Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 5 Best Sporting Moments I've Seen This Year

Inspired by a blog I found on BBC Sport, I've been left thinking about what sport I've witnessed this year. It's been quite a lot. It's mainly involved Ipswich Town, Essex and England, but it's been quite a lot.
So, here are my top 5: 

5. Essex vs Middlesex - June 22nd 2009
I've been to a lot of Twenty20 matches over the year, but this one stands out because it was the first one I went to by myself. It was a good match, Essex won by 8 wickets. Mark Pettini played really well and got 80 not out.

Another stand out match is Essex vs Sussex in the Pro40. Hashim Amla scored a century and was well supported by James Foster. Essex lost. But Amla rules.

4. Chelsea vs Ipswich - January 24th 2009
OK, so we lost this one 3-1, but I've never left a match feeling so proud to be a Tractor Girl. It was a good day out, with us taking over 6000 fans down to Stamford Bridge. And the fact is, we scored. We scored at Stamford Bridge against one of the best teams in the country, a team that contained Frank Lampard and others. Thank you Alex Bruce, thank you for giving us a little bit of hope before a footballing lesson was taught to us. 

3. Middlesex vs Essex - 12th August 2009
I've been to Lords before, I went for a tour back in 2006 and got to sit in the England dressing room. And stood next to the Ashes. But this time, I was at Lords to watch cricket. It wasn't the greatest day for Essex, as they fell to 32-4, with Cook and Bopara showing just why they were in the England team. It was a good day out though, I got a bit lost (being a country girl from a small village in a rural county like Suffolk, then being dumped in a massive city like London. Well, it's not surprising to say the least), so I followed the pictures of Andrew Strauss and co. It tipped it down at the end of the day, but James Foster and Matt Walker combined well to get Essex out of a huge hole. 

2. England Women vs Australia Women - 30th June 2009
England Women had a phenomenal 2009. They won the World Cup, the Twenty20 World Cup and retained the Ashes, again. And yet they didn't win Team of the Year at the Sports Personality Awards. But that's a rant for another day. So, when I heard that they were going to be down at Chelmsford, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Unfortunately, school was in the way, so I only managed to see the last few overs of the England innings. But still, this was a superb day out, and it made me smile to see so many females at a county ground. 

And to top it all off, both sides stayed behind afterwards and chatted to eager fans. Each one of the England women's team had a picture with pink fluorescent sunglasses on for some lads nearby. They were very down to earth people, plus, I got to meet a Wisden Cricketer of the Year. How likely is that to happen again? I've seen Shiv Chanderpaul down at Essex, I've also come very close to meeting my hero, Matthew Hoggard. But I've not been able to talk to them and stand next to them! Bloody brilliant that. 

And finally. 

1. Ipswich 3-2 Norwich - 19th April 2009
I'm an Ipswich fan. What else did you expect?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another draw...

"Follow the Town, up or down", as Edward Ebenezer Jeremiah Brown would put it.

This bottom three malarky. Even I, pessimist though I am, did not foresee this at the start of this season.

I'm fed up, as are many other Town fans, of our club being referred to as, "Roy Keane's Ipswich". No, we were Ipswich long before he came al0ng. Over 125 years in fact. In fact, it's hardly Roy Keane's Ipswich at all. Apart from Leadbitter, Delaney, Rosenior and Edwards, he hasn't signed anyone else who plays regularly (Colin Healy *cough*). Instead, he falls out with players for at least 3 months and then shoves them back in the team (Garvan, David/Richard Wright, hopefully not Pablo).

Now that we've signed Stern John (Stern John!), Keane is hoping he'll be a short term fix to a long term problem. We've never had a 20-a-season striker since Darren Bent. In fact, since 2004/05, when we finished 3rd and messed it all up against West Ham in the play-off semi finals. Off trotted Bent to the Promised Land (always feel proud whenever I hear that he's been considered for England or something, despite the fact it was many moons ago). Off went Shefki Kuqi. Between those two and Tommy Miller, we lost over 40 goals. It's something we've never recovered from.

Our defence has always been rubbish. Recently it's been looking slightly less shaky (I write this the day before we play Cardiff away. It could all implode, as is the norm), but now our Bosnian wonder-goalie has been recalled back to Portsmouth and faced Manchester United earlier today. Pfft, who would you rather face? Cardiff? Hahahaha!

