Monthly Archives: May 2014

An interview with Dean Headley

Many excellent quotes from this article, some of which I copy below.

An interview with Dean Headley
‘It burnt to be told I didn’t have the heart to play as a bowler’. Former fast bowler Dean Headley recalls good and bad days with England, his heritage, and the time he bounced Allan Donald and lived to tell the tale
Interview by Scott Oliver
March 18, 2014

  • I got woken up in the West Indies after a night where I’d commiserated myself with a bit of Jack Daniel’s. The media officer said, “Dean, the press guys want to do an interview with you.” “What about?” “Well, Bumble’s come out and said the reason why we lost the Test match was because of you and Caddick.” I said, “Oh, that’s good. And we haven’t even had a team meeting yet…” So John Etheridge [of the Sun] was sat in a chair by the pool at the hotel, leading the questions. He’s got a bit of a stutter, and I knew that every time he had to say something controversial he was going to stutter. He’s gone, “So, h-h-have you got any comments?” “About what?” He said, “Well, erm, ob-obviously you lost the Test match.” “Yeah, I know that.” “And, erm, with Bumble…” “John, get to the point.” “Well, Bumble’s come out and said that you and Caddick were the reason England lost.” I said, “Why do you think he came out and said that?” “Well,” he said, “when we asked him he said you didn’t bowl very well.” And I went: “He’s right. I didn’t.” “Have you got any m-more comments?” “Well, no. You’ve just told me the coach has said we lost the Test match because Headley and Caddick didn’t bowl well. I can’t answer for Caddick but I can certainly answer for me. I didn’t play very well.” End of interview. Caddick, on the other hand, said, “Well, I disagree with him. I think I only bowled four bad balls in the whole Test match.”
  • Goughie and I played in five Test matches together and got 53 wickets between us. He epitomised, to me, what you need to do as a bowler. Yes, things might not go your way, but you never, ever give up on anything.
  • I kept an eye on the speed gun a little bit, mainly as a barometer to see whether I had to put in more effort. Goughie wouldn’t bowl a slower ball in Australia because it’d bring down his average speed.
  • Lara was the best I’ve seen.
  • Michael Vaughan said that if we’d have got a draw against that Aussie team in 1998-99 – which, barring that Slater run-out in Sydney, we would have done – then he believes that would have been bigger than 2005.
  • Angus Fraser said: “Look, most people take a wicket every 60 balls. So if you go at four and a half an over, you’ll average 45. If you go at 2 an over, you’ll average 20. Your career won’t depend on your good days. It will depend on whether you can make your shit day a little bit less than shit, your average day a little bit better than average, and your quite good day a little bit better than quite good.”
  • People talk about whether we competed with Australia in the ’90s. I think we did. Steve Waugh said it: “England are a far better side than what they believe.” I can go through every Test I played against Australia and dropped catches will be massive. But we never, ever talked about it.
  • Hicky and Ramps were probably the best two English batsmen I bowled at.
  • Carl Hooper was an underachiever at international level, but if you said to me that there’s a game of cricket on tomorrow and Carl Hooper’s going to get 80, I’d pay money to see that. I remember us playing against Saqlain Mushtaq at The Oval – the Surrey boys still talk about it. Everyone was mesmerised. Hooper played him as though he was a schoolboy offspinner. He got 200 against Wasim Akram, who was bowling ridiculously quick at the time, swinging it both ways, and everybody else was struggling. Three overs after going in, he calls to the pavilion. He always batted in a jumper and we just thought, “Oh, he’s going to take his jumper off”. He took his thigh pad off. He batted against Wasim Akram without a thigh pad, because he had really massive thighs and his gloves were catching and he didn’t like it. He got hit all right. Just didn’t flinch. If Wasim hit me, I wouldn’t walk for a month.
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Steve Davis – women will never be the best at snooker

Excellent, and not actually sexist at all.

Davis thinks women lack “that single minded determination in something that must be said is a complete waste of time – trying to put snooker balls into pockets with a pointed stick. “Men are ideally suited to doing something as absolutely irrelevant in life as that,” he said. “They’re the ones who have train sets in the loft. They have stamp collections to die for. Right? These are stupid things to do with your life. As is trying to practise eight hours a day to get to World Championship level.

World Snooker: Steve Davis says women will never match top men
BBC Sport
02/05/2014

By Caroline Rigby

Steve Davis does not expect to ever see a woman compete in the final stages of the World Snooker Championship. The six-time world champion, 56, believes the “obsessive” nature of men for an “absolutely irrelevant” activity gives them an advantage. “The male of the species has got a single-minded, obsessional type of brain that I don’t think so many females have,” he told BBC World Service’s Sports Hour.

Leading women’s player Reanne Evans agreed that focusing solely on the game, given other priorities and a lack of financial support, is hard. “I think women find it difficult just to concentrate on snooker,” said the 28-year-old, who has a seven-year-old daughter. “I’ve got my little girl and you’re always thinking about them.

“I just think maybe men find it easier to focus on one thing at one time. Maybe that’s a slight advantage there. “The men’s game has the backing behind them that they can afford to have a part-time job, or no job, and just practise and work at the snooker, whereas there’s no money in the women’s game whatsoever.”

