Tag Archives: england

The Professor’s Friday musing – White beats Maxwell for Australian ODI squad spot

The Australian selectors aren’t paying due regard to the long term future of the Australian One Day International team with its choice of Cameron White to replace Chris Lynn in the squad for the coming matches against England. White is 34 and whilst he has had a reasonable start to the Sheffield Shield and Big Bash seasons, one wonders what caused a change of heart by Australian Chairman of Selectors, Trevor Hohns. You may recollect Hohns’ comments twelve months ago after White had criticised the selection of Sam Heazlett in the Australian ODI squad. He said “Cameron has had plenty of opportunities … he has had plenty of opportunities in the past and it’s probably fair to say performed okay without being earth shattering”. Not the most flattering of opinions and a fair put down for a pro sportman.

Whether Hohns believes White’s form has improved to the extent to be now included in the squad or White has served his penance for the criticism of the selectors, those selectors feel White is better than anything Glenn Maxwell can produce at this stage of his career. For whatever reason there appears to be a rift between Maxwell, the selectors and Australian captain Steve Smith. One only needs to look at Smith’s recent comments about Maxwell to gain a hint on where the problem might lie. Smith suggested Maxwell should change his training practices. If the skipper makes those observations it a safe bet it will be a while before Maxwell is considered for further ODI duty.

Maxwell has the flair and more importantly, the ability to play the one day game at the highest level and at 29 represents more of the future for Australian cricket than White does at 34. Whatever the reason for the disconnect between Maxwell and the Australian cricket hierarchy, it is up to the selectors and the skipper to resolve it so that the best possible team can be put together for the 2019 World Cup and in my opinion, Maxwell is in that side!

Wednesday musing – cricket, MCG pitch mania…….

The International Cricket Council (‘ICC’) has now called the MCG pitch ‘poor’ based on the report by match referee, Ranjan Madugalle. It hasn’t taken the press long to jump all over that with the Age reporting that the MCG pitch produced for the Boxing day Test has become ‘infamous’ because it is the first Australian pitch to be described as poor. If that pitch was poor, then I wonder how pitches prepared on the sub-continent or in England would be described?

One only needs to Google the topic to find descriptions of sub-continent pitches as ‘diabolical’ and ‘a minefield’. One article reported the much vaunted South African Proteas’ batting line-up being skittled for a mere 79 runs with 33 of 40 wickets taken in the match falling to spin. In the 2015 Ashes series, there were complaints that pitches at Trent Bridge and the Oval had been doctored to suit England. In the Trent Bridge Test, Australia made only 60 runs and were all out before lunch on day one.

Certainly the MCC served up nothing as bad as that. The match referee’s rating was driven by his view that the pitch did not allow an even contest between bat and ball. Is that a bad thing? Clearly the ICC thinks so but I think it is much ado about nothing. But the fans didn’t agree as 260,000 spectators watched the Melbourne Test over the full five days.

With the new ICC points system coming in from 1 January 2018, the MCG has dodged being slapped with a three point penalty. Any ground that totals five points over a five year period can be
suspended from being used for ICC matches for one year. Given the past history of Test pitches, it would seem there will be plenty of grounds not seeing Test cricket due to suspension….can the ICC or Cricket Australia afford to suspend a ground that draws a crowd of 260,000? I think not!

What do you think?

Weekend musing – cricket, the Ashes, a ‘lifeless’ pitch…..

The MCG curator must have felt sorry for the English cricket team with the pitch he turned out that was more in keeping with slower English conditions. As I expected, the match ended in a draw with the Aussies retaining a 3-0 lead in this Ashes series.

Since stumps were called yesterday, I have read and listened with interest to the pundits advocating long and loud for a ‘better’ pitch at the MCG. Those making the call include Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, Cricket Victoria CEO Tony Dodemaide and MCC CEO Stuart Fox. A comment was even provided by the Australian captain Steve Smith. Apparently, the pitch was ‘lifeless’ and needed to provide ‘more variation’. Smith’s observations appear a bit disingenuous given he and his team were batting to save the match and prevent an unlikely England win. I am sure he and the other Australian batsmen were pleased that the ball was bouncing straight and true on day five of the match.

