Tag Archives: nijinsky

Sachin Tendulkar can bow out on his own terms – Martin Samuel

Little Master can bow out on his own terms

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UPDATED:

21:15 GMT, 15 November 2012

Sir Don Bradman was out for a duck in his final Test innings. Nijinsky lost his last two races. Bobby Moore was eventually dropped by Sir Alf Ramsey. Brian Clough was relegated with Nottingham Forest.

It comes for them all in the end. Brigitte Bardot stopped making films before she turned 40. She said it was the only elegant way to end her career. The greats of sport rarely possess such insight. As Sachin Tendulkar holed out to Samit Patel on the leg-side boundary yesterday, opinion instantly divided as to whether this was just an uncommonly bad trot that would soon be rectified, or the continued betrayal of the talent of the greatest batsman of modern times.

A professional controversialist could achieve easy notoriety in these parts by rubbishing the latter career of the Little Master. Tendulkar provokes such devotion in his homeland that his cheap dismissal by England here was being rewritten as a small triumph in some quarters, because it made him the only Indian batsman not to be clean bowled by Graeme Swann. It is doubtful he saw it that way.

Little Master: Tendulkar failed to make big runs in the first innings against England

Little Master: Tendulkar failed to make big runs in the first innings against England

Tendulkar tucked Swann away to the boundary to take his score to 13 and, from the next ball, played a simply woeful shot, snaffled by Patel, who had been placed there for precisely that purpose.

The silence that befell the arena in the dusty Motera district echoed the shock of a death in the family. All day, locals had been arriving at the gates of the Sardar Patel Stadium, inspired by the news that India had won the toss and would bat.

They were delighted by the return to form of Virender Sehwag and Gujarat’s Chetesh-war Pujara, but there was one man above all they had come to see. It was 23 years to the day since he made his debut for India and this was his 315th Test innings, but India will never tire of the flashing blade of Tendulkar.

India v England – pictures

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‘There is something special about bowling to him in India,’ said Swann. ‘Just the noise as he is about to come out to bat. You know who it is before he has left the changing room. You can tell this is the greatest batsman to still be playing the game. So getting him out means a lot; and not just getting him out, but getting him out early.’

Twenty-five minutes and 18 balls of early, to be precise. This on a track that saw Sehwag hit his first Test century in two years and Pujara close the day on 98 not out in only his sixth Test.

The roar as Tendulkar emerged made the 54,000-capacity stadium sound as if his devotees were hanging from the rafters — the estimated 10,000 crowd was better than expected but still a small disappointment in a country so in love with the game — but on his return to the pavilion it felt more like Mudville, the setting for the famous baseball poem, Casey At The Bat: ‘Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright; The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light, And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.’

That is what India’s Casey does a lot
these days, too. His Test scores this year read: 41, 80, 15, 8, 25, 13,
19, 17, 27 and now 13. His last Test century was in Cape Town against
South Africa in January 2011.

He has scored two centuries since
October 2010 and he has been bowled in five of his Test dismissals in
the last 12 months. At the start of his career it took bowlers four
years — and 42 innings — to find his stumps five times.

Day of toil: England were made to work hard for their wickets - of which Swann (below) duly obliged four

Day of toil: England were made to work hard for their wickets – of which Swann (below) duly obliged four

Day of toil: England were made to work hard for their wickets - of which Swann (below) duly obliged four

And there is the problem. Plainly, Tendulkar — the only batsman whose name can be mentioned in the same breath as Bradman — has earned the right to take leave of the stage on his terms. Plainly, there is nobody within Indian cricket, not even strong-willed coach Duncan Fletcher, who would presume to usher him away a moment before he was ready.

Yet great sportsmen are notoriously poor judges of when to leave the crowd wanting more. Tendulkar lives for cricket; in India it is not unreasonable to conclude that cricket lives for him. He plainly believes he has more to give, and perhaps he does.

So how does this end When the time comes, as it did for the others that made India the greatest Test team in the world, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who will be brave enough to call time on the career of the great Tendulkar Will he; will they How does a man with 15,546 Test runs know when, or where, to stop At the end of this series It is hardly likely.

The presumption has always been that, when it is right, Tendulkar will bow out in fitting surroundings, such as his home town of Mumbai, India’s cricket capital. Yet the next Test is to be played in Mumbai.

The final Test of England’s tour is in Nagpur, at a stadium that has only been open for Test matches four years. It does not have the feel of a venue at which India should say farewell to its greatest sporting hero.

Penny for 'em: Mionty was on the sidelines when he should have been out in the middle

Penny for 'em: Mionty was on the sidelines when he should have been out in the middle

Indeed, who would even have the temerity to raise such a dreadful subject It may have been another day to forget for Tendulkar here but, closing at 323 for four, how much of India’s imposing performance was inspired by his presence The young players idolise him, contemporaries revere him, England’s delight at claiming his wicket did not suggest a hollow triumph over some weak link. No player could bring to the team spirit what Tendulkar does and maybe that alone is enough.

