Ones-to-Watch: The Best Young English Cricketers of 2016 

Ones-to-Watch: The Best Young English Cricketers of 2016 

English cricket is emerging from a transitional stage led by the management of Trevor Bayliss and the ever-reliable Alastair Cook and James Anderson, but there’s plenty of talent waiting in the wings for when the old guard decide to move aside.

The likes Joe Root and Jos Buttler are creating history on the biggest stage, but which prodigious English (and Welsh) talents could join them in the years come? We’ve picked the ones-to-watch for 2016:

Daniel Bell-Drummond (Age 23, Kent)

England Lions v Pakistan A - Triangular Series

Stats 2016

First-class: 816 runs (102.00 ave)

List A: 582 runs (58.20 ave)

Twenty20: 379 runs (54.14 ave, 148.04 sr)


Tom Abell (Age 22, Somerset)

Tom_Abell_Ones-to-Watch

Stats 2016

First-class: 264 runs (18.85 ave)

List A: 106 runs (53.00 ave)

Twenty20: N/A


Ben Duckett (Age 21, Northamptonshire)

England Lions v Sri Lanka A - Triangular Series

Stats 2016

First-class: 746 runs (46.62 ave)

List A: 884 runs (110.50 ave)

Twenty20: 360 runs (45.00 ave, 138.46 sr)


Aneurin Donald (Age 19, Glamorgan)

Glamorgan v Hampshire - NatWest T20 Blast

Stats 2016

First-class: 784 runs (43.55 ave)

List A: 109 runs (15.57 ave)

Twenty20: 234 runs (29.25 ave, 132.20 sr)


Daniel Lawrence (Age 19, Essex)

Daniel_LawrenceCraig_Overton_Ones-to-Watch

Stats 2016

First-class: 788 runs (46.35 ave)

List A: 93 runs (13.28 ave)

Twenty20: 222 runs (27.75 ave, 118.08 sr)


Sam Hain (Age 21, Warwickshire)

Derbyshire v Warwickshire - NatWest T20 Blast

Stats 2016

First-class: 339 runs (21.18 ave)

List A: 424 runs (70.66 ave)

Twenty20: 371 runs (33.72 ave, 120.84 sr)


Ben Foakes (Age 23, Surrey)

Surrey v Durham - Specsavers County Championship: Division One

Stats 2016

First-class: 733 runs (48.86 ave), 30 ct, 2 st

List A: 224 runs (56.00 ave), 10 ct, 1 st

Twenty20: 58 runs (14.50 ave, 109.43 sr), 9 ct, 2 st


Sam Curran (Age 18, Surrey)

Nottinghamshire v Surrey - Specsavers County Championship: Division One

Stats 2016

First-class: 256 runs (32.00 ave), 9 wkts (44.00 ave)

List A: 140 runs (35.00 ave), 5 wkts (39.80 ave)

Twenty20: 134 runs (13.40 ave, 100.75 sr), 11 wkts (7.89 econ)


Craig Overton (Age 22, Somerset)

Somerset v Middlesex - Specsavers County Championship: Division One

Stats 2016

First-class: 229 runs (19.08 ave), 27 wkts (33.18 ave)

List A: 72 runs (18.00 ave), 5 wkts (62.20 ave)

Twenty20: 5 runs (–.–), 2 wkts (10.23 econ)


Jamie Overton (Age 22, Somerset)

Somerset v Essex - NatWest T20 Blast

Stats 2016

First-class: 161 runs (23.00 ave), 17 wkts (22.47 ave)

List A: 47 runs (47.00 ave), 4 wkts (25.25 ave)

Twenty20: 38 runs (7.60 ave, 135.71 sr), 14 wkts (9.30 econ)


Tom Curran (Age 21, Surrey)

England Lions v Pakistan A - Triangular Series

Stats 2016

First-class: 28 wkts (41.14 ave)

List A: 14 wkts (26.85 ave)

Twenty20: 28 wkts (7.76 econ)


 

 

Advertisements

The Most Iconic Olympic Venues of All-Time

The Most Iconic Olympic Venues of All-Time

Flicking through this fantastic Rio 2016 Venue Guide it’s no doubt that the beach volleyball arena is the iconic venue of this year’s Olympic Games. Nothing says “Brazil” quite like beach volleyball on the Copacabana.

