LIGHT'S OUT: Overblown opening ceremonies are not in the Olympic spirit

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Princess Anne: common sense Princess Anne: common sense

I HAVE always admired Princess Anne. She is an extremely hard working member of the royal family and also demonstrates a rare amount of common sense.

This was extremely obvious last week. When addressing the Olympic Committee she spoke about opening ceremonies. “They used to be for the athletes,” said Anne, “but now we have gone too far the other way.”

How right she is. The ceremonies we now see are fine spectacles but what are they to do with sport? What we experience now are expensive and excessive occasions that are no more than overblown, shallow demonstrations by nations anxious to outdo each other.

They are not for me. The real thing is the competition the games provide, and the character and skill of the athletes themselves. Anything else gets in the way.

This week has given me the opportunity to mix with the great and good of the cricket world and they unanimously disagree with Piers Morgan, who is in neither camp.

Piers supports Kevin Pietersen while few near the centre of English cricket do. One potential applicant for Andy Flower’s position as England coach put KP’s dismissal quite simply, “It's trust – in team building, in whatever game or sphere, trust is essential.”

Following the texts he sent to his friends in the opposing South African side during Tests with England all trust evaporated. That should have been the end of Kevin then and there. Now he has finally gone much needed rebuilding can begin.

Let no one weep for the great ego. He will make a fortune as an itinerant mercenary, which of course he always has been.

Gloucestershire CCC now has a fine reputation for producing coaches. Stuart Barnes moved to The Oval more than 18 months ago and he is now producing good young cricketers who Surrey are happy to sign. The policy of buying in players has been properly jettisoned. Richard Dawson now joins Yorkshire as Second XI coach.

Both men helped our county produce the young players who will do much to take Gloucestershire forward. In the current squad there are five U19 internationals, Chris Dent, David Payne, Jack Taylor, Tom Shrewsbury and Miles Hammond. Our U17 squad contains perhaps the best young cricketer of all, Tom Smith. He and off spinner Hammond still have academic battles to fight, but in cricketing terms it is surely ‘watch this space’.

In building terms there is certainly a space to watch. The old Mound Stand has gone and a much more handsome edifice will soon replace it. The new season is just two months away so there is a slight chance the outfield will have dried out by then.

In order to see Forest Green play again I am heading to Macclesfield on Saturday. FGR secured a fine victory there last season and now a centre half has been signed who is good in the air, a constant weakness has been eliminated. Matches will be coming thick and fast when the weather improves and this does not worry the players at all.

Talking to them at the Royal Agricultural University where they train the other day I was left in no doubt that they would rather play match after match and not have time for so much training. If games in hand mean anything the next three months could be very interesting.

It will be exactly that for Cirencester Town, whereas the most FGR can achieve is a play-off place, the Centurions look well set for automatic promotion.

I have watched more Six Nations rugby than ever before, and have yet to be enthralled. The large number of substitutions confuse me and there are too many penalties given away. The game remains too stop-start.

In Forest Green’s last match the collective number of free kicks awarded was 14 – the opposition conceded just five! The result was an entertaining, free-flowing game and with substitutes limited to three it was possible to keep check of who was playing and in what position. In the 15-a-side game this is impossible.

 

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