Roger Alton

Blonde ambition

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Seems a little weird to be rabbiting about sport at a time when a malign confederacy of sanctimonious do-gooders, vengeful politicians, hypocritical celebrities and hatchet-faced lefties has brought about the biggest threat to press freedom since Uncle Adolf started on his European adventures. But at least we have this fine journal which has refused to sign up to any new system of state licensing of the press.

How long before a newspaper has the guts to follow the Spec’s lead? As more than one commentator has pointed out, try to imagine reading the following sentence in the New York Times: ‘The Senate and House of Representatives last night agreed on a new system of press regulation and legislation will be introduced in the next few days.’ Yeah, right!

America’s press might not to be everybody’s taste but free it certainly is. The National Inquirer first broke the story in 2009 of Tiger Woods’s affair with the generously built nightclub ‘ambassador’ Rachel Uchitel. And it was that story of course which led to the the curious incident in the night-time of the fire hydrant, Tiger’s SUV, and a three-iron wielded by Erin Nordgren, the then Mrs Woods, smashed through her husband’s windscreen.

As a result, we now have the best story of the year, a nuclear mix of sport, good looks, celebrity, millions of dollars and some very blonde hair: namely, the wonderful revelation that after his blissful life with Elin, interrupted by only a dozen or so kiss-and-tells, Tiger has now found true love in the arms of the Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, beautiful, brave, and by a mile the best woman skier in the world. Vonn has modelled in the Sports Illustrated swimwear issue, and those in any doubt about what might have attracted the libidinous golfer could do worse than have a glance. And Lindsey should be able to understand Woods’s sporting life — she is an expert in going downhill fast.

Is it taking rivalry with Rory McIlroy a little too far? Both have been No. 1 in the world, both have signed colossal deals with Nike, and both go out with beautiful blondes who have dominated their sport, Rory’s Caroline Wozniacki having been tennis world No. 1 for a baffling number of weeks. So can Rory trump Tiger? Is there a beautiful blonde who is even better at her sport than Lindsey is at hers? No; it looks like Rory is just going to have to up his game.

So farewell Six Nations: you started with a bang, then went right off, before climaxing gloriously in that match of stupendous glory at the Millennium Stadium. The 30-3 scoreline didn’t lie: Wales were ten times better than England and many reputations have been shredded into the Cardiff turf. But hey, things aren’t all grim if you’re English. No less an authority than New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum thinks Alastair Cook is the best since Bradman. And you know, he may be right: Cook averages something like 80 as England captain and has made six 100s in seven Tests in charge. He’s now stretching away in the list of England century-makers and should have Graham Gooch’s record total of 8,900 Test runs in his sights by the end of the two back-to-back Ashes series. He’s still only 28.

No one likes to see the Aussies in total disarray, and what could be sadder than seeing them torn to shreds by the Indians, with only the heroics of a bowler, Mitchell Starc, preventing total meltdown — and that was with his bat. And now he’s injured. But on balance would you really want such a weakened Australia that it’s a 10-0 pair of Ashes? I certainly wouldn’t and I don’t think it will happen. Beware an Aussie on the skids. The only way is up.

Roger Alton is an executive editor at the Times.