That got us thinking…  What are the most iconic stadiums in Olympic history? In no particular order, here’s our list (scroll down for the Winter Olympics venues):

 

Beijing National Aquatics Center – Beijing 2008

water_cube
The National Aquatics Center, also known as the “Water Cube,” was the Olympics venue for swimming events in 2008.

Despite its nickname, the building is not an actual cube, but a cuboid (a rectangular box). Swimmers at the “Water Cube” broke 25 world records during the 2008 Olympics. After Beijing 2008, the building underwent a 200 million Yuan revamp to turn half of its interior into a water park. It will host the curling events at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

 

Lee Valley VeloPark – London 2012

UK - London 2012 Olympics - Olympic Velodrome landscape
Exterior of the 105m siberian pine Velodrome curved roof during the London 2012 Olympics

Lee Valley VeloPark is a cycling centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, East London. It features a velodrome and BMX racing track, as well as a one-mile (1.6 km) road course and mountain bike track.

 

National Stadium – Beijing 2008

Beijing National Stadium-Beijing-2008
Due to the stadium’s external appearance it was nicknamed “The Bird’s Nest”

The stadium was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics and will be used again in the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

 

Olympic Stadium – Montreal 1976

Montreal Olympic Stadium
The main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics, the Olympic Stadium is nicknamed “The Big O” in reference to it’s doughnut-shaped roof component

Montreal’s Olympic Stadium is the largest by seating capacity in Canada. It is also known locally as the “The Big Owe” to reference the astronomical cost of the stadium and the 1976 Olympics as a whole. It features a retractable roof, which is opened and closed by cables suspended from the huge 175m tower (neither of which was completed in time for the 1976 Games) – the tallest inclined structure in the world.

 

Yoyogi National Gymnasium – Tokyo 1964

Yoyogi National Gymnasium-Toyko-1964
The gymnasium will also host the handball event at the 2020 Summer Olympics

An architectural icon for its distinctive design, the complex housed swimming and diving events in the 1964 Summer Olympics. The gymnasium is the larger of two arenas built for the Games, both of which were designed by Kenzo Tange and employ similar structural principles and aesthetics. A separate annex was used for the basketball competition at those same games.

 

Central Lenin Stadium – Moscow 1980

Luzhniki Stadium-Moscow-1980
Renamed the Luzhniki Stadium in 1992, the name was derived from the bend of the flood meadow of the Moskva River on which it was built

Formerly the national stadium of the Soviet Union, it was part of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex and is now the national stadium of Russia. It was the chief venue for the 1980 Summer Olympics with a spectator capacity of 103,000 at that time and is set to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final.

 

London Aquatics Centre – London 2012

Aquatics Centre-London-2012
After significant modification and removal of the temporary wings the centre opened to the public in March 2014

The centre features two 50-metre swimming pools and a 25-metre diving pool in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford, London. IOC President Jacques Rogge described the Centre as a “masterpiece”.

 

Olympiastadion – Munich 1974

GV of the Olympic Stadium
The tent-like structure of the Olympiapark was designed to mimic the Alps and set a counterpart to the 1936 Games in Berlin

With a capacity of 80,000 the original Olympiastadion München also hosted many major football matches including the Finals of the 1974 World Cup and Euro ’88, the European Cup Finals of 1979 and 1993 and the Champions League Final in 1997. It’s current capacity is 69,250 following renovation, but the large sweeping canopies of acrylic glass remain.

 

Centennial Olympic Stadium – Atlanta 1996

This photo shows an aerial view of the Olympic sta
An aerial view of the Olympic stadium in Atlanta shows a non-conformist design with it’s distinctive protruding corner 

The stadium was constructed for the 1996 Olympics, but was later converted into a baseball stadium for the Atlanta Braves and renamed Turner Field. The Olympic Stadium bore witness to Donovan Bailey winning the 100m in a world record time of 9.84 s and Michael Johnson winning both the 200 and 400 metres titles, breaking the 200 m world record in the process.

