A colleague sent this to me today and it is required viewing. Sky Sports’ advert for the US Open, featuring Kevin Pietersen. If you can’t see the video below, try here.
Devon is treating me to its most spectacular storm today so I’m slumped in front of the TV this morning. And I happened to see Michael Vaughan on Sky News just now who is playing golf in Scotland.
The event, he claims, is a perfect exercise for his troubled knee and I see Cricinfo has some quotes from him (usual Vaughan stuff – he could yet play in the Ashes, etc etc)
It is apparently golf. Such debates are pointlessly inane, not to mention susceptible to bias, so there’s nothing else to do but join in and provide our own fatuous opinions.
It’s true that golf is indeed a tricky game to master, but this following sentence smells a lot like bullshit to me:
Golf is probably the hardest sport there is – you never, ever perfect golf. Different parts of the human body can malfunction from day to day
Does a sportsman ever perfect their art? Even Don Bradman, unquestionably the greatest batsman to have lived, slipped up now and again. Tiger Woods will be remembered as a great golfer, but even his star has flickered. And what sport, with the possible exception of bowls, curling and darts, doesn’t require you to be physically in top shape?
Because I hate golf with such ferocious passion, it’s inevitable I would disagree with such a statement. But just look at the facts. Take a minute and just look at them there wee facts. Cricket last five days, or it ought to. You spend a minimum of six hours per day either in the field, running and sprinting, or in the middle as a batsman, stretching calf muscles, straining forearms and generally contorting the body into positions not intended by the matrix, or our makers. When a bowler lands his front foot down on the crease, the hundreds of tiny bones in his toes and ankle are subject to several tonnes of mass. Yes I’ve made that up, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the forces involved are similarly great.
How, then, is golf the hardest sport if they have an electric buggy, which increasingly look like motorised wheelchairs on acid, in which to travel from one part of a course to the next? As if their day couldn’t get any easier, when they are forced to engage both legs and adopt what normal people call “walking”, they employ a rather stunted, limp-along person to carry their bags for them. So easy is the golfer’s lot that their “kit” is actually designer clothing more suited to shiny media people in skyscrapers; watching them arrive on the green for a birdie par, whatever that might be, one might as well be watching some prancers at a milan fashion show.
What gets me is that anyone who follows golf will probably agree with the sentiment that it’s the hardest game in the world, much like I will refuse to be swayed from thinking cricket is. And we’re back to square one. Cricket’s better, tougher and harder than golf and any other sport – apart from Pin The Tail On The Donkey while blindfolded after a caseful of lager and a couple of whiskies.
Disclaimer: as ever, anything I write here is done with my tongue wedged firmly in cheek. I might dislike golf with unnatural passion but I do acknowledge Niclaus, Woods, Els and co. are all fine sportsmen, and they hit that ball with great accuracy and all that jazz.
This article (on why Golfers have it so easy) brought back a heated debate I had a year+ ago with a mate about why, in my opinion, cricketers as sportsmen and athletes that they deserve.
The strain put on bowlers has, in the last few years, been quite well documented in the media and rightly so. Given the incessant schedules these days of international cricket, frequency has meant “body breakdown” for fast bowlers. “Even” spinners like Warne and Murali have had quite serious surgical procedures to cure ailing wrists and shoulders. And, my trump card in these arguments: would a footballer play in 35c heat for 7 hours? I think not.
Only the other day, England A coach Rod Marsh was excusing his player’s performances against Sri Lanka blaming a lack of fitness and training. Which is of course down to the heat that cricketers have to endure. England’s “footballers” played Portugal some months ago, and a TV commentator remarked how tough it would be for them, playing in 23c heat. Well, try 35c heat for a whole day mate! It’s about time they were respected more in the media – the sense of “oh, it’s a jolly fine game is Cricket – a lovely pleasant game” is, I think, still quite prominent in the administration of English cricket, and this rubs off in the media.
Look at someone like Brett Lee, Simon Jones, The Bastard (McGrath), Ponting and Andrew Flintoff. The work they put it to reach a level of fitness is extreme, and I often wonder whether the media give them due credit.