mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.
No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford."

~ Samuel Johnson ~

On Thursday morning I fly to DC, drawing to a close over nine years in the UK. It seems fitting for such an occasion to delve into the memory bank and recollect how things have changed since I first moved here on a sunny May morning in 2007...

  • Tony Blair was still PM, Ming Campbell was Lib Dem leader and Ken Livingstone Mayor of London.
  • A woman had yet to serve as Britain's Home Secretary.
  • It was legal to smoke in pubs.
  • £1 was worth nearly $2.
  • Kate and Wills had just broken up.
  • Waterloo Station was still the Eurostar terminus.
  • Free newspapers thelondonpaper and London Lite were still in production and you had to pay for The Evening Standard.
  • Steve McClaren was England's football manager and the national team had yet to play at the new Wembley.
  • Portsmouth FC, now in the fourth tier, had just finished 9th in the Premier League.
  • Mourinho was Abramovich's only managerial appointment.
  • There was no equal prize money at Wimbledon between men and women.
  • The Digital Switchover had yet to begin.
  • Britain's Got Talent, Outnumbered, Would I Lie To You & Only Connect hadn't aired; Parkinson & Grange Hill were still on.
  • The iPhone hadn't been released yet.
  • Spain hadn't won a football World Cup or European Championships since 1964.
  • Pep Guardiola had yet to manage Barcelona and therefore hadn't won any of his 15 major trophies to date.
  • Djokovic had not won a Grand Slam yet, Nadal just 3 and there was only one British appearance in a final since 1977.
  • Myspace was the most popular social network, Twitter was just a year old (with fewer than 700,000 users) & Facebook had 20 million active users (it's now over a billion).
  • Justin Bieber hadn't been 'discovered' yet, Lady Gaga hadn't released her first album and Taylor Swift was still unheard of despite having released her first album.
  • Jennifer Lawrence had not acted in a film yet.
  • And finally, a little-known African American senator from Illinois had just announced his candidacy to the US presidency.

I hope I return to Blighty 21 months from now. I'm sure the time will fly. But my life has not quite gone according to plan until now, so who knows what the future holds. What I do know is that my lifelong love affair with The Great Wen and all things British will never diminish. So long Great Britain and its great people, thank you for all the wonderful memories.

Signing out for the last time on this side of the pond (for now), this is That Bloke in the Big Smoke.
mcgillianaire: (India Flag)
TEST
26.95 - 1st match innings (HS: 119)
72.16 - 2nd match innings (169)
25.55 - 3rd match innings (96)
60.81 - 4th match innings (141)

ODI
41.23 - 1st match innings (138)
61.22 - 2nd match innings (183)

T20I
35.22 - 1st match innings (90*) [EDIT: After today's 89*, he now averages 40.16 in 1st match innings.]
91.80 - 2nd match innings (82*)

Those are his averages in each innings of a match. The figures in ODIs and T20Is did not surprise me as much as the 2nd and 4th match innings in Tests. And what a contrast with the figures in 1st and 3rd innings - how similar the averages are for those 2 innings. I'm yet to find a batsman who matches this trend across all three formats in 2nd innings (I compared with Root, Williamson, Smith, Amla and De Villiers). After Kohli's match-winning knock against Pakistan earlier in the tournament I wondered if we would see teams winning the toss and choosing to field against India. Then he went one step further against Australia. Does it seem as far-fetched? Kohli has over 900 runs in ODIs and T20Is this calendar year already.

Another stat to savour on: at exactly the same age (27y 147d), one Sachin Tendulkar also had 25 ODI centuries. However he needed 249 matches @ 42. Kohli's done it in 171 @ 51. Considering the Little Master is widely regarded as (one of) the greatest ODI batsmen, Kohli is well on his way to emulating the chap who inspired him. Which explains the rather fitting homage he paid to paaji (big brother) in the match against Pakistan.