 

Palau Sant Jordi – Barcelona 1992

Olympic Installations in Barcelona, Spain on October, 1991.
Sant Jordi Sports Palace was home to the artistic gymnastics, handball and volleyball events of the Barcelona Olympics

Palau Sant Jordi (English: St. George’s Palace) is an indoor sporting arena that formed part of the Olympic Ring complex in Barcelona, Spain for the 1992 Games. Designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, it was opened in 1990 and with a capacity of 17,000 – and 24,000 for musical events – is the 11th largest indoor arena in the world.

 

Olympic Velodrome – Athens 2004

Athens Olympic Velodrome-Athens-2004
Distinctive twin roofs cover the stands on both sides

Extensively refurbished in order to host the track cycling events at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, the velodrome – which seats 5,250 – has a track made of Afzelia wood. Whatever that is.

 

Stadium Australia – Sydney 2000

Olympic site
Stadium Australia is commercially known as ANZ Stadium and formerly as Telstra Stadium

The stadium was originally built to temporarily hold 110,000 spectators, making it the largest Olympic Stadium ever built. A reduced capacity of 83,500 for a rectangular field (and 82,500 for an oval field) makes it the second largest stadium in Australia today, after the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but awnings over the north and south stands now allows most of the seating to be undercover.

 

…And let’s not forget the Winter Olympics:

Bolshoy Ice Dome – Sochi 2014Bolshoy Ice Dome-Sochi-2014

Richmond Olympic Oval – Vancouver 2010Richmond Olympic Oval-Vancouver-2010

Bergisel Sprungschanze Stadion – Innsbruck 1976A ski jumper hovers above a packed stadium during the l964 Olympics

Iceberg Skating Palace – Sochi 2014Iceberg Skating Palace-Sochi-2014

White Ring Arena – Nagano 1998White Ring Arena-Nagano-1998

Olympic Ski Jumping Complex – Lake Placid 1980Olympic Ski Jumping Complex-Lake Placid-1980

 

Anything we’ve missed out? Let us know!

The Record World Record?

The Record World Record?

It was exactly midday in Brazil on day zero of the Olympic Games and we already had our first world-record of Rio 2016. 

At lunchtime on the day of the opening ceremony, Kim Woo-Jin of South Korea struck 700 in the men’s individual 72-arrow ranking round at the Sambadrome and became the fastest Olympian on record… to break a record.

On his unparalleled feat the understated reigning world champion said: “I practised more than everyone else and I gave my best for the entire round”.

“It’s just the ranking round, so today’s not really big happy” he added.

GettyImages-586130124.jpg
World Champion Woo-Jin was understandably delighted at his achievement  

 

In the capital of world-famous Brazilian party culture, famed as the home of samba and carnival, the nonchalant 24-year-old managed to remain calm at breaking the record of all records:

“I want to focus on the Games now but later, maybe, I’ll get to enjoy Brazil.”

For now though, we may just have witnessed the storm before the storm from the calmest man in Rio.

 

Britain’s Greatest-Ever Sportsman? Individual Sports – Part 2

Britain’s Greatest-Ever Sportsman?  Individual Sports – Part 2

We’re compiling our list of Britain’s Greatest-Ever Sportsmen. Having already discussed candidates from the major individual sports (click here), who of Britain’s lesser-known stars makes the shortlist?