Correct me if I am wrong, but test match cricket has three possible results….a win, loss or draw and, unlike in most other sporting contests, the ‘dead rubber’ matches are still played. While limited over matches have their place in the lexicon of cricket, they should not be used as a yard stick to judge test cricket. They are different games with different expectations. In my opinion, the commentators have been blinded by the hit and giggle of the short form of the game and seem to want all cricket played the same way, finishing with a win or loss.

Having been raised watching five day test matches, I find the battle of wits and skill over the extended period to be a true ‘test’ of ability. It is clearly still a popular form of the game as more than 88,000 flocked to the first day of the MCG test, even though the series had already been decided in Perth the week before. I did read with interest pitch critics saying the pitch was to blame for the fall off in attendance after day one. I think those writers conveniently overlooked the fact that Boxing day was a holiday but many people needed to return to work the next day.

Have a great New Year!

Weekend musing – cricket, Pakistan’s gallant run chase, Big Bash season starts…..

Sfan OB6The 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. Thestumping 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!

Weekend musing – AFL bye rounds, European Cup, Tour de France, British Open….

Chris Barwin HillsRound 17 of the AFL season started on Thursday night and these Thursday night games have been aptly called ‘Pie night’ games by Fox Footy. The games are largely only possible due to the bye rounds where only six games are played each round across three weekends. Many people do not like the 6 x 6 x 6 way of having a bye, but in my opinion, I think it is fine. Igunston would rather that method than a complete break in the mid-season. It affords every side a break, there is still a good number of games for each weekend and it allows for the introduction of these Thursday night games which appear to have attracted good crowds and TV ratings. I have heard some in the media saying the bye rounds mean the AFL season loses momentum. I do not agree or see it as a problem. After all, if you think about it, the old VFL competition only had six games a week and we thought that was plenty back then.

The round also started with another Hawthorn escape and I think the Swans would be ruing the three 50 metre penalties which resulted in two goals in a game that was decided by five points. The HANNEBERY50 metre penalties were there, but it is massive penalty for innocuous incidents that had little to no impact on the play. There was also a big disparity in the free kick count, especially up to 3/4 time. The Hawthorn free kicks were probably there, but there were a lot of free kicks not paid to Sydney that should have been paid. Again, in a tight game it makes a difference.

In the Euro Cup, Portugal continued the run of outsiders winning big competitions this year and without a meaningful contribution fromronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo. The highlight of the tournament though still has to be Iceland’s defeat of England. One wonders how such a result could occur when one considers the disparity between the two nations in population and football history. Clearly England need to re-invent themselves if they wish to seriously challenge for major silverware in the future.

froomeThe Tour de France continues on and I must say even with the halfway mark just reached, it looks like Chris Froome will again be in front at the end. He seems a cut above the rest and barring some unfortunate accident he is over the line.

The British Open continues to be a major Championship that eludes Australian golfers even now that we have some of the top golfers inscott the world. Greg Norman ‘was our last winner and that was a very long time ago. I see our best chance with Adam Scott, but I am far from confident that any Aussie will be lifting the claret mug this year.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Moto GP, Jack Miller, AFL local derbies….

Chris Barwin HillsWith Leicester City being the surprise winner of the EPL this year it seems to have started a bit of a trend with some surprising results in sport of the last week. First you had Jack Miller winningjack miller the Dutch Moto Grand Prix at 500/1 and then Iceland beat England in the Euro Cup. Iceland was not as big a surprise as the team is currently ranked 34 in the world, but what an amazing effort for a country with a population similar to the City of Greater Geelong!

In the AFL the local derbies seem to have a lot of traction with the local supporters. The AFL is trying to push the Queensland haw v northand NSW derbies, but what about Tasmania? Both Hawthorn and North Melbourne play in Tassie and yet there is no local derby. The rivalry between Hobart (North) and Launceston (Hawks) is as big a rivalry as any in Australia, but both games this year are in Melbourne. To me this short changes the Tasmanian connection for those two clubs and I think at least one game a year should be held in Tasmania with the venue alternating each year. Good for football and good for Tasmania!