There are currently no professional women snooker players, despite top-tier competitions being open to both genders.

Evans, who has won the Ladies World Championship for 10 successive years since 2005, was handed a wildcard to the World Snooker Tour for the 2010-11 season, but failed to win a match.

She did, however, become the first female to reach the main stages of a ranking event last June by beating Thai player Thepchaiyah Un-Nooh in qualifying for the Wuxi Classic.

While Evans dominates the women’s game with an average break of around 40, she admits her level is still some way off the top male players.

World number one Neil Robertson became the first player to record 100 centuries in the same season during his quarter-final victory over Judd Trump at the Crucible on Wednesday.

Davis thinks women lack “that single minded determination in something that must be said is a complete waste of time – trying to put snooker balls into pockets with a pointed stick.

“Men are ideally suited to doing something as absolutely irrelevant in life as that,” he said. “They’re the ones who have train sets in the loft. They have stamp collections to die for. Right? These are stupid things to do with your life. As is trying to practise eight hours a day to get to World Championship level.

“So therefore I think we are also the idiots of the species as well. The male of the species has got a single-minded, obsessional type of brain that I don’t think so many females have.” Asked if he thought a woman would ever compete in the latter stages of the World Championship, the BBC commentator replied: “No.”

Evans was seven-and-a-half months pregnant with her daughter, Lauren, when she won the ladies world title in 2006. “The trophy just about fitted on my bump,” she recalled. “I could only just about break off. It was very weird playing with a bump.”

Later this month, the mother-of-one from Dudley in the West Midlands will take part in World Snooker’s Q School in an attempt to qualify as a professional.

She believes mental strength rather than physical power is the key factor which sets men apart from the women. “It can be an advantage if you have cue power but there are a lot of men out there who haven’t got a lot of cue power, like [Hong Kong’s world ranked number seven] Marco Fu compared to [world number five] Shaun Murphy,” she added.

“But it’s not a physical sport like football, rugby or boxing. So that’s why I think one day we could see women playing at the Crucible.”

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, the sport’s governing body, says there are no barriers for women. “It’s not a strength sport, there are no restrictions at all” says chairman Jason Ferguson. “Perhaps in the past ladies didn’t want to go down the snooker club. Perhaps they felt a bit out of place. These days we’re a fast moving sport. The opportunity is there for girls to play.

“It’s a very young, fashionable sport in China and the women’s game is booming in Eastern Europe. We think this is a pattern that’s going to continue all over the world.”

Despite a drive to improve equality and encourage more females into the game, Evans believes snooker is still “a bit of a boys’ club”

“Even in league matches, the other team had to send in letters to see if it was OK for me to play there,” she added. “It still happens to this day. It is frustrating but I just hope that my achievements are proving everybody wrong and that women will be allowed to play in those clubs now. “We’re just trying to get women out there to play, to pick up a cue and then hopefully we can prove everybody wrong – that women can compete against the men.”

Lleyton Hewitt and the Triple-Hundred Club

Fascinating & obscure tennis factoids.

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Lleyton Hewitt and the Elusive Triple-Hundred
Heavy Topspin blog
06/05/2014

Lleyton Hewitt is within a whisker of qualifying for a very elite club–players who have won 100 matches on each of the three major tennis surfaces, hard, clay, and grass. He has 367 on hard, 120 on grass, and 98 on clay. If he manages to reach this milestone, he’ll be the last player to do so for a long time.

Roger Federer, of course, is already a member. Hewitt would become only the seventh, joining Fed, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, John Alexander, and Stan Smith. Arthur Ashe and Stefan Edberg are close: both retired with 99 grass-court wins.

Typically, the grass-court threshold is the most difficult to reach, but that’s not the issue for Hewitt. In fact, the Aussie is one of only 16 players in ATP history to win 100 or more matches on grass courts.

Federer has 123 career wins on grass, good for second of all time, behind Connors. Hewitt, at 120, is the only other active player even close. Next on the active list is Andy Murray at 74, followed by Novak Djokovic, Mikhail Youzhny, and Tommy Haas, all tied at 53. Of the 80 players in ATP history who have won at least 50 matches on grass, 73 are retired.

Of the active players with 50 or more grass-court wins, only Hewitt and Murray have won more matches on grass than on clay. That’s all a long-winded way of saying, if someone’s going to reach the 100-win milestone on three surfaces, you wouldn’t expect them to need a few more wins on clay.

No other active players are anywhere near striking distance of the 3×100 mark. While Murray could reach 100 wins on grass with a few more good seasons, his clay win total lags far behind–on that surface, he only recently got to 50. And as we’ve seen, no other active player has more than 53 career wins on grass. The extended grass-court season, starting next year, will help players like Djokovic, but it’s safe to say that Haas’s window has closed.

In an era that barely rewards grass-court specialists, Hewitt has put himself in position to join this elite group by performing at a very high level on the surface. It’s ironic, then, that he’ll cross into such rarefied territory with a win on red clay.