Steve Smith

By Chip Kidger
26th March 2018 at 1:38pm

Who is currently sitting on cloud nine and who has hit the buffers after another packed weekend of sport?

Here’s our weekly look at who’s hot and cold

HOT

England football team

Whisper it quietly… can England fans dare to dream? OK, a functional 1-0 victory against the worst Holland side in living memory is hardly cause to start ordering an open-top bus around Trafalgar Square this summer, but an assured performance on away soil suggests Gareth Southgate’s understated management style may just be paying dividends. Low expectations could be a blessing in disguise for the England manager as he continues his tinkering before Russia.

Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson

If there’s one player on the golfing circuit who loves to peak just in time for Masters perfection, it’s surely Bubba. The 2012 and 2014 Masters champion has battled back from a challenging 2017 where illness and a loss of form saw the 39-year-old slip to the unprecedented depths of 89th in the world rankings. Victory at the WGC Match Play in Austin this weekend sets him up nicely for Augusta.

Dillian Whyte

A brutal left hook was enough for Whyte to secure a sixth-round knockout of Lucas Browne at the O2 Arena on Saturday night, and the 29-year-old has surely now enhanced his claims that he is ready to take on WBC champ Deontay Wilder later this year.

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan

The Rocket is that rare example of a sportsman who can comfortably slip into either category depending on his mood coming into any tournament, but he’s certainly on a hot streak right now after beating Shaun Murphy to claim a joint-record fifth title of the season in the Players Championship. O’Sullivan is now only three short of Stephen Hendry’s all-time record of 33 ranking titles – and few would rule him out overhauling that marker.

 

COLD

Australian cricket

Where to start? Australian cricket experienced its darkest day after several team members were caught bang-to-rights in a ball-tampering scandal that is likely to have widespread repercussions for the national side’s existing set-up. The fallout has been ugly, with even the Australian Prime Minister condemning Steve Smith, David Warner, Cameron Bancroft and the rest of the mysterious ‘leadership group’ who stand accused of cooking the scheme up.

Lewis Hamilton

A seamless qualifying session, a car that looked unbeatable, and the confidence that comes with being reigning champion… everything looked in place for Hamilton to secure an easy opening race victory in Melbourne. However, Australia seems to be something of a bogey track for the British driver, with only two victories in Melbourne over his long F1 career. That mixed record continued after Sebastian Vettel exploited a virtual safety car situation to snatch a vital opening day victory over his long-time rival.

Kidderminster Harriers

4-0 up with 10 minutes to play…. what can possibly go wrong? For the hapless Harriers, pretty much everything as they somehow let a four-goal lead slip from their grasp to allow opponents Salford City to leave Aggborough with a precious point. Salford’s late rally started in the 80th minute, before a six-minute triple-salvo stunned the home faithful.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Finding fault with the greatest tennis player of all time may seem churlish, but in a career of outstanding highs, even a sporting legend can have the occasional off-week. Federer will lose his World No. 1 status after a shock defeat to 175th ranked Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open, and has now announced he will skip the clay court season. Don’t write the 36-year-old off though: the same decision last year ended with the Swiss securing a record eighth Wimbledon title as he rebooted his season on the grass courts.

All image sources from PA Images

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