I'm not able to go tomorrow (hello Flatford! Again.) but I'm off to Bristol City and Scunthorpe. I've been to Coventry, Middlesbrough, Barnsley (HEARTBREAK), Plymouth and Reading thus far this season, and the only match we've played relatively well in was against Coventry.

So, problems I can see at the moment:

  1. Jon Walters - Something's up. He's not been playing as well as we know he can. Is he injured? I doubt it. Does he need a rest? I would probably say yes. He may be a big player for us, but at the moment, he's not playing well. He's far better on the right wing, and yet, I think, Carlos Edwards plays in this position. Which leads me onto my second problem...
  2. The midfield - As always. Grant Leadbitter, the poor sod, really has no idea what he's got into. He's by far the best player on the pitch and yet he was stuck next to Liam Trotter for most of the start of the season. Carlos Edwards, on the right, goes too far into the middle, leaving the entire right wing exposed. Poor Liam Rosenior! Oh David Norris and Luciano Civelli, curse your knobbly knees!
  3. The defence - If only they learnt to defend for over 90 minutes. We'd be mid-table and laughing right now. But no. Instead, what happens? Last minute equalisers against Sheffield United and Watford. Last minute winner against Barnsley. Injuries have not helped. Nor has Gareth McAuley deciding to play like an idiot again. He's got better now. He's remembered how to play.
  4. Roy Keane - PLEASE KEEP THE SAME BLOODY LINE-UP FOR CONSECUTIVE GAMES AT LEAST ONCE THIS SEASON. I don't care if Pablo runs over your dog or David Wright tells you your beard looks like tiny hamsters are gnawing at your face, don't drop players who have played well for ones who are clearly crap. Pablo is an invaluable player. He holds the ball up. If the chance comes to him, he will always try and tap it in. To me, we appointed Roy Keane to try and attract the big news media. To make Ipswich Town more famous. Boy, did that happen. But for all the wrong reasons. Now the media vultures circle above Keane's head waiting for the next outburst to write about.
  5. Finally, how I miss Gio. But he's not going to come back. Evidently, the problems were there before Magilton got sacked.
In reality, we're going to be in the bottom three at Christmas. Fantastic.

It's going to be a long, long season.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Match Report: Ipswich Town vs Coventry City

Date: 9th August 2009
Result: Coventry 2-1 Ipswich
Scorer for Town: Walters

Football's back! A day late for Ipswich and Coventry fans, but now, the Football League has officially kicked off.

All the talk before the match was of the man in charge of Ipswich Town, Roy Keane. Chris Coleman seemed pleased about this (and then suitably smug after the match), meaning Coventry could give Ipswich a surprise.

The match was preceeded by a minute's applause for Ipswich (and football) legend, Sir Bobby Robson. The away fans in the Jewson End began the chant, "There's only one Bobby Robson", before the PA announcer even had the chance to say there would be a minute's applause. It set off applause from everyone in the Ricoh Arena, as Sky Blues and Tractor Boys united for a great man. One Ipswich fan waved a flag that had a picture of Sir Bobby on it, whilst many had shirts that had tributes to Sir Bobby on the back. The giant television screen in the corner between the Tesco Stand and the Jewson End had a picture of Robson with 1933-2009. An emotional beginning to mourn a hero of Suffolk.

Once the game kicked off though, the focus was on the future, and what Town fans could anticipate for the coming season. They started brightly, with most of the action occuring at the opposite end, and this prompted the fans to start singing, "We're gonna score in a minute".

Someone did. But it wasn't for Ipswich. Clinton Morrison made the most of a complete mix up in Ipswich's defence to delicately scoop the ball into the net, over Alex Bruce's head. Richard Wright had come storming out, and a lack of communication between him and the captain, Gareth McAuley, left Ipswich 1-0 down and the Town fans frustrated. Coventry fans appeared out of the many, many empty seats to start boasting about their lead. But they didn't care about the Town fans. They cared about Keane.

The momentum rapidly changed. Suddenly, Ipswich couldn't win a ball. The defence looked very weak, apart from Delaney who started alright on the left. When Town won the ball, they desperately tried to get their passing game going. They did. Only to the wrong colour shirts. Liam Trotter's touch was too heavy. Lee Martin and David Norris just could not get into the game, and many forgot that Jaime Peters had started. Only Walters, who looked fitter and faster, having seemingly put his injury woes from last season behind him, looked likely to make a difference.

