Tag Archives: ordination

Nasser Hussain: Ricky Ponting was a streetfighter, a panto villain… and a true great

Ponting was a streetfighter, a panto villain… and a true great

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UPDATED:

20:19 GMT, 29 November 2012

This is good news for England. Ricky Ponting still had the potential to score big runs, even though he hadn’t done that for a while, and his retirement adds a bit more weight to England’s Ashes chances.

I’m not saying England should be breathing a sight of relief now Ponting has gone but this means another younger player will have to come into the Aussie side for the Ashes and there are not too many knocking on the door.

Ponting was right up there with the best. While Brian Lara was a genius and Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid almost machine-like in their run scoring, Ricky was a bit more human, if you like.

Fierce competitor: Ricky Ponting was so stung by Australia's 2005 Ashes loss that he masterminded a 5-0 whitewash over hapless England

Fierce competitor: Ricky Ponting was so stung by Australia's 2005 Ashes loss that he masterminded a 5-0 whitewash over a hapless England

He had some off-field issues — like that night he got himself in a fight in a Sydney bar and admitted to a drink problem — and he was more of a streetfighter than the other greats, a real scrapper who loved a battle.

When he was on top of his game, Ponting’s hand-eye co-ordination was incredible. In my day bowlers like Andy Caddick, Angus Fraser and Alex Tudor would bowl a natural length and he would just pull them dismissively. Other batsmen would have played a defensive shot.

I would see the looks on the bowlers’ faces, of sheer disbelief, and they would try to bowl fuller at Ponting and then he would just smack it back past them.

Yet at times, with his huge backlift, he looked vulnerable to the moving ball.
Ponting was very popular among his team-mates and a captain for whom players loved performing. But he was not the greatest of tacticians.

Calling it a day: Ponting holds some remarkable records, including most test victories as captain, most runs by an Australian, most centuries by an Australian and most consecutive test victories by a captain

Calling it a day: Ponting holds some remarkable records, including most test victories as captain, most runs by an Australian, most centuries by an Australian and most consecutive test victories by a captain

Ponting was more of a Graham Gooch type, a captain who led from the front, and for a while the shadow of Shane Warne, who really was astute, hung over him.

After Ponting had wrongly decided to bowl first at Edgbaston in 2005, when Warne had advised him to bat, Ponting was always chasing the game tactically.

Ponting became a pantomime villain in England, probably after that time at Trent Bridge when he started chuntering at Duncan Fletcher after Gary Pratt had run him out, but I think the public liked the fact he could be vulnerable. He was clearly a decent and honest guy.

Way back when: Ponting (second left) celebrates as Nasser is bowled by Andy Bichel at Adelaide in 2002

Way back when: Ponting (second left) celebrates as Nasser is bowled by Andy Bichel at Adelaide in 2002

We had our moments as opponents. There is a tape somewhere that a stump mic picked up of Ponting launching into me after I had clashed with Glenn McGrath — I might have made a comment about Ricky’s size in return — but that was what he did. He would always back up his players and I had absolute respect for that. It was never aimless and he would be the first opponent to say well done after you had made a score against him.

He deserves a great last Test.

Hillsborough investigation: Police can"t cope with investigation say MPs

Police can't cope with scope of Hillsborough investigation, claim MPs

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UPDATED:

22:24 GMT, 22 October 2012

Questions were raised on Monday night about the ability of the police watchdog to cope with its own investigation in to the Hillsborough disaster.

MPs said they were concerned the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) did not have the resources or manpower to handle the investigation on its own as it emerged it had been given the names of 1,444 officers, including the identities of 304 who are still serving.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the investigation could not be run just by the watchdog, while Keith Vaz, Labour chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said there was a 'problem in respect of resources'.

Investigation: Justice for the 96 is on its way

Investigation: Justice for the 96 is on its way

Speaking during a debate in the Commons, Ms Cooper said: 'It is clear this investigation cannot be done solely by the IPCC, they have neither the powers nor the resources to do so… these investigations are beyond the scale of anything the IPCC have done before and it will also require powers that the IPCC simply doesn't have.'

The watchdog was asked to investigate South Yorkshire Police's role in the disaster which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans during a crush at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium in April 1989.

The damning Hillsborough Independent Panel report revealed a cover-up took place to shift the blame on to the victims and that 41 of the lives lost could have been saved.

Meanwhile, Mr Vaz said he favoured the idea of a special prosecutor being appointed to look at all the cases and to act as a co-ordination point.

He added: 'As I said to the House earlier, 1,444 names have been sent to the IPCC, of that 304 are still serving officers at South Yorkshire.

'So immediately when you look at the numbers of names that have been referred there will be a problem in respect of resources.

'I think that we should not wait for the IPCC to come and see the Home Secretary, actually a meeting needs to be convened pretty quickly to ask them what they need and to give them the resources that they need.'

Home Secretary Theresa May said she would work with Labour to see if new laws were needed to compel former officers to co-operate with the IPCC.

Tributes: Flowers left at the Hillsborough memorial

Tributes: Flowers left at the Hillsborough memorial

'This includes proposals to require current and ex-police officers who were maybe witnesses to a crime to attend an interview, and whether this might require fast-track legislation,' she said.

Speaking during the opening of a Commons debate on the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, Mrs May added: 'There is the IPCC investigation and there is also the investigation that is taking place by the DPP.

'If he believes that wider investigation is necessary the Home Office will make resource available under the ambit of the incoming National Crime Agency, with an investigator who is completely separate and has no connection whatever with these particular issues.'

Solidarity: An on-pitch tribute at Goodison Park

Solidarity: An on-pitch tribute at Goodison Park

Her comments came after Attorney General Dominic Grieve last week asked the High Court to consider ordering fresh inquests into the 96 deaths after the report concluded some fans could have survived if emergency services had responded sooner.

