Tag Archives: Cup

His greatest achievement so far?

Exhausted and emotionally drained, Andy Murray fell to the ground, finally releasing the iron grip that carried Great Britain to their first Davis Cup triumph since the days of long trousers and cigarettes between points.

It had been 79 years since Britain last accomplished the feat, sustained by the dream team of Fred Perry and Bunny Austin.  

As Murray’s conclusive, sublimely executed backhand lob sailed over a prone David Goffin and several inches inside the baseline, the Scottish superstar crumbled to the ground in elation, having carried his team throughout the competition. 

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Belgium’s Flanders Expo in Ghent provided the stage from which the drama unfolded, with the home side selecting a slow clay surface in an attempt to negate Murray’s influence.

That theory proved futile, with the world number two virtually as adept on all surfaces in 2015, as showcased in a thrilling French Open semi-final earlier this year, where world number one, Novak Djokovic, required five sets to dispense with the Scot in one of their many memorable encounters.

Others contributed to GB’s four excellent wins. James Ward’s unexpected 15-13 fifth set triumph over USA’s John Isner proved pivotal in a 3-2 first round victory, and Jamie Murray backed up his younger bro’ in the doubles, with the pair winning both of their encounters against France and Belgium.

David Goffin

Still, this would not have been conceivable without the unwavering desire of the squad’s talismanic spearhead, who ticked another goal from his bucket list often, at the expense of results within solo competition.

Indeed, Andy entered the ATP World Tour Finals clearly distracted by the impending Davis Cup decider. Having trained almost exclusively on clay courts in the build-up, he struggled to adapt to the harder surface of London’s O2 Arena, crashing out in the group stages, although in retrospect those extra recovery days proved beneficial.

From the street of Dunblane to British sporting royalty, a Knighthood is destined to come his way, although preferably only after retirement has kicked in; tribute to a remarkable career.

With his first child on the way, life is rosy for a 28 year-old at the peak of his powers. He should retire from Davis Cup action immediately to focus on four final career goals;

  • Become world number one for the first time

  •  Win the French Open

  • Win the Australian Open

  • Win the ATP Tour Finals

Achieve those and his career will have a feeling of finality about it, although with the irrepressible Djokovic on the scene (and born within a week of Murray), all may not be plain sailing.

For now it’s only right that Murray should bask in the glow of arguably his most unlikely triumph to date. To cajole glory from a team that in recent years lost matches to Ecuador, Lithuania and Morocco, is an accomplishment that deserves to be savoured.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Murray and Murray = The Winning Formula?

Andy Murray and Dan Evans will carry British hopes on the final day of the Davis Cup semi-final against Australia in Glasgow.

Victory in either of their singles ties would take Great Britain through to a first final since 1978.

This follows a thrilling and potentially pivotal five-set doubles success for Andy and older brother Jamie on Saturday, as they re-focused after missing out on match point in the fourth set tie-break to vanquish Aussies Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-4.

Andy Murray RobinsonsSunday Service

Murray, the world number three, is likely to play world number 23 Bernard Tomic at 13.00 BST, while Dan Evans, all the way down at 300th in the rankings, will face talented teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis (world no.72), selected in place of the controversial Nick Kyrgios.

Belgium host Argentina in the other World Group semi-final in Brussels, with that tie poised at 2-1 in favour of the South Americans.


History Makers

It was 34 years ago that Britain last made the Davis Cup semi-finals, 37 years since they reached the final, and 79 years since they lifted the trophy courtesy of dream team pairing Fred Perry and Bunny Austin in 1936.

Wins over the USA and France, plus the absence of powerhouses such as Serbia, Switzerland and Spain from the semis, have raised the prospect of a 10th title.

Australia have won the Davis Cup 28 times, with veteran Hewitt, who is set to retire after this campaign, leading the way during their most recent triumph 12 years ago.


Controversial Selection

Leon Smith’s decision to select the unpredictable Evans over the more acclaimed James Ward and Kyle Edmund was a surprise, and the biggest gamble of his five-year captaincy, but almost paid dividends on day one, with the diminutive Brummie taking Tomic to the limit.

Despite this, it is two brothers who grew up in the small Scottish cathedral Town of Dunblane that have carried GB’s hopes most recently, with Andy previously winning both of his singles and the doubles with Jamie to secure victory over France at the quarter-final stage.

An Evans victory today would be a bonus, but it is the broad shoulders of Andy Murray that will once again carry the load if Great Britain is to secure the spoils and head into a shoot-out with Belgium or Argentina for the trophy.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Gayle Force W.Indies

West Indian opening batsman Chris Gayle spanked Zimbabwe’s bowlers all over the Manuka Oval in Canberra on Tuesday afternoon, blazing a trail towards a record obliterating score of 215 at the cricket World Cup.

The previously out of form 35 year-old  already held the individual record score for Twenty20 cricket, rattling along to 175 not out for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors India during the 2013 IPL season.

Chris Gayle

A breakdown of Gayle’s record breaking innings

215
The highest individual score ever in a World Cup, beating Gary Kirsten’s previous mark of 188 not out for South Africa against United Arab Emirates in 1996.

138
The number of deliveries it took Gayle to reach his double hundred, the fastest ever 200 in One Day International cricket.

16
ODI record-equalling number of sixes scored by the West Indian in his innings, a total previously achieved by India’s Rohit Sharma and South Africa’s AB de Villiers.

1st
Gayle is the first non-Indian player to score a double ton in ODI cricket, and this was the first score of 200+ made outside of the sub-continent.

