T20 finals: Scott Styris

Today, Twenty20 fans will be ready for a full day of entertainment as the Friends Life T20 finals are played out. The two semi-finals will be swiftly followed by what is set to be a thrilling final showdown this evening.

There are four talented teams looking to lift the trophy; Hampshire, Somerset, Sussex and Yorkshire are all vying to become champions tonight.

Yet, with all of the talent on display there must be a favourite and Sussex are the standout team.

The Sharks have one of the best attacking line-ups with the likes of Chris Nash and Matt Prior poised to score plenty of runs. They also have the star man of this year’s competition, Scott Styris.

He put on one of the best individual batting displays of 2012 in the quarter-final against Gloucestershire. For the fans that attended, it was a golden ticket, as they admired the flair of Styris who hit a century from just 37 balls.

On his way to the joint third-fastest T20 century in history, the New Zealander scored 38 runs in an over. It was nonstop entertainment.

Personally, I will admit that before this display from Scott Styris, county cricket in Britain had never appealed to me. It just hasn’t had the same impact as the big-money Indian Premier League, which fans in the UK can also follow.

However, one moment of brilliance on a July afternoon helped to capture the imagination. Hopefully, this Saturday evening the level of entertainment will reach the same heights. Who knows? Either way, I would suggest that tonight’s final is one to keep an interested eye on.



Countdown to London 2012

Whilst reading Play With Flair, you might have noticed an image to the right of my posts, titled ‘Countdown to London 2012’, that looks like this:

I have created this countdown as a reminder of how tantalisingly close London is to hosting this landmark event! With only four months to go, I am becoming increasingly excited about what is in store for us, even if there are many (including me) that have not received Olympic tickets. From now on, I will be posting my thoughts on all the build-up to this year’s Olympics and I will also be sharing a few ‘Play with Flair Olympic Greats’ so that we are all ready for London 2012.

So, the Olympic kit for Great Britain was released last week and I have been quite surprised by the uproar that it has created.  It is completely understandable that people should have differing opinions on Great Britain’s new attire. However, the general level of discontent must be dispiriting for the organisers and athletes alike. It seems that every time the London 2012 team unveil something new it is surrounded by negativity; this was clearly the case with the London 2012 logo.

The Official Team GB kit for London 2012
Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/

On a personal note, I respect that the organisers are brave enough to think creatively about these decisions. For instance, using a Stella McCartney design for the Team GB kit is an obvious attempt to connect London 2012 with Britain’s fashion industry. Even so, surely what matters most is how the British athletes perform in these outfits? I am sure that when Jessica Ennis or Mo Farah begin their bid for an Olympic medal, their first thought won’t be to question why their outfit does not have a touch more red than blue.

Formula One shows its racing flair

After a tame start in Australia, today’s Malaysian Grand Prix felt like the real start to the 2012 Formula One Season. There’s nothing like a good thunderstorm to make a predictable race become essential viewing.

The Malaysian Grand Prix is stopped due to the dangerous weather conditions.
Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/

For Ferrari, Fernando Alonso showed his World Championship credentials. His display was imperious. To take pole in a Ferrari car that is clearly not the pick of the bunch  (just look at Felipe Massa) is an unbelievable achievement, especially in only the second race of the season. The emotional reaction from the Ferrari garage told its own story.

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LIVE EVENT: The HPA Gaucho International Polo

On Wednesday night the O2 arena, which is now world-renowned as a music entertainment venue, hosted something slightly different and in my opinion a little bit special. The HPA Gaucho International Polo Event delivered two interesting ties for the arena crowd: Ireland vs Scotland and England vs Argentina. Even though certain newspapers may have only been interested in those who were in the crowd at the O2, (Katie Price and members of the cast of TOWIE were there, if you have to know) what happened on the playing field was much more exciting.

