Maxie’s Sports Corner

Maxie’s Australian Masters Games

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Max recently returned from the Australian Masters Games held in Adelaide at the beginning of this month and came away with:

Bronze Medals in:

  • 400m Individual Medley
  • 200m Individual Medley
  • 100m Freestyle

Silver Medal in:

  • 50m Butterfly

Gold Medals in:

  • 100m Butterfly
  • 200m Butterfly

Awesome Maxie!!  Well done!!  We are all very proud of you.

So now it is Tennis Time and who really is the greatest???????

Continuing on with my passionate dislike for commentators and experts whose views are predicated on a ’five minute time span’,  the argument rages as to who is the greatest male tennis player of all time?

Unlike cricket, where statistics validate the proposition that Don Bradman was the greatest batsman of all time, if not for any other reason then the fact that his average is twice that of anyone else who has have ever played cricket.

The tennis debate usually revolves around the number of “grand slam championships “ won by a player — and as a result, the winner of the most grand slam championships (ie, Wimbledon, Australian , French and American ) would be ‘ipso facto’ the greatest player of all time.

So, if Federer has won more grand slam championships than Sampras then Federer must be greater than Sampras. However if Federer cannot beat Nadal, who has not won as many grand slam championships as Federer – what then?

What a shallow basis for critical evaluation.

Now let us talk about Rodney Laver.

In 1962, Laver not only won some grand slam championships, he won all of them and in fact was only the second player in history to win the ‘Grand Slam’ that is all of the championships in one calendar year. (Bobby Riggs was the other player)

Rodney then turned professional and in those days professional tennis players were banned from competing in grand slam championships.

During the next seven years or so Rod, on the ‘professional circuit’, which then included the best players of their era, left nobody in doubt that he was the greatest player in the world.

In 1969, seven years after he won the Grand Slam, the ban on professional players was lifted and Rod was now permitted to enter grand slam championships again.

In that year Rodney Laver won the Grand Slam, that is, he won the Australian, French, Wimbledon and American Open Championships to become the only player to win the Grand Slam twice and until this day the winning of the Grand Slam has not been replicated once, let alone twice.

I wonder how many grand slam championships, Laver would have won over the period of seven years in which he was not allowed to compete. A period during which, he was regarded, without qualification, as the world’s best player.

The Gentleman’s Game of Cricket

Rebecca Wilson a ‘sporting’ journalist for the Daily Telegraph stated recently about the
Gentleman’s pastime of cricket:

The game as it is played now is much, much tougher than before.  Bowlers consistently  deliver 130km/h balls six times an over.  Fieldsmen encounter missiles when they stand close to the wicket.

Now this demanded a response.

Dear Rebecca,

I respect your right to an opinion, that indeed is your role as a journalist, but!!!!

I have had the monumental pleasure of watching cricket since, but more importantly including, the Bradman era.

I have played many years of cricket, albeit without a great deal of success, however I certainly know what it was like to bat on a damp wicket when the sun comes out with balls rearing up off a good length breaking fingers or ribs or having your eye closed for weeks with internal bleeding.

My lifelong passion for cricket combined with the above are, I submit, sufficient credentials to make the observation that your proposition is unfathomable and beyond comprehension.

“than before” presumably means the era of:

  • unprotected wickets as compared with benign ‘drop in pitches’;
  • unrestricted field placing;
  • no helmets , no arm guards, thigh guards or chest guards; and
  • 8 ball overs in Australia from 1920 -1979 and at various times in other countries;

So what we have in Australia during that latter period in particular, is batsmen without any protection facing Jeff Thomson 8 balls an over at speeds up to 180km/h, Dennis Lillee, Frank Tyson, John Snow, Wesley Hall, Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller and  Michael Holding, to name just but a few.

As for missiles for fieldsman near the wicket, do you really think that it was easier for Simpson, Taylor, Mark Waugh and the Chappells’ etc?

Surely a knowledge of the history of the game is the ‘sine qua non’ for making statements which purport to have such absolute authority.

