Weekly Wits


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Controversy, close finishes and new eras; there were headlines aplenty in the sports world over the last week.
While India’s loss to Sri Lanka in the first cricket test was nothing less than comprehensive, the retirement of Muttiah Muralidaran made it memorable. Although he had announced beforehand that he would be retiring at the end of the match, the enormity of the fact only sunk in when the match was over. This was the last time that the world would see the man in the arena that he made his own, and was the definitive end of the Warne-Kumble-Murali era. The proverbial cherry on the icing was his 800th wicket, although there were enough moments to make one think that perhaps this wasn’t to be his day after all. Unlike Bradman, though, Murali finished his career in a pretty neat manner, taking his 800th wicket with a typically unplayable off-break. Of course, controversy and comments have never been far from Murali, and hardly had he retired that Bishen Singh Bedi, his long-time critic, was at it again. This time, Murali retaliated by asking the latter to “think about himself first rather than talking about other people” and by saying that he would get “hammered every ball” if he played current test match cricket. While one can perhaps understand why Murali would hit back at Bedi, whatever happened to retiring with dignity?
In faraway Spain, Madrid and Barcelona have been in the news for very different reasons. Real Madrid icon and captain, Raul, left the club that he joined in 1992 as a youth team member. He has now signed with Schalke04, a move that might just add to the glamour of the Bundesliga, a league that just might be in the limelight following Germany’s performance at the World Cup. Retiring with Raul was Guti, another long-time member of the squad. Barcelona, meanwhile, have been making no bones about their desire to sign Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, despite the London club’s firm refusal to even consider the matter.
Football players weren’t the only Spaniards making news. In neighbouring France, the Tour de France, professional cycling’s showpiece event, wound its way through four countries, two mountain ranges, and a total distance of more than 3600 kilometres. The three-week long race, a test of physical mettle as much as mental toughness, saw Alberto Contador out-wit Andy Schleck, his junior by three years, to win by a mere 39 seconds – the same time that he controversially gained by taking advantage of the chain slipping off the latter’s bike.
In a week where the Spanish just couldn’t avoid controversy, Ferrari Formula1 driver Fernando Alonso was handed the lead by his team-mate Felipe Massa on the team’s orders in the German Grand Prix. While Ferrari tried their best to disguise their message, the powers-that-be slapped a fine on the team and there may be further repercussions. The irony? Team orders were banned in 2002 after Ferrari stage-managed a similar over-taking manoeuvre by Michael Schumacher on team-mate Rubens Barrichelo.
While sports and controversy made themselves comfortable with each other, viewers were ensured of more than one means to keep them engrossed.

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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