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Second Test, Socceroos & Aussie Masters

Chris Barwin HillsWell the 2nd Test in Perth petered out to a draw with some monumental batting displays from both teams. Steve Smith was criticized for the timing of his declaration not dangling enough of a smithcarrot for the Kiwi’s to chase. I thought the timing of the declaration was based on the fact that his bowlers had toiled in the stifling heat for two days and could not be expected to front up again “full of beans” unless they got a decent break. In the end, the Australians held the whip hand and I would be more critical of the defensive fields set by Brendan McCallum instead of Steve Smith’s declaration. In his defence, it also should be remembered that Steve Smith has declared in each of Australia’s innings so far this series.

The second Test also saw the last match for Mitchell Johnson and while he has been a great servant for Australia I don’t think we ever Unknownsaw the best of him for long enough. A lethal unplayable bowler one series and cannon fodder the next. I am a fan, but not with blind faith and I think he chose the right time to go. James Pattinson has been chosen to replace him and I am a fan of his, but I do feel a bit sorry for Peter Siddle. Siddle was Australia’s best bowler in the last Test in England and has not bowled badly in the Sheffield Shield so far this season and can count himself as unlucky. I can’t wait to see Mitchell Starc, Patrick Cummins and James Pattinson in full flight bowling for Australia.

Good to see the Socceroos go to the top of their group in the World Cup qualifier during the week. Tim Cahill was on fire with a hat trick cahillbefore half time. With Jordan losing and Australia still with two games at home, the Aussies should finish on top of this group and progress to the next stage quite comfortably.

Finally, good to see Adam Scott away to a good start at the AustralianMasters. He has had a poor year to date by his standards and needs a scottwin to build his confidence going into 2016. Given the field, it would be a big disappointment if he couldn’t end up leading at the end of day four.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Cricket, World Cup, Essendon FC…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell the Cricket World Cup is about to begin and I note that Australia is drawn play a game against New Zealand in New Zealand, so much for the home World Cup. With 2 pools the Australians and the New Zealanders should have been placed into different pools so that there was no away game for either team. In the previous World Cup in 1992 the same thing happened with Australia drawn to play New Zealand in New Zealand (and we lost!). With the 2 pools it is unlikely that either side would miss the next stage, however, I do have an issue with that type of fixturing.

It will be interesting to see how the World Cup goes. It would appear that some games will be very popular, like the opening game of the tournament tomorrow with Australia v England and the India v Pakistan game in Adelaide which was apparently sold out some months ago. However, many of the others could be television games only. The tournament is scheduled to go over seven weeks which to me is way too long and there is a big risk that the interest in the game will wain over that length of time. I think a compressed format of 4-5 weeks would have been more appealing. The Big Bash was played over a period of a month and I think they got that right.

I was bemused to hear Mick Malthouse and Nathan Buckley’s comments about the Essendon players and their stance regarding the NAB Challenge series. I think the club should field a team for the series, however, I also agree with the approach that the entire list from 2012 should not play to at least try and preserve the anonymity of the players to which they are entitled. There should be enough players that have come onto the list since 2012 and I wonder what Malthouse & Buckley’s views would be if the boot was on the other foot and it was their players that had to bear the brunt of this continued saga.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – World Cup, Suarez, AFL & more

Chris Barwin HillsWell the biggest sporting event in the world continues to throw up great games, great drama and now teeth grating! Well we all like a little Italian, being one of the world’s great cuisines, but Luis Suarez clearly likes his Italian fresh. What is it that makes him want to bite opponents? In a sporting sense the only comparisons I can remember are Peter Filandia biting an opponent in the nether regions and My Brown Jug biting Manikato when he realised he was going to get beaten by the champ one day at Sandown. The Suarez suspension has now been handed down and in some ways given he is a repeat offender, is quite lenient.

Continuing the World Cup theme it is interesting to note that England, Spain and Italy who represent three of the four biggest leagues in the world have all been eliminated. Is this just bad luck or is it a symptom of the leagues not promoting local talent in deference to established players from other countries? I would certainly think that is the case with the EPL, but I am not familiar enough with the Italian and Spanish leagues to know if the same problem exists. Germany has made it through and my feeling is that the Bundesliga retains a high German content, but again that is speculation not based on facts. English cricket suffered a similar fate to the EPL and County Cricket reduced the number of overseas players eligible for each team to improve their national team. Is it time for the EPL to place a restriction on the number of eligible overseas players?

