Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: December 2010

THE nephew of former Indian opening batsman Wasim Jaffer, Armaan Jaffer, 13, has broken the record for the highest individual Cricket score made in India.

Whilst playing for Rizvi Springfield School against IES Raja Shivaji Vidyalaya in an under-14 Giles Shield match in Mumbai, Jaffer smashed a behemothic 498 runs of just 490 balls in an innings which lasted two days. He hit 77 fours and played in a free-flowing manner. After his innings was over he said: “I had decided not to play any aerial shots. I knew as long as I occupy the crease, the runs will keep flowing.

Jaffer added: “It would have been better if I had got 500, but there is no grudge.

A very pleased Jaffer next to his score.

The previous record was 461 and was held by Ali Zorain Khan of Nagpur.

Now if I’m not mistaken young Jaffer’s 498 is the eighth highest individual score that I have ever come across. The only other scores higher than this that I can find are these listed below.

  • 499 – Hanif Mohammad for Karachi against Bahawalpur in 1958/59.
  • 501* – Brian Lara for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994.
  • 502* – Malhotra Chamanlal for Mehandra Coll, Patiala against Government Coll, Rupar in 1956/57.
  • 506* – JC Sharp for Melbourne Grammar School against Geelong Collage in 1914/15.
  • 515 – Dadabhoy Havewala for B.B & C.I Railways against St Xavier’s in 1933/34.
  • 566 – CJ Eady for Break-o’-Day against Wellington in 1901/02.

And finally the highest score ever recorded in the history of Cricket:

  • 628* – AEJ Collins for Clark’s House against North Town in 1899.

Remarkably, both Collins and Jaffer have made their possibly career defining totals at the age of just 13. Coincidently I also made my highest ever score when I was around Collins and Jaffer’s age, but 120 fades away into nothingness when you start talking about scores like the above.

I was in a real purple patch in the spring/summer of 2007 wasn’t I?

THE Ashes series down-under has been blown wide open thanks to Australia’s crushing 267 run victory over England at the W.A.C.A. Ground in Perth to level the series at 1-1. 😦

All England needed to do to retain the Ashes was to win this Test match, and after England Captain Andrew Strauss had won the toss, put Australia in to bat and the bowlers reduced them to 69-5 everything looked great.

Chris Tremlett was amongst the early Australian wickets.

 

England enjoyed their lunch much more than the Aussies on day one.

But Michael Hussey once again dug his team out of a hole with a score of 61.

England waiting for confirmation of Hussey’s wicket.

But when he was out the Aussies were still six down for 137. The tale-end then waged exuberantly. Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin made 53, Mitchell Johnson top-scored with 62, Peter Siddle scored 35 not out and Ben Hilfenhaus made a cameo 13.

Now England had again bowled Australia out on the first day and a score of 268 seemed at little low, especially when England’s openers Strauss and Alastair Cook put on 78 for the opening partnership. Then Mitchell Johnson finally turned up against England. In a spell that cost just 7 runs he dismissed: Cook (32), Jonathan Trott (4), Kevin Pietersen (0) and Paul Collingwood (5). England were now 98-5. Johnson finished the innings with figures of 6-38 and England had collapsed to 187 all out, 81 runs behind Australia. Things could have been much worse had Strauss and Ian Bell not made half centuries.

Johnson finally discovered some form against England.

Australia’s top order (Phillip Hughes (12), Captain Ricky Ponting (1) and Michael Clark (20)) again failed with the bat, leaving Australia on 64-3, leading by 145 runs.

Ricky Ponting has scored just 22 runs in his last 4 innings. 😛

Unfortunately Shane Watson and Hussey’s 113 run fourth wicket partnership turned the match in Australia’s favour. Watson made 95 and Hussey was the last man out with a score of 116.

Mike Hussey – Australia’s in form batsman.

Tremlett had taken five wickets and Australia’s second innings total was 309. With well over two whole days left to play England needed to make 391 runs to win and retain the Ashes.

Tremlett celebrates his first 5-for in a Test match.

I felt quietly confident at this point. England have made scores like this with their eyes closed in the first two Test matches of this series, and two years ago South Africa had chased 414 runs at the W.A.C.A. against Australia and won by 6 wickets.

But, England’s top order crumbled to 81-5 at the close of play on day three. Strauss made just 15, Cook 13, Trott 31 – top scorer of the innings, Pietersen 3 and Collingwood 11.