 

“No machines, no pastimes, no animals… No thanks”

In researching this article I thought long and hard about including motor sports and parlour sports, as well as equestrian. The realisation that as much (if not more) skill and dedication goes into snooker, darts, horse/motor racing as any other sport puts their master craftsmen firmly on the sporting map for this writer. Let’s look at the candidates…

 

HORSE RACING

As mentioned, I’m willing to accept all sportsmen from all (ahem) fields. With that in mind, it’s impossible to look past 20 time Champion Jump Jockey Sir Tony McCoy. Another Northern Irishman, “AP” rode a record 4,358 winners (including a high of 289 in 2001-02), claiming his first Champion Jockey title -identifying the jockey who had ridden the most winners during a campaign season – in 1995/96 and going on to win it every year until his retirement in 2015. McCoy has won almost every big race there is to win. His most high-profile winners include the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, King George VI Chase and the 2010 Grand National. In National Hunt racing, no-one comes close. McCoy was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to horse racing. Rightly so.

On the flats, Lestor Piggott won all five British Classics on at least two occasions and was named British flat racing Champion Jockey a post-war record of 11 times (tied with Irishman Pat Eddery). He rode 4,493 career wins (135 more than McCoy). Piggott was undoubtedly one of the greatest jockeys of all time, but failed to dominate the sport in the manner of McCoy and tarnished his reputation with a conviction for tax evasion. He served 366 in prison and was stripped of his OBE.

 

FORMULA 1

On the same Sunday afternoon that Andy Murray sent tubs of strawberries and cream flying in SW18, Lewis Hamilton MBE triumphed at Silverstone to record his 4th British Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Nico Rosberg to cut his Mercedes teammate’s championship lead to just four points. If Hamilton goes on to pip Rosberg to the title it will be a British record-breaking 4th world title for the Mercedes driver.

In a rich history of successful British drivers, only Sir Jackie Stewart can match the titles he won in 2008 (McLaren), 2014 and 2015 (both Mercedes), but Hamilton’s 47 wins from 177 starts is unprecedented. This puts him 3rd on the all-time list and a 4th championship at the age of 31 would set Michael Schumacher’s world-record 7 titles firmly in his sights. Cynics will conclude that Hamilton’s Mercedes AMG Petronas car is unfairly superior to the remainder of the current crop (Rosberg-aside), but he’s earned his right to drive it from eye-catching performances in lesser beasts.

 

SNOOKER

It’s impossible to look past the “King of The Crucible” Stephen Hendry who won the World Snooker Championship there 7 times between 1990-1999. John Pulman and Fred Davis may have won more during the years before the first professional 147 break was recorded by Steve Davis in 1982, but hardly comparable standards of play. Nugget himself won 6 World Championships and spent 7 seasons as World No.1, a list that Hendry tops with 9 years atop the rankings, including 8 consecutive years as he dominated the 1990s.

Only Ronnie O’Sullivan holds more maximum breaks (13) and tournament centuries (824) than Hendry’s 11 and 775, but Rocket’s inability to convert regularly on the biggest stage places him behind The Golden Boy from Edinburgh. Ronnie is generally regarded to be the most-talented player to pick up a cue, but Hendry’s desire, work ethic, attitude and success is unparalleled.

“The best player ever to pick up a snooker cue”

– Ronnie O’Sullivan on Stephen Hendry

 

DARTS

When it comes to darts, no one comes close to Phil “The Power” Taylor. 214 professional tournaments wins. 83 major titles. 16 World Championships (14 x PDC, 2 x BDO). Unbeaten in 44 matches in winning eight consecutive World Championships from 1995 to 2002 and 14 consecutive finals from 1994 to 2007 (both records). Six-time PDC Player of the Year (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012). Threw the first televised nine-dart finish. The only player to arrow two nine-dart finishes in one match. Highest three-dart average per match in the history of the game. Seven of the top ten PDC World Championship three-dart averages, including the TDA highest-ever recorded (111.21 in 2002) 51 times achieved 100+ match average in PDC World Darts Championship (next best is 13). £6,085,028 career prize money (in darts!!!). That’s an astonishing record of dominance, ’nuff said.

The suggestion that “any sport you can do whilst smoking a cigarette isn’t a sport”, doesn’t hold true for me. But despite his frankly ridiculous achievements, Taylor doesn’t automatically sail straight to the top of list. Like snooker, darts is hugely dominated by the UK and the Commonwealth. It’s not solely British-based, but it’s certainly not truly international.

