VIEW FROM THE PRESSBOX: For IAN STAFFORD, the height of summer means serial highs in sport
There are times when the sports sections of our national newspapers are scrabbling around trying to fill what is, albeit, a diminishing amount of space. But not this week, and especially not for Sunday and Monday’s papers.
As any sports widow will already have been told, the weekend is off and out of all bounds for anything else except being present at, or watching from the comfort of your sofa, some of the best sport any of us can cover.
First up, we have the British & Irish Lions taking on the Springboks in the Durban Test. Qualifying takes place on the same afternoon at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, where world championship leader Jenson Button could be about to fulfil a lifelong dream by winning the great race staged for the last time at the old Northamptonshire airfield. The Grand Prix itself is on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, we find ourselves into day three and four of the US Open over the weekend at the Bethpage Black, where Tiger Woods has returned from injury and is looking to make it major title No15 at the New York course where he won back in 2002 when last staged there. Paul Casey, however, is now up to No3 in the world rankings, and cannot be ruled out of adding to a potentially stupendous few days for British sport.
Then, on Monday, Wimbedon begins, with the very real expectation that Andy Murray could become the first British champion since Fred Perry in 1936, although Messrs Nadal and Federer may have something to say about this. We have been here many times before, of course, with first Tim Henman, and now the Scot, but this time it could be on.
Throw in the denouement of the Twenty20 World Cup, the build-up to the 2nd and 3rd Lions Tests, the Tour de France, and then the 1st Ashes Test between England and Australia starting on July 8, and this is not the time to provide some alternative ideas for the sports pages. It really is all hands on deck as we plough through a sensational three weeks of summer sport.
I am off to South Africa later in the week to catch the Lions’ first Test.
Reports from the troops out there suggest a fair degree of fitness taking place among the hacks, with daily runs a must, and the odd sighting of a tennis racquet. Before any desk figures bemoan this news, they should consider my colleagues’ professionalism in maintaining peak physical fitness in order to stay sharp when crouched over the laptop.
Life could be better for a sportswriter right now, what with all the cuts, sackings and lack of space, but covering this month’s events makes you remember why you do this for a living, and why many others who you meet would love to swap jobs.