Well it is lucky the Australian cricket selectors do not pay any attention to my musings, with Glenn Maxwell bringing up a century batting at number six in the third test in India. I had thought that Ashton Agar was the better option as a spinner/batsman, but Maxwell has now grabbed his chance. Steve Smith has again been impressive and continues to push his case for the best batsman in the world at the moment. Peter Handscomb has been a little disappointing. After his four tests in Australia where he excelled he has now returned scores of 22, 19, 16, 24 & 19 so he has a got a start in each innings and failed to go on. I am not suggesting he should be dropped, but he needs to convert a start into something more substantial. Fingers crossed the Aussies can get the job done in this test and put the acid back on the Indians.
In the AFL a twilight grand final appears to be an inevitability. Now that Mike Fitzpatrick has stood down as AFL Chairman, I think Gillon McLachlan will be ensuring this goes through. I like the day grand final, but I am certainly not against a twilight match. I would not be in favour of a night grand final as I think it would detract from the functions and BBQs that people have based around the current fixture but that could transfer to a twilight time slot, but a later start would not be as conducive.
Australia’s richest race for 2yo, the Golden Slipper is on this weekend and it is a shame that a heavy track is likely. My tip is the Blue Diamond winner, Catchy, as long as she handles the track conditions.
Nick Kyrgios beat Novak Djokovic for the second time in a row and I think most Australians would like to see him turn around his “on court” behaviour and focus his attentions on playing as he obviously has a special talent. He just needs to harness it!
Have a great weekend!
The Australian test team did us proud in India last week after I had speculated that they registered an below par score in the first innings. As it turned out, Australia’s score in the first innings surpassed India’s match total. Clearly India prepared a pitch to suit their bowlers and were hoist on their own petard. Steve O’Keefe did an amazing job to take 12/70, but the real test comes in backing it up. Most cricket followers will recollect Jason Krejza took 12 wickets in his first test in India and then played only one further test match and finished with an average of 43.23. Everyone also knows the Bob Massie story. After taking 16 wickets in his first test against Englad he only played 5 more test matches for another 15 wickets. I hope O’Keefe can back it up as, if he does, it will go a long way towards winning the series.
With the JLT Community pre-season competition now in full swing I am always amazed that people are prepared to bet on the premiership and brownlow medal on the back of pre-season form. These are practice matches where clubs are experimenting, building up players fitness and trying out rookies. There is no real pressure and winning and losing have the same end result. Last year a lot of Collingwood supporters got excited on the back of three convincing pre-season wins and they were considered certainties to play finals. By the end of the season they had only nine wins and finished twelveth. Yes they had some injuries to key players during the year, but did not live up to their pre-season form.
Have a great weekend!
Last Sunday Geelong hosted an international sporting event being the T20 game between Australia and Sri Lanka. Unfortunately the day was less than ideal for cricket with a lot of rain falling. This obviously deterred some of the crowd, but not the Sri Lankan supporters. There was approximately 13,500 people in attendance and I would roughly estimate that two thirds of the crowd were Sri Lankan fans. The game was good, with Australia failing to capitalise on a good start and probably fell 15-20 runs short of what I thought was a par score. The last 4 wickets fell cheaply and they could not get Moises Henriques back on strike. The Sri Lankan innings started poorly with the loss of early wickets, then they consolidated. With three overs to go they still needed 2-3 runs a ball but then Gunaratne cut loose. Moises Henriques came on to bowl the 18th over having been Australia’s most economical bowler to that time. His first ball was a dot, the next three went for sixes and he conceded 21 runs for the over and Sri Lanka went on to win on the last ball of the night which also went for six. Gunaratne was the architect behind the win and he did so playing proper cricket shots. It was a good night and there were no rain delays so those that stayed away missed a very good match.
Meanwhile, in India, the main Australian team started the Test series on Thursday. Australia won the toss and the top order all got starts with only Matt Renshaw going on to post a half century. Mitchell Starc later added some respectability with a half century of his own. I have always thought that if you bat first in a test match, that a score of 350+ is par. Australia fell short of that total but made up for it on the second day with an excellent spell with the ball. Steve O’Keefe’s six wickets in 24 balls has put Australia in the box seat to take this first Test and now they must rely on their batsmen to set India a big total to catch.
On Friday morning the sporting world was again burdened with further instalment in the Essendon supplements saga with news of a recording of a meeting that, the then president Paul Little says he
didn’t know was being recorded. Surely this now becomes a police matter if people are being recorded without their knowledge and consent. It is unfortunate that this saga continues to generate ‘news’ as I am heartily sick of it all. How about we concentrate on what is now happeneing on the football field.
Have a great weekend!
Continuing on my theme from last week, the Australian test team performed a miracle by winning the Second Test bowling the Pakistanis out for less than 200 in the second innings. Given the red flags from Steve Smith comments at the end of day 4 and the Pakistani capitulation on the final day I was surprised that nobody in the media raised an eyebrow over the result. More so when you consider the time lost to rain and the docile nature of the pitch. It was a big surprise to see Australia win.