After 25 minutes, Ipswich found themselves 2-0 down. Again, the defence was left being questioned by the Town fans sat behind their goal. McAuley, who seemed to have forgotten that he'd actually improved towards the end of last season, decided he couldn't do anything about Clinton Morrison on his knee, as the City striker headed the ball into the net. Frustration was soon replaced by joy as Ipswich got the next goal from Jon Walters. It was a lovely finish, and it gave Town hope. They began to look like the team that kicked off the match 40 minutes ago. But it still didn't stop Roy Keane storming off down the tunnel before the half time whistle.

Half time: 2-1 to Coventry
Ipswich began the second half in the same fashion as they started the first. They looked like they were going to "score in a minute" (as the fans put it!), but Coventry's keeper had different ideas, as did the officials and Town themselves. Town fired over the bar from free headers at least three times, Pim Balkenstein being the major culprit.

In the 54th minute, from another corner, David Norris and Jon Stead collided, causing Norris to stay down for a while with a knee injury. The one thing that Stead had come into contact with, and he'd caused it an injury, rather than a goal. Norris painfully limped off to be replaced by Owen Garvan, and when Norris limped in front of the travelling Tractor Boys, he was greeted with a round of applause. He was beginning to get into the game. David Wright offered Norris his shoulder as support, and this was greeted with further applause. It didn't look good for Norris, and he looked fairly grim himself.

Town pressed on. Still desperate for that equaliser. Keane brought off the ineffective Stead and put on 16 year old Connor Wickham. He tried, and almost got his reward, when the linesman's flag had been raised. Town fans were not happy. They hadn't been with that linesman all day. Jon Walters came close, only to be denied by the Coventry goalkeeper, who was very impressive. Throughout the first half, Town didn't get to the second ball. Finally, in the second half, it happened. Someone won the second ball. Unfortunately, they didn't do anything with it and it was the only time they actually got to the second ball throughout the remainder of the match.

Overall, disappointing not to come away with anything, but on another day, Town could've won this match. However, there are good signs for this season. As long as Keano sorts out the defence! Coventry fans were very disappointing, there were more empty blue seats than there were fans. 16000 for the opening game of the season is not great, but then, it's the summer holidays and the match was on Sky Sports.

Town Player ratings:
Richard Wright 5 - Stuck in no man's land for their first goal, didn't have much to do second half, but did make an excellent save towards the end of the match.
Alex Bruce 5 - Really not his greatest game. Would've preferred to have seen him in central defence with McAuley.
Gareth McAuley 5 - Disappointing, should've done better for Clinton Morrison's second.
Pim Balkenstein 5 - Again, disappointing. Wasted many chances to score, and clearances were a bit dodgy.
Damien Delaney 6 - Was good first half. Average and slow second.
David Norris 6 - Started poorly, but seemed to be getting into the game until injury.
Liam Trotter 5 - Couldn't hold onto the ball. Kept passing to the wrong colour, and some of these passes were dire. Would've preferred him to come off than Peters.
Jaime Peters 6 - Shouldn't have come off when he did, as he was looking threatening. Looking forward to seeing more of him this season. Finally.
Jon Walters 8 - By far the best player for Town. Seemed to have shaken off injury problems and transfer rumours from last season. Nice to have him back.
Lee Martin 6 - Can expect something from him this season, like Norris, seemed to be getting into the match in the second half.
Jon Stead 5 - Like having a lame duck up front.
Owen Garvan 6 - Added stability to the midfield.
Connor Wickham 6 - Denied by the linesman. Expect to see more of him this season.
Tamas Priskin 5 - Needed longer studs as he kept slipping over.
Note: You can probably see that this report is from the Ipswich Town view.
I am doing reports as an Ipswich Town fan, to give my view on how the match went for us, from where I was sititng. Please be aware, I will be as critical about my team, as I am about yours. I will give credit where it's due, and I will try to sum it up in the most neutral way I can, but I can't promise much!

I will only do matches that I go to, not ones that I have listened to or watched on Sky, as I feel you don't get the full picture there, as you rely on other people's opinions.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

RIP Sir Bobby

This morning, many of us woke up to the news that a true gentleman of the game of football had passed away after finally losing the battle to that terrible disease.

Sir Bobby Robson.

