Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Let's not get hysterical over Rory McIlroy's Ashes remark

Telegraph Sport: where the debate really gets started

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland lines up a putt during day two of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club on November 29, 2013 in Sydney, Australia.  Photo by Matt King
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland lines up a putt during day two of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club on November 29, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Matt King

Let's get a bit of perspective going here. When Rory uttered the remark, it was at a Press conference. In Sydney, Australia. A few days after a crushing Ashes victory for the Aussies over their old enemy.

It was clearly delivered tongue-in-cheek too, McIlroy well aware of his audience as he prepared for the Australian Open.

And you'd hardly expect him, a (Northern) Irishman, to root for England in that environment, would you?

He still said it, though. He still used those words: "anyone but England" when asked about who he wanted to win the series.

He's Rory McIlroy ABE from now on. Perhaps he should have had a natter with Andy Murray, who was vilified for nearly six years after uttering the same three words prior to the football World Cup in 2006.

Murray has since redeemed himself courtesy of two Grand Slam titles which have helped him evolve into a 'national treasure'.

Still, our boy is unlikely to trouble the late Tony Greig as author of one of the most ill-judged sports quotes in history.

Prior to the England's First Test against the West Indies in 1976, Greig said this of the visitors: "If they're down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of Closey (England team-mate Brian Close) and a few others, to make them grovel".

Given Greig's white South African roots, this was hardly the cleverest thing he'd ever said.

It's history now that Greig's England were subsequently blown away by the Windies' battery of fast bowlers, and suffered a crushing 3-0 series defeat.

Within nine months Greig had thrown his lot in with Aussie tycoon Kerry Packer and was stripped of the England captaincy. A chance remark had ultimately bought no chance of redemption.

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