Chris Rattue runs through the best and worst from the sporting weekend.
WINNER: Aussies…Mitchell Johnson
Australian sport is so interesting, fascinating, and compelling.
And a big reason for that: they still talk straight in these PR-wrecked times, unlike our mumbling fence-sitters.
Former Australian quick bowler Mitchell Johnson has torn into veteran batsman David Warner in a way that just wouldn’t happen on this side of the ditch.
Johnson questioned why a struggling test opener gets to nominate his farewell series and receive a “hero’s send-off” despite being at the centre of the 2018 ‘sandpapergate’ scandal.
“The way he is going out is underpinned by more of the same arrogance and disrespect for our country,” West Australian columnist Johnson wrote about his longtime Australian teammate.
As veteran Aussie sports journalist Robert “Crash” Craddock opined, Johnson has suddenly got Australia talking about a season that wasn’t promising much.
“A lifeless season has a pulse,” Craddock wrote.
WINNER: the EPL…for the same reason
Manchester United legend Paul Scholes was ruthless in assessing the team’s latest loss, to Newcastle.
Scholes - an English midfielder so gifted in the intricate arts that he looked like something from Barcelona - said United were “rubbish”.
He attacked wide players for a lack of effort, and took particular aim at England striker Marcus Rashford.
EPL pundits are enthusiastic about praising players, but they are not afraid to find fault.
Which leads to this: why is our lot so timid?
I’m afraid our punditry and analysis are beyond saving, being hamstrung by misplaced loyalty and confused parochialism.
When, for instance, did you last hear of an All Black who had a terrible game?
New Zealand sport faces incredible challenges because of a small economy and isolation. But it doesn’t help itself a lot of the time.
WINNER: Wellington Phoenix
On top of the A-league (true story).
WINNER: English Premier League (again)
The world’s greatest football league gets better and better, with stunning drama in every round.
There are plenty of amazing goals including Mac Allister’s long strike for Liverpool against Fulham in the latest round.
This is shaping up as the best and most competitive season for a long time. Manchester City are not the shoo-ins many thought they would be.
Just when you thought it was safe to enjoy golf again…
The rival PGA and LIV tours reached some agreement/truce this year, I think.
Yet rumours persist that Spain’s world number three John Rahm is about to quit the traditional tour for the Saudi rebels.
New PGA tour policy director Tiger Woods reckons he’d be surprised if Rahm shifted. Fellow board member Jordan Spieth didn’t sound so sure, and said Rahm would be a massive loss.
It’s all so confusing.
WINNERS: Boxing, women’s sport, Jerome Pampellone
It has been a great year for the profile of women’s sport, although I think the enthusiasm for it is masking massive problems in team events because the audiences aren’t really there in this country (our men’s sport is facing the same dilemma).
Individual sports are a different matter though, and boxing is leading the way. There were further title victories, and plenty of media coverage, for Mea Motu and Lani Daniels in Whangarei.
Just as significantly, light heavyweight Jerome Pampellone had another quick victory, this time over a veteran Mexican.
The promotion of Motu and Daniels has been superb, but it’s time for Pampellone to top the bill.
WINNER/LOSER: LeBron James
The basketball legend set a new record for NBA minutes…and suffered the heaviest defeat of his career in the same game, as the 76ers crushed the Lakers by 44 points.
WINNER (hopefully): New British rules protecting young gymnasts
The regulations relate to the weighing of young gymnasts and protecting their schooling.
British gymnastics boss Sarah Powell said: “There is no desire for us to put medals above welfare.”
Has the rest of the world taken note? Are these the right sort of rules? Do they go far enough?
The child abuse in this sport has been so bad it should have been turfed out of the Olympics a long time ago.