SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: Why I miss Dan Maskell

I love most fans at Wimbledon.
I love most fans at Wimbledon.

Not even the sight of Labour politician and ‘man-of-the-people’ Tom Watson mixing it with the toffs in the Royal Box at Wimbledon could put me off one of the sporting highlights of our calender.

No event which gives hopeless, self-important Clare Balding such a prominent role can ever be perfect, but Wimbledon fortnight is unmissable television when even the irritating bits (Andy Murray’s gurning, Boris Becker’s mumbling commentary) can be ignored.

I love John McEnroe.

I love John McEnroe.

Here’s my best and worst of Wimbledon.

ACE: Unless crippled by injury, British players are visibly lifted by the support of the Wimbledon crowd. Jo Konte’s early-round tie against Donna Vekic is one of the greatest women’s matches I’ve ever seen. She might not have stormed over the line without the backing of the support.

Likewise Murray’s scratchy win over Fabio Fognini. The crowd helped his dramatic fourth round comeback.

FAULT: There are still too many ‘c’mon Tim’ fans in the crowd.

Labour politician Tom Watson in the Royal Box at Wimbledon.

Labour politician Tom Watson in the Royal Box at Wimbledon.

ACE: John McEnroe is a peerless commentator. He’s not afraid to be controversial, but not just for the sake of it. His comments carry the weight of a top performer from the past.

FAULT: Too many other TV commentators are afraid of silence. They fill in the gaps with nonsensical psychobabble about player’s behaviour/thought patterns of which they can have no knowledge. Dan Maskell was a man of few words, but a genius by comparison.

ACE: Thankfully the weather has been outstanding so far this year. No delayed matches, no moaning about the schedules and, most importantly, no Cliff Richard with a mic in hand.

FAULT: The incessant crowd shots of celebrities like David Beckham or parents like Judy Murray are incredibly irritating and add nothing to the viewing experience.

ACE: Mens’ doubles can be astonishingly good to watch. Results are far less predictable as shown by the unheralded British pairing of Marcus Willis and Jay Clarke knocking out the number one seeds.

FAULT: Those first round ‘injury’ withdrawals in the singles were embarrassing. They should all be fined the same amount they ‘earned’.

ACE: The best players in the game all appear to be genuinely nice guys. There are not many sports that can boast that. Can you imagine Cristiano Ronaldo applauding a great tackle made on him by an opponent? No me neither and yet Novak Djokovic regularly applauds winning shots.

FAULT: Australian players are the exception to the above. Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios have egos that far outweigh anything they’ve achieved in the sport. They are tiresome individuals rather than eccentric characters.

ACE: The extent of the BBC’s devoted coverage is impressive. The red button is one of the great inventions.

FAULT: The BBC keep shifting matches from channel to channel which makes recording games impossible.