I watched Chris Lynn playing for the Brisbane Heat last night and his hitting has to be seen to be believed. He equalled the record for the number of 6’s in a T20 innings at 11 and with Brendon McCallum reached the Perth Scorchers score with ease. The Big Bash has again attracted the public’s attention and the batting of Lynn has set the tournament alight. Hopefully he remains fit for the international T20 game against Sri Lanka in Geelong on 19 February 2017 and I will be able to see him in person.
Have a great weekend!
When it took line honours earlier this week, Perpetual Loyal broke the Sydney to Hobart yacht racing record by nearly five hours. If a record is broken by that much you have to sit up and take notice. The 630 nautical mile race is said to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world, but this year conditions were tailor made for a quick journey as the second and third placed boats also beat the previous record. That record was held by Wild Oats XI. Even though it now no longer holds the race record, Wild Oats XI has set a Sydney to Hobart mark that will be difficult to beat in that it has the most line honours victories (8) and has twice held the race treble with race record, line honours and handicap honours all in the same year (2005 & 2012).
I have been watching a bit of the Big Bash League and the sloppy fielding by the Sydney Thunder in their match against the Brisbane Heat on Wednesday night got me thinking that it was so bad, a person might wonder what the coaching staff are teaching the players. Three relatively easy catches went down and another was totally misjudged – mistakes so bad that the commentators spent two nights talking about it. The Hobart Hurricanes captaincy is also under question from me with Tim Paine failing to utilise his most economical bowler for the full four overs against the Melbourne Stars. Clive Rose started with 3 overs for 17 runs and was not used again in a very close match. I also thought Paine erred in bringing back Stewart Broad too late to have an impact. A case of poor decisions losing a match!
Sticking with cricket, it was interesting to hear Steve Smith say at the end of day 4 of the Melbourne Test Match that he didn’t think the Pakistanis were trying to get him out. I would suggest that Smith was trying to apply some subtle final day pressure on the opposition through the media and it seems to have worked considering the dramatic second innings collapse by Pakistan that allowed Australia to win by an innings and 18 runs. Smith had a great match and was named man of the match after his 165 not out in the first dig. The experts must have been tested in selecting Smith though as David Warner and Mitchell Starc also had great games.
This is the last musing for 2016 so have a great weekend and Happy New Year!
The Pakistan team gave Australia a real fright in the first test in Brisbane falling just 39 runs short of what would have been the highest 4th innings score and the highest to win. The previous highest score in the 4th innings to win was the West Indies who amassed 7-418 against Australia in 2002/03 in the West Indies. The highest score in the 4th innings and not win was 451 by New Zealand versus England in 2001/02 and it rivalled the 7-450 by South Africa versus India in 2013/14. The way the Pakistanis fought it out augurs well for the Boxing Day test in Melbourne and may mean in the future that test captains will be even more conservative with their declarations. I wonder if the move to “drop in” pitches mean they don’t deteriorate as much allowing teams to bat longer? The jury is out on that one and only time will give us the answer to that query. While Australia won the test, I think Pakistan still came out of the game with momentum after their gallant second innings chase.
Sticking with cricket, the Big Bash started again this week and the nightly format on Channel 10 is a winner for cricket fans. If you have nothing else better to do you can sit down and watch some entertaining cricket almost nightly for a month. I reckon that Channel 9 are livid they didn’t get the rights to the BBL and when the rights come up again they will be hot property.
Have a great Christmas and New Year!
The 3rd test against South Africa was a dead rubber, but it was good to see the revitalised Australian team turn around their fortunes and get a win on the board. There were three debutantes playing in the game and I was impressed with Renshaw & Hanscombe. Unfortunately, Maddinson got a very good ball early in his only innings, so it was impossible to say if he will be any good. Renshaw resisted very well on the first night and while he only made 10 in the first innings, he showed similar application in the second innings. In the second innings the commentators were criticising his slow play which was somewhat in contrast with their lamenting in the first and second tests the lack of players that could stick around. He was in his first test, they had plenty of time, so I could not see the issue. He did seem to play and miss a lot, but I think on some of those “misses” he actually deliberately played inside the line. Hanscombe got a 50 in his first dig and then hit the winning run so a very promising debut.
The cricket now moves to a one day series against New Zealand, which seems to be a puzzling piece of scheduling .
Sticking with cricket it was great to see the Bushrangers get up against South Australia after conceding a first innings lead. Just reminding the Australian selectors that there is some quality south of the border.
Monday saw the AFL Rookie Draft and there seemed to be a clear pattern of recruiters getting in ruckmen and taller players. There was 27 players (ound half of the draft) over 190cm and ten of those were ruckmen. It does seem clear that clubs are not willing to waste a pick on a ruckman who may take 3-5 years to develop. This is a wise strategy, but does it jeopardise the future of ruckmen picking the AFL over basketball? I really think this is something which could cause long term problems with participation and needs to be monitored by the AFL.
