Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao (left) and Juan Manuel Marquez, of Mexico, pose with Miss Universe contestants Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon, and Miss Mexico Karina Gonzalez, during a news conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pacquiao and Marquez will fight for a fourth time in a non-title welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena tomorrow. Photo Reuters.
Talk about a bitter pill to swallow.
You are the captain of a national sports team. You are a
thoroughly decent bloke, if perhaps a little bland at times.
You clearly have talent, though perhaps you have struggled to
consistently produce world-class performances.
You have been let down by senior members of your side. Not
all of them rate your leadership ability. And your team has
been thumped a lot in the last couple of years.
A new coach comes on board and - surprise, surprise - he
wants his provincial mate to be the captain
• . . . and captaincy capers
But enough about Taine Randell, dumped as All Black captain
by Wayne Smith and replaced by Todd Blackadder 12 years ago,
to BARELY a murmur of discontent.
You'd forgotten, right?
A virtually identical situation in New Zealand cricket has
led to days of hysteria and name-calling. Ross Taylor has
been boosted by a surge of public support that Randell was
never lucky enough to enjoy.
But it boils down to this.-Mike Hesson is the coach. He has a
preferred captain. Who happens to be someone he knows, trusts
That's not really that weird, right?
Ross Taylor is a fine batsman. But it is extraordinary that
one test win - one! - is being used as some sort of evidence
the New Zealand team will implode if he loses the captaincy.
The Black Caps are ranked eighth in test cricket, eighth in
T20 and ninth in one-day cricket. For which of those do we
credit Taylor's magnificent captaincy?
• Global Warne-ing
Both wore No 23. Both were acclaimed (in one case, near
unanimously; in the other, by enough to create debate) the
greatest of all time. Both loved the Nike swoosh, and
Is that where the similarities between Michael Jordan and
Shane Warne will end?Jordan felt the strong pull of
basketball after retiring in 1998, and came back two years
later to play for the Washington Wizards. He was far from
hopeless, but just seemed it because he'd been so great.
Warney has never really retired. He's still rolling that arm
over in various forms of smash-bash.
So, when he let slip this week that he had ''absolutely no
doubt'' he could bowl at test level again, it is no wonder
everybody went bananas.
Warne later clarified his comments, saying he COULD play test
cricket again, not that he WOULD.
But wouldn't it be utterly brilliant if the greatest spin
bowler in history (sorry, Murali fans) gave it a crack? The
thought of Warne appearing in the Ashes again sends shivers
down the spine.
• Hale and hearty
It is still a little unclear whether the New Zealand PGA is
trying to become a serious golf tournament or an odd mix of
But signing up a great like Hale Irwin is a smart and
Dreams of attracting one of the world's elite players are
simply not realistic. Far better to enlist someone like Irwin
- and maybe Tom Watson in the future - with a package of
Irwin is a big name and still a heck of a player. It was nice
work by The Hills to get him.
• It's just a game
What a strange decision by the NFL to push on with the game
between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Carolina Panthers
earlier this week.
The day before, Chiefs player Jovan Belcher murdered his
partner and then killed himself at Chiefs headquarters.
Surely, the right thing to do was to abandon the game, out of
respect for the murdered woman's family, and because the
Kansas City players would have been in shock.
Sportswriter Jason Whitlock summarised it
perfectly:''Football is our God. Its exaggerated value in our
society has never been more evident than Saturday morning in
my adopted hometown. There's just no way this game should be
''Twenty-eight hours after witnessing one of his starting
linebackers take his life, [coach Romeo] Crennel will stand
on the sideline as young men play a violent game.
Twenty-eight hours after one of their best friends killed the
mother of his child and himself, Chiefs players will take the
field and play a violent game.
''Football is a game of emotion. Football is a game in which
the coaches and players preach about treating each other as
''How can they play Sunday? Why should they?''Ear bashingThe
Last Word has spent many happy hours at the Edgar Centre at
work and play over the years, and appreciates the venue's
value to this community.
A small brickbat, though, to the organiser of the sound
system on Wednesday evening.
The kids playing futsal and the parents and carers on the
sidelines were subjected to 25 minutes of the most
infuriating noise, what appeared to be a loop of bass-heavy
ZOOM-ZOOM-OONST-OONST-BOOM dance music. The sort of stuff
that burrows into your brain.
Call me fusty but I'd much rather some easy listening or, you
know, just the sounds of the sport itself.
• Boxing blues
I quite enjoyed the Danny Green v Shane Cameron fight, even
if our boy - while he tried hard - was thoroughly outclassed
by a fighter a few years past his best.
But it is hard not to weep for the state of professional
Freddie Flintoff is in the ring, for goodness' sake. Quade
Cooper might have a go. Mickey Mouse ''charity'' boxing
events now get more attention than the real stuff.
Now, ye gods, we have Joseph Parker and his latest
sacrificial lamb. Parker is the real deal, they say. Best
since Tua yada yada.
So, naturally, the key to igniting his career is to line up a
series of overweight bums for him to thrash.
Will I watch Parker v convicted criminal Richard Tutaki?
Thanks, but no thanks.
• Name of the week
Chelsea has just signed another Brazilian ''starlet'' with a
good old-fashioned name. Wallace. Brilliant.
For some reason, all I can think of is that scene in
Braveheart, and the vision of plastic fans at Stamford Bridge
chanting: ''WALLACE! WALLACE! WALLACE!''
• Birthday of the week
French rugby player Sebastien Chaaabbbbbaaallllllll is 35
The ''Caveman'' has arguably been the biggest cult figure in
the sport for the last five to six years. It was even
rumoured he was the highest-paid player in the game.