For all the glamour of the Premiership, the real thing that gives the Beautiful Game its beauty is the indelible joy of playing the game. From a kick-about in the park to Villa Park, the actual joy of participation tends to outweigh watching others play the game. Which is why – during summer Olympic, cycling, cricketing or tennis glories – it’s frustrating when the behaviour of a few in the upper echelons of the game gives people a stick to beat football with.
Australians 396-4 dec Worcestershire 246-7
Australia have a spring in their step and a song in their heart. This is not only because they have arrived in Worcester where, in days of yore, their tours traditionally began and Don Bradman usually scored a hundred beneath the cathedral.
An early term report on Australia’s progress might say: “Good, room for improvement, none for complacency.” The tourists are steamrollering Somerset in the first match of the Ashes tour but Somerset have suffered similar crushings already this season by their Championship peers.
Increasing numbers of stricken birds are washing up on the south coast after being covered in a mysterious substance.
At the time, it seemed tempting to doubt the form. After all, the runners had splashed over a course that might sooner have staged a regatta than a Grade One bumper. As things have turned out, however, the last two horses still afloat in the straight at Punchestown in April have amply confirmed their calibre since switching to hurdles. This weekend, both seek a place towards the top of different novice divisions either side of the Irish Sea. Champagne Fever, the winner, steps up to two and a half miles at Naas on Sunday; while Melodic Rendezvous contests a Grade One over two miles at Sandown on Saturday.
Heavy rain caused misery for rail passengers in many parts of the country today, while homes and businesses in south-west England were hit by flooding.
What price a night with Mitt Romney? Now you could probably have a Michelin-starred dinner with change from £100 (Mitt doesn't drink) but when the 2012 US Presidential election was at its epoch back in October, you wouldn't get much change from $1,000 (£615). And you'd have to share your meal with Romney's exhausted campaign staff.
South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher has retired from international cricket following the eye injury he suffered during yesterday's tour game against Somerset.
A record opening stand of 122 between skipper Andrew Gale and Phil Jaques put Yorkshire on track for a 22-run victory over reigning champions Leicestershire in their Friends Life t20 encounter at Headingley yesterday.
Jeetan Patel's four wickets helped Warwickshire make it three wins from three Clydesdale Bank 40 Group C games with an easy eight-wicket victory over Northamptonshire yesterday.
After Andrew Strauss's frustration at Lord's last week, Ian Bell's bid to find form in the County Championship ran into trouble against Sussex yesterday. Bell made a seven-ball duck, in complete contrast to his Warwickshire and England team-mate Jonathan Trott.
A Roses match that was seldom less than compelling ended with a narrow victory for Lancashire that will infuse Glen Chapple's players with excitement as winning the Championship begins to look a possibility.
Somerset 425-3 dec & 260-2 dec India 224 & 69-0
New India coach in jovial but mischievious mood as he talks up Swann but highlights Strauss's weakness
Last year Somerset finished second in everything but that experience doesn't appear to have left any long-term scars. The West Country side, well-placed in the Championship after the first half of the season, have been piling on the runs in the Friends Provident t20 after an opening defeat to last year's winners, Hampshire.