The Diary: Goodwill hotline cut off

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The Independent Online
RUSSIAN organisers of the Goodwill Games have become increasingly desperate to take credit for something as the event has lurched from one crisis to another. Finally, they have laid claim to the hottest summer in seven years in St Petersburg, one of the world's northernmost cities. 'Mayor Anatoly Sobchak told me he prayed every day to St Peter so the weather would be fit for the games,' Jack Kelly, the president of the Games committee, said. Communications are notoriously unreliable in those parts. Presumably, his hotline went down before he could ask about ice makers, swimming pool filters, etc, etc.

SOME people will fall for anything, even a bizarre record attempt. On Friday, 240 skydivers in teams from around the world will go to Bratislava in the hope that sometime during the following week they will join up in mid-air in a world-record formation in the sky. The Slovakian government is supporting the attempt on the mark of 200, set last by a group of Americans, laying on accommodation and their equivalent of Hercules transporters to take on the flying labours in hauling them up to 22,000 feet.

IF you care about British tennis, you will enjoy, if that is the right word, Monday night's On the line on BBC2. Subtitled 'Days of Hope and Glory', it attempts to shed light on what it is like to be one of those players upon whom a nation's hopes rest, for two weeks of the year, at least. Concentrating on Jeremy Bates and his potential successor as the best of British, Tim Henman, it examines the parlous state of the game here and juxtaposes that with public expectation of British players.

PAKISTAN'S six-month ban from international football is all a mistake, according to the national federation's president, Mian Muhammad Azhar. He says Fifa, the world game's governing body, was misled by Hafiz Salman Butt, who has been suspended as the federation's secretary, into believing two parallel organisations exist. Easy mistake to make, really, given that two Pakistan teams turned up for the Asian Youth Championships last month. Why don't they simply call one the Pakistan Football Association and the other the Pakistan Football League?

WARWICKSHIRE are probably not the most popular cricket team with Ladbrokes these days, unless they lose. If they pull off the 'grand slam' by following their Benson and Hedges success with triumphs in the Championship, the NatWest Trophy and the Sunday League, it will cost bookies a lot of money. An untidy sum in Ladbrokes' case. Although they judged the pre-season odds against Warwickshire winning everything after they signed Brian Lara as 10,000-1, several accumulator bets on the Edgbaston club sneaked past counter staff. One is believed to carry multiplied odds of over 64,000-1. Ladbrokes fear that if Warwickshire clean up, they could face a pay-out of up to pounds 500,000.

Last week's pursuit of sporting criminals netted such gems as Fu Mann Chu and Mike Denness the Menace. The winner of the Wild Turkey Bourbon is Ian Coleman, of Writtle, for the following on whom the Jo Durie was still out, with Judge John Jeffrey ready to pass sentence and Samways maximum security unit preparing accommodation.

Team: Mark 'Jesse' James, Linford Christie, Bjorn Borgia, Richard Moriarty, Herbert 'Peter' Sutcliffe, Mark 'Sweeney' Todd, Roland 'Dennis' Nilsson, Tom 'Tom the piper's son' Watson, Babe Ruth 'Ellis', Alan-Ball Lecter, Neil Harvey 'Oswald'. Substitute: Garth Crooks. Manager: The Don 'Corleone' Bradman.

With the football season upon us, and given the appeal of cricketing songs, next week a footballing songs XI is required. Referees are clamping down, so 'Always look on the 'Bright' side of life' warrants an immediate red card.

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