The run chase never really got going did it Strauss?

Day four wasn’t expected to last too long and truth be told it didn’t. Australia took just 50 minutes to dismiss: night-watchman James Anderson (3), Ian Bell (16), wicketkeeper Matt Prior (10), Graeme Swann (9) and Steven Finn (2).

When Bell was out the match was all but over.

Ryan Harris took six wickets for 47 runs and England had been knocked over for a messily 123 in 37 overs, handing Australia victory by 267 runs.

Ryan Harris celebrates his best Test figures and Australia levelling the series.

For his performances with both bat and ball (‘bout time) Mitchell Johnson was awarded Man of the Match.

To all Australian’s reading this post, we had to let you win one, and we will squash you in the Boxing Day Test at the M.C.G. You have been warned!

Ashes 2010/11 3rd Test – W.A.C.A. Ground, Perth

England won the toss and elected to field

Australia

vs.

England

268 (76 overs @ 3.53 rpo)

1st Innings

187 (62.3 overs @ 2.99 rpo)

M.G. Johnson 62 (93)

I.R. Bell 53 (90)

J.M. Anderson 3-61

M.G. Johnson 6-38

309 (86 overs @ 3.59 rpo)

2nd Innings

123 (37 overs @ 3.32 rpo)

M.E.K. Hussey 116 (172)

I.J.L. Trott 31 (61)

C.T. Tremlett 5-87

R.J. Harris 6-47

Umpires – Billy Doctrove (WI) and Marais Erasmus (Rsa)

Australia won by 267 Runs – Series Level at 1-1 with two Tests remaining

Man of the Match = M.G. Johnson

NORTHERN IRISH Jockey Tony ‘A.P.’ McCoy was voted 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) last night (19 December) by the Great British public in a lavish ceremony at the LG Arena in Birmingham.

McCoy with his wife Chanelle.

This year McCoy finally won the Grand National at his 15th attempted on Don’t Push It, and in his long and often painful career has won over 3,300 races. He has won everything in his sport and fully deserves his title of SPOTY, becoming the very first Jump Jockey to receive the prestigious honour.

15 times World Darts Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor was voted into second place and became the first Darts player to come in the top three. Reigning World Heptathlon Champion and this summer’s European Heptathlon Champion Jessica Ennis came third for the second year in a row.

The rest of the shortlist was made up of:

  • Mark Cavendish, who won five stages of the Tour de France plus the Sprint Jersey in the Vuelta (Tour of Spain).
  • Tom Daley, double Commonwealth Diving Champion.
  • David Haye, for his WBA World Heavyweight Championship belt defences.
  • Graeme McDowell, winner of the Golfing US Open – the first European in 40 years to take the title.
  • Graeme Swann, who’s’ spin bowling helped England win this summer’s series against Bangladesh and Pakistan as well as the Twenty20 World Cup.
  • Lee Westwood, who replaced Tiger Woods as the #1 Golfer in the world this year.
  • Amy Williams, Skeleton Bobsleigh Olympic Champion.

 I voted for Amy Williams, making this year the fifth year in a row that I have failed to pick the winner.

Whilst I’ll admit that everybody above deserved their nomination, there is in my eyes one glaring admission. European 5,000m and 10,000m Champion Mo Farah. Can’t the shortlist be extended to 12 people for next year so people like Farah aren’t overlooked in future please?

Overseas SPOTY was awarded to Spanish Tennis ace Rafael Nadal who won the: French Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles to complete the Career Grand Slam at the age of 24. A rightful winner.

The European Ryder Cup team received the Team of the Year award in recognition of regaining the Ryder Cup from the U.S.A. Team Captain Colin Montgomerie also won Coach of the Year. Again spot on.

16 year-old Tom Daley became the first person ever to win three Young SPOTY awards. The double Commonwealth, European and World Champion battled against injury to stun the Delhi crowd by producing a perfect 10 dive that even the reigning Olympic Champion Matthew Mitcham couldn’t beat. No contest.