On Wednesday, the day before the game, as the majority of his team-mates retired to the shade of their air-conditioned changing room, one batsman continued to toil in the sweltering nets. Maybe, deep down, the Little Master knows times are changing, but who can blame him for trying with every last sinew of his strength to resist, or change them back To the days when those who trekked to Motera would not have merely glimpsed greatness, but gloried in it, ball by ball, over by over, run by run, hour by hour.

‘Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell; It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell; It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat, For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.’ As heroes do. Until there really is nothing more to give.

Sergio Martinez beats Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr

Marvellous Martinez is the new master after schooling Chavez Jnr in Vegas

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 16 September 2012

Boxing has its successor to the middleweight legend, and the arrival of this late-comer to glory has lifted the hard old game into enlightened belief that there will be life — and money — after Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta, Carlos Monzon, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and their illustrious peers will welcome to their ranks the man who is Maravila by nickname and marvellous in every aspect of the blood business.

Sergio Martinez came out to more than 19,000 screaming fans in the Thomas and Mack Center on Saturday as an Argentine matinee idol of cavalier curiosity.

Main man: Sergio Martinez celebrates his victory over WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr

Main man: Sergio Martinez celebrates his victory over WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr

He left as the Nijinsky of the prize-ring: lightning-fast, balletic, nimble, Olympian athletic, laser-precise and Herculean heroic.

Martinez used the first of those many talents to put on a masterclass that won the first 11 WBC rounds against Son of Chavez.

Then he needed the last quality, bravery, in enormous measure to rise from a brutal knock-down and survive one of the most dramatic 12th and final rounds we have witnessed in years.

This handsome darling of the stage-door Julias in Buenos Aires is as theatrical a showman as it is possible to be in world-class sport without self-destructing.

Having taken Julio Cesar Chavez to school — in front of his iconic boxer-father of the same name — for all but three minutes of his quest to be the world’s greatest middleweight, Martinez put his long career’s ambition in jeopardy by going for a dramatic finish.

Cutting it fine: Martinez was floored in the last round but won by unanimous decision

Cutting it fine: Martinez was floored in the last round but won by unanimous decision

Cutting it fine: Martinez was floored in the last round but won by unanimous decision

The late knockout he — and I — had predicted almost happened. Only with him as the victim.

Martinez just had to carry on boxing off Junior’s ears for the last three minutes but delivered the last-act thriller he’d promised, if not the climax he anticipated.

Chavez was given the glimmer of a chance as Martinez chose to engage in a slug-fest against the bigger, heavier, younger man, who landed a four-punch combination that dropped him to the canvas.

Martinez picked himself up, convinced the referee he was fit to continue, held on for a few seconds and then kept swinging away to the inevitable points decision.

The Mexican majority had hoped Chavez was about to follow his father. Julio Snr, when, well behind on every scorecard 22 years ago, knocked out Meldrick Taylor with two seconds left.

On top: Martinez (left) won 11 of the 12 rounds on two of the judges scorecards

On top: Martinez (left) won 11 of the 12 rounds on two of the judges scorecards

His son was left saying: ‘For me, the chance came just a little too late.’ All three judges gave it to Martinez by the width of the Grand Canyon. Two agreed with me at 118-109. The other was one point more generous to Chavez.

Thanks to the inherited courage with which Chavez kept pushing his bloody, swollen face forward, a rematch of enormous financial potential is in the works. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is offering his new super-stadium — and an audience of nigh-on 100,000 — for them to do it again next year. Martinez would feel entitled to fight Mayweather for the title of best pound-for-pound fighter.

That would not have been enforceable had Chavez not given that clubbing indication that he just might be able to stop the man who has taken from him the linear crown he believes should have been his years ago.

On top of the world: New champion Martinez celebrates his win over Chavez Jnr

On top of the world: New champion Martinez celebrates his win over Chavez Jnr

Martinez has, at 37, found fame at a point in his life when most boxers are thinking of retirement.

No world-beating sportsman should be at his peak at so gentrified an age. Martinez, driven by frustration and preserved by total dedication, has maintained pristine condition.

Whatever his secret, he should bottle it. This correspondent would be in the queue of buyers.

Lester Piggott says Camelot can win Triple Crown

Better than Nijinsky! Piggott sure Camelot can win first Triple Crown since 1970

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UPDATED:

14:40 GMT, 6 September 2012

Lester Piggott believes unbeaten Camelot is better equipped to become a Triple Crown winner than Nijinsky ever was.

The legendary jockey was on board when Nijinsky became the last colt to achieve the landmark in 1970, adding the mile and three-quarter St Leger to previous wins in the 1,000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket and the mile and a half Derby at Epsom.

Nijinsky was trained in Ireland by Vincent O’Brien at his Ballydoyle base in Co Tipperary, when he completed his clean sweep of colts’ Classics.

Going for glory: Camelot, ridden here by Joseph O'Brien in the Derby

Going for glory: Camelot, ridden here by Joseph O'Brien in the Derby

From the same stable, his namesake Aidan is preparing Camelot for the Ladbrokes St Leger on September 15.

Camelot, who has looked the outstanding colt of his crop, is 1-3 favourite for the Leger and Piggott does not envisage him being beaten.

