Alex Massie

Artists vs Artisans

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Watching Roger Federer destory Rafael Nadal the other day and knowing how many people can recognise their brilliance while always holding a vehement, even visceral, preference for one of these superb athletes I wondered if there was a correlation with another bitterly divisive sporting divide. I mean, of course, David Gower vs Graham Gooch.

That is, how many people love Nadal and Gower and how many Gooch and Federer? Precious few I suspect. How could you? Even allowing for different sports and their different demands these things have an aesthetic quality. Gooch, English cricket's greatest monster these last 25 years, is obviously allied with Nadal; Gower with Federer.

Perhaps I am mistaken but I cannot see how one could love Federer in tennis and side with Gooch in cricket. Or with Gower and Nadal. None of this requires one to deny the other chaps' excellence, 'tis merely a matter of preference. But if Rafa weren't so obviously a nice chapĀ  - and, more importantly, so clearly brilliant - I'd consider him a Matthew Hayden or Jacques Kallis on some kind of super-boring kind of steroids.

Readers, damn your eyes, will probably tell me I must be wrong. Which is fine, but in doing so you will merely show how wrong you are.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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