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What you may have missed while the Olympics were on | Rob Bagchi

13th August 2012

The Kevin Pietersen affair and Rory McIlroy winning at Kiawah Island are just two stories overshadowed by London 2012


The saga of Kevin Pietersen’s availability for England in all forms of international cricket has rumbled along all summer but took a decisive turn during the Games when, his critics would contest, he made a typical grab for headlines on the two evenings that the “Mobot” went viral.

On the first Saturday at Headingley he played an innings of such panache and exuberance that he hit everything but the confectionery stall to post a Bothamesque 149 and haul England back from possible defeat to give them a sniff of victory.

But in his post-match interview after the draw he adopted a self-pitying tone, a “poor misunderstood me” approach which baffled and annoyed his team-mates, some of whom may have been behind or at the very least enjoying a spoof Twitter account that targeted his self-regard with acute contempt.

Baffling them is one thing, alienating them quite another, yet that is precisely what he did by failing to apologise for or even address allegations that text messages he sent to his friends in South Africa’s team during the Test disparaged his colleagues and captain. His PR team’s hastily executed and clumsy reverse ferret – sticking him on YouTube on Saturday night safe from critical questioning where he asked for understanding with the classic rumbled bullshitter’s excuse that “I am who I am, I shoot from the hip” – ended with the bullet in his own foot and dropped for Thursday’s critical third Test in which England need victory to keep their fingernails clinging on to top spot in the Test rankings.

Where next for England’s one bar-emptying batsman? Apology and public penance seem the only ways to prevent the messy separation culminating in divorce.


Sky Sports sources tell us that the game that never sleeps has been enduring rather than enjoying its fortnight’s snooze, interrupting it abruptly to announce noisily that it’s still around. The Olympic football tournament evicted the Community Shield from Wembley to Villa Park where Manchester City unveiled a new kit, formation and a slimmed-down Carlos Tevez to cruise to victory over Chelsea 3-2 once Branislav Ivanovic had been sent off for a reckless lunge.

The City manager, Roberto Mancini, bagged the first trophy of the season on the same day the club broke its recruitment fast by signing Jack Rodwell from Everton, a trading hiatus that piqued him enough to suggest Manchester United were now favourites for the title and frame Brian Marwood for the blame. The neighbours’ apparent lead in the race to sign Arsenal’s Robin van Persie was the catalyst triggering Mancini’s scorn but United have moved no closer to meeting the Dutchman’s asking price and their executives have instead been focusing on floating 10% of the club’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Despite the fanfare on the Wall St trading floor on launch day with two Glazer brothers bedecked in scarves but customarily tight-lipped and a 2% rise early on Monday, the shares have been dismissed by some influential analysts, with PrivCo, the private company financial data authority, saying the $14 price “had no reasonable economic basis”.

Which segues neatly into Liverpool’s Andy Carroll and the club’s attempts to offload him. Turning down a loan to West Ham with an £18m transfer to follow, Carroll is holding out for a return to Newcastle or says he will stay put. Liverpool have signed Luis Suárez to a longer contract, paid £15m to buy Joe Allen from Swansea and said goodbye to Craig Bellamy after his second season-long spell but further transfers look dependent on Carroll’s No9 Tyne dreams.

Arsenal continue to plan for life without Van Persie, signing Santi Cazorla from Málaga, even though the captain, for now, remains, much to the delight of Arsène Wenger and the disquiet of Stan Kroenke if he stays only to leave for free next summer.

Rangers and Portsmouth have survived grave threats to their continued existence, albeit in vastly reduced circumstances, while another toppled giant, the former £6m-a-year England manager Fabio Capello, has turned up in Moscow, the birthplace of his hero Wassily Kandinsky, to take the Russia job and tell the English: “If I were with your guys during the European Championship it would have been even better.”


In 2016 golf will be an Olympic sport and the issue of the season’s fourth major being overshadowed by the hoopla will not arise. Even the enormous Wanamaker Trophy won by Rory McIlroy, his second major by the age of 23, put him slightly in the shade on the last day of the 2012 Games but the Northern Irishman’s performance deserves to resonate through the years. He won the US PGA at Kiawah Island by eight strokes, keeping his head after concluding his third round on Sunday morning to become the first 54-hole leader to win a major this season.

From tee to hole, his driver, irons and putter navigated treasure island with skill and pluck. “He’s going to be the player that kids look up to – that kids measure their own wannabe games by,” said his friend, compatriot and fellow US Open champion Graeme McDowell. “With a great attitude and great charisma and great character he’s great for the game – an absolute breath of fresh air for the game of golf.”


Frankel began the Sussex Stakes as 1-20 favourite and duly demolished the field to win by six lengths and became the race’s only double winner in history and equalled the record of seven consecutive wins in European Group One races, set a decade ago by Rock Of Gibraltar. “He is amazing and had all the others cooked at halfway,” said his jockey, Tom Queally. “It was a nice prep for his next race. He is a class apart from any other horse around and does it all very easily.” USA’s men’s basketball team were 1-10 to win gold at London 2012, rank outsiders by Frankel’s standards.


Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix from pole on a circuit that makes overtaking as rare as a smile on Ron Dennis’s face. In rugby league rival bidders, including the city’s football team, replace vultures circling Bradford Bulls while Warrington move to a point behind Wigan at the top of the table with a 30-10 victory. In union it has been quiet, too damn quiet Carruthers, with only the retirement of Matt Stevens from international rugby and Sonny Bill Williams signing off from Super Rugby by helping Chiefs to victory over Sharks in the final before a lucrative move to Japan and more heavyweight boxing bouts to report. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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