Finally, here are the win percentages for the Test-playing nations in all T20Is so far:

62.67 - India
60.00 - South Africa
58.01 - Pakistan
56.02 - Sri Lanka
53.29 - New Zealand
51.82 - England
51.72 - Australia
51.36 - West Indies
33.33 - Bangladesh
24.50 - Zimbabwe

Given that Steve Smith averages 21.55 in T20Is, perhaps it is not all that surprising Australia have been a lot less successful in the shortest format. And perhaps the rankings don't lie either. Kohli and India top their respective categories. For now...
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
After 29 league games last season, Leicester City had just 19 points and marked nearly four months at the bottom of the Premier League table. If a new season had started immediately after that and included this season's matches, they would have 66 points from 31 matches. To put it in some perspective, this is a list of EPL teams since 1995/96* with the most points after 31 matches. The team in () was the eventual league champion, when different from the leader after 31 matches:

2014/15 - Chelsea            - 73 pts
2013/14 - Chelsea            - 69 pts (Manchester City)
2012/13 - Manchester United  - 77 pts
2011/12 - Manchester United  - 76 pts (Manchester City)
2010/11 - Manchester United  - 66 pts
2009/10 - Manchester United  - 69 pts (Chelsea)
2008/09 - Manchester United  - 71 pts
2007/08 - Manchester United  - 73 pts
2006/07 - Manchester United  - 78 pts
2005/06 - Chelsea            - 78 pts
2004/05 - Chelsea            - 80 pts
2003/04 - Arsenal            - 77 pts
2002/03 - Arsenal            - 66 pts (Manchester United)
2001/02 - Manchester United  - 64 pts (Arsenal)
2000/01 - Manchester United  - 70 pts
1999/00 - Manchester United  - 70 pts
1998/99 - Manchester United  - 64 pts
1997/98 - Arsenal            - 63 pts
1996/97 - Manchester United  - 63 pts
1995/96 - Manchester United**- 64 pts

** Newcastle United also had 64 pts

Addendum

Jan. 14th, 2016 10:15 pm
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
In my excitement to evaluate Leicester City's potential achievement, I forgot to mention a couple other aspects of this season's Premier League that has equally confounded expectations and added to the merriment. The first is the almost mirror-like collapse by defending champions Chelsea and the other is the welcome return of unpredictable results for practically every match, including the ones involving the usual top teams (though perhaps excluding Aston Villa). Long may it continue!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
It's been a wee while since I made an entry about O Joga Bonito, but this season's English Premier League has earned it. I can't remember the last time when we were so far into a season (Gameweek 21 out of 38) and a team like Leicester City were still contending for the title. However unlikely it may still seem, the neutral in me wants them to go all the way. It would certainly surpass any achievement since the Premier League began (1992/93) and possibly eclipse the achievements of both Leeds United in 1991/92 and Aston Villa in 1980/81, because of their existing pedigree in English football. Of course, Blackburn Rovers won the title in 1994/95 under Dalglish, but they also had pedigree and their triumph was aided in no small part by owner Jack Walker's millions - the prescient precursor to the business model's successful replication by Chelsea and then Manchester City. No, we'd have to go back to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest - a fellow Midlands club - in 1977/78 to find the most recent equivalent accomplishment. Back then, The Reds won the league title immediately following promotion from the old Division Two - an extremely rare achievement in itself - and they remain the only club in Europe to have won more European Cups than league titles (2-to-1). I suppose even if The Foxes don't conquer the summit of English football, they'd take a place in the top four and entry into next season's Champions League. Even that would be an outstandingly incredible achievement. Goodness knows how excruciatingly frustrating it's been as a Liverpool fan aiming to achieve just that in the past half a dozen seasons. As another famous Scot might muse: Football, bloody hell!1

1 Bill Shankly quoted in the subject, Sir Alex Ferguson in the entry.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
For the first time in its 133-year history, there is not a single Englishman in the men's draw at Wimbledon. There is of course world number 4 Andy Murray and doubling Great Britain's contingent will be fellow Scot and wild card entrant, Jamie Baker. His world ranking? 254.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
A major study by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) has found that black students are more than 3-times less likely to be awarded a 1st-class university degree than white students. Can somebody please hide its contents from Nick Griffin and his ilk!