Conservative Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell) said West Yorkshire Police's Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison, who has been referred to the IPCC, should be suspended.

'In order for the public to have faith in this investigation he should be suspended,' Mr Shelbrooke said.

Labour
former home secretary David Blunkett said any investigation must not
focus on the ordinary officers who made an accurate note of what
happened at Hillsborough only to have them altered on the orders of
senior officers.

Mr Blunkett said: 'What is absolutely sure is that the cover-up has to be revealed to make sure we don't have it again. It's about culture and it's about perception. You see, on that day, the fact that 116 officers had written down what they believe to have taken place and had their testimony altered is testament to what they were trying to do in telling the truth.

'It was the scandal of those in senior management within the force and from West Midlands force… that actually overrode their decency and honesty in the cases where those scripts were altered.'

LONDON OLYMPICS 2012: Hammer glamour: Former ballerina Hitchon is giving her sport a new image

Hammer glamour: Former ballerina Hitchon is giving her sport a new image

When hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon steps into the circle in front of 80,000 people at the Olympic Stadium this summer and hurls a four kilogram metal ball through the air, a childhood spent ballet dancing will be paying dividends in the most unlikely of environments.

'On the face of it, being a ballerina and a hammer thrower couldn't be further removed from each other,' said Hitchon, who at 20 has thrown the hammer further than any British woman in history.

Olympic hope: Sophie Hitchon will swing the hammer for Britain

Olympic hope: Sophie Hitchon will swing the hammer for Britain

'But ballet has really helped me get to where I am with the hammer now. The stage performances gave me a lot of confidence in front of an audience and I'm sure that helps me not to be daunted by competing in the hammer with big crowds watching.

'Although the technique is not the same, the co-ordination is, and it helps stability and agility. 'Ballet also taught me discipline because you've got to have your hair right and all your uniform on or you're booted out of class to sort yourself out.'

Hitchon began ballet when she was two. For 13 years, alongside turning out as a sprinter, she worked her way through the grades, punctuated by showcase performances at the Mechanics Theatre in her home town of Burnley.

Ballet was encouraged by her mother, Wendy, who signed her up for lessons at nursery school. But four years ago, Hitchon stumbled on hammer throwing by accident.

'Pendle Athletics Club was my first team and in league competitions you get points at each event,' said Hitchon.

'I was a pretty useful 100m and 200m runner and I did the shotput.

'But we never had anyone to throw the hammer and the team needed points, so I said OK, I'll have a go. I had a few practice sessions before my first competition, where I threw 28 metres. It didn't start great.'

Gold standard: Hitchon grabbed gold at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Canada in 2010

Gold standard: Hitchon grabbed gold at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Canada in 2010

Those modest beginnings have grown into distances not only exciting for Hitchon, but for the future of British throwing and field events in general.

Tessa Sanderson was the last thrower to win an Olympic medal, the Los Angeles gold in 1984, but in common with pole vault hopeful Holly Bleasdale, Britain could soon be looking beyond the track.

In her first year, Hitchon broke the British under- 17 record. Over the next two seasons she smashed 14 junior and under-23 marks.

Last year she broke the British senior record twice, most recently with a throw of 69.59m at the European under-23 Championships in the Czech Republic.

She was breaking records at such a rate that pausing to take stock of her achievements was the biggest challenge.

'It was happening so quickly that I didn't have time to realise what was going on,' said Hitchon.

'Everything was getting better and better, like a snowball effect. I forget how many records I was breaking at the time.'

Hitchon was granted Lottery funding in 2010 on the back of this success, which enabled her to move to Loughborough, where she is coached at the University's sports campus by Derek Evely, the centre director.

She trains alongside elite athletes from a range of disciplines. In the gym there are solid men with sturdy legs and powerful upper bodies – the shot-putters – while the lean and long-limbed women are high jumpers.

Perched on a landing mat, Hitchon's event is harder to pin down.

Her 5ft 9in frame is not an obvious clue and nothing else about her says hammer thrower in the traditional sense.

She is athletic and her shoulders are strong. But she is also narrow at the waist, not carrying the weight around the middle of the successful hammer throwers of the past.

'When I tell people I do hammer,' said Hitchon, 'they say: “But you're not massive or tall. You look normal”. 'Hammer has that reputation. Five years ago that was the case, but now there are quite a few women who are more slender and more in shape, so it's hopefully changing the stereotype.'

What she lacks in bulk, she makes up for in pace and finesse.

Leading the way: Tessa Sanderson was the last British thrower to win a medal

Leading the way: Tessa Sanderson was the last British thrower to win a medal

'Because I'm not the biggest, and I'm not very strong compared with the others, I rely on speed and technique,' said Hitchon, who can still lift 80kg, 3kg more than her own bodyweight.

'Technically, we've still a lot to work on. You learn what works. It's down to personal preference and what feels good. For me, it's a guessing game because I'm so young.'

At the World Championships in Daegu last summer, her first international senior competition, Hitchon came 26th.

'I'd never been to a major championships, where you're competing against the world record holder and past champions,' said Hitchon.

'I was in the athletes' village and Usain Bolt walked past. You pinch yourself and say, am I meant to be here I loved it, but I felt a bit out of my depth. In London I know I deserve to be there.'

To qualify with the Olympic B standard, Hitchon needs to throw over 69m twice. But she is not interested in that.

'I want the A standard, 71.50m. I want to know I've qualified firmly and I'm going because I believe I can make the hammer final and who knows what else. I want my name on that team-sheet in thick black marker pen.'

There is one thing Hitchon will miss from her ballet days.

'The glamour. The performances were so much fun. Backstage you got to put loads of make-up on, wacky eye shadows and loads of mascara. I don't get to do that any more.'