372
Gayle’s partnership of 372 with Marlon Samuels is the highest of all-time, easily surpassing the previous record stand of 331 set by Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid for India against New Zealand.

**************************************************************************

Gayle’s innings ended when he was dismissed from the final delivery of the West Indies’ innings going for one final, record breaking maximum. His 215 is the third highest ODI score of all time, still falling well shy of Rohit Sharma’s knock of 264 for India against Sri Lanka in November last year.

The West Indies will believe that, despite possessing a mediocre squad, they have an outside chance of capturing the trophy if their main man can continue his destructive form. Even if he can, he’ll be hard pushed to match an incredible innings from a big match player who once again lit up the big stage.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

World Cup: What chance have England got?

The football World Cup gets underway this evening, when hosts and tournament favourites Brazil take on Croatia tonight in Sao Paulo. England face Italy two days later in a contest that promises to shape both team’s fortunes, but are fans of the Three Lions right to be generally pessimistic? Dom Kureen explores.

World Cup trophy

Amazingly, it was 18 years ago that football came home for Euro ’96, with English fans treated to a roller coaster ride that ultimately fell from the tracks at the penultimate hurdle, when old foes Germany expertly dispatched half a dozen penalties before Gareth Southgate famously had his spot-kick saved, to deny a first major tournament final for England since they raised the Jules Rimet trophy aloft on home soil thirty years earlier.

In the ensuing period since that heroic defeat fan forecasts have become progressively less ambitious, understandable when comparing the current crop to a 1996 team that included the likes of Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Paul Gascoigne, Paul Ince, Stuart Pearce, Tony Adams and David Seaman – all of whom were at or close to their peak during the mid-1990’s.

Glenn Hoddle’s 1998 World Cup setup was exciting enough, with the emergence of Michael Owen as an 18 year-old superstar eventually overshadowed by David Beckham’s daft red card and another penalty shoot-out exit, this time at the hands of a handy Argentina side.

Shearer and Sheringham
SAS: Sheringham and Shearer enjoyed a world-class strike partnership for England.

Kevin Keegan had a go in 2000, but the job was ultimately ‘too big’ for the man dubbed ‘Mighty Mouse’ by legions of Hamburg supporters during his time as a player in the Bundesliga.

It was Phil Neville’s scatter-brained penalty area lunge into Romania’s Viorel Moldovan that ensured a last-gasp 3-2 defeat in the final group game, meaning that England failed to make the knockout stages of that year’s European Championships.

Sven Goran Eriksson was appointed based on a stellar CV forged in Serie A. Despite impressive qualifying results, the Swede’s Midas touch deserted him at the major tournaments and his successor, Steve McLaren, is probably best known for looking thoroughly miserable under an umbrella on the sidelines, having overseen a pathetic attempt to qualify for Euro 2008.

Fabio Capello was the next in line and started well, before his initial lustre wore away relatively swiftly. The respected veteran appeared distrustful towards some of his key players, with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard often performing well below their capabilities in competitive matches.

That leads us to Roy Hodgson, the present incumbent of one of football’s hottest seats – a safe appointment in reaction to the unsuccessful tenure of disciplinarian Capello.

Hodgson has done a lot of things well over the past couple of years at the helm, perhaps most prevalent of which was to exhibit faith in vibrant youth players trusted to integrate with faithful servants such as Gerrard, Rooney and Frank Lampard.

Also notable was the manager’s low-key response regarding Ross Barkley, after the Everton youngster gave an outstanding audition for a starting place in a recent friendly against Ecuador.

Refusing to fuel tabloid hyperbole suggesting that England had found their new Paul Gascoigne, Hodgson told gathered reporters:

We believe in him, but people shouldn’t be suggesting our World Cup should be hinging on his performance. He should be an England player for many years to come.

The 2014 World Cup will be an experimental one for England, with the likes of Barkley, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling all novices on this prominent stage.

Svengali: But Eriksson was far from magical during his England tenure
Svengali: But Eriksson was far from magical during his England tenure

What we can expect therefore is to witness the building blocks of the national team’s future slotting further into place over the next few weeks, with the side’s greatest asset the potential bubbling under the surface.

Daniel Sturridge adds invaluable calibre in front of goal and has shown flashes of intricate, dynamic link-up with Rooney. If Sterling fills the void on the right hand side then England could have an exceptionally exciting three man front-line.

At the other end Joe Hart is among the elite custodians in the sport, but has an unreliable defence in front of him that will require an exhaustive amount of babysitting from captain Gerrard.

England will do well to qualify from their group, although an ageing Italian squad, inspired by talismanic 35-year old Andrea Pirlo, is unlikely to cause the same anxiety as the one that knocked England out of Euro 2012 on penalties.

Dan The Man: Sturridge had a stunning season for Liverpool in 2013-14
Dan The Man: Sturridge had a stunning season for Liverpool in 2013-14

Uruguay have some special players among their attackers, notably Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, but lack quality in defensive areas, something which the pace and guile of messrs Sterling, Barkley, Lallana and Sturridge can exploit.

Costa Rica have already been labelled as the whipping boys of Group D, although to dismiss them so lightly is a recipe for complacency.

Difficult to break down, ‘La Sele’ will turn to super-talented, irritatingly inconsistent former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz to inspire their forays forward.

 

 

Prediction: Italy should win the group despite travelling with a clutch of weather-worn 30-somethings, with England tussling with Uruguay for the runners-up slot. The Three Lions will make the last-16, but probably fall at the second hurdle.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.