which side I’d like to be on. I cannot see a weak link in this team and predict they will dominate the Europeans. A more in depth analysis will be appropriate once the final teams are announced though.
Golf the most despised European captain in years, led the obvious candidates. lacklustre Europeans. Co-incidence? I think not. The obvious candidates are the big guns who will more The Ryder Cup is a different animal when it comes to As far as advice goes, here are a handful of tips to get than likely play four or five of the matches. This means punting. This is a format of the game that requires team they have a better chance of scoring more points. Over work, a factor that is lacking in normal golf tournaments. you through the tournament. As such, team spirit matters more than individual ability. Back outsiders in the final-day singles, particularly those the last 5 Ryder cups, every winner of these markets has that are on Team USA. Matchplay is a great leveller in played all five matches. The exception came in 2004 This was evident in 2004 when a far superior USA team when Chris DiMarco only played in four but this was a was downed by 9 points by a less talented but tighter Eu- any context but with the support of a home crowd, rest ropean outfit. Then at Valhalla the form book could again assured that the US players will take some beating in the consequence of his teams massive defeat as he scored a mere 2.5 points. be thrown out the window. The European team had been singles matches. The home side has won four of the last Apart from that, there’s not much to say from a punting priced up as favourites but an ordinary US team ended up five final day singles. There’s a reason for this. When it comes to the top scorer market, stick with the angle until the final teams are announced and pairings lifting the trophy on Sunday. The reason? This was a US are made known. group that had played like a team and fed off “Matchplay is a great leveller in any con- Until then all we can do is speculate, but one thing one another, dove-tailing where necessarily and never letting one another down. Interest- text but with the support of a home crowd, is for certain, come September all eyes will be on Medinah and the golfing world will come to a ingly, the team was without Tiger Woods, a rest assured that the US players will take standstill as another epic battle is staged between player that is certainly lacking in the team some beating in the singles matches.“ two bitter rivals. spirit department. Further, Nick Faldo, easily
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FOUR RYDER CUP CONTROVERSIES In a tournament where tensions run high and tempers flare, it is unsurprising that the Ryder Cup has seen a lot of controversy in the past. Traditionally golf is seen as a gentleman’s game but after watching a few Ryder Cups that’s difficult to justify as players sometimes reveal a darker side to the game. Here a few of the more controversial moments:
to halve the hole. As he lined his putt up Nicklaus bent down and picked up his marker, giving Jacklin the putt. The overall result was a tie.
2010, Celtic Manor
In 2010 Corey Pavin showed his classy side when he got into it with golf announcer Jim Gray. Apparently Gray had made 1999, Valhalla a statement that Pavin had claimed Tiger In 1999, America produced one of the Woods was the best golfer in the world. Pavin biggest comebacks in Ryder Cup hisdenied this and Gray, who evid ently does tory. Tensions ran high on the last day and not appreciate being called a liar, stood nose nowhere was this more noticeable than in the to nose with Pavin in the media centre days game between Justin Leonard and Jose Maria later and proclaimed he was “going down”. Olazabal. The match was all square on the Way to turn a gold tournament into a heavy17th and as both men hit the green in two, weight fight guys. Leonard was left with a seemingly impossible 45 foot putt for birdie. He stepped up and 1999, Valhalla holed it and the crowd went wild as players Golf is all about tradition and nowhere and their wives stormed the green. The only is this more evident than in the problem was that Olazabal still had his putt attire worn by most out on the course. For to half the hole, which he subsequently some reason, the USA has used the Ryder missed. On this fateful day team USA seemCup to scoff at etiquette and their clothing ingly forgot all about golf etiquette, and few worn over the years has been nothing short die hard European fans will ever forget that. of shameful. Whilst tracksuits and cowboy hats have ruffled more than a few feathers, 1969, Royal Birkdale the most shocking outfit of all was worn in The American’s haven’t always been 1999. Apparently someone thought it was a seen as unsporting buffoons and in good idea to embellish the shirts with tiny 1969 Jack Nicklaus amazed both teams with pixelated images of past Ryder Cup moments. an act of unprecedented sportsmanship. In The result was a red top that looked like it the final singles match, with scores tied, had been vomited on by one of the players’ Tony Jacklin had an 18 inch putt on the 18th children. It was disgusting.
