The Ashes: England clutching at straws

Updated 08 December 2017
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The Ashes: England clutching at straws

LONDON: Hope is one of those double-edged emotions, on one level it’s positive, hinting at what is possible, and on another it can mask reality and delude people. But such is modern-day sport that positivity is all that is really allowed, no negative talk can contaminate the dressing room.
That’s where England are at the moment — talking a good game while seemingly ignoring the bigger picture.
It’s all well and good claiming the side has left “scars” on Australia, as Trevor Bayliss did, while forgetting the hosts once again inflicted the much bigger wound of a 120-run defeat.
It’s also understandable that you would highlight your belief that the side has ”out-performed Australia” during periods of the two Tests “but just not over five days”, as Joe Root did, while forgetting that the ability to perform for all five days of a Test is pretty key to winning them.
Talk can only do so much and England head into the third Test in Perth seemingly clutching on to it as a panacea for the side’s many problems — the lack of runs from Alastair Cook; the inability to convert 30s into 50s, and 50s into 100s; the lack of an effective spinner; the inability of the left-handers to combat Nathan Lyon, to name only four of many.
It’s one thing to say Australia are “beatable” having lost both Tests by some margin, it’s completely another to then back up those words by actually going out and beating them.
In Perth — where they have not won since 1978 and where the pitch should be a godsend for the Australian pace attack — England are likely to find out that hope over expectation can only get you so far.
 


Rory McIlroy ready to roll back the years in search of more Major glory at the Open

Updated 18 July 2018
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Rory McIlroy ready to roll back the years in search of more Major glory at the Open

  • Former world No.1 without a Major victory in four years.
  • McIlroy looking to play carefree as he goes in search of second Claret Jug.

Rory McIlroy knows what he needs to do to win the Open this weekend: Play as if it does not matter and go for broke.
The world No. 8 has won four 
Majors but, by his high standards, is in a bit of a slump, having not got his hands on one of the four big titles since 2014. That win came at the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, which came barely a month after his only Open victory at Royal Liverpool.
He tees it up at Carnoustie today with five top-fives this season, but only one win. However, with ever 
expectant fans and a game that when on song is better than anyone else’s there is expectation he can claim 
Major No.5 this weekend.
The Northern Irishman’s first Open came at Carnoustie 11 years ago and he is aiming to play the famous links in the same carefree attitude he did as a teenager, and hopes that lands him 
another Claret Jug.
“I do need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and I’m just happy to be here,” the 29-year-old said.
“(2007) was my first Open — I was just trying to soak everything in and I was just so grateful to be here. I think that’s a big part of it — if you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll be successful.
“As you get a little older, you get a little more cautious in life — it’s only natural. For me, it’s more about 
playing with the freedom and I don’t want to say being naive but there is something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff.
“When we last played The Open here, I was bouncing down the fairways and didn’t care if I shot 82 or 62 because I was just happy to be here. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play.”
For McIlroy that may well involve using the driver more than some of his rivals. The heatwave the UK has been experiencing has seen the fairways run firm and fast with many of his rivals such as Tiger Woods saying they will mostly hit irons off the tee. But for McIlroy the game plan will change from day to day.
“There’s not going to be one player in this field with a game plan on Wednesday night who will to stick to that the whole way around for 72 holes,’’ McIlroy said. “It’s just not going to happen with wind conditions, with pins. You start to feel a little bit more comfortable with a few shots, and you might start to take some on.
“It’s going to be really interesting, I think, because the golf course is playing so firm and fast, there’s some guys that will see it completely different to the way I see it and vice versa. It’s 
going to be really interesting to see how it all plays out.’’