Sunday, April 20, 2008

McGrath, Ewood Park and Styles

It was as if he was never away from cricket. Glenn McGrath was at his accurate best helping the Delhi Daredevils restrict the abysmal Rajasthan Royals to a meager 129 in their 20 overs. McGrath was bang on the money from the first ball itself. He hit the right length and kept the ball in the corridor of uncertainty thereby making it very difficult for the batsmen to get it away. His figures of a wicket in four overs for twenty one runs is a phenomenal performance in this form of the game even though he was only bowling to an incredibly poor Rajasthan batting line up. I said in my earlier post that it would be interesting to see how McGrath copes with the 20-20 format. Well, so far he has lived up to his legendary status. But the real test is still to come.

After having watched McGrath bowl his first spell, I switched my attention to the start of the game at Ewood Park between Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United. From United’s perspective it was very important that they didn’t lose this game so as to ensure that the title is still in their own hands. They managed just that through a late Carlos Tevez header. It was one of those games where the ball just wouldn’t go into the back of the net. Brad Friedel was superb in the Blackburn goal and he thwarted several attempts by United to get level after a rare defensive blip by Ferdinand had given Santa Cruz the chance to put Rovers in front, which he took with great composure. It was finally a flick on from Scholes from a Nani corner which gave Tevez the opportunity to head past Friedel and earn what could be a very valuable point for the Champions. Man United can now all but mathematically wrap up the title if they manage to defeat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. I would imagine that the title would be theirs even if they can manage a draw at the Bridge as they would only have to win one of their two remaining games against West Ham United at home and Wigan Athletic away.

And finally Rob Styles for my money should be banned from refereeing at any level of the game. After his horrendous blunder to award a penalty to Chelsea against Liverpool early in the season, the FA dropped him for one round of matches. I cannot understand how such a dreadful decision could be punished with a mere one round suspension. Again at Saint Andrews, in a game between Birmingham City and Manchester City, he seemed to compensate one poor decision by awarding a penalty to Birmingham when Sun Ji Hai had merely indulged in a legitimate shoulder-to-shoulder challenge with Gary McSheffrey. In the game at Ewood Park, he was back to his awful self and failed to award at least three blatant penalties to United. As Roy Keane said recently referring decisions do not even themselves out over the course of a season. There is no place for poor refereeing especially when the stakes are so high. The decisions at Ewood were probably not as bad as some of the ones that he had made earlier in the season. But that does not take away anything from the fact that Mr. Styles continues to make terrible decisions and that he should be banned from refereeing at any level of professional football.

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