Columnist Martin Smith on football's return, Novak Djokovic and cricket commentary

It’s that time of year again - covid delayed of course.

Monday, 7th September 2020, 2:02 pm
Novak Djokovic tends to a line judge who was hit with the ball during his US Open match against Pablo Carreno Busta. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Are we ready for the football monster to be released?

Bursting with anticipation or finding it hard to get interested?

The continued exclusion of fans from grounds dulls the expectancy and it hasn’t been the most exciting of summers for United or Wednesday in the transfer market.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But surely better days are ahead for the average South Yorkshire fan?

As John Shuttleworth once wistfully said, she lives in hope.

*No way Novak.

Call me controversial but Novak Djokavic’s ‘throat-gate’ row didn’t look much like an accident to me.

If you look at the video, he hits the ball in frustration at a line judge after losing a service game in a US Open fourth-round tie against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.

He had showed a flash of temper two games earlier at 5-4 - smacking a ball into an advertising board after Busta saved three set points.

Despite Djokavic’s protestations and the apparent media consensus that throat-gate was an accident, it looked deliberate in the replays.

What was he doing otherwise? Where did he think the ball was going to end up?

One of the best tennis players of all time drops a ball and glances across as he hits it at her. Bang to rights.

Generally you’d advocate giving sports people the benefit of the doubt in a situation like this but sorry mate, you blew it there. Disqualification was the only option.

*The BBC’s cricket commentary team has come of age during this summer of empty stadiums echoing to calls of ‘catch it’ through the rain.

By the way why do cricketers shout ‘catch it’ when there’s a chance?

Do they think their team-mates might not think to do that unless they remind them?

Anyway, the commentary box team that contains Alison Mitchell, Isa Guha and Ebony Rainford Brent - full name Ebony-Jewel Cora-Lee Camellia Rosamond Rainford-Brent after all her grandmothers and great grandmothers - in key roles, has had a good summer.

Not all commentators and expert analysts take to their roles with the ease and distinction shown by Women’s World Cup winners Guha and Rainford-Brent.

Guha made a name for herself on Australian TV before coming to the BBC and she and Rainford-Brent stand out as super-articulate, knowledgeable and confident.

It’s not always easy for a new team to shine so bright in such a high-profile position.