Sports Letters: Hoddle's right approach

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The Independent Online
Sir: Glenn Moore, in his column entitled "Hoddle's evasive defence on issue of trust and truth", has lost touch with reality.

In a time when football is coming down with money, is analysed ad infinitum from every conceivable camera angle and is inflating itself ever more with its own self-importance, it is incumbent on responsible reporters to take a step back and keep a sense of perspective.

The only parallel between Glenn Hoddle and President Clinton is that they are both in headlines currently. So what if Hoddle gave a different, and altogether more believable, version of events surrounding Gazza in his book? On the eve of World Cup matches, to have done anything other than play down the story would have stirred up a hornet's nest of sensation and adverse publicity. Any public figure knows that, these days, to be cagey, evasive and mendacious, occasionally, with the media is the only way to stay ahead.




Sir: Muttiah Muralitharan yet again showed what a real off-spinner looks like by turning the ball at right angles unlike Robert Croft. One cannot categorise Croft as an "off-spinner". Croft cannot spin the ball at all. Maybe he could be classed as a gentle "up and down" bowler. I am very surprised to see that England continue to select him despite his obvious lack of ability. Croft cost England the game in the final of the triangular series.


Stoneywood Road


Sir: The other day I saw a sticker on a car window saying "BP, the official fuel of the World Cup Squad!"

Either BP fuel is a performance enhancer - in which case it is illegal. Or it is NOT - in which case you'd think they'd keep quiet about it!


Sir: Last Saturday, as is my wont, I ventured down to the local bookmaker's armed with a sizeable proportion of my wage packet. All week, superb racing from York had been on the television, but as I am part of the working class I was unable to enjoy the viewing or the betting. Therefore by Saturday I was champing at the bit to have a good bet and watch some quality horses.

Instead what did I get? Some atrocious racing from Sandown, Ripon, Chester, Lingfield, Market Rasen etc, which made betting unwise and unenjoyable because of the appalling standard or the ridiculously small fields.

Whoever claims to be in control of racing nowadays should make sure that Saturdays - the day that the majority of the non-titled section of the public get off - host the best of the week's racing and not hold it in midweek when only the privileged or the unemployed are able to watch and bet.



Sir: Why has it once again taken the England cricket selectors until the last Test of the summer before opting for the player who is most likely to solve their long-term middle-order batting problems?

I care not a jot about the fact that Ben Hollioake has been out of form with his county, Surrey, this season. In the words of the mighty Ian Botham: form is temporary, class is permanent.

It was barely a year ago that Hollioake the younger was single-handedly winning the Benson and Hedges Cup final for Surrey with one of the great one-day innings.

But, more than that, he has proved himself as a more than adequate all- rounder when touring with the England A team.

Hollioake is the future, so enough of this pussyfooting around with the likes of his brother Adam, Mark Ealham or Ronnie Irani. Who cares if it takes him a while to get into his stride - look at the chances Graeme Hick and Mark Ramprakash have been given to establish themselves in the set-up?

Of course, picking match-winners in the last game of the series is nothing new for England. Remember Devon Malcolm? He was called up only for the last Test at against South Africa on the tour before last and responded with nine wickets in the second innings at The Oval. If not, what about Phil Tufnell, who spun a vicious web to earn England a drawn series against the West Indies. Please, England, if you are going to win the Ashes you must start with your best line-up in Australia, not wait until the series is all over. That line-up includes young Hollioake.


Chipping Sodbury