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he Olympic football tournament has never really gotten the exposure that it has deserved, with Nigeria’s run to the final in 1996 one of the few memories that come to mind when I think of this particular tournament. It was the tournament 4 years prior that introduced the format we will see at this year’s games, namely a squad of U/23 players supplemented by 3 over-age players. This change in regulations has made the Summer Olympics a proving ground for many future stars and a mecca for top scouts from across Europe’s biggest leagues. They’ll be there in their droves over the next fortnight, clad in long trench coats (despite the sweltering heat), phone to ear and a seedy look in their eyes as they look to exploit the latest batch of unsuspecting footballers. The footballers though, never ones to miss a beat, will be ably represented by their agents; and these snakes in the grass will be on every street corner, like pimps, offering their player's services to the highest bidder. This is the underworld of football, and this summer it will be laid bare for all to see. Of course with so few tickets sold for the football events, the crowds may be made up mostly of these types, making the matches a rather hostile affair, something akin to watching hyena’s and lions battle over a carcass on the plains of the Serengeti. We at Just the Tip are all for expression of opinions, especially ones that you have built on your own. Of course that is not always possible when speaking of players that come from places like Gabon and Honduras. So what we’ve decided to do is put together a list of future stars to look out for at London 2012. You may have heard little rumblings of these players, or perhaps you purchased them as a rising star on your latest FIFA 2012 campaign. Unfortunately FIFA 2012 isn’t always a true reflection on the quality of players, and despite winning the league on World Class, you are not on the shortlist to replace Fergie when he retires. Neither is our esteemed football writer, Commodore Vegas. But that’s only because he’s a Liverpool supporter. We gave Mr. Vegas a pen, a pad and unlimited bandwidth to find us five stars to keep an eye on and this is who he came up with.
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OSCAR POSITION:CAM AGE:20 A relative unknown amongst football followers outside of Brazil, Oscar (pronounced Os-KA) has quickly jumped to the forefront of the public psyche following the announcement of his transfer to Chelsea at the conclusion of the tournament. The latest in a long line of “New Kaka’s”, Oscar may just be the player that lives up to his billing. The young playmaker’s early career has been blighted by legal proceeding’s which have kept him off the football field for lengthy periods of time, depriving us of witnessing the genius of this young ingénue. It was at last year’s U/20 World Cup that he finally announced his arrival as a player of prodigious talents, becoming only the second player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final, as he helped Brazil to a 3-2 win over Portugal. Since then he has been drafted into the full National set-up, even displacing Ganso as the chief stringpuller for this talented Brazilian squad. A quiet and unassuming footballer, coach Mano Menezes obviously has big plans for Oscar, “Put it this way,” he says. “He wears the No10 for Brazil and we don’t give that shirt out to just anybody.” In amongst the likes of Hulk and Neymar, Oscar should have a field day in London, making the £25million that Chelsea paid for his services look like a bargain.
JACK BUTLAND POSITION:GK AGE:19 A goalkeeper? Yes a goddamn goalkeeper! I’m a ‘keeper, I believe they are one of, if not the most important members of a team and this young chap is going to be one of the best around in years to come. Now England have a great history of producing worlds class ‘keepers, but they also have a habit of producing overrated human sieves (Carson, Foster and Green). This lad is something special though, having represented England at every age group level, winning the 2009 European U-17 championship against Spain in the process. He travelled with the national squad to Poland and Ukraine this summer following the injury to John Ruddy, and is clearly earmarked as the man to challenge Joe Hart for the England no.1 jersey in years to come. At 6ft 4in, he has quite a formidable frame for someone who is only 19 years old. Add to this, catlike reflexes and Inspector Gadget arms and you have a goalkeeping prodigy. Team GB looked extremely underwhelming in their only friendly against Brazil, with Butland the only player to come out of that one with a growing reputation, having pulled off a string of fine saves in the second half. Already on the shopping list for a number of Premier League clubs, his price may grow exponentially with some good showings this summer.
GASTON RAMIREZ POSITION:RW AGE:20 Uruguay will be seeking their third Olympic triumph in London, having secured their last victories in 1924 and 1928. Cast into the football wilderness for many years, this small South American nation is back amongst football’s elite once again, and with a new crop of youngsters on the horizon, there is no telling what this team is capable of. The pick of the bunch is undoubtedly Gaston Ramirez, the loping attacking midfielder that currently plies his trade in the Serie A. That may not be the case for much longer, with Bologna unlikely to hold onto him, especially if he shines in the spotlight at London 2012. Gifted with a wand of a left foot, (I have a soft spot for lefties as well) Ramirez is one of the new breed that plays on the “wrong” flank, drifting in from the right touchline. His close control and trickery are not unlike his Uruguayan teammate Luis Suarez, allowing him to get into dangerous positions seemingly with ease. He’s deceptively quick, with his long strides reminiscent of Yaya Toure at full stride. Couple all this with his vision that sometimes has you wondering if he can see into the future and you have a player that gets the pulse racing every time he gets on the ball. Should Uruguay go far, expect to see him to become a headline signing for a Premier League club.