The man who gave my beloved football team, Ipswich Town, the glory years that we shall never see again (which is a shame, as I wasn't around for this golden era). Sir Bobby will always be loved here in Suffolk. He always made time for our small town club, being made our honourary president and last year being given the freedom of Ipswich. Campaigns for the North Stand to be renamed the 'Sir Bobby Robson Stand' started last year, bur I'm sure it'll begin to gather more momentum now.

Tonight, Town played a friendly against the Spanish side, Real Valladolid. Town won 3-1 and Roy Keane has said that it was a display for Sir Bobby. The match was preceded by a two minute silence and all the players wore black armbands. I haven't been able to get down to Ipswich, this being Suffolk, and there being a bus service every 8 hours to the middle of nowhere, but I'm certain that the statue of the great man will have many tributes and flowers surrounding it.

I got my ticket for Coventry this morning. To be part of the away crowd that day will be amazing. Especially if "There's only one Bobby Robson" is sung. Which it will be, I'm certain. When the North Stand burst into the song at various points last years, it really, really made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

A man who nobody has a bad word to say about.
A man worthy of being called a legend.RIP Sir Bobby.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Ashes: A First Test Round Up

The First Test - Cardiff, 8th July-12th July

England draw. It's some kind of miracle.

Unfortunately, I was playing cricket today, so I missed one of the greatest endings to a Test match. Don't you just hate that? When you're out, something good always happens! Never mind. At least it was exercise. But, I cannot describe the emotions I felt when I came off the field (I was out plumb LBW to a yorker that did actually crush my toe, pleasant times) and was told that James Anderson and Monty Panesar had snatched a draw from the jaws of a certain, soul-crushing defeat.

But they were not the only heroes. Take a bow Paul Collingwood. The man often forgotten, and the man that Sky Sports are very quick to say that he's the man that should be dropped if he gets out for a low score. Oh, that nudger and nurdler. What good can he do? How about batting for over 5 hours when every other England batsman leaves straight balls, gets out to the one decent ball Mitchell Johnson bowls or plays a silly shot, because clearly the scoring rate is important in a situation where you're trying to save the game.

The first day started alright, then England, being England, lost three wickets at regular intervals. Then this thing called a "partnership" came together between Pietersen and Collingwood. Then this happened:

If you've not seen this picture/the video of the dismissal, have you been living in a cave for the past few days?

And England did that thing they're so good at. Collapsing. From 228-4 we suddenly found ourselves 334-7. Albeit, that collapse is actually better than what we've become used to in recent times... So, a day that was looking so promising for England, suddenly had Australia almost in control.

Day Two began with the Aussies looking for early wickets. Thankfully, someone in England's lower order actually knew how to bat. Graeme Swann blasted 47 off 40 balls, and boosted England's total to 435 all out. Two spinners in the attack, Nathan Hauritz got 3 wickets, surely England could do something?

Of course not. Four out of the seven Australian batsmen got centuries (BLOODY PONTING!), as England's attack toiled away with no reward. Australia declared on 674-6, as soon as Haddin got out to Paul Collingwood, of all the bowlers. Well, he got one more wicket than Swann that game, anyway. Every front line England bowler goes for a century. Brilliant.
Australia are the clear favourites. England fans consider the rain dance, but then think maybe their team deserves to be humiliated. But then remember they're English and know that England will humiliate themselves anyway, with or without the help of rain. Two wickets fall (Bopara, looking nervous and like a puppy caught in the headlights gets out to a dodgy LBW decision) before tea on the fourth day, and then the heavens open. It is Wales after all.

So, to day 5. Many fans turn up at Sophia Gardens expecting to go home early and watch Sky Sports News and the yellow bar saying, "ENGLAND ARE RUBBISH - WE'RE SORRY WE GOT YOUR HOPES UP". It starts off looking likely. Pietersen, to go with his sweep shot that caused so much criticism that his ego must've been well and truly smashed (by Nasser Hussain, renowned for being a cruel bastard, obviously), leaves a clearly straight one from the guy who clearly should be a farmer, Ben Hilfenhaus. The Sky commentary team think that England can't do anything without Pietersen and are left conceding defeat completely. Strauss quickly follows. Doing what English people do best, hitting a four, then getting out. England are 46-4 and that little grey cloud that hovers over England fans returns.