 

DIVING (no, not Tom Daley…)

The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has been held at iconic venues in 27 different countries across the world since it’s inception in 2009. One man has been dominant in that time, with 5 wins and 2 runner-up placings out of the seven tournaments completed to date (the 2016 event is currently underway). That man is Gary Hunt, a Brit pushing an extreme sports to new dimensions. Hardly a household name, the 32-year-old is the only Red Bull athlete who’s competed in all 50 World Series stops and he’s won half of them (25 event wins).

Recognised as the most progressive cliff diver in the World Series, Hunt also carries pedigree in the pool with gold (2015) and silver (2013) in the high diving World Championships as well as Commonwealth Games bronze in the 10 metre platform synchro.

 

More on this topic or subscribe for updates:

Individual Sports – Part 1

Team Sports [coming soon]

Olympians [coming soon]

 

 

Britain’s Greatest-Ever Sportsman? Individual Sports – Part 1

Britain’s Greatest-Ever Sportsman?  Individual Sports – Part 1

After a fortnight of British trailblazing, we ask who sits where in the list of all-time British sporting greats?

At exactly 5pm two Sundays ago as Andy Murray tossed his trusty Head Radical to the lush grass of Centre Court in celebrating his 2nd Wimbledon title, regular opinion-spouter Gary Linekar came out with something quite radical of his own on Twitter (where else?):

I immediately dismissed this as typical Linekar hyperbole (few have embraced the opportunity impose and influence on social media as much as England’s 3rd highest goal scorer), but attempting to define a more deserving recipient proved a more complex task than originally expected.

 

So how to define “the greatest”? 

I’d start by suggesting that the nominee would have to have spent a sizeable period of time at the very top of their sport. Despite winning 38 career titles, including three Grand Slams (US Open 2012, Wimbledon 2013 & 2016), as well as the London 2012 Olympic gold (men’s singles) and silver (mixed doubles) medals, 2015 Davis Cup with Team GB and amassing the 4th-highest prize money of all time, the shouty Scot has never achieved the pinnacle of become world No.1 in the ATP rankings.

That his career earnings of $49,471,297 puts him behind only sweaty Spaniard Rafael Nadal, smooth Swiss Roger Federer and superhuman Serb Novak Djokovic tells the story here. There’s every chance Murray could be considered the 4th best tennis player in history, he’s simply unfortunate to share an era with the three players who rank above him. He broke into the ATP top 10 in 2007 and first achieved No.2 spot just two years later, but he has never made it the very top of the ladder. His two BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards (2013 & 2015) will be scant consolation.

That said, Murray is the first British tennis player to win a grand slam tournament since Virginia Wade in 1977, and the first man since Bunny Austin in 1938. Murray is head and shoulders above the competition in the world’s premier racquet sport.

adidas Congratulate Andy Murray - SPOTY

 

Who from within British sport can be considered to have at one time been at the very top of their game? Let’s start with the hopefuls from individuals sports…

GOLF

The 145th Open Championship has just concluded at Royal Troon with Henrik Stenson becoming the first Swede to take the claret jug. Americans dominated the the top 20, but there were impressive placings for Brits too, with 5 finishing with the top 12. One of these was 27-year-old Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, a man who is already a four-time major champion, looking for his 2nd win at The Open. The man from Holywood, County Down has amassed 95 weeks at World No.1 in the Official World Golf Rankings and is one of three players to win three majors by the age of 25 (Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus being the others – impressive company). However, is Rory even considered Britain’s best-ever golfer, let alone best-ever sportsman?

“He is a leading contender to be Britain’s finest ever sportsman in an individual sport. He is the gold standard from which the rest of modern British golf has to be judged.”

