Thursday, August 18, 2005

All-rounders

Gideon Haigh's wickedly clever 'Old Flintoff' reference to Ian Botham provoked some debate about the relative strengths and qualities of the current and former England all-rounders. Regardless of whether one accepts that he is in the same league as the magnificent all-rounders of the '80s, an all-rounder like Flintoff brings a different dimension to a side and needless to say, is worth his weight in gold. If all-rounders in cricket are multi-skilled artists who can change a game with a broad stroke of the brush in an instant, what about those that transcend sports? I was watching a documentary about Scott Draper, the Australian tennis-golf pro, and was amazed at his levels of excellence in two vastly different sports. Not until the Australian Open in January did I know about Draper's exploits on the Australian golf scene and was surprised to see him playing in Melbourne, as I hadn't heard of him in a while. With good reason, too - Draper's story is quite moving - he lost his wife to illness about five years or so ago and went through quite a rough patch. Not surprisingly, his sporting graph slumped. He has since found new love within and outside the sporting arena - golf being the first of those. Draper turned a golf pro and has in fact been juggling tennis and golf schedules ever since, but he did manage to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title with fellow Aussie Sam Stosur - not bad for a part-timer! Speaking of tennis stars who have turned to golf, though of the now retired from tennis variety, Yevgeny Kafelnikov's debut amateur performance on the European tour at Moscow was worth a good laugh - he finished 40 over par! Kafelnikov once grumbled that tennis professionals were paid much less in comparison to other athletes, like golfers for example. On this evidence, it doesn't quite seem as though he would have made a lot of money in golf! - NK

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