Links on Friday

Tour de France winner and stirrer Greg LeMonde says the most important thing when public speaking is staying relaxed.

Great read from the very, very smart Aaron Timms on Shane Watson, anointing him the most awkward of Australia’s long line of ‘non-blokey’ cricketers.

When I was eight, and still dreaming of a career in the baggy green, I would burst into tears whenever I got out. Fortunately, I outgrow the habit by the age of 10. Watto, even at the age of 34, greets every dismissal as if still in the throes of that impending juvenile trauma. He bristles with purpose, but it’s a purpose with no team solidarity; his sporting will is entirely self-centred.

Not only is Cristiano Ronaldo a pale imitation of the proper Ronaldo, it turns out he’s happy to hawk any old shit in Japan to make cash.

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GIF / Dad of the week:
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Links on Friday

Pirlo long ball to Baggio, who finishes exquisitely. This is basically pornography for football nerds.

BIG DATA! Picking a winner in a golf tournament is more difficult than combing an annoyed cat., however, have figured out that Rory McIlroy’s withdrawal has apparently increased Masters and US Open winner Jordan Spieth’s chances by 3% in the British Open – go deep and go figure.

The Cricket Monthly on the Greatest Ball. Great piece, Wasim and Waqar feature.

Paneka penalties are a favourite, and to attempt one that only dribbles accross the line to win the Copa America, even if you are a gooner, is pretty classy.

Come on Aussie, come on

This blog is a counter-point to’s Why England post – we’re arguing about who New Zealand fans should support in this year’s Ashes.

The Ashes are inexplicably the Most Anticipated Test Series in cricket. It’s rarely close, and most of the world-class play and players have been provided by the Ockers in recent years, despite England’s awkward flirtation with competency for a while there.
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Deciding which of these great sporting nations to get behind is a real quandary for NZ sport fans.

Culturally, the series is an absolute ripper, with the moustachioed, swearing, we-drank-85-beers-each-on-the-plane-over-mate crowd from down under taking on Mother England in their own St John’s Wood Home Of Cricket in a game they invented, but have been pretty woeful at ever since.  This year’s series is harder than usual to predict with the World Champions looking strong as always, if slightly old and tired. They’re playing New England, fresh off an extraordinary series against our lot, showing an uncharacteristic rip, shit and bust approach.

So who to support if you’re a New Zealander? Again, this series is going to be starting at really good viewing / tweeting times for the NZ couch / TV / laptop crowd – Graeme has already made the case for getting behind England, but here’s (gulp) the case for supporting Australia. And having a really thorough shower afterwards.

First, it’s better for the BLACKCAPS if Australia wins. We are fourth in the world in Tests with 99 points, while England are just two points behind on 97 in sixth. We get to have a crack at the jandal-lickers (who are second on 111 points) in five Tests this summer, so have plenty of chances to haul them in. Also, if Australia get through an Ashes summer with the creaky / old Clarke / Haddin / Watson crowd, there’s a better chance they’ll get picked to play us, and I fancy our chances against them.

You also have to factor in that England are feckin’ unbearable when they win. Queen Victoria, who has been dead for over a century, is sick to the back teeth of whizzo tales of 2005 and how Freddy hugged Brett Lee that time, and then was drunk on an open topped bus, and it was KP wot won it at the Oval. If England won it again, having been pummeled in Australia last time, you’d never, ever, hear the end of it.

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If we can get over the under arm, surely the poms can get over 2005.

Conversely, England losing at cricket is my favourite thing on Twitter. From the snippy, stiff upper lip gallow-tweeting from the press box, to the fans who veer between ‘we’re the new 1980s West Indies’ to ‘we’re worse than Micronesia’, often in the space of a few overs, this is Twitter entertainment at its finest. If things don’t go to plan in the first Test or two, the ‘Bring back KP’ drums will provide a snappy backbeat to the misery and woe.

But let’s be clear – you don’t have to like or even respect the Australian players in order to want them to win. Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson, David Warner, etc have a long track record of the idiotic and rude, encompassing bad sportsmanship and a criminal lack of humility, self awareness and irony.

You won’t get any argument from me that they’re hard to love, but some – some – of them are great to watch. Mitchell Starc, even though he annoyingly bowled our skipper third ball in the World Cup final, is a top fast bowler and top viewing. Same goes for Steve Smith. Same would have gone for that noble Rhino Ryan Harris, but for his body letting him down at the final hurdle.
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Haddin – yes, it’s OK to think he’s a dickhead.

Anyway. It should be a cracking series and we can watch safe in the knowledge that the BLACKCAPS ae riding a wave of performance and personnel and playing the best brand of cricket going at the moment. These aren’t aspirational teams for us, these are our peers. Let’s take the high road and get behind our trans-Tasman cousins, if only for purely selfish reasons.

Links on Friday

Tennis racquet abuse – a top ten

Things get cooking at number four. McEnroe, the master, smashes a racquet, then argues he hasn’t smashed it. Then a guy smashes all his racquets and has to abandon the game, while number one smashes about nine in a row, not even bothering to get them out of the plastic. It’s hardly Pete Townsend smashing guitars-level rock ‘n’ roll, but still satisfying action.

Let’s face it – sports fans are bloody nerds hey. This Power Rankings list for NBA court markings shows just how easy it is to succumb. At first I was all ‘this is a shit list, just for nerds,’ then I was all ‘HOW can they put the magnificent Memphis Grizzlies court markings at a lowly 17 ???!?” You were warned.

Here’s a tremendous profile of Andrew Jennings, the English TV reporter who thoroughly investigated and exposed FIFA corruption.

“I know that they are criminal scum, and I’ve known it for years,” he said. “And that is a thoughtful summation. That is not an insult. That is not throwing about wild words.”

Hockey player gets sent off, has a ‘mare trying to leave the ice.