Lance Haggith received the Unsung Hero Award. Mr Haggith, 50, has been helping young people of all abilities and circumstances play Basketball for the last 30 years. 😉

David Beckham was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Now I apologise to any Beckham fans out there but why on Earth has he been given this award now? He is only 35, is still playing for L.A. Galaxy and his award was presented to him by World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton, who only received this award two years ago. I also got very bored very quickly with the director constantly cutting to his wife and kids in the front row. I want to see great sports people honoured, and not some washed up Pop Star and ultra-fortunate fully Americanised boys. I can only think of one good thing David Beckham did in an England shirt, and that was scoring that last-minute free-kick against Greece to get England into the 2002 World Cup. In several years time Beckham I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at this award, but at this moment in time I can only think that the BBC got a bit desperate this year.

Now onto somebody who truly deserved their award. Sir Frank Williams was awarded the Helen Rollason Award for overcoming great adversity. Sir Frank was permanently paralysed after a car crash in 1986, but still led his Williams F1 team onto great and often unrivalled success in the follow years. This along with the tribute to the sporting people we have lost in the past year brought tears to my eyes. Many, many congratulations Sir Frank.

My very own personal award for Sporting Moment of the Year goes to South African footballer Siphiwe Tshabalala for his wonder goal against Mexico in the opening game of this summer’s World Cup. It is a goal that I will never forget and feel privileged to have seen it live.

I would also like to honour legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar. This year he has become the most caped Test Cricketer of all time, surpassed 14,500 Test runs, become the first player ever to score a double century in an O.D.I., and just yesterday became the first batsman to score 50 Test centuries (which I was lucky enough to witness as well).

Let’s hope that 2011 gives us more fantastic sport!

INTER MILAN have won the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup which was held between 8 and 18 December in the United Arab Emirates.

The tournament kicked-off with the Quarter-Final Play-Off between U.A.E. league Champions Al-Wahda and Oceania Champions Hekari Utd from Papua New Guinea. Al-Wahda won 3-0.

The Quarter-Final line was now confirmed. African Champions TP Mazembe of Congo DR would play North American Champions Pachuca of Mexico, and Al-Wahda would face Asian Champions Seongnam Ilhwa of South Korea. TP Mazembe and Seongnam Ilhwa won their matches 1-0 and 4-1 respectively.

Now in the Semi-Final stage the two big guns entered the fray. South American Champions and 2006 World Champions Internacional of Brazil were drawn against TP Mazembe, whereas European Champions Inter Milan of Italy would face Seongnam Ilhwa.

In the every single one of these tournaments since its rebranding in 2005 the Final has been the champions of South America against the champions of Europe. But not this year! TP Mazembe pulled of one of the biggest international football upsets that I can remember by beating Internacional 2-0 and put themselves into the Final against Inter Milan who beat their South Korean opponents 3-0. 😮

But before The Final we had to know who would be placed third, fourth, fifth and sixth (Hekari Utd came seventh).

The two losing Quarter-Finalists, Pachuca and Al-Wahda drew 2-2 after 90 minutes and with no Extra-Time went straight to a Penalty-Shoot-Out which the Mexicans won 4-2 and earned themselves fifth place.

Losing Semi-Finalists, Internacional and Seongnam Ilhwa provided the warm-up act before The Final in their battle for third place. No prizes for guessing the winner here; Internacional won 4-2.

But now it was The Grand Final. Could TP Mazembe do the unthinkable and beat Inter Milan to bring the World Club Cup to Africa in the very same year the continent hosted its first World Cup? The whole footballing World (apart from the Italians) were behind TP Mazembe.

Unfortunately Inter hadn’t bothered to read the script and ran out 3-0 winners to become World Champions for the third time (1964 and 1965 being the years of their other triumphs). 😦

Mauricio Molina of Colombia won the Golden Boot as top goal scorer, netting three for Seongnam Ilhwa. Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon) of Inter Milan won the Golden Ball (player of the tournament), while Dioko Kaluyituka (Congo DR) of TP Mazembe and Andrés D’Alessandro (Argentina) of Internacional won the Silver and Bronze Balls respectively. Inter Milan won the Fair Play award as well.

Inter Milan now join a select group of clubs who have won this competition since it became a permanent FIFA event in 2005. The list of champions now reads: 2005 – São Paulo (Brazil), 2006 – Internacional (Brazil), 2007 – AC Milan (Italy), 2008 – Man Utd (England), 2009 – Barcelona (Spain) and 2010 – Inter Milan (Italy).

