Eddie The Eagle

Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards, otherwise known as ‘Eddie The Eagle’, was the subject of 2016 sports comedy-drama film of the same name, starring Taron Egerton in the title role. Although largely fictitious, the film was loosely based on Edwards’ life story.

Born into a working-class family in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Edwards was initially a downhill skier but, having narrowly missed selection for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in that capacity, he later turned to ski jumping as a less expensive and less competitive – at least, as far as Britain was concerned – option.

In the summer of 1986, at the age of twenty-two, Edwards took time off from his career as a plasterer to visit the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex in New York, where he concluded that ski jumping looked ‘alright’. He jumped in his first European Cup event at St. Moritz, Switzerland on Boxing Day, 1986 and, the following year, jumped in the Four Hills Tournament at Oberstdorf, West Germany.

Following his return from torn knee ligaments, sustained in the latter event, the British Ski Federation decreed that if he could jump 70 metres in a World Cup event he would be allowed to represent Great Britain in the Winter Olympics in Calgary the following year. In December, 1987, Edwards jumped 69.5 metres and was famously in the mental hospital in Finland – for purely economic reasons – when he was informed that he had been picked for the British Olympic team.

Indeed, Edwards, who was entirely self-funded, became the first British Olympic ski jumper for six decades. He finished stone cold last, by some margin, in both the 70-metre and 90-metre events, but his fearless acts of derring-do earned him the nickname ‘Eddie The Eagle’ and endeared him to a global audience. Indeed, in his closing address, Frank King, CEO of the Olympic Organising Committee, said to competitors, ‘Some of you have even soared like an eagle.’

Monica Seles

Friday, April 30, 1993 has been described as ‘tennis’ darkest day’ and the tragic events at Tennisstadion am Rothenbaum, Hamburg on that fateful afternoon changed the course of tennis history. In her quarter-final match at the second-level Citizen Cup, world number one Monica Seles, 19, led Magdalena Maleeva 6-4, 4-3 and looked well on her way to her twenty-third singles title in a row as she sat down at the changeover between games.

However, as she did so, she was approached from behind by a stocky, balding man – later identified as Gunter Parche, an unemployed German machinist – wielding a ten-inch boning knife. After a brief hesitation, Parche raised the knife, with both hands, and plunged it into Seles’ back. Seles yelled in pain, but managed to take a few steps away from he assailant, as he attempted to strike again, before being helped to the ground by tournament officials. Parche, meanwhile, was subdued by other spectators and security staff.

Thankfully, the blade only penetrated an inch or so and, despite requiring surgery, the wound healed in a matter of weeks. Even so, scarred emotionally as well as physically, Seles did not return to competitive tennis until 1995. When she did, she won just one Grand Slam singles title – compared with the eight she won before the stabbing – at the Australian Open in 1996, before officially retiring in 2008.

Parche, 38, later said that his attack was motivated by his desire to see former world number one Steffi Graf return to the top of the rankings. Obviously deeply disturbed, he was sentenced to only two years’ probation, plus psychological treatment, having been charged, not with attempted murder, but with the lesser offence of grievous bodily harm.

Smith the rightful favorite but don’t discount Root to finish as Ashes top scorer

WITH the lead up to the Ashes series dominated by off-field talk, it might be worth checking out some of the more specific bets on offer if you’re looking to invest in the oldest of cricketing rivalries.

With racism scandals dominating the cricketing headlines in England, and Australia losing their skipper and wicketkeeper on the eve of the five-match series, the usual tit-for-tat verbal joust that dominates the build-up has been notably absent.

There are only two things you need to know about the Ashes – Steve Smith and Joe Root will score runs!

With that in mind it is worth checking out the odds with the Bet365 UK current offer for the top run scorer in the series with Smith favorite at 11/5 (+220) and Root second favorite at 13/5 (+260).

Smith has a superb record against the old enemy, but there are suggestions in some quarters that the 32-year-old is not the force of old. Once you’ve dismissed that talk then it’s difficult to see beyond him for top run scorer.

The statistics tell you all you need to know: in home Tests he averages 67.72, and his average against England at home and abroad is 65.11. In the 2019 series, he was arguably the reason Australia retained the Ashes, the 2-2 scoreline having much to do with the batting form of the former skipper.

His performances were up there with the very best in cricketing history. A total of 774 runs in seven innings – he missed a Test after getting struck on the head by Jofra Archer – at an average of 110. One double hundred, two more 100s and three 50s gave a return that was the best series run total since Brian Lara against England in 1993/94, and the West Indian great hit 375 in one innings!

Add to that it was done in just four games and he is one of only three players since the year 2000 who’s scored over 700 runs in four Tests; and just for good measure, Smith has achieved the feat twice.