IKER MUNIAIN POSITION:LW AGE:20
PIERRE EMERICK-AUBAMAYENG POSITION:ST AGE:23
Now I couldn’t really go through a list of future stars without having a Spaniard. I could’ve closed my eyes and taken a wild stab at their squad list and I would’ve had a prodigy, but I’ve decided to take a more measured approach. For those of you that had nothing better to do on Thursday nights than watch Europa League football, this name with be very familiar to you. One of the stars of Athletic Bilbao’s run to the Europa League final, Muniain tormented defenders with his mazy dribbling skills and tight control, which has led the Spanish media to dub him, “The Spanish Messi”. Muniain performs a similar role for his club side as the diminutive Argentinian, drifting off his flank to inject some pace and guile to their attacks. Much like Messi, Muniain’s diminutive size is used to his full advantage, with his low centre of gravity helping to bamboozle defenders with swift changes of direction. He has been constantly linked with Man Utd in the off-season, but a move to the Red Devils is highly unlikely given the talent they already possess on the flanks. That is not to say that a summer transfer is not in the offing, especially if he puts in a couple of eye catching displays for Spain, as they look to add an Olympic gold to their World and European crowns.
Pitted against Switzerland and Mexico in Group B, Gabon have been given little chance of making it out of the group stages, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Given a similar tag as “no-hopers” at AFCON this year, The Panthers surprised all and sundry on their way to the quarter-finals, with one man in particular standing out above the rest. His hair (an extravagant Neymar-like Mohawk) may have grabbed our attention, but it was the way he played the game that kept it. Long touted as a future star, Aubameyeng had failed to live up to expectations at AC Milan, ultimately departing from the Rossoneri for Ligue 1 at the beginning of last season. It was there that he flourished, scoring 16 goals as he helped AS Saint-Etienne to a seventh placed finish. It was his exploits in Africa that grabbed the headlines though, and although he missed the penalty that sent Gabon crashing out, a star had already been born. He contributed 3 goals and two assists as he was involved in all but one of Gabon’s goals in the tournament. Blessed with the ability to strike the ball with both feet (something rare in today’s game), he is a constant menace, drifting into channels and taking up clever attacking positions. Should Gabon make it out of the group stages, it will no doubt be thanks to this young man, who may finally start living up to his potential.
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â€œThere is an extraordinary opportunity for young players and a lot of countries do use the Olympic tournament as a way of giving young players that tournament experience.â€? DAVID BECKHAM
TAKING OFF T20 cricket , for better or worse, is clearly here to stay. September sees the 4th edition of the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka. Maverick White takes a look at the event and draws some interesting conclusions.
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ow, I’ve never made a secret of my aversion to all things T20. I understand the appeal of it, and the necessity of it as part of the modern game as a result of this uncultured interest, but I will never understand how it could ever touch the heart the way a great test victory can. However, I’m not here to give you a test purist’s argument. I actually have a smile on my dial. This is because I have, and always will be, a sucker for a World Cup. From the niggly group dynamics, where one slip up can cause an early exit, to the much more difficult situation of the Super Eight groups where run rate can play such an important role, all the way through to the glorious lifting of the trophy. I can’t get enough of it, and so I thought I’d take a stab at navigating you through it.
2009, Pakistan would have their revenge in England, as they saw off a favoured South African side in the semi-finals and then dominated the Sri Lankans in the final, adding their name to the fledgling trophy in the process. 2010 saw the trophy move away from the subcontinent, as England and Australia fought it out in the final, where England cantered home with three overs to spare. This tournament was held in the West Indies, and as you can see, the home team has never won the tournament. Poor Sri Lanka.
The format this year is essentially the same as it was in 2010, however we see four fewer teams this time around. The groups are made up of three teams, two top cricketing nations and another qualified HISTORY Associate or Affiliate nation. The two top teams in There have been three previous ICC World Twenty20’s, each group advance to the Super Eights, where they held in 2007, 2009 and 2010 respectively. There have find themselves in yet another group, this time a also been three different winners, making form a dif- group of four. The top two of each of these groups ficult thing to track. The first was held in South Africa advance to the semi-finals, and so on. A key match-up and won by India, who made an uncertain start to the “The home team has tournament with an abandoned match and then a tie (which they won in a bowl-out). They also dropped a never won the tournament. game to New Zealand but from there were dominant, Poor Sri Lanka.” seeing off a feisty Pakistan in the final. However, in
in the initial groups includes India vs England in Group A, two former champions fighting it out for first position. In Group B, Australia versus West Indies should be a nail-biter, picking up where they left off back in the Caribbean. Sri Lanka against South Africa in Group C should decide their Super Eight fates and I foresee the key match in the final group being the one between New Zealand and Bangladesh.