Now I think that having a Club World Cup is a great idea, but not in its current format. How the hell can a club like Inter Milan fly out to the Middle East, play just two matches and call themselves World Champions for a year? Surly there should be 16 or 24 clubs in such a competition? You could have it in the summer when there isn’t a World Cup, European Championship or Confederations Cup and make a really big deal over it. Obviously you would have to give plenty of warning to the clubs who might be taking part, say around seven years so that everybody knows it is going to happen and people can plan their holidays and such around it.

England could host it…seriously we could.

THE draws for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 and Europa League Round of 32 and 16 were made at UEFA HQ in Nyon, Switzerland yesterday (17 December).

In the Champions League one of the eight group winners are drawn against one of the eight group runners-up, unless they were in the same group or come from the same country.

Note: Teams on the right (group winners) play the second leg at their home ground. Ties to be played on 15, 16, 22 and 23 February and 8, 9, 15 and 16 March 2011.

Roma (Ita)

vs.

Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr)

AC Milan (Ita)

vs.

Tottenham Hotspur (Eng)

Valencia (Esp)

vs.

Schalke 04 (Ger)

Inter Milan (Ita)

vs.

Bayern Munich (Ger)

Lyon (Fra)

vs.

Real Madrid (Esp)

Arsenal (Eng)

vs.

Barcelona (Esp)

Marseille (Fra)

vs.

Man Utd (Eng)

Copenhagen (Den)

vs.

Chelsea (Eng)

There are some truly epic ties here. Inter Milan vs. Bayern Munich is a grudge match for Bayern, as Inter beat them in the last Final back in May. Arsenal will also be out for revenge against Barcelona. The Spanish club beat Arsenal in the 2006 Final and Lionel Messi scored four goals against Arsenal in the Camp Nou in last season’s competition and sent the Gunners crashing out.

Spurs will have their work cut out when they play AC Milan, who currently top the Serie A table by six points from Juventus and Napoli. Man Utd should have enough in the tank to overcome reigning French league Champions Marseille, and once again Chelsea get a really easy draw. No disrespect to Copenhagen but you guys haven’t got a chance. (But please prove me wrong).

Now to the Europa League.

In the Round of 32 one of the 12 group winners and the top four ranked third placed teams from the Champions League groups is drawn against one of the 12 group runners-up and the bottom four ranked third placed teams from the Champions League groups. Teams from the same group couldn’t be drawn against each other and neither could teams from the same country.

Note: Teams on the right (group winners and seeded third placed teams) play the second leg at their home ground. Ties to be played on 15 and 17 February and 22 and 24 February 2011.

Napoli (Ita)

vs. (1)

Villarreal (Esp)

Rangers (Sco)

vs. (2)

Sporting Lisbon (Por)

Sparta Prague (Cze)

vs. (3)

Liverpool (Eng)

Anderlecht (Bel)

vs. (4)

Ajax (Ned)

Lech Poznań (Pol)

vs. (5)

Braga (Por)

Beşiktaş (Tur)

vs. (6)

Dynamo Kyiv (Ukr)

Basel (Swi)

vs. (7)

Spartak Moscow (Rus)

Young Boys (Swi)

vs. (8)

Zenit St. Petersburg (Rus)

Aris (Gre)

vs. (9)

Man City (Eng)

PAOK (Gre)

vs. (10)

CSKA Moscow (Rus)

Sevilla (Esp)

vs. (11)

Porto (Por)

Rubin Kazan (Rus)

vs. (12)

Twente (Ned)

Lille (Fra)

vs. (13)

PSV (Ned)

Benfica (Por)

vs. (14)

Stuttgart (Ger)

BATE Borisov (Blr)

vs. (15)

PSG (Fra)

Metalist Kharkiv (Ukr)

vs. (16)

Bayer Leverkusen (Ger)

 

The draw for the Round of 16 was made immediately afterwards. Anybody could now be drawn against anybody else, as country protection no longer applies.

Note: Teams on the right play the second leg at home. The numbers below represent the winner of the corresponding tie in the Round of 32. Ties to be played on the 10th and 17th of March 2011.

14

vs.

15

6

vs.

9

12

vs.

8

10

vs.

11

13

vs.

2

16

vs.

1

4

vs.

7

3

vs.

5

 

There are some truly cracking ties in prospect in both rounds of matches. Liverpool should progress to the last eight, but unfortunately at the moment with the Reds you can never tell.

TODAY (14 December 2010) marks the 50th anniversary of the first ever Tied Test match. Australia and the touring West Indies had both fought hard to win the first Test at The Gabba in Brisbane, and with just one more eight ball over remaining it was all still to play for.