– Former Walker Cup captain Peter McEvoy on Sir Nick Faldo

For much of the early 1990s Nick Faldo was considered the best golfer in the world. He may only have topped the world rankings for 2 weeks longer than McIlroy at 97 weeks (his rivalry with Greg Norman is well documented), but Faldo won 6 major championships (3 x The Open, 3 x Masters) between 1987-1996 and recorded 41 career titles to McIlroy’s current haul of 20. Faldo is the most successful Ryder Cup player ever, having won the most points of any player on either team (25) and having represented the European Team a record 11 times. McIlroy has pulled on the blue jumper 3 times, coming out victorious on each occasion and has been named PGA Player of the Year twice. His Mentor – who was knighted in 2009 – received this honour only once.

There’s not a lot to separate the two most decorated British golfers of the modern era. McIlroy’s age would suggest he will go on to surpass Faldo’s achievements (his first major title at The Open in 1987 came a day after his 30th birthday), but a budding rivalry with American Jordan Spieth and Australian Jason Day could mean his early domination of the sport is behind him.

 

CYCLING

Cycling is sport that has gripped the soul of the UK in recent years, from the streets (more on that later) to the track where Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins have led an impressive British medal collection. Sprinter Hoy is the most decorated track cyclist of all time with 19 golds (plus 9 silver & 9 bronze) across all major competitions. At the London 2012 Olympics he became the first British athlete to win three gold medals in a single Games since 1908. This haul crowned the likeable Scot as the most successful British Olympian ever with six golds, soon being dubbed “His Royal Hoyness” by the British tabloids. He had become an 11-time World Champion by the time he retired in 2013, before embarking on a career behind the wheel where he helped his team Algarve Pro Racing to a 17th-place finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016.

In Hoy’s slipstream is individual and team pursuit specialist Wiggins, whose four Olympic golds, 1 silver and 2 bronzes put him 2nd on the all-time list, despite deciding to miss the track events at London 2012 to concentrate on the road. Dominance on the track was followed up with a first-ever General Classification win on the Tour de France by a British rider as Wiggo held on to win by 3 minutes and 21 seconds in 2012. Just a month later he followed up with a gold in the Olympic time trial and was widely expected to retain his TDF title in 2013, but asserted that his focus for the season would be to ride in support of Team Sky team-mate and compatriot Chris Froome, who duly won. The Lancastrian – who was knighted in 2013 – returned to the track to set a new hour record with a distance of 54.526 km in 2015 and is part of Team GB as he aims to win an unprecedented eighth career medal when he heads to Rio later in the summer.

Joining him in Brazil is Kenya-born Brit Froome, who will be looking for his first Olympic Gold and enters the time trial and road race after winning his third Tour de France in four years (he was forced to retire from the race in 2014 but returned to place second in the Vuelta a España later in the year). Claiming the 2016 maillot jaune makes him the first rider since Miguel Indurain in the early 90s to win three or more renditions of La Grande Boucle and with gifts Team Sky their 4th win in 5 years, an astonishing achievement given the 109-year wait for victory in sport’s toughest test.

Also making headlines in France last month was Froome’s former Team Sky teammate Mark Cavendish. The Manxman registered his 30th win en Tour to put him second on the all-time list behind Belgian legend Eddy Merckx to cement his place as the best sprint-finisher in cycling history, before leaving Le Tour to prepare for the Olympics. Cav has also registered 15 individual stages on the Giro d’Italia and a further 3 on the Vuelta. He has topped the overall points classification on each of the Grand Tours and added a 4th World Championship gold in 2015 despite quitting the track in 2008 after a medal-free Beijing Games. He chases two golds with Team GB back in velodrome in Rio. With a record like that, who’d bet against him?

 

BOXING

It’s pretty well accepted that Britain has owned three world-class fighters of the modern era: heavyweight Lennox Lewis, featherweight Naseem Hamed and super-middleweight Joe Calzaghe. It can be no surprise that these three fighters are the lone British entries to the International Boxing Hall of Fame since lightweight Scot John Buchanen in the 1970s. Historically it was notoriously difficult to compare boxers from different weight classes, but since The Ring magazine introduced the definitive pound-for-pound rankings in 1989 only Lewis, Hamed, Calzaghe and light-welterweight Ricky Hatton have appeared in the top 10 from amongst the British ranks.