The numbers in 2019 were up there with the greatest in history, and Smith was only just returning from a 12-month ban for his part in Sandpapergate, the scandal of Aussie players tampering with the ball during their tour of South Africa in 2018.

Two years ago in England he faced a constant barrage on the pitch from Archer’s short-pitched approach, and in the stands he was subjected to boos, jeers and worse every time he came out to bat.

While David Warner – also banned for his part in Sandpapergate – struggled under the intense pressure, Smith thrived. There are few sportsmen in the world better at coping with pressure than Smith, and there is no team he prefers playing against than England.

It’s true that since Ashes in England, his figures have fallen: he averaged 36.28 in the summer of 2019/20 and 44.71 last season. While those figures would make mere mortals permanent Test fixtures, Smith sets himself higher standards.

He’ll expect to finish top scorer and there appears to be only one player who could potentially challenge him, England skipper Joe Root.

Root has single-handedly been keeping England afloat during a difficult last 18 months, topping the ICC Test rankings and averaging above 60 in 2021.

When Root is out, the Aussies believe they have England on the rack; the main problem for the tourists is that many in their own dressing room are likely to agree with that synopsis. But Root knows he must perform for England to have any chance, so he’s worth a bet at 13/5 (+260).

The only other players of interest in the runs corer list appear to be David Warner at 4/1 (+400), with the left-hander having much to prove after his dismal run in 2019, and Ben Stokes at 8/1 (+800), because he’s Ben Stokes and anything can happen when he’s at the crease.

Sandpapergate: An Act That Took Cricket Cheating to a Whole Other Level

When it comes to shocking moments, cricket has had its fair share over the years. While many play the game in the right manner, there will always be those who are happy to bring the game into disrepute all for a bit of extra money. Yeah, we know, it is not like they do not get enough as it is! We are now going to take a look at one of the most shocking events to happen in recent cricket history and it is known as Sandpapergate.

Australia in South Africa 2018

Between February and April of 2018, Australia were in South Africa to play four Test games – this was actually the first four-Test match series between the two sides since South Africa’s readmission, so it was meant to be a joyous occasion. However, it was marred by what the Aussies were caught doing.

In the third Test of the series at Cape Town, with the score at 1-1, Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera trying to rough up one side of the cricket ball with some unknown material in order for it to reverse swing. For those who are new to cricket, reverse swing is when the ball starts swinging the opposite way to what it is supposed to. with conventional swing, the ball will move away from the shiny side, but with reverse swing it moves towards the shiny side and is much harder to play. He quickly realised that he had been seen on one of the many cameras and quickly hid the offending object in his pocket.

 

At a press conference later that same day, Bancroft, who was accompanied by Steve Smith, the Australian captain, admitted that he was trying to alter the condition of the cricket ball using some adhesive tape with dirt and grit stuck it to form an abrasive surface that would scruff up the ball and help with some reverse swing. Just five days later, after an investigation by Cricket Australia, he changed his story and admitted that he was using some sandpaper that batsmen use to maintain their cricket bats. Shockingly, Smith went on to admit that he knew about this tactic because the leadership group had discussed it at lunch time.

Cricket Australia Investigation and Subsequent Punishments

Cricket Australia launched their own investigation into this shocking attempt at cheating and Bancroft, Smith, and David Warner were all sanctioned for bringing the game into major disrepute. Below are the punishments that were handed out to each individual:

Warner: Received a one-year ban from all domestic and international cricket and will never be allowed to captain Australia ever again.

Smith: Received a one-year ban from all domestic and international cricket and had to serve a subsequent one-year ban from captaining Australia. While that ban is now over, it is highly unlikely that he will be chosen to captain his national team in any format ever again.

Bancroft: Receive a nine-month suspension from domestic and international cricket and, like Smith, he had to serve a subsequent 12-month leadership ban. However, also like Smith, it is highly unlikely that he will ever be considered for a leadership role by Cricket Australia.

It Will Be a Long Time Before This is Forgotten

There were many players in the cricketing world as well as plenty of fans and cricket betting enthusiasts who felt that these three Australia players got off pretty lightly to say the least. Many probably would have felt that a lifetime ban would have been the appropriate punishment, and this is something that we find hard to disagree with.

Although it is three years ago now, these three players cannot play cricket anywhere without the fans in attendance reminding them about it. In the last Ashes series in England, they had to put up with England fans waving pieces of sandpaper about in the crowd. The Aussies have never been a much-loved cricket nation, and this dented their reputation even more. The players involved have worked hard to try and earn some respect back, but they will never be fully respected ever again.