Australia needed 6 runs to win; the West Indies needed 3 wickets. True nail-biting stuff eh?

Wes Hall was to bowl the final over of the match and wicketkeeper Wally Grout was on strike. The following is a ball-by-ball review of the final, fateful over.

  1. Grout is hit on the thigh and Captain Richey Benaud calls a single. The leg-bye is taken and Australia need 5 runs to win.
  2. Benaud attempts a hook shot but is caught behind by wicketkeeper Gerry Alexander for 52. 5 runs or 2 wickets to win in just 6 balls.
  3. New man in, Ian Meckiff, cuts the ball to mid-off but no run is scored. 5 runs or 2 wickets to win off of 5 balls.
  4. Hall sends the ball down the leg-side and everybody misses it. Grout calls for Meckiff to run the bye and they do. Alexander attempts to run Meckiff out but misses the stumps. 4 runs or 2 wickets needed off of 4 balls. Australia are now a boundary away from winning.
  5. Grout fends a bouncer away to square leg, and Rohan Kanhai goes for the catch. But Hall also attempts to take the catch in his follow-through, and in the resulting mix-up (with no catch taken) Grout and Meckiff take the single. 3 runs or 2 wickets from 3 balls needed.
  6. Meckiff sends the ball to the mid-wicket boundary. He and Grout run 2 but Conrad Hunte just prevents the boundary, and his return throw is so good that it lands straight into Alexander’s gloves and he runs out fellow wicketkeeper Grout for just 2. The scores are now level; 1 run or 1 wicket from 2 balls needed for victory.
  7. No. 11, Lindsay Kline, pushes the ball to square leg and he and Meckiff set off on what they hoped would be the winning run. But Joe Solomon scooped the ball up and with one stump to aim at, hit it directly from almost 40ft away and runs Meckiff out for 2 by a matter of inches. With the scores at 737 runs each and no more fourth innings wickets left to fall, the 84 year wait for the first tied Test was at an end.

There has only ever been one other tied Test in the history of Cricket. It was the first Test of the 1986/87 Australia tour of India. This means that only two out of the 1,983 Test matches that have ever been played have ended in a tie. Don’t you think we are due for another one soon?

West Indies in Australia 1960/61 1st Test – The Gabba, Brisbane

West Indies won the toss and elected to bat

West Indies

vs.

Australia

453 (100.6 overs @ 4.49 rpo)

1st Innings

505 (130.3 overs @ 3.87 rpo)

G.st A. Sobers 132

N.C. O’Neill 181

A.K. Davidson 5-135

W.W. Hall 4-140

284 (92.6 overs @ 3.05 rpo)

2nd Innings

232 (68.7 overs @ 3.35 rpo)

F.M.M. Worrell 65

A.K. Davidson 80

A.K. Davidson 6-87

W.W. Hall 5-63

Note: This was back when Australia had 8 ball overs in their home Tests

Match Tied – Series level at 0-0 with four matches left. Australia won the series 2-1.

ENGLAND are just one victory away from retaining the Ashes after beating Australia by an Innings and 71 runs in the second Test at the Adelaide Oval.

Aussie Captain Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat. In hindsight this proved to be the wrong choice because the hosts got off to their worst start in a Test match for 60 years. Simon Katich was Run Out by Jonathan Trott without having faced a ball – a Diamond Duck – and Ponting was dismissed with the very next ball (Caught Graeme Swann off of James Anderson). Australia were 0-2. Michael Clarke was then out in exactly the same manner soon afterwards and Australia were 2-3!

England celebrating Katich’s Diamond Duck.

Ponting’s Golden Duck.

TWO runs for THREE wickets!

Australia recovered from their poor start, and scores of 93 from Michael Hussey and 56 from Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin helped the Aussies to a first innings total of 245.

Swann gets Hussey out just seven runs short of 100.

There was just enough time at the end of the first day for England’s openers – Captain Andrew Strauss and the in-form Alastair Cook – to face one over.  England scored just the one run off the over, but as the players walked back to the pavilion Ricky Ponting started chopsing off at his opposite number. Why I don’t know.

Feeling the pressure are we Ricky?

Strauss was dismissed for just one in the first over of the second day (bowled by Doug Bollinger). 

Oops!