He said: 'Nijinsky was bred for much more speed than Camelot and we were never sure whether he would get a mile and a half, never mind the St Leger trip.

'There was always that doubt because he was by Northern Dancer and that was all speed. Camelot is bred differently – he’s bred to stay a St Leger trip.

'It should be quite straightforward really, there aren’t many runners in the race and he has the finishing speed. He should kill them over the last furlong and a half. I’d love to see Camelot win just to show how good he is.'

Recalling the day Nijinsky made history, Piggott remembers more drama before the race than during it.

Eased near the finish, he finished half a length in front of Meadowville; with Politico half a length further back in third.

Legend: Nijinsky, ridden by Lester Piggott, won the Triple Crown in 1970

Legend: Nijinsky, ridden by Lester Piggott, won the Triple Crown in 1970

Piggott added: 'What I remember about the St Leger is that I had a ride in the first race that day and coming out of the stalls the horse suddenly swerved to the right and I came off.

'The Police had a message to say I’d been shot at so there was big security in place when Nijinsky came out of the stables to be saddled. We were being watched all of the time – I didn’t know anything about it but that’s what they told me afterwards.

'I tried to save him as much as possible because he was going to run in the Arc de Triomphe afterwards so I didn’t want to win by 10 lengths – so I only let him do enough.

'It was just a nice race really. They didn’t’ go too fast and it was a nice even pace all the way and he came there very easily so it was only a matter of just riding for a couple of hundred yards.'

Manchester City can thank Francis Lee for ground-breaking decision

Ground-breaking decision that title-chasing City can thank legend Lee for

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 12 May 2012

Francis Lee won immortality in the eyes of Manchester City supporters when he scored the goal that clinched the league title four-and-a-half decades ago.

But that is not the only reason the former striker retains a key place in the history of a club at long last set to step out of the shadow of their excruciatingly successful neighbours, Manchester United.

Lee, 68, was club chairman for five years from 1994. And he can be credited with assisting in a ground-breaking decision – one which provided the foundation for the team's current tilt at glory.

Home sweet home: Manchester City's Etihad Stadium fortress

Home sweet home: Manchester City's Etihad Stadium fortress

For he helped to conclude the negotiations with Manchester City Council that guaranteed the club would assume the tenancy of the stadium to be built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

The boys of '68…

So what happened to City's last title-winning team

Ken Mulhearn

Goalkeeper, now 66, played 50 times for City. Joined Shrewsbury in 1971, ending career at Crewe.

Tony Book

Bricklayer became captain and later managed City for three spells. life president of official supporters' club. now 77 and living in Sale.

Glyn Pardoe

City's youngest ever player when making debut at 15 years, 314 days. Played 305 times before coaching youth team. now 65.

Mike Doyle

England defender played 448 games, winning every domestic honour and Cup-winners' Cup. also played for Stoke and Bolton. died at 64 last year.

George Heslop

Defender played 42 games during 1967-68. later played for Cape Town and Bury before becoming pub landlord. died in 2006 at 66.

Alan Oakes

Midfielder holds City's appearance record with 564 games. Joined as an amateur in 1958. now 69 and a golf fanatic.

Colin Bell

Earned the nickname 'Nijinsky' after racehorse because of his stamina. Won 48 England caps. now 66, match-day ambassador.

Mike Summerbee

'Buzzer' played every league game of his first City season as they won Second division in 1966. now 69, club ambassador.

Francis Lee

Scored 16 goals in 67-68, capped 27 times by England. Made fortune from loo rolls and in 1994 became City chairman.

Neil Young

Local boy scored 19 goals during title year and then the only goal in the 1969 FA Cup final. died last year at 66.

Tony Coleman

Left-winger scored eight goals in 67-68. also played in South Africa. now 67 and lives in Thailand.

And he is convinced that it was City's new state-of-the-art ground that eventually attracted the investment from the Abu Dhabi United Group, who have provided the millions to sign some of the world's finest footballing talent.

'The new stadium made it attractive for people to buy into it,' Lee insists. 'A new stadium provides a great boost. It was important there would be a use for it after the Commonwealth Games, otherwise it would have been a white elephant.'

Lee believes, whatever the outcome of this afternoon's Premier League finale, City will become a dominant force in domestic and even European football.

'I was a guest on Sky 18 months ago just after United had beaten us twice, and I was asked where the club would go from there,' he recalled. 'My reply was we haven't got a long way to go to be level with them because there was little between them then.

'We're not there yet but whoever
finishes first or second this has to be great for the city of
Manchester. When we won the title in 1968 it was great for the economy
of the city and it will be the same now. We're going to have
Champions League matches all through the winter and the influx of
people from abroad and the amount of money they'll be bringing in
will be terrific.

Local hero: Former Manchester City player and chairman Francis Lee (centre)

Local hero: Former Manchester City player and chairman Francis Lee (centre)

'When I became chairman, the club were completely bankrupt. They were really dark days. Now, hopefully, Sunday will be a great occasion for those supporters who have stuck by the club through thick and thin.'