Tue | Oct 17, 2017

The Wright View: Super sporting spectacle

Published:Tuesday | February 16, 2016 | 12:01 AM
Arsenal’s Theo Walcott (left) runs while celebrating after scoring his side’s first goal during the English Premier League football match against Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on Sunday. Arsenal won 2-1.
AP South Africa’s captain AB de Villiers raises his bat after he makes a century during their fifth ODI against England in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday.
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Last weekend provided a smorgasbord of sports that was just enough to make it the fantastic one the romantics promised.

As I settled in front of the television, the English Premier League (EPL) set the tone on Saturday morning, with six games before noon and one game after. The 1-2 loss by Manchester United to Sunderland ensured that their manager/coach Louis van Gaal will definitely be looking for new employment later on this year.

The afternoon game had a resurgent Chelsea Football Club, under the leadership of 'super sub' manager/coach Gus Hiddink, demolishing hapless Newcastle, whose players must now be looking at the possibility of life in the second tier of English football.

Then, Saturday night served up two fantastic cricket matches, both one-day internationals (ODI). First, was the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup, with the West Indians facing India, who were unbeaten in this tournament and had not lost an ODI since a defeat to England in the quarter-finals of the 2014 tournament.

The 'outsiders' were the youngsters from the West Indies, who lost their three warm-up games against hosts Bangladesh, and who were beaten by England in the first game of the tournament.

Later on that night, England and South Africa met in the final game of a five-match series, with both sides winning two games each, as South Africa rebounded from losses in the first two games.

Then we came to 'Super Sunday' in the EPL, with third place Arsenal against leaders Leicester, and second place Tottenham against fourth place Manchester City. The supporters of Arsenal and Tottenham certainly felt the love permeating Valentine Sunday, as victories for both these clubs left them joint second in the League, with Tottenham ahead on goal difference.

However, losing sleep to watch both cricket matches on Saturday night (which takes some doing) was well worth it, as the games were of an exceptionally high standard.

In the England-South Africa game, the South Africans prevailed due in no small way to the batting of captain AB de Villiers and previous captain Hashim Amla.

England lost the series mainly because after going two up, they formed the impression that South Africa were soft and changed their previously successful game plan to one of non-stop aggression. This was brilliantly exploited by the South Africans. The moral there - never count your chickens before they are hatched.

In the Under-19 World Cup finals, the underdogs, the West Indies, triumphed because of (a) talent, (b) character and (c) a determination to relax and enjoy the game.

After winning the toss and sending in the favourites to bat, the fast bowling duo of Alzarri Joseph and Chemar Holder ensured that India were always going to play catch up. They never batted out the allotted 50 overs and were dismissed for a paltry 145.

The first wicket claimed by the West Indies appeared to be a 'Mankad', as I do not recall the wicketkeeper for the West Indies, Tevin Imlach, warning the Indian batsman, Rishabh Pant, that he had wandered out of his crease before removing the bails.

The decision is recorded as a stumping as Pant was not attempting a run, but had in fact left his crease.

According to the rules of the game he was OUT. Yet, not one murmur from those who condemned Keemo Paul for a similar dismissal in the match against Zimbabwe. I suppose that since it was the first wicket and India were supposed to win, that 'Mankad' was OK! Hmmm.

Then in the run chase we saw a lesson in batting concentration from the young West Indian Keacy Carty, whose 152-ball 52 was instrumental in the victory, belying the fact that for the entire tournament, Carty had faced 132 balls and scored 60 runs.

This victory validates my suggestion that the West Indies (senior team) withdraw from Tests and ODIs until this group of young men have two more years of experience playing international cricket.

Then, and only then, should the West Indies return to international Test cricket and ODIs, thus ensuring that we have a legitimate chance of returning to a place in the top echelons of world cricket, instead of the present scenario where we are represented by people who don't appear to care one iota for the West Indian fan!

Well done young WI!