Three grounds will host the fourth instalment of international T20’s cream of the crop, these being the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, the unimaginatively named Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in, wait for it, Pallekele, and finally the difficult to pronounce Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in the equally difficult Hambantota. The RP Stadium in Colombo is the biggest in the country, with a capacity of 35 000, and will be the setting of both the semi’s and the final. September does not naturally fall within a dry season when it comes to Colombo (on the west coast) and Hambantota (on the south coast) and even Pallekele, which is in Kandy (inland). It is distinctly possible that we will find some rain during the evening, which could make this tournament all the more interesting.
TEAM STATS SES S O L 5 SOUTH AFRICA (68.75%) INS
6 7 6 8
11 12 12 9 8 8 8 6 1 1 1
7 8 7 3 5 8 2
MAHELA JAYAWARDENE MOST RUNS ACROSS ALL TOURNAMENTS (18 MATCHES)
18 BALLS FACED
419 STRIKE RATE
LOWEST TEAM TOTAL West Indies vs Ireland 68/10 138/9
LONGEST WINNING STREAKS Australia - 6 Sri Lanka - 6
TILLAKARATNE DILSHAN MOST RUNS IN ONE TOURNAMENTS (7 MATCHES)
CHRIS GAYLE HIGHEST INDIVIDUAL SCORE
SHAHID AFRIDI MOST WICKETS ACROSS ALL TOURNAMENTS (20 MATCHES)
16 BALLS FACED
372 STRIKE RATE
SRI LANKA (66.67%) PAKISTAN (60.00%) AUSTRALIA (60.00%) NEW ZEALAND (50.00%) INDIA (47.06%) ENGLAND (47.06%) WEST INDIES (46.15%) ZIMBABWE (25.00%) IRELAND (14.28%) BANGLADESH (11.11%) AFGHANISTAN (0.00%)
HIGHEST TEAM TOTAL Sri Lanka vs Kenya - 260/6
27 Just The Tip
India are tournament favourites, and must be so due to the tournament being held on the subcontinent. Their low status on the ICC World Rankings doesn’t paint the Indians with the brightest brush. However if anyone knows T20 cricket, it would be the country that birthed the commercial cash cow that is the IPL. Yuvraj Singh has been included in the preliminary squad after winning his battle with a rare germ cell cancer. Kings XI Punjab batsman Mandeep Singh is another noted addition. He is in good knick in first-class cricket, averaging 63.00 in 13 matches. He might be someone to watch if he makes it through to the tournament. Amid massive controversy, Kevin Pietersen’s retirement from one-day international cricket and England’s policy regarding availability for both formats, means that at present, 2010’s player of the tournament will not be making an appearance in Sri Lanka. Alex Hales, who made his return to the T20 side as KP’s replacement, scoring 99 in the process was included in the preliminary squad and looks set to keep his place. England are defending champions and together with India, should advance to the Super Eights unscathed. However, their match with India will decide their positions in the next round, and I fancy India to take that one. Afghanistan have only made the T20 World Cup on one other occasion, where they were hammered in both of their games. They To Win Outright will be the group whipping boys and I don’t see them standing a chance against the other India 9/2 giants in their group. At the longest odds, England 11/2 only the most morally depraved individuals Afghanistan 500/1 would consider burning their money on the Afghanistanis.
Australia have surprised many with the announcement of their preliminary squad, omitting both Nathan Lyons and James Pattinson. Despite John Inverarity alluding in February that Australia would be taking Lyons, Hogg and Doherty, the off-spinner’s form in the run up has led to his axing. Pattinson seems relieved with not making the squad, after finding it difficult to cope with all three formats. Australia should make it through to the Super Eights without much bother, however the West Indies may top the group, as they continue to rediscover their form on the international stage. At 6/1, the Windies are my best bet for the tournament. This is based on solid T20 performances by members of their squad in the IPL, their lambasting of New Zealand in their T20 series and the great price. They play good cricket in subcontinental conditions, have bullies in the batting department in Gayle, Smith, Bravo, Pollard and Russell and have a decent spin contingent, spearheaded by the rat-like Sunil Narine. But for some reason, I can’t will myself to forget their capitulations in all formats over the years and I battle to envision Darren Sammy lifting any international trophy. However, with so many game changers in the line-up, they are definitely worth a tickle. Ireland don’t look like they will be able to trouble the others in their group, although they were able to give Bangladesh a run for their money in the three games they played recently. However, the Irish still lost To Win Outright them all and although have the capability to cause an upset or two, are coming up against Australia 11/2 pretty stiff opposition. Australia and West Indies West Indies 6/1 should advance with ease.