Britain's oldest cinema, the 100-year-old Phoenix in North London is getting a £1 million makeover and will reopen in September.

Sticking with London, the UK-based chain Selfridges has been named the world's best department store, fighting off competition from NYC's Bloomingdales and Hong Kong's Lane Crawford, by the International Group of Department Stores and the International Association of Department Stores. Less known is that it was founded by a Wisconsin-born American-magnate unimpressed with British stores in 1909!

Sources close to Inayat Bunglawala, the founder and chair of Muslims4UK (a group to celebrate the UK's democratic traditions and promote active Muslim engagement), tell him that the Home Office is considering issuing two exclusion orders; one against Jamaican-born Muslim preacher Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips and the other against Mumbai-based Zakir Naik. Bunglawala argues that if we really care about freedom of speech, we should let these Muslim speakers in and let the law take its course. He includes a good quote from a spokesman for Nick Clegg from a couple years ago over the controversial proposed visit of Qatar-based Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi:
    "Many of Yusuf al-Qaradawi's views are repugnant; the job of a truly liberal society is to defeat such abhorrent ideas by arguing forcefully and persuasively against them. Giving al-Qaradawi the publicity that a ban would create would ultimately serve only to legitimise his views in the eyes of extremists. If he is allowed into this country he is of course subject to our laws; and if he were to break the law in any way including inciting or glorifying terrorism he should obviously be prosecuted."
I couldn't have put it better myself. I hope the Lib Dems put their foot down on this issue and ensure the two men are not excluded.

Meanwhile viewing figures from both sides of the Atlantic during last weekend's World Cup fixture between England and USA appear fairly similar. 17 million people watched the game in American homes, more than the number who watched the first four games of the NBA Finals! It's all the more impressive given that the NBA viewing figures itself were up on previous years. Game 5 of the NBA Finals drew in an audience of 18.2 million. And though we don't know what the total viewing figures were because of those who watched it in pubs and bars, it's worth pointing out that over 100 million Americans watched this year's Super Bowl. Closer to home, it appears a similar number of people watched it on the telly. There was a maximum of nearly 20 million as full-time approached, but the real talking point was felt by the 1.5 million watching it on HD, who missed Gerrard's goal as ITV broke into an ad-break. Plebs like myself who were watching it on Freeview were not affected. ITVs coverage of the World Cup has generally been poor and this major blunder has not won them any friends. And from what I gather about their coverage of Formula One events in the past, this isn't entirely surprising either! Thank goodness for the BBC!!

Finally, Jeffrey Archer has been approached by Bollywood producers intent on making blockbusters of his short stories. Not a rupee more...
mcgillianaire: (Three Lions (WC 2010))


Simon Cowell has the Midas touch as evidenced by this production of a song built on 1984 Tears for Fears hit "Shout". It was officially released just last month and Cowell has promised to have it played in the dressing room before England's next game against Algeria. All proceeds from the song will be donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London. But will it inspire our Men In White? It's OK.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Dear Stevie G,

I'm sure it would not have escaped your attention that it is now nearly 234 years since our illegitimate American brethren revolted against the wise and generous leadership of our beloved monarchy. Since then these children of Empire have embarked on a path to belittle our waning global influence and blame us as a whole for the actions of a few bad apples (ahem, BP), among a plethora of other points of conflict. Do not be fooled by these knaves who suggest a 'special relationship' as a trap for fools. There is nothing special about giving them sixty years of bragging rights since that day in Belo Horizonte. It's time to reclaim the past and what is rightfully ours. It's time to show who's really king in the world's most popular game. It's time to beat the US of A. Don't hold back any punches. We want goals and we want them by the dozen. But I'm sure you already knew all of this. Good luck and best wishes. Do it for England!