10 overs later, England are five down. Hauritz, getting this thing called "spin" that eluded England's bowlers (well, he might not have got any, it's just England's way of batting on the fifth day. Make every opposition player look good) is taking the Michael. Flintoff and Broad come in, get double figures and depart. Graeme Swann appears, gets the second highest score of 31 and departs. Not one England player seems to be able to face over 100 balls. There's a thing called patience. It seems to have disappeared.

Step forward Paul Collingwood. The man battles to 74 off 245 balls. He is there for 344 minutes (out of the overall total of 414). Geoff Boycott would've been proud. It's exactly what England need, a man to hold up one end as the other batsmen/idiots hand their precious wickets away. Unfortunately, he cannot stay in and finish the job, when he is finally out to Peter Siddle's new ball bowling, the Cardiff crowd give him a well deserved standing ovation. But they're now completely resigned to defeat. Because Monty Panesar is coming out to "bat".Paul Collingwood walks off after his superb innings.

Every England fan in the ground fears the worst. The England balcony fear the worst. The champagne is on ice in the Aussies dressing room. Ricky Ponting is rubbing his hands with glee. Memories are rife of when the Windies tailenders defied England twice in the Test series. James Anderson, who Sky inform us with a blue, shiny graphic, has gone for ever not scoring a duck, attempts to keep the strike. But when The Montster's on, he surprises everyone. Ironic cheers are replaced with nails being chewed thoroughly. When Monty hits a four (a brilliant shot!), the cheers of surprise are a relief!

England take the lead. And if England are still in bat at 6:41pm, then it's a draw. Ten desperate minutes. Every dot ball is wildly celebrated, and then total silence covers the ground, as the bowler comes in for another try at usurping Anderson or Monty. The tension is huge. And at that moment, in the game I'm playing in, a wicket falls and I have to go out and bat. How I longed to be at Cardiff, or somewhere with a television!

And so, the big clock told me it was 6:41. And England. England, had drawn. England. Who had been thoroughly out played, had drawn. A complete batting collapse had eluded them. Clearly Paul Collingwood was not keen on being bowled out for 100 and having to suffer the complete media backlash (DROP EVERYONE! CALL UP AN IMAGINARY GUY WHO'S IN FORM!) that goes with being an England player.
Lord Anderson and Lord Monty walk off to a hero's reception.

Australia were left shell-shocked. England were left wondering whether if there was someone up there who loved them. Every single journalist in the land is left with a mind boggling jaw drop. England fans are delirious. A batting line-up, with backbone? What is this? But wait. Had it not been for Paul Collingwood, and the lower order, England would've been staring at an innings defeat. They should be 1-0 down. But they're not.

Momentum. It's England's. Isn't it Ricky?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Welcome to the Championship, Newcastle!

And Middlesbrough, of course.

After years of visiting grounds like Old Trafford, Highbury/The Emirates, Anfield, Goodison Park, White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge, with their huge capacities, now it's their turn to visit grounds that look like Craven Cottage or Fratton Park.

Every week.

Barnsley, Blackpool, Bristol City (it has plants growing in the steps!), Watford, Palace and the wooden seats! I bet our new arrivals cannot wait to go to Loftus Road! Leicester, Peterborough and Scunthorpe all await them as well. August just can't come around quickly enough!

Joking aside, I can't wait for when Ipswich play Newcastle, both home and away. For most of the clubs in the Championship, it will probably be the sell out fixture. It'll be interesting to see what the attendances of the away fans are at St James' Park next season, especially when Plymouth make the incredibly, incredibly long journey up there.

For Newcastle and Middlesbrough fans, a word of warning. Don't think it's going to be an easy ride. Just look at what has happened to teams like Leicester City, Leeds United and the three who have been relegated this season, Southampton, Charlton and Norwich! All of these clubs have graced the Premiership in the past 10 years, now they're all in League One (or have been in League One). The Championship is most probably the best second tier division in Europe, and on it's day, anyone can beat anyone. None of the teams who got promoted from League One got relegated last season, Swansea even came close to the play-offs. Birmingham City may have got promoted straight back to the Promised Land, but Reading finished in the play-off places and went crashing out to Burnley, a team who have been in the Championship for all eternity (congratulations on being promoted, it must be nice to be out of here!), and Derby. Well, they started out where they left off and looked likely to keep falling for a while. Newcastle and Boro fans will be in for an interesting summer. Especially Newcastle fans, considering the club's finances.