“The Italian Dragon” Calzaghe was rated as a top ten pound-for-pound boxer in three consecutive years between 2006-2008 with a 3rd place finish in 2008 the best on record from a British puncher. “The Hitman” Hatton reached No.4 in 2005 and “Prince” Naseem and Lennox “The Lion” made their best showings in 2000, placing 6th and 8th respectively. Welshman Calzaghe retired in February 2009 with an undefeated record of 46-0 (32 KO) as a reigning world champion and as the longest-reigning super-middleweight world champion in history. His case for being Britain’s greatest sportsman certainly packs a punch.

Credit too must go to Lewis – who won Olympic gold for Canada in 1988 – for knocking out pound-for-pound great Mike Tyson in 2002 and being the last man to unify the glamorous heavyweight division as undisputed champion. 

“He [Lewis] is, no doubt, the best heavyweight of all time. What he’s done clearly puts him on top of the heap.”

– Two-time world heavyweight champion and grill entrepreneur George Foreman

 

More on this topic or subscribe for updates:

Individual Sports – Part 2

Team Sports [coming soon]

Olympians [coming soon]

Grigg Level with Pogba and Lloris in Vote for Europe’s Best Player

Grigg Level with Pogba and Lloris in Vote for Europe’s Best Player

A bizarre UEFA poll has voted League One’s Will Grigg as the 25th best player in Europe alongside some of the biggest names in world football.

Northern Irishman Grigg makes a surprise appearance on the shortlist for the 2015/16 Uefa Best Player in Europe Award despite plying his trade in the English third tier and failing to make an appearance at Euro 2016.

The poll, decided by journalists from Uefa’s 55 member associations, ensured the Wigan Athletic man tied-25th alongside Juventus pair Giorgio Chiellini and £100m-rated Paul Pogba, Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin and Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

GettyImages-545901774.jpg

The frontman shot to fame in the summer as the subject of chant Will Grigg’s on Fire following a 25-goal season for The Latics, but his appearance on the shortlist is as disappointing as it is mystifying.

The jury supposedly comprises renowned sports journalists representing each of UEFA’s 55 national associations, who provide a list of their three best-ranked players from one to three.

That Grigg could appear on the 37-man list, tied with two key members of the European Championship finalists, is a timely reminder that all is not well within football governance despite a successful tournament in France. On the outside it is no doubt deemed justifiable banter by Europe’s scoffing media, but I doubt Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – last season’s top scorer in the Bundesliga – will be laughing after finishing a place behind the top marksman in League One.

There is big money placed on these awards at the bookies. It should be expected that the judges perform the task that has been asked of them rather than jumping onboard popular Internet memes and pop culture. According to UEFA, players are judged by their performances in all competitions, domestic and international, and at club and national team levels throughout the season.

“[The award] recognises the best player, irrespective of his nationality, playing for a football club within the territory of a UEFA member association during the previous season.”

– UEFA on the Best Player in Europe Award

In recent years UEFA have been hoping to revive the European Footballer of the Year Award, which was merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year Award in 2010 to become the FIFA Ballon d’Or. The “Golden Ball” has also created it’s fair share of nonsense in recent years, belittling the award given to the world’s best male player by including relative unknown Massimo Luongo on the shortlist for 2015. Luongo later admitted he thought it was a joke. Unfortunately it may well have been exactly that.

ballon-dor
FIFA included QPR midfielder Massimo Luongo on their 59-man Ballon D’Or shortlist in 2015. The Australian spent the season in League One with Swindon Town.
js52986517
UEFA were in a similar situation in 2012 when Bangor City’s Les Davies was nominated after receiving the required single nomination.

Grigg’s inclusion seems to suggest that UEFA’s efforts to match the notoriety of FIFA’s awards have not been successful, as they resort to shock PR tactics to manufacture interest in the rankings. On this occasion Grigg seems to have been the lucky beneficiary. His cult status has just risen once again.

Maybe in 2016/17 he’ll get a game for Northern Ireland.