Something for the weekend: 31/07/10

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The Independent Online

Squeaky bum time for...


For every England v Pakistan, which appears to be a true Test of bowlers and batsmen, there's a Sri Lanka (642 for 4 declared) versus India (707).

Match drawn, funnily enough. With the possible exception of a few batsmen who've been shooting fish in a Colombo barrel these past few days, no one likes to see that. Any fool can prepare a pitch for an exciting Twenty20 match and if Test cricket is allowed to fade away, so will a profession and art as old as the game itself. Groundsmen have a duty to the game to prepare pitches fit for a Test, if only to save their own skin.

Fernando Alonso

Will Felipe Massa stick two fingers up to team orders this weekend and commemorate returning to the circuit where he nearly died last year with a win? Massa says he won't stand aside again, and the neutral is on his side. Shame really, what with his Ferrari team-mate (and in no way at all the No 1 driver) Alonso being such a popular, selfless guy.

We applaud you wholeheartedly

Blackpool FC

"Please note that our new 2010-11 replica kits are not available for purchase until mid-August." So says the Blackpool FC website. If you're a Tangerines fan you'll be feeling a bit blue that you can't buy your new shirt to celebrate starting a new life in the Premier League until after you've already lost at Wigan and Arsenal. You'll be feeling even worse if you've already borrowed the money to buy your shiny new threads from from the club's new sponsor,, who specialise in offering short-term loans with a paltry typical APR of 2,689 per cent. Who knows, come mid-August you too may be burdened with the debt of a typical English football club.

Tim Howard

Bored of listening to those athletes on BBC 2, what with them being so articulate and reflective? Fed up with Formula One, where people may voice an opinion? Don't worry, football will soon be back, clichés at the ready – have a look at this hat-trick from Tim Howard yesterday, describing Everton's 2009-10 season: "We gave ourselves a mountain to climb – by the time we hit our stride it was a bridge too far."

I want that one

Kamran Akmal's gloves, £44

Gunn & Moore, purveyors of fine cricketing gear for 125 years, must be delighted the Pakistan wicketkeeper is using their gloves. Akmal dropped Andrew Strauss in a manner SFTW would be (and is often) embarrassed by against England on Thursday – one of many errors. If you're a gloveman buy them and help save the reputation of a once-proud British company.

Triumph of the spirit. Nearly

Dominic Carroll

Gibraltar's top sprinter, OK, their only athlete at the European Championships, was eliminated in the third heat of the 100m this week. No surprise there, but his was a heart-warming tale of the amateur spirit: a seven-day working week, including 11-hour days at a petrol station, just to realise his dream of appearing in Barcelona. "It's not even my natural event as I'm more of a 400m runner but I have to contribute to my country," Carroll said. A heart-warming tale indeed, right up until that false start...

Begging your pardon?

Lewis Hamilton

"McLaren are the most professional team I've known in Formula One," said young Lewis, not a trace of irony in his voice – no Ferrari-style team orders scandal could ever happen in his manor. Leaving aside that he's only known McLaren, didn't he throw his toys out the pram after being kept behind team-mate Fernando Alonso in 2007? And should we consider Spygate, a deposed team principal and the concerted team effort of last year's Liegate?