Source: 'The HPA Gaucho International Polo: The Official Guide 2012'

The first match, between Scotland and Ireland, was closely contested but admittedly it felt like the supporting act before the main event. The match allowed spectators to adjust to the rapid pace of the live game and any newcomers were introduced to the rules of Arena Polo by the commentary, which was played to the audience through the speaker system. This was a good addition, even if the commentator’s claim that this match was ‘just like the Six Nations’ was slightly far-fetched. The final score was a win for Scotland by 15 goals to 12.

Source: 'The HPA Gaucho International Polo: The Official Guide 2012'

So, after a musical interval, it was time for England vs Argentina; a match to win The Churchill Cup. If you are a fan of the high drama that International Football provides, then this game of Polo was great entertainment. There were missed penalties and spectacular goals, and England came to win with a remarkable comeback. The Argentinian team certainly deserve a place on Play with Flair, they are extremely talented. Argentina’s Nacho Figueras is without doubt the star attraction, as a Ralph Lauren model he gets a lot of female attention from the crowd . Yet, his scoring ability is incredible; at one point he managed to score directly from the corner of the field, an angle that appeared impossible. Argentina had a 4-goal advantage on numerous occasions but England came back to level the match at 15-15. The England team, led by Jamie Morrison, miraculously completed their comeback in the penalty shootout.

This was the first time that I have attended any Polo event and the matches themselves were enjoyable. Watching the flair of Argentina is something that I won’t forget in a hurry, I’m still not sure how England won. However, it’s a shame that the portrayal of Polo as a game for the wealthy hasn’t appeared to have changed. The game itself is as entertaining as many of the other popular sports, but I can see how the luxury that surrounds the game would be off-putting for many sports fans. I want to encourage everyone to watch a Polo match for themselves; most of the tickets for this event were actually much cheaper than for most Premier League football matches. Who knows? One day Polo may become a game for the masses but there is a long way to go.

Take a look at the action below:

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McLaren’s MP4-27 – fit to win the title?

Although we have only seen the first race of the Formula One season, Jenson Button’s victory for McLaren in Melbourne has already sparked debate over whether the McLaren MP4-27 is the best in the field. In fact, there has been an incredible amount of discussion based purely on its appearance. There is no doubt that McLaren’s car is aesthetically the best on the track, but does this lead to success?

I would have to say yes. This may appear slightly ignorant, as the focus for everyone involved in Formula One is to create a car that can beat the rest. It is why engineering work and meticulous tests on the mechanics of the cars are continuously carried out. However, design and engineering go hand in hand; so if the car appears perfectly symmetrical, finely balanced and is wonderful to watch glide across the track this is no coincidence; it leads to titles.

Here is my pick of some of the greatest Formula One cars ever to grace the sport, let’s see how they compare:

A little prediction…

After some advice from a colleague in the office, (albeit he told me to place a bet on my predictions, which I’ve yet to do) I have decided to display publicly my thoughts on who will win the remaining Grand Slams of the tennis season. I haven’t chosen a winner for the 2012 Olympics yet, although I think that Del Potro might take it.

So here goes:
Firstly, Nadal will win the French Open. Some might say that naming the ‘King of Clay’ as champion for the seventh time is hardly a remarkable statement. Yet, his loss in this year’s epic Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic was worrying for the Rafa fan club. He was unable to grind down his opponent in his signature style. In fact, the relentless nature of Djokovic’s attack and defence left the Spaniard exhausted. Likelihood rating 9/10

The honour of winning Wimbledon this year will return to the living legend that is Roger Federer. He may not have won a Major title since 2010 but that is testament to the opponents that he has faced. A 16-time Grand Slam winner knows how it is done and with superb victories over Murray and Nadal already this season, another victory at his most succesful tournament will certainly be one of his greatest achievements in the game. Likelihood rating 7/10

The US Open trophy is waiting at Flushing Meadows for a certain Mr Murray. With no pressure from a home crowd this is the year for Murray to win at his self-proclaimed favourite tournament. He has been extremely close for several years, Federer has been the main obstacle, but with Ivan Lendl at his side Murray will be ready. Likelihood rating 6/10

Source: clbuzz.com

One Major title for each of the Top Four, can it happen?