Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Cricket’s Muralitharan scaled new heights

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Prodigious spin propelled by an abnormally strong wrist and an iron resolve forged in bitter acrimony over his unique action took Muttiah Muralitharan to unprecedented heights in world cricket.

Muralitharan, 38, took his 800th test wicket with his final ball in 133 tests on Thursday. With Twenty20 cricket cutting increasingly into the test programme it is a mark that is unlikely ever to be exceeded.

Muralitharan, son of a confectioner from Kandy and a member of the embattled Tamil minority, believes his best test figures 16 for 220 at the Oval in 1999 remain his career highlight.

The one-off test against an England side who had just beaten South Africa in a series was an unforgettable snapshot of his wondrous powers of flight and spin and the parallel emergence of Sri Lanka as a world force.

Flintoff and Botham were good, but were they great?

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flintoffcelebratesIn an echo of Australia’s futile craving for a new Bradman for at least a decade after he retired, England cricket yearned in vain for another Ian Botham.

Derek Pringle, David Capel and Phil DeFreitas were hailed as potential successors while the all-rounder was still playing in the 1980s. The unsought weight of expectation then fell on Chris Lewis and Dominic Cork.

Where Bolt stands in my personal greatest hits

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Having been privileged to be sitting a few metres from the finishing line as Usain Bolt shattered his own 100 and 200m world records in Berlin – and having also witnessed his double in Beijing, I got to wondering where those performances ranked in my personal bag of live events.

So, here is my list of contenders, followed by my podium. I’ve included only events I have attended in a professional capacity as a sports reporter as memories of some others I’ve enjoyed as a “punter” might be clouded by beer.

Is Federer now the G.O.A.T?

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We’ve heard what some of the great and good of tennis have said about Roger Federer’s achievements but can we now rank him as the best player ever to have picked up a racket? Here, Ossian Shine considers the arguments, while in the post below Miles Evans urges a spot of caution.

At first it looked as though the world’s tennis pundits were bickering about whether or not Roger Federer was a herbivorous bovid.

Let’s not be so quick to crown Roger the Greatest

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federerlaverAny debate about the greatest player of all time in a given event is naturally laden with ‘what ifs’.

Roger Federer’s tearful victory in the French Open final on Sunday prompted an undignified queue of pundits and former players to conclude that the elegant Swiss was undoubtedly the best tennis had ever seen. But what if…

What the players say about Roger Federer

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federerWith the French Open trophy tucked under his arm at long last, it was job done for Roger Federer.

He now owns a record-equalling 14th grand slam crown and became only the sixth man to complete a career grand slam of the four majors.

Federer the great finally wins at Roland Garros

Roger Federer ended his French Open jinx when he swept past Swede Robin Soderling 6-1 7-6 6-4 in the final to clinch his first Roland Garros title on Sunday.

The Swiss equalled Pete Sampras’s record of 14 grand slam titles and became the sixth man to win all four major tournaments, sealing victory in just under two hours in cloudy conditions.

My British & Irish Lions All-Time Best XV

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guscottThe rarity value of the Lions’ tours adds to their romance. Once every four years they travel, alternately, to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and, every four years, the temptation for pundits to choose a Lions All Time Best XV becomes irresistible.

It certainly was in my case, and here is my stab at picking the best XV.

I don’t expect anyone will agree with my choices completely, and please let me know in the comments where you think I’ve gone wrong. Anyway, here goes…

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Stat anoraks in a frenzy over Van der Sar

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The anoraks have had to dig deeper and deeper into their stat books to deny Manchester United's Edwin van der Sar another goalkeeping record.

His side's 3-0 win over a toothless Fulham at Old Trafford on Wednesday took the 38-year-old Dutchman's unbeaten league run to 14 successive games and an astonishing 1,302 minutes.

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