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Author Archive for Andy Bull

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Facts can be stranger than fiction when it comes to failing drug tests | Andy Bull

Athletes are becoming more susceptible to being spiked and more prone to outlandish explanations if the recent case of a couple of Japanese kayakers is anything to go byThere are all manner of reasons why an athlete might fail a drug test and it seems …

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Champagne on ice: the mystery and myths behind Dutch skating success

Dutch fans take great pleasure in attempts to make sense of their dominance, particularly the frozen-canals theoryNicholas Tomalin reckoned that the three qualities a journalist needs to succeed are rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little lit…

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The life and death of Steve Holcomb, forever seeking that perfect line

The American bobsledder with a passion for speed won Olympic gold in 2010 and double bronze in 2014 but will be much missed at Pyeongchang 2018 after his death last yearThere are countless routes down the mountain, but Steve Holcomb only cared about on…

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‘The day we almost outfoxed England’: an oral history of Italy’s cunning ruse | Andy Bull

Italy arrived at Twickenham in the 2017 Six Nations having lost against England 23 times in a row. They needed to try something different …It was Brendan Venter’s idea, to begin with. In the early spring of 2017 Venter was Italy’s defence coach, and li…

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Six Nations squads are decimated by injury: rugby must heed the warnings | Andy Bull

Workload is up, wages are up, and severe injuries are up – rugby union can’t keep explaining away the number of absent players by saying it is the nature of the game. It never used to beAaron Carpenter is a rugby man, and has been since he was 13 and h…

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Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand run ragged by IAAF’s moving goalposts | Andy Bull

Semenya and Chand will race at the Commonwealth Games in April but their fight for the right of hyperandrogenic athletes to compete is far from overIt’s been just under six months since Caster Semenya ran at the world championships, which makes it just…

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England’s Test demise is no surprise as T20 generation follow the money | Andy Bull

England’s victory at the MCG showed the difference between the Test and one-day teams, and where the priorities lie for players for whom the red-ball game is no longer the pinnacleIt was 5C in London last Sunday, unless you had Test Match Special on th…

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Soporific Ashes series may have been attritional but it still sells with ease | Andy Bull

The dead rubbers were harder to enjoy but while English TV audiences were limited, the paying public in Australia lapped it up and the hosts will do likewiseAn enthralling Test finished on Monday, 7,000 miles from Sydney and six or so hours after the e…

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Trevor Bayliss assumes rather a lot in choosing when to depart England | Andy Bull

Just after being walloped 4-0 by Australia is not a strong position for the head coach to make pronouncements about how long he plans to stayThe career of an England cricket coach is like that of a politician: it always ends in failure. David Lloyd wen…

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Steve Smith, Betteridge’s Law and the mythology of Don Bradman | Andy Bull

The Don’s standing is, and always will be, unsurpassed. Not because of his statistical brilliance, but because of the context of his careerIt’s an old Fleet Street adage that any headline ending with a question mark is best answered with a ‘no’. It’s c…

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From Korea to Russia, 2018 set to show again that sport is politics by other means | Andy Bull

The Winter Olympics, World Cup and Commonwealth Games will all have an unavoidable backdrop that reminds us that all international sport is politicalIn the winter of 1945, Dynamo Moscow came to Britain on a goodwill football tour that turned out to be …

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The Spin’s best Test cricket XI of 2017

From painstaking David Warner via sensational Shakib Al Hasan to rampant Kagiso Rabada, meet the top Test players of the yearJust as journalists know better than selectors, readers know better than journalists. Here then, for your stimulation, cogitati…

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Why does county cricket always get the blame for England’s failings? | Andy Bull

The ECB is an easy target but skewing the domestic game to produce more spinners and favour limited-overs cricket looks to have backfiredA stock of explanations and excuses is a valuable bit of any cricketer’s kit and should be kept ready, stashed by b…

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England facing Ashes whitewash because leading players let them down | Andy Bull

While Dawid Malan, Craig Overton and James Vince have pleasantly surprised, senior players are the ones who have underperformed in AustraliaThe Ashes are gone: to begin with. Switch off the TV, dial down the radio, and flick over the back pages. Fans b…

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James Vince drives us crazy but other England batsmen’s flaws also maddening | Andy Bull

Modern coaching’s move away from the orthodoxies could help to explain the England No3’s failings – and why he has no ready replacementWay back when Duncan Fletcher had a column in the Guardian, I used to do his ghostwriting. It was an education in how…

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After the hope comes the agony – and the fear of an England Ashes whitewash | Andy Bull

Following England can be a masochistic business and all those dashed dreams can lead to severe recriminations. Avoiding a 5-0 drubbing is now a priorityBleak as life can seem when you’re lying awake in the middle of the night, it’s an immutable truth t…

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England’s and Australia’s nerves to be tested by evening-session spookiness

Adelaide’s first day/night Ashes Test will see cricket work in reverse of the usual horror movie rules – it’s when the lights come on that batsmen get jitteryAdelaide, then, and a second Test that, after all the distractions, seems to have come around …

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The Spin | Australia’s pace trio may be fearsome but Nathan Lyon is their key man | Andy Bull

Forget the muscle-bound moustachioed pace triumvirate, it was the slight balding man who was behind England’s downfall in BrisbaneOften as not you can pick a cricketer from their build and bearing. Mitchell Starc, gangly, wiry, spry, could only be a fa…

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Rieko Ioane, new All Blacks star who could put Inga Tuigamala in shade | Andy Bull

Auckland’s Ponsonby RFC has produced dozens of All Blacks, but it is decades since one has looked as good as Ioane, the nation’s new wing sensationJust a couple of years ago one could catch Rieko Ioane down at Auckland’s Western Springs stadium most we…

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Bigger wealthy unions appear happy to keep Samoans under the thumb

Huge difference in match fees between England and Samoa is another example of how the game stacks the odds against Pacific Islands teamsThere is an old Samoan saying, “only the snake looks at its killer”. The snake, according to the proverb, is the onl…