I was a little disappointed with the Aussies last game against Spain. It probably went to script and the Socceroos without Cahill and Bresciano were undermanned, but a 1-0 or a 2-0 result would have been a little more satisfying given the performances earlier in the tournament.

The Bombers face the Cats tonight and the Cats are coming off their fourth loss of the season from their fourth interstate trip. Not only have they been beaten interstate, they have been comfortably beaten. That being said, they have not lost a game in Victoria and as a result I will be going against my team and picking the Cats, but barracking hard for the Bombers.

On the never ending supplements saga, it was interesting to hear Tim Watson make a comment on Talking Footy on Monday night. Given his position he has been very circumspect with his comments regarding the whole affair. In a obvious support for his son he finally made a comment about the use of AOD9604 and the lack of retraction or apology from the accusers, which was obviously directed at the time to Jobe.

I was interested to see Daniel Giansiracusa get 2 weeks for his late bump on Polec over the weekend and I ask the question, what was the difference between that bump and Adam Goodes bump on Joel Selwood? Not much, the ball had just left the area, he jumped in the air and hit him high and dazed him. I am not saying that Giansiracusa should have got off, but why wasn’t Goodes charged?

I omitted to make a comment last week about the State of Origin game. What a contrast with the first game which was one of the best rugby league games I have seen. Last Wednesday’s game was probably one of the most boring I have ever watched. The only constant was Queensland’s handling errors which again cost them the game.

Speaking of boring games, what about the Tigers and the Swans last Friday night! I think that is the stye of game that Mick Malthouse was referring to when he commented on the state of the game yesterday. That was the modern game at its worst and contrast that with the Bombers and Crows on Saturday night which was one of the best games I have watched all year.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing…..the Ashes, Australian Open, Hewitt, Arsenal…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell the Aussies wrapped up the Ashes in record time and in the end it was great to win and win well, but it was something of an anti-climax given the meek way the English capitulated. Clearly their batting let them down throughout the series and the only ones who could put their hands up would be Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes. Michael Carberry was passable, but he got a lot of starts at the top of the order and only once went on to make a 50. He reminded me a bit of Usman Khwaja, not how he batted, but the fact he continued to get a start and didn’t go on and post a decent score.

One of the quirkiest statistics from the recent series was the batting performance of Nathan Lyon. He batted six times for sixty runs, but was not dismissed in any of those six innings and as a result did not have a series average. I am not sure about the record for the most consecutive number of “not outs” in Test cricket, but it must be right up there.

While the Aussies won the series 5-0, their batting was still brittle at times and the forthcoming series against South Africa will reveal how much progress has been made. It has been widely discussed how well Brad Haddin batted in the series and I think he was the first batsman ever to score greater than fifty in five consecutive first innings of a series. Certainly he was the first to do it in an Ashes series. If Australia need to rely on him and the tail to bale them out in South Africa we will be in for a rude shock. Rogers, Warner, Clarke & Smith all made two centuries in the Ashes series, but to be successful against the Proteas we will need more partnerships. I doubt we can win the series, but it would be good to be competitive.

Moving away from the cricket to the tennis, it was good to see Lleyton Hewitt win a tournament in Australia last weekend. I have never been a particular Hewitt fan, but there is no doubting his competitiveness, his passion for the game and his passion for the Davis Cup. He has battled a lot of injuries over the last five years and most other sportsmen would have given up by now. It is hard to think of too many former Number 1 players who have hung around well after their star has dimmed. Good on him and I hope he does well in the Australian Open.

Bad news about Theo Walcott from last weekend, but one small positive is that at least it happened in January so they can utilise the transfer window if they wish. Better news with Oxlade-Chamberlain fit to resume, Giroud & Ozil likely to play and Ramsay & Gibbs pretty close. It is time to extract revenge on Aston Villa after that poor start to the season.

Have a great weekend.