Sri Lanka have a good record in major tournaments, including the previous T20 World Cups, and as hosts they will have the added luxury of home ground advantage. They possess the best T20 death bowler in the world, ‘Slinger’ Malinga and the batsman that has scored the most runs in tournament history, Mahela Jayawardene. They have Dilshan, a fantastic exponent of the T20 game and a game changer in Thisara Perera. Their game with South Africa may decide the group standings, and although my allegiance lies with The Proteas, I see Sri Lanka taking that one. The South Africans also have a fantastic record in the tournament, percentage-wise they win the most consistently. However, until they emerge victorious in a major tournament, they will never shake their pesky ‘chokers’ tag. Both Kallis and Smith make returns to the Proteas T20 plans, Kallis deservedly so with his experience and importance for both Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL. If Richard Levi continues to open, he will be a key player for the Proteas in getting them off to a powerful start. Despite their poor performance in Zimbabwe, I believe they will see off the minnows and advance. Zimbabwe looked a much improved side in their recent Tri Series victory at home. The bookies have taken notice, as Zimbabwe shortened from 300/1 to 110/1 following their triumph. I attribute their victory to To Win Outright intensity, a boisterous home crowd and a rusty South African team. I don’t see them going any Sri Lanka 11/2 further than the groups here. However, Graeme South Africa 6/1 Cremer may prove quite a handful on the slow Zimbabwe 110/1 Sri Lankan wickets.
There cannot really be a group of death in this tournament, as one minnow is always placed in a group with two of the bigger nations in world cricket. However, if any group looked like one, this would be it. Pakistan are former champions and are also a tournament cricket team, consistently surprising on the biggest stage and making it further than form suggests. With Afridi’s leggies coming down at a vicious pace on the subcontinent, I like Pakistan to advance again, but they may come unstuck in the Super Eights. New Zealand have had a terrible time in the West Indies, winning only one ODI and losing both of their T20’s. Even the returns of Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor have not aided the Black Caps in their woes. With the T20 World Cup closing in, they will need to sort out their combinations quickly, as two poor games can lead to an early exit. This is the fate I foresee for New Zealand, despite the potential to be devastating on their day. With morale low and form lower, I see them as the early tournament casualty. Bangladesh have been playing some good T20 cricket in Ireland, even though the opposition is not exactly top quality. I feel the recent move of Shakib al Hasan to number three is a smart choice, and they may continue with this going into the tournament. Despite their recent acceleration up the To Win Outright rankings, Bangladesh haven’t looked as good as they did in the ODI’s in the Asia Cup, and Pakistan 7/1 although I see them advancing to the Super New Zealand 16/1 Eights by beating New Zealand, I don’t see Bangladesh 40/1 them advancing any further.
Sporting Calendar Cricket
Rugby South Africa v Argentina 18th August 2012 Newlands, Cape Town Argentina v South Africa 25th August 2012 Estadio Malvinas, Mendoza Australia v South Africa 8th September 2012 Patersons Stadium, Perth New Zealand v South Africa 15th September 2012 Forsyth Barr Stadium, New Zealand South Africa v Australia 29th September 2012 Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria South Africa v New Zealand 6th October 2012 FNB Stadium, Soweto
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Golf SL v Ind ODI Series 21 July - 7 August Various, Sri Lanka
WGC Bridgestone Inv. 2 - 5 August Firestone Country Club
Ind v NZ ODI Series 23 August - 11 September Various, India
US PGA Championship 16 - 19 August Oak Hill, Kentucky
Eng v SA ODI Series 24 August - 12 September Various, England
The BMW Championship 6 - 9 September 2012 Crooked Stick Golf Club
T20 World Cup 18 September - 11 October Various, Sri Lanka
The TOUR Championship 20 - 23 September 2012 East Lake Golf Club
SA v Eng 1st Test 19 July - 23 July 2012 The Oval, London
The Ryder Cup 28 - 30 September 2012 Medinah, Illnois
Belgian GP 2nd September 2012 Spa-Francorchamps Italian GP 9th September 2012 Monza Singapore GP 23rd September 2012 Marina Bay Street Circuit Community Shiled 12th August 2012 Wembley, London
English Premier League 18th August Various, England
Olympic Tennis 28 July - 5 August 2012 Wimbledon, London Western & Southern Open 13 - 20 August 2012 Cincinatti, USA Winston-Salem Open 21 - 27 August 2012 North Carolina, USA US Open 29 August - 9 September 2012 Flushing Meadows, New York
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