But the England top order had still maintained the form they had from the first Test in Brisbane, as by the time the next England wicket fell (Trott for 78) England had scored 176. When Alastair Cook was finally out for 148 (Caught Behind off Ryan Harris) the England run total was 351. Since he was dismissed in the first innings of the Brisbane Test Cook had batted for 1,022 minutes and scored 371 runs.

Cook scoring yet another 100!

101 runs later and Paul Collingwood was out L.B.W. for 42 off the bowling of Shane Watson. But to the pain of the Australians, Kevin Pietersen was still at the crease and smashing the Aussie bowling attack to all corners of the ground. When he was finally (and sadly) out for a Test best score of 227 the England score was 568-5. Ian Bell hit an unbeaten 68 and Wicketkeeper Matt Prior had put in a cameo appearance – scoring 27 off 21 balls – when Strauss declared the England innings on a huge 620-5. This is one of the highest totals England have ever made against Australia and the first time England have scored more than 500 runs against Australia in consecutive innings against them.

KP scored his first Test century since the tour of the West Indies in March 2009 on the way to his highest Test score.

Long story short in the context of this match, Australia needed to make 375 runs to make England bat again.

The Australian top order made a much better fist of it in their second innings, with Shane Watson and Simon Katich scoring 57 and 43 respectively. Ponting again failed to get into double figures (9) but with day four drawing to a close Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey were proving difficult to shift. With the score at 238-3 Strauss gave the ball to Pietersen for the last over in order to try something different, and what a brilliant idea it was too! With just his second ball he took Clarke’s wicket (Caught Cook) taking his Test total of Wickets to five.

Self-proclaimed All-Rounder Pietersen turns the match well and truly in England’s favour.

With the threat of rain hanging over the Adelaide Oval at the start of day five Australia needed to score a further 137 runs to put England in again who just needed six wickets to win.

The rain never came however and the middle and tail end of the Australian batting line up fell apart and at 295-9 (with Ryan Harris having to suffer the shame of making a King Pair in the process) the Adelaide Oval was full of England fans eagerly awaiting victory. Then with the first ball of the 100th over Swann bowled Peter Siddle to take five-for in the innings and Australia were all out for 304 and England had won by an Innings and 71 Runs for our 100th Test victory over Australia! 😀 And then the rain came…LOL!

1-0!!!

I believe the last time Australia lost by an innings at home was in January 1993 at the hands of the West Indies, so it’s about time they got a good kicking like this in front of their home crowd. Unfortunately for England Stuart Broad will miss the rest of the Ashes and the O.D.I. series after tearing a muscle in his stomach. 😦

Get well soon Broady.

Next stop is the WACA in Perth. BRING IT ON!

Ashes 2010/11 2nd Test – Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

Australia won the toss and elected to bat

Australia

vs.

England

245 (85.5 overs @ 2.85 rpo)

1st Innings

620-5 dec. (152 overs @ 4.08 rpo)

M.E.K. Hussey 93 (183)

K.P. Pietersen 227 (308)

J.M. Anderson 4-51

R.J. Harris 2-84

304 (99.1 overs @ 3.07 rpo)

2nd Innings

M.J. Clarke 80 (139)

G.P. Swann 5-91

 

Umpires – Marais Erasmus (Rsa) and Tony Hill (Nzl)

England won by an Innings & 71 Runs – England lead the series 1-0 with three Tests remaining

Man of the Match = K.P. Pietersen

I READ the news today oh boy. Today (8 December 2010) marks the 30th anniversary of legendary singer-songwriter John Lennon’s murder.

The former Beatle and his wife Yoko Ono were returning to their apartment in The Dakota building in New York City at around 10:50pm when Mark David Chapman shot 40 year-old Lennon four times in the back. He was rushed to the nearby Roosevelt Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:07pm. Remarkable, earlier that day Lennon had signed a copy of his most recent album, Double Fantasy for Chapman who to this day is still serving a 20 years to life prison sentence. He has been denied parole repeatedly.

Now I’ve never claimed to be a great Beatles fan, but I do have a huge respect for their impact on the world of music. John Lennon also has a special place in my own hall of fame. After all he did write one of my favourite songs.

YESTERDAY (2 December) the world found out that the 2018 FIFA World Cup was to be held in Russia, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup was to be held in Qatar.

They triumphed in the second round of voting by gaining the magic number of 13 votes. The joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium received seven and two votes respectively. But England crashed out in the first round of voting, only gaining two votes (and one of those votes came from the English FIFA delegate).

