Sunday 19 November 2017

From the stands: Sir thing just ain't what it used to be

Fergus McDonnell and John Greene

THE news yesterday that Bradley Wiggins is to be knighted in the British New Year's Honours List further devalues that particular system of acknowledging success.

There was a time when such awards were given after a lengthy period of achievement, but the rash of OBEs, MBEs and the rest in recent years recalled the comments of Peter Alliss from earlier this year.

Alliss, who turned down an OBE in 2002, explained his decision in an interview:

"You've got to remember the generation I came from," said the 81-year-old. "Things like OBEs were given out to people who did something remarkable, they weren't given to sportsmen.

"Those who were given OBEs who didn't serve in the war were thought of as getting it for 'Other Buggers' Efforts'. I didn't feel worthy of it. Perhaps I was wrong. Now, of course, they give out OBEs and knighthoods to sporting people like sweets."

There is also the problem of what to do if one of your sporting knights is discredited later in their careers.

Those who decide the recipients of such honours would do well to remember the old adage: 'Form is temporary, class is permanent'.

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THERE can be few people who made such a lasting impact on their sport as Tony Greig, the South African-born former English cricket captain who died in Sydney yesterday.

Greig was a significant figure in Kerry Packer's 'World Series' which revolutionised professional cricket, introducing floodlights and coloured clothing and attracting a legion of followers to what became the modern one-day game.

In later years he became a well-respected and forthright commentator on Australia's Channel 9, often using a car key to demonstrate the firmness or otherwise of the pitch to viewers.

As England captain in 1976, he courted controversy when he said he intended to make the West Indies "grovel" in that summer's Test series.

The Windies had the last laugh, however. Captained by Clive Lloyd and featuring the likes of Gordon Greenidge, Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts, the visitors won the five-match series 3-0, with their exploits recalled in the memorable documentary Fire in Babylon.

* * * * *

TWO students being investigated for sexual assault in Texas wouldn't normally be considered national news.

The incident made headlines this weekend across the US however because the students concerned are part of the Texas college football squad who were due to play Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl last night.

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