Yours Affly,
A Fan (on behalf of many others)
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Group A
Uruguay
France
South Africa
Mexico

Group B
Argentina
South Korea
Nigeria
Greece

Group C
England
USA
Slovenia
Algeria

Group D
Germany
Serbia
Australia
Ghana

Group E
Netherlands
Denmark
Japan
Cameroon

Group F
Italy
Paraguay
Slovakia
New Zealand

Group G
Brazil
Ivory Coast
Portugal
North Korea

Group H
Spain
Switzerland
Chile
Honduras

Round of 16
A1 v B2: Uruguay v South Korea: Uruguay
C1 v D2: England v Serbia: England

E1 v F2: Netherlands v Paraguay: Netherlands
G1 v H2: Brazil v Switzerland: Brazil

A2 v B1: France v Argentina: Argentina
C2 v D1: USA v Germany: Germany

E2 v F1: Denmark v Italy: Italy
G2 v H1: Ivory Coast v Spain: Spain

Quarters
Uruguay v England: England
Brazil v Netherlands: Netherlands
Argentina v Germany: Germany
Italy v Spain: Spain

Semis
England v Netherlands: England
Germany v Spain: Germany

3rd Place
Netherlands v Spain: Spain

Final
England v Germany: England
mcgillianaire: (Default)


I was fourteen when I watched this live on the telly, sat alone in our house in Chennai on the night of 30 June 1998. It was nearly an hour past midnight and we were barely a quarter-hour into the Round of 16 clash between rivals England and Argentina. Eighteen year-old Michael Owen was playing in his first World Cup but the occasion didn't affect him. This was the first World Cup encounter between the two countries since Maradona single-handedly (pun unintended!) dumped England out at the Quarter-Final stage of the 1986 World Cup. But his second-goal solo effort in that match was still fresh in the memory of English football supporters. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest goals ever scored. And when Argentina took an early lead through a penalty, it looked like a familiar storyline. But England hit back almost immediately with a penalty of their own which Shearer duly converted. As the teams settled in, Michael Owen made a couple darting runs at the two-time World Cup champions showcasing his pace. Then came that pass from Beckham and Owen did the rest. Pace, strength and a clinically precise finish. The tables had been turned and about time too. I was in dream land. England imposed their dominance but as luck would have it, the Argentinians equalised with a cunningly crafted free-kick on the stroke of half-time. It was a cruel blow and once Beckham was sent-off for a petulant back-heel, England did well to take the game to penalties. And you know the rest. In six attempts at the World Cup and Euros, England have won only once on penalties. The Argentinians had knocked England out again. But even today, those forty-five minutes remain the best first-half of football I have ever watched. All thanks to a wonder goal by eighteen year-old Michael Owen.
mcgillianaire: (Default)


Savour the moment. It's not often you'll catch me singing praises of a Red Devil but what can I say? It's World Cup O'Clock. A time when club loyalties are set-aside as national passions take centre-stage. And boy, do I want my England to bring the trophy home. But we won't. Not without Paul Scholes to pull the strings in midfield. With Barry missing the first game due to injury, Carrick out-of-form and Hargreaves not even in the squad (and rightly so), we really could've done with Scholes services. He maybe 35 and he may have played his last game for England in 2004, but few could argue with his stellar form this season. Phenomenal to say the least. He would've been the perfect foil to Lampard in central midfield, marshalling the troops, with Gerrard either playing off Rooney or in an upfield left position. Unstoppable, I say!

But why isn't he in South Africa? Because Capello called on him too late. Granted it was in May, but still. It's the fuckin' World Cup. Even Carra said yes, so why not you Scholes? The mind boggles. Cunt. England will not win the World Cup and it's all Scholes fault. Oh well, I suppose it was asking too much of me to set aside club loyalties, World Cup notwithstanding. At least Gerrard will be captain. And we all know what that did to his Liverpool confidence. Hopefully he can finally translate it onto the grandest stage of all. It's now or never mate.

COME ON YOU THREE LIONS!!!
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Test Match Special hits the airwaves. Oh how much I've missed you. :D [SCORECARD]
mcgillianaire: (Default)


Jack Hobbs scored 100 first-class hundreds after he turned 40! I say, that does put the Little Master's achievement in perspective. Nite!

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