How on God’s Earth can the strongest bid of them all get just two votes?! All we would need to do was to expand a couple of stadiums and we’d be laughing.  Earlier this week FIFA gave the England bid 100/100 in every one of their criteria. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said in the past that England could host a World Cup tomorrow.

So where did it all go wrong? Well I think that FIFA has been exposed as the lying and fixed organisation that it is. The English press has exposed bribery and corruption amongst the FIFA executive committee and FIFA didn’t like it. I also think that these FIFA members don’t give a damn about who they stab in the back. At least five of the committee members ‘assured’ both David Beckham and PRINCE WILLIAM (of all people) that England had their votes. England’s presentation speech was also said to have been the best but it all counted for absolutely nothing.

Anyway, Russia will be hosting it’s (and Eastern Europe’s) first ever World Cup and travelling fans can look forward to the institutionalised racism that is in Russian football. Earlier in the year Lokomotiv Moscow fans unveiled a banner aimed at their former black player and now West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie. Said banner depicted a Banana. The head of the Russian bid, Alexey Sorokin said that: “To receive a Banana is a Russian way of saying ‘you’re a failure’.”

But (and you’ll love this) a Lokomotiv fan who I shall not name replied with this: “Sorokin has told the world that there was no racism in the banner. He described the message as the Russian saying ‘to receive a banana’ signifying a big failure but not racist. I never heard of this saying before.” He continued to say: “We drew the banana as a reference to Odemwingie’s African roots. Every black in Russia is often called ‘monkey’. I believe that Russian fans are racists deep in their souls.” Can you imagine the first game of the 2018 World Cup being Russia vs. somebody like Ghana or Cameroon? I’d be pretty shocked if we didn’t see banners in the same vain as below at that game.

To show you just how fixed I think this vote was; when David Beckham, PM David Cameron and HRH Prince William were in Zurich trying in vain to boost England’s chances, Russian PM Vladimir Putin was in a meeting about Russia’s health service. When Russia was announced as the winner he immediately flew to Zurich.  I have heard that he was told 24 hours in advance that Russia had won – but don’t take my word for it. Also, England’s bid was all over the news in the days before the vote, but on the day of the vote in Russia their bid and the vote was just an And Finally segment on their news agenda. And another thing, World Cup stadia are meant to be scattered all over the host country right, yet the people in Vladivostok wouldn’t be watching any matches in their city.

Anyway, 2018 rant over, now it’s time for the 2022 rant.

Qatar of all countries! What the hell was wrong with the U.S.A.’s bid?! The last time America hosted the World Cup in 1994 it smashed attendance records and made FIFA a huge sum of money (just as England would have done in 2018, well money wise anyway). Australia would have put on a great show, just look at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney or the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Even Japan and South Korea could have put on a good World Cup even though it would have been just 20 years since they co-hosted it together.

But no, FIFA decided to pick a country that has never ever even qualified for a World Cup and has only ever reached the Quarter-Finals of the Asian Cup once back in 2000. Qatar has only ever hosted the Asian Cup once back in 1988, but are coincidently (ha ha yeah right) hosting the tournament next month (January 2011). The national side is ranked a lowly 113th in the world between the Central African Republic and Thailand. Qatar is also an Arab country (so no drinking or sleeping around westerners) and is just half the size of Wales and has a population of fewer than 1.7 million. With all the fans and teams and reporters coming to stay for a month will everybody be able to fit on the island?

Isn’t it funny how the two countries with the weakest (in my eyes) bids yet are rich in gas and oil win the rights to host the World Cup?

Although I will say this in support for Qatar. When the World Cup has finished they will demolish the new stadia and transport them piece by piece to countries in the developing world. A great gift to the footballing world, but I thought you were meant to leave a lasting legacy in your own country?

The sad thing about all this for England is that now the next chance we have of hosting the World Cup is in 2030. China have said that they would like to host the tournament in 2026, but don’t be surprised if it is award to the Principality of Sealand (the former WW2 Mansell Sea Fort six miles of the cost of Suffolk) in the name of expanding the global game.

But justice may be done. 2030 is the 100th anniversary of the first ever World Cup in Uruguay, and nothing would give me greater satisfaction than having England hosting the Centenary World Cup.

After all, we only gave the world the game it loves.