Great to see Melbourne City win the FFA Cup on Wednesday night in a clash of the current top two teams in the A-League. I have been a little concerned about the City defence, but holding Sydney FC to a clean sheet perhaps indicates that my concerns were misplaced. On present form these two teams will be in contention at the end of the season and a win to City does provide some psychological advantage. Also great to see Tim Cahill amongst the goals….an inspired signing for Melbourne City.
Have a great weekend!
I watched the end of the Australian Open golf tournament last Sunday and it was no surprise to see Jordan Spieth in contention. He nailed some crucial putts and made it into the play-off with Ashley Hall and Cameron Smith. He then proceeded to birdie the first play-off hole and win the tournament. He has now competed in the Australian Open on three occasions for two wins and a second. For anyone, that is a phenomenal record, but for a 23 year old it is amazing. Aaron Baddeley won in 1999(am) & 2000 as an 18/19 year old which was amazing at the time, but he has probably not gone onto the heights predicted at that time.
It was noted with interest that Faf Du Plessis was found guilty of ball tampering in the second test and was then fined his match fee. As the captain of the team, with a history of ball tampering, this has got to be an inadequate penalty. I understand the previous penalty was three years ago and records are wiped clean after two years, but the man still has a history. A penalty such as the match fee is no deterrent to future indiscretions by anyone let alone the captain. The test started yesterday and Du Plessis clearly made the most of his reprieve with a not out century.
Sticking with the cricket, the Australian team needed a shake up and we got that with five changes from the team that was embarrassed in Hobart. Accepting that changes had to be made, I still felt a bit sorry for Callum Ferguson. He has probably deserved a chance at test cricket for some time, but when his form has warranted selection he has either been injured or no places have been available. He finally gets a chance at 32 years of age and loses his place after one test. That is probably the end of the road for Ferguson which is a bit of a shame as he probably deserved more of an opportunity. Joe Mennie also lost his place after one test, however, he is only 27 and therefore still young enough if good enough. I thought Mennie was lucky to get a spot for Hobart ahead of Jackson Bird on his home track, so maybe not so deserving in the first place.
Greg Miles announced his forthcoming retirement during the week and while he has had a few hiccups in the last few years I have always regarded him as one of the best race callers I have heard. He probably lacks the impact of a Bill Collins, but for someone listening to a race and wanting to know where your horse is placed I think he has had few peers. A great career.
Have a great weekend!
The Australian cricket team sank to a new level this week with another comprehensive defeat at the hands of the touring team from South Africa. This is an absolute embarrassment to go down so meekly on home soil. I don’t think I have seen two consecutive implosions like this in Australia since the rampant West Indian teams toured here in the 1980s. It has got a lot to do about the quality of our batsman. The South African bowlers have been good, but not that good.
We now have the chairman of selectors, Rod Marsh step away from his position and I think scrutiny needs to go onto the coach as well. Darren Lehman was brought in at a time when the team needed to relax a little after the regimented approach of Mickey Arthur’s, but it seems to have gone too far and batsmen don’t seem to know how to work through difficult periods of play. To me this is a coaching issue.
The bowlers have been okay, but I could not see how Joe Mennie deserved a spot ahead of Jackson Bird, with Bird being on his home track. I am also a bit surprised by the lack of success by Nathan Lyon. Lyon usually picks up his 2-3 wickets an innings, but he has had a poor run recently and will probably be dropped for the next test as long as someone else puts their hand up in this weekends Shield games. It also is a bit strange that Victoria has won the last two Sheffield Shields and yet cannot get anyone in the test team. Admittedly Peter Siddle was injured and may have been picked and the same could be said for James Pattinson, but surely someone is doing something right to win twice in a row. Peter Hanscomb with a century in the current Shield game is surely staking a claim.
There was more bad news for Australian sporting teams with the Socceroos only getting a draw in Thailand. This puts Australia back in equal third position behind Japan & Saudi Arabia and in danger of missing out on the next World Cup. Thailand were on the bottom of the table with only one goal and no points before the debacle the other night. There is still a bit to play out and Australia is the only team in the group without a loss, but they really can’t afford to drop any more points if they want the direct pathway into the World Cup.
Have a great weekend!
Last week I wrote that Australia had got off to a great start in the first test match in Perth, but that was about it as far as Australia was concerned as South Africa dominated the rest of the game even without their best bowler. The Australian batsmen did not show the resilience required to win a test match, although they did do better in the second innings lasting nearly 120 overs. In fact if they had made 360 in the first innings, the result may well have been different.
This is the first time in 28 seasons that Australia has lost the first test match on home soil, but it also must be one of the only times that there has only been one round of Sheffield Shield matches before the first test. By contrast the South Africans had a warm up match in Australia after two first class games in South Africa. International sides have often been criticised for only having one lead up game before the first test and yet the home side falls to the same lack of preparation here!
Well we thought the Chicago Cubs 108 year drought breaking effort
in the World Series was a significant milestone and then, coincidentally in Chicago, Ireland beats the New Zealand All Blacks in the rugby union for the first time in 111 years. What am amazing year we are having in sport around the world.
Have a great weekend!