What’s happening in sport with Ash Gray.
In these COVID-crippling times, the Clash song Should I Stay Or Should I Go? seems to sum up the predicament facing so many of our elite sportsmen and sportswomen. Take the Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons. The Melbourne-raised NBA power forward dazzled the Philly faithful until it was pointed out that when it comes to free throws, he couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo. So dire was his inability to stick ball through hoop that he refused to join the Boomers in Tokyo for the Olympics so he could concentrate on shoring up his Philly stakes (boom-tish!). But now they want to trade him and his insane $50-million-a-year salary. Maybe he should have gone for gold after all.
Serena Williams’ formidable posterior has powered her fabled tennis career, providing the stability and strength to launch her bludgeoning game. It’s also what she ended up on at Wimbledon, and may well end up on at Flushing Meadow in the upcoming US Open. It seems the more she wants to catch our Margaret Court as the winningest female grand slammer ever, the further away the prize gets. She can almost taste it, but pushing 40, and increasingly injury prone, perhaps it’s time to hang up those lycra body suits and plant that aforementioned posterior in the commentary box.
It’s getting to the pointy end of the footy seasons, and already the vultures are circling. Clubs, coaches and players are engaged in a murky merry-go-round as cheques are bandied about like confetti. Alas, axings are also on the agenda. Long-suffering Bulldogs, Knights and Wests Tigers fans must be dreaming of new rosters and coaches, especially with GOAT Wayne Bennett a free agent at the end of the year. Perennial underachievers such as Cronulla’s Josh Dugan, Bronco Anthony Milford and Wests’ Moses Mbye and Russell Packer are stumbling to the end of big-bucks contracts and may well find themselves enjoying the primitive charms of park footy before long.
With Nathan Cleary it’s not so much ‘should he go’ as ‘can he go all the way?’
Has the man with the superhero boot – and jaw – got what it takes to pilot the Panthers to the premiership in early October? Only time, and his dodgy right shoulder, will tell.
In the AFL, harakiri is more the preferred method of contract termination, with ’Pies legend Nathan Buckley falling on his coaching sword halfway through the season after a flag-free decade at Olympic Park.It followed his boss Eddie McGuire’s selfdestruction earlier in the year over a report into systematic racism at the club. Of course, there are football coaches of all codes unknowingly signing their death warrants every day of the year, but surely Richmond clipboard king Damien Hardwick’s three flags – and Dustin Martin’s grunt and goals – are enough to keep him in the top job forever despite the Tigers’ so-so season. Surely.
Meanwhile, the Dees’ Simon Goodwin can expect VB-drenched renditions of It’s A Grand Old Flag for the rest of his life if Melbourne can continue its unlikely run to a 57-year drought-ending premiership.
The Australian cricket team has a serious case of Should I Stay Or Should I go? syndrome with seven stars opting out of the recent white-ball tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh. Warner, Cummins, Stoinis, Maxwell and Smith, plus Jhye and Kane Richardson, found the baggy gold (or whatever it is they stick on their noggins these days) was not quite as attractive as the bags of gold they were looting from the Indian Premier League. Admittedly, Smith had a gammy elbow, but where’s the loyalty, boys
No-one could doubt the devotion to the cause of Gold Coast accountant Jarrad Young. The 43-year-old father of two recently punched out 3052 pushups in 60 minutes, smashing the Guinness World Record in the process. He trained for 20 weeks for the chest-buggering attempt.
“If someone else wants to beat it then good luck to them,” super pecs said. “It will take them five years of training.”
West Aussie cyclist Ben O’Connor knows a thing or two gazillion about training. A year ago he contemplated chucking his tredley in, having been worn down by injuries and cycling’s relentless grind. But he worked his calves and glutes off, munching kilometres for breakfast, lunch and tea, and in July he won stage nine of this year’s Tour de France, putting him within snorting distance of the famous yellow jersey.
Josue Duverger has most probably gone forever, never to return to a soccer field.
The Haitian goalkeeper became a YouTube sensation – for all the wrong reasons – when he mis-kicked a back-pass that was dawdling towards the goal line in a World Cup qualifier against Canada. In fact, the ball was travelling so slowly he was able to have another swipe at it, only to slip and nudge it over the stripe with his other hapless boot.
“He’s not going to sleep tonight, he’s not going to sleep for the next week,” the TV commentator trilled unsympathetically.
Let’s hope Mr Duverger has found a comfortable rock to crawl under – and a sympathetic careers adviser.
The EPL is the most mind-boggling money circus in world sport. But could there ever be enough of the folding stuff to keep Harry Kane at Tottenham after his star turns for England in the Euros? Indeed, Spurs, alongside their bitter rivals Arsenal, finished outside the top six last season, and both clubs, still feeling their fans’ wrath after hitching their wagon to the ill-fated Super League, will be looking to give Pep Guardiola’s minted Manchester City a closer run for its money this campaign.
However, all three franchises will still be on the Super League’s radar, whatever form it might take, and the lure of what many consider ‘filthy money’ never far from the headlines. And with the Sky Blues’ player salary bill a staggering $675 million alone, their dilemma, and that of their top-six compadres, could well be summed up by another line from that Clash classic: If I go, there will be trouble, and if I stay it will be double.