I'm counting down the days until next season's fixture list comes out, I'm already planning my 09/10 tour! It's my last season before I go to university, so I want to make a memorable one. I hope my beloved team do the same...

Monday, May 4, 2009

The season's over (but it had been for a long time...)

Not many people sat in Portman Road yesterday seemed to care about the result between two mid-table Championship clubs.

It was nice that our season came to a good end, with three wins on the bounce against our bitter rivals, a team chasing the play-offs and another mid-table side. Two of these wins were at home, where it has been noticed that Town have struggled there all season. Finishing 9th was a surprise. A pleasant one though.

However, I say that not many people cared about the result due to a match happening in South East London. Within half an hour the North Stand was ecstatic. "The scum are going down" rang around the stadium, and when Giovanni fired in the opener which was then quickly followed by a second from Pablo, Portman Road had that feeling of happiness back. That feeling that has abandoned us all season, as fans have turned on each other due to their allegiances about who is sat in the dugout in front of the Brittania Stand.

It's a shame. Other clubs would've killed to be in our position of knowing which league they're playing in next season. I mean, look at Norwich. Yes, I may be an Ipswich fan, and did enjoy clapping and singing along to the songs yesterday, but part of me will miss our dear yellow and green neighbours. But look at the sides that joined them in League One. Southampton and Charlton, another to the list of casualties that once graced the Premiership. Leeds United have been down there for a couple of seasons now, Leicester managed to get promoted the first time they tried. Nottingham Forest were dragged into the relegation dogfight of the Championship, and Derby were fairly close to it (although us beating Norwich did help them out). The plight of Luton Town has been well documented. In all of those cases, it's the fans you have to feel for. They are the people who go to watch their team week in week out. They make the songs, they fill the stands, and they add more value to the club than any owner can.

For me, our season was over back in December, many fans would've disagreed with me. So, since Decemebr, I've just enjoyed the ride. I've been to Sheffield Wednesday, Plymouth, Doncaster, Derby, Palace, Chelsea, QPR and Bristol City this season, and every home game (including all the League Cup ties and the one FA Cup tie), bar Palace, as I was the other end of the country - I watched it on Sky though. Not that that counts. I'm not saying this to sound like the super fan, as I know I'm not. But the fact is, come rain or shine, I'll always support Ipswich Town. They've filled a big part of my heart. A very big part...

So, back to yesterday's game. We witnessed the best (Gio! Gio! Gio!) and the worst (back passes, nervous defending and the midfield going for a wander) all in two halves. And I'm glad Roy Keane saw what we saw throughout the entire season. Our away form may've improved (we won nine. NINE!), but our home form, superb last season, took a giant leap in the wrong direction. Which is what seemed to happen under Magilton, our home form last season was superb, whilst our away form (with all three of our wins!) was completely abysmal. But now we've won two on the bounce at home, so fingers crossed we can keep that up next season...

Happy days are here again.


Next season promises to be exciting. Roy Keane's got the beard out already by the looks of this morning's paper! So, if Keano can cut some the squad down, then who knows! What we know for definite is this:

  • Giovanni dos Santos must go back to Spurs. He was the bright spark for the end of the season.
  • Once our injuries are out of the way, Keane will have a better idea of what squad he's got.
  • The players that were told under Jim that they have no future could yet feature in the mighty Keane's plans. Look at Matt Richards. Never saw that coming!
All I have to say now is: Bring on the fixture list!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blimey O'Keany

Wow. What a week! And that's not just the weather (take that IPL!).

Tuesday: New Chief Executive is brought in to the club. Press conference draws a couple of local journalists and a man who looks suspciously like Jim Magilton dressed in a wig, asking questions about the future of Jim Magilton. No comment is given from Bert from Sesame Street.

Town's new Chief Executive

Wednesday: Jim Magilton, a man who was a loyal player, but a terrible manager is sacked, by phone, by our owner Marcus Evans, who wears a mask or something to every home match, as nobody knows what he looks like. Magilton's sacking is expected, but it's a weird time of the season to do it. What a way to go though after beating the Norfolk types 3-2 on the Sunday. Rumours begin about who will take over, with all the old names being dragged out, including the horrifying name of Glenn Hoddle...

