Once again England wins a World Cup. Yes the controversy version. When the official winner of the 2010 trophy is circuiting the stadium, trophy in hand, the conversation will revert back, baring any superhuman heroics from Brazil, Germany or Argentina (“Maradona incentivises players with prostitutes and free cocaine”) to the goal line incident involving England.
By a long circuitous route, that has featured Geoff Hurst’s goal in the 1966 world cup final, Bobby Moore’s 1970 pre world cup arrest for an alleged bracelet theft, Gordon Banks’ food poisoning incident also in 1970, Maradona’s “hand of god” in 1986 Paul Gascogine’s tears that irrevocably changed the public’s consciousness of football and the attitude of big business in 1990, David Beckham’s girlie kick at the appropriately named Simeone, which ended England’s hopes in 1998, we arrive at the defining event of the 2010 World Cup. England’s greatest moment “The goal that never was”. Well there has not been much else to write home about.
In the age of the iPod, micro surgery, RFID and smart chips the world of Sepp Blater continues to plod.
His career has been dogged by doubt and rumour and accusations of poor judgement. It surely must be time for this septuagenarian to move aside and let the world, and the beautiful game, to move on in the hands of someone younger with a clearer and more modern vision for the game. Unless it is Fifa’s intention to use genetic engineering to manufacturer new super referees with bionic eyesight and limbs this is an issue for technology not training.
Whether it was fatigue caused by the long season and premiership clubs dependency on players (e.g. Gerrard, Rooney), internal divisions (e.g. Terry), the number of players with serious personal issues (i.e. Terry, J Cole, A Cole), bad strategy (e.g. Heskey), poor communication, critical injuries (e.g. Ferdinand, King, Hargreaves, Barry), curious omissions (e.g. Walcott), mental meltdown (e.g. Rooney) the distraction of promotional stunts (i.e. Beckham, Terry) or just the fact the squad forgot the privileged life they lead (i.e. full England squad) and the significance of the event (i.e. whole of England mourns) something was definitely very wrong. For large periods of the games England have played they were outmanoeuvred and outclassed and the German game was typical of this trend.
In the final game of the campaign there was also the added variable of the German’s having played with the new Adidas “Jabulani” ball for half a season and they certainly seemed to cope much better with its strange bounce and the way it moved in the air at altitude. But then again the choice of the Bundesliga to use the ball for the full season could have been inspired by three things great planning, gamesmanship, or just blind subservience to FIFA, or a combination of all three. None of these options would have done their chances of winning any harm.
Still all that said, Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal that made Mauricio Espinosa a household name came at a critical time when England were finally in the ascendency and was simply “just not cricket”. In fact the level of incompetence has no place in cricket, football or any other sport who wants to be seen as both fair and credible. Which brings me nicely to the subject of tennis.
Tennis at Wimbledon has Hawkeye and challenge rules in place already and football can learn a lot from them. However, the extra rules were seldom needed as the longest match in Wimbledon history was characterised by precision tennis. The match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut’s lasted eleven hours and six minutes. The final set was won by John Isner of the USA after 138 games (as many as Nadal played in whole first week and things have not been going smoothly) and an intriguing total – intriguing because it has symmetry – of 183 games.
The 70 – 68 final set score could easily be a low scoring one day cricket match, high scoring Rugby Union game or an equally hard-fought basketball game. What makes it so unusual is that it was a tennis game.
The figures have been widely reported but for Englistics the report by the BBC has the most resonance and poignancy, perhaps because it has so irony attached to it too.
No sooner had Eisner won the longest match ever at Wimbledon and been declared Indefatigable by the BBC,
in·de·fati·gable (in′di fat′i gə bəl)
(adjective) that cannot be tired out; not yielding to fatigue; untiring
than Mr Isner was a participant in the shortest match of the tournament, losing in just 1 hour and fourteen minutes. Such a reaction to the long match he had played the previous three days is highly understandable and it seems that as the Telegraph reports he was beset by injury problems. However, he could have been spared the ignominious fall from the platform of the indestructible and indefatigable to that of fatigued and vulnerable in one day, and the irony (situational irony) that sudden switch in characteristics and constitution intones, if the BBC had moderated the hyperbole!
Something that definitely is cricket, is well cricket. The success in the one day series against the old foe Australia, climaxing in the win yesterday at Old Trafford has gone almost unnoticed because of the World Cup. There is definitely irony in the fact that as the country is myopically fixated on football that a much desired win is actually being achieved. Even more ironic is that by the time we stop wondering about the reasons for the team’s dismal performance true sexuality of Ashley Cole, personal life of John Terry, the intellect of Wayne Rooney, and the fitness of Gareth Barry, the Australian’s will most likely be once more tanning our hides at the world’s greatest summer sport.
So perhaps if football was played like cricket, and tennis did produce cricket scores, and referee’s were made bionic and had regular optical tests then England could once more win the World Cup. I somehow don’t think so, well not until we replace impact of goldenballs on game with golden goals.