I think you would find it interesting to have a look at some of the Aus/England, Aus/West Indies tests of the early to mid 70’s in particular.  If you did, you would recant your proposition on reflection.

Oh yes, Australian batsmen faced Larwood and Voce on unprotected wickets, with unrestricted field placements without the armour of today, 8 times each over.

Kindest regards,

Max Lewis

‘I resent utterly the philosophy of those misguided people who think arrogance is a necessary virtue’

What great Australian sportsman was responsible for these profound words?

When considering the stature of an athlete or for that matter any person, I set great store in certain qualities which I believe are essential in addition to skill.

They are that the person conduct his or her life with dignity, with integrity and, most of all, with modesty. They are totally compatible with pride, ambition and competitiveness.

I love to see people with personality and character, but I resent utterly the philosophy of those misguided people who think arrogance is a necessary virtue.  It is only endured by the public, not enjoyed.

For the answer, see the letter below.

Letter from Don Bradman

And here is the signed copy he refers to:

Copy of Hall of Fame speech, signed by Don Bradman

 

The International Charity Thoroughbred Event, formerly known as the Melbourne Cup

Horse with jockeyMy lifelong passion for sport has always included horse racing. Indeed, I still recall how I was emotionally incapable of dealing with the breaking down of my favourite horse of the time — and great champion —Bernborough, in the LKS McKinnon Stakes of 1946, almost 68 years to the day that I write this — but I am beginning to get over it.

Throughout my life the Melbourne Cup always had its own fascination. Being a handicap race with horses allotted different weights according to their previous race history, the Cup has mostly not been won by champion racehorses, because until recently they were asked to carry too much weight as compared with their less talented competitors. And after all, that is what handicapping is all about: bringing the more talented ‘back to the field’.

Some great horses have still managed to defy the odds and win the Cup. To give an idea of what it takes, if the top weight Admire Rakti, a Japanese entry, wins this year, he will carry 58.5 kgs. In 1931, Phar Lap, in his failed attempt to win a second Melbourne Cup, was required to carry 10 stone 13 lbs or approximately 68.5 kgs, a massive 1 kg more over two miles (or, as now expressed, 3200 metres).

Historically, the excitement of the Cup over the years has lain in trying to pick the winner. The way one could go about this was to follow the form of the horses who had entered, almost all of whom were recognisable from their performances in either Australia or New Zealand. They followed the traditional pattern of ‘lead up’ races. It was rare indeed for the Cup winner not to have raced in one at least of the traditional races, such as the Metropolitan in Sydney, the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate and the LKS McKinnon Stakes.

What we have today, however, is a number of horses, many of which have not raced in this country, and there is no real way to judge their ability. How are you able to compare the form of a Japanese horse, which last raced in Germany on a grass track, with the Irish horse which last raced in Dubai on a sand track, with the English horse which last raced in America on a dirt track, with the Arab horse which last raced in Hong Kong on a synthetic track?

No longer can we romanticise and speculate about the chances of Radish winning the Cup, based on his scintillating win in the Gulargambone Cup last start. Not much room for genuine ‘Aussie’ or ‘Kiwi’ bred and raced horses these days.

Our lack of concern and respect for our sovereignty extends beyond our dairies, minerals and great tracts of pastoral land, which have been sold off to international interests. It now extends to the ‘great race’, which has become no more or no less than an international gala day for international owners, breeders and horses (and, of course, a stage for anyone who has had a part in any Channel 7 production in the last zillion years) and only happens to be staged in Melbourne and celebrated here in Australia as a beaut excuse to have a party on a work day.

So let us all enjoy the carnival atmosphere with our Melbourne Cup luncheons, our champagne, the sweeps and the multi pronged fork selections. But for those of us who embrace and respect the history of this country and the iconic status of what was ‘the cup’, we can only lament the commercial sellout of something that once was a great horse race full of genuine challenges, genuine interest and genuine excitement.

Finally, what is the point of having 10 dollars each way — ‘just for an interest’?

A boxed first 4, which is the first four horses across the line in any order, costs $24.

Last year the winning first 4 paid over $200,000.

Maxie Lewis