Thursday: I embark on a Geography trip across the border into the land of budgies, wearing an Ipswich Town shirt. Fun times. I get a text at 8 telling me that Roy Keane has been appointed the new boss. The press conference promises to be entertaining, and the entire nation's media embarks towards Portman Road. By four o'clock, Keane has had a look at Ipswich's squad and told them where he stands (Don't be late or I'll drop you, no excuses about your zimmerframe Campo.), and so he sits in front of a load of Town badges on a blue background. Cameras flash, journalists ask questions that aren't about Ipswich Town at all. No beard is in sight. Shame that.

Same old stuff about Ipswich, Premiership, ambitions. Then something about some dogs, and digs at other managers. Which are the bits the nationals focus on. We're so interesting.

Friday: His first squad is announced. Matt Richards is back. Wow. I forgot he was still here.

Saturday: First match in charge. Numerous cameras follow said manager. Nobody cares about what happens, only care about what Roy Keane does. But we win 3-0. And Richard Wright makes a damn fine penalty save. And Jon Stead plays pretty damn well.

Monday: Derek Davis still has a massive man-crush on Matt Richards. No change there then.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Rumbling in Cape Town

Something big has kicked (or bowled) off again today, but not in India as it would've been expected. Instead, the Indian Premier League circus has travelled across the equator and down into the depths of the continent of Africa.

Welcome publicity came about last month as the IPL's chairman announced that because the competition was going to be held at the same time as the Indian elections, security wouldn't be sufficient enough to protect the cricketers. A good point, especially after what had happened in Pakistan. A new location had to found (postponement? That's for losers!), and if the idea of the two biggest English egos wasn't enough to get the British media stirring, the idea that the competition could be coming to England (I know, here! England! In April!) began to circulate.

Then someone looked at the weather and plugged for South Africa.
A lot has happened in the two years since India won the Twenty20 World Cup, and there is a sense of irony in the fact that the IPL has returned to the country that caused India to fall in love with the shortest form of the game.

Today, in the beautiful ground of Newlands in Cape Town, four teams containing some of the cricketing world's most famous names started the long tournament. Chennai Super Kings, containing everyone's favourite, Flintoff, played the Mumbai Indians, containing everyone else's favourite, Tendulkar. Poor old Graham Napier didn't even get a look in, as players like Dwayne Bravo, JP Duminy and Sanath Jayasuriya were picked along with the up and coming Indian talent.
Cricinfo tells me that Mumbai Indians won by 19 runs.

The Rajasthan Royals, the reigning champions, containing good ol' Shane Warne and the swash-buckling Dimitri Mascarenhas, played the Bangalore Royal Challengers, captained by Kevin Pietersen and containing Rahul Dravid.

Again, Cricinfo informs me that Rajasthan Royals were hammered by 75 runs.

Despite the fact the British media's going on about it (well, Flintoff and KP mostly), nobody over here can watch it, because it's on the subscription channel Setanta. The Daily Telegraph are showing a huge piece of hypocrisy by becoming engrossed in the IPL, with offers of 2 months free of Setanta and 'Mark Ramprakash's Guide to All the IPL Teams' (or something along those lines). Strange, because I seem to recall last year, they couldn't give a hoot, and they seem to be the major force in trying to get cricket back on terrestrial television.

This story really annoyed me. Isn't the IPL meant to be about cricket? Well, in theory it should be. But the IPL was set up in response to the ICL, which has now been made to make every cricketer to play in it feel like a criminal. It's ended some cracking players careers. And because of one little word, a cricketer must choose between their international future and financial security. Aren't the two tournaments essentially the same? Young Indian cricketers, mixed with some of the big names of the international game, playing in brightly coloured clothing and playing twenty overs each? Or have I missed something completely?

You may be able to tell that I don't like the IPL. In essence, I should as I love all forms of cricket, and I should be begging my parents for a subscription to Setanta. But something about the tournament just makes me uncomfortable. Maybe it's because it's close to becoming part of the international calendar, when really, it's just like the Twenty20 Cup in England, only there's more money. Maybe it's that astronomical amount of money. Flintoff, for $1,550,000, have they seen his batting recently? If he gets injured, and has to miss the Ashes, well, where will that leave the Golden Boy of 2005?

I still need convincing about this tournament, and no amount of English players is going to do that. Why would you want English players in your team anyway?! Have they seen where we are in the ODI rankings?

Perhaps someone can show the organisers that, and not just the weather forecast, next time.