Tag Archives: england

Friday musing – ashes cricket, Mitchell Johnson, Jacques Kallis……

Chris Barwin HillsAt this time of the year cricket is the most dominant sport with tennis just kicking off with a build up to the Aussie Open.

The Poms have finally won a toss and sent Australia in to bat. I remember the old ABC cricket books used to have a section devoted to captains who invited the opposition to bat. It is not all that unusual these days, with Michael Clark getting away with it in the Melbourne test. I went along on the first two days and up until the second session on day three, the Poms held the whip hand. From there Australia wrapped up the match over the next three sessions, a big surprise. The prevailing philosophy is still to win the toss and bat and I think that Alistair Cook should have done so in Sydney, but time will tell.

Mitchell Johnson was again awarded the Man of the Match award and that makes it three out of four tests this series, but Chris Rogers & Nathan Lyon must have been very close as well with Brad Haddin again performing well. I understand Johnson has the best percentage of Man of the Match awards to tests played of any Australian test player. Not a bad achievement for a sometimes maligned figure in Australian cricket. I think in the past he has produced herculean performances dispersed with poor performances, but in this series he has been very consistent and does not seem to be spraying the ball around as much.

Speaking of Man of the Match awards, the news that Jacques Kallis was retiring did not come as a great surprise, but you would have thought he would have seen out the summer with Australia due to tour there next month. Kallis is certainly one of the best all-rounders of all time and compares favourably with Sir Garfield Sobers who is regarded as the benchmark for all-rounders. Kallis has the record for the most Man of the Match awards in test cricket with 23 from 166 matches. A true great of the game.

I always thought that Shane Watson had the attributes to be a very good all-rounder and at times he has shown us what he is capable of, but a fragile physique has mitigated against him. Test wise I think his bowling and catching ability are up there with Kallis, but unfortunately his batting falls a long way short.

Fingers crossed for the 5-0 whitewash of the series.

Have a good weekend and happy New Year!

Friday musing – cricket, the Ashes, soccer, Arsenal……..

Chris Barwin HillsWell what good timing for a Musing with the Aussies securing the Ashes on Tuesday! I thought Australia were a good chance in the series on the back of some pretty encouraging performances in England earlier in the year, but I did not think we would win the first three Tests in good style.

I mentioned last week about the toss playing a big part in teams winning and the last six results in Ashes test matches have seen the team winning the toss and batting coming out on top. You would think that the team batting second should have the best of the batting conditions, but England have not capitalised at all and have trailed in each of the first three tests. So much so that Australia have declared four of their six innings to date.

Mitchell Johnson seems to be most pundits pick for man of the series so far, but Warner, Haddin and Clarke are not far behind and when you factor in the performances of Siddle, Harris, Lyon and Smith, you can see why Australia are winning. That is not to down play the performances of Rogers and Watson who have also been solid contributors. Bailey has saved his spot because the team is winning and they can afford to give him time to settle. He certainly did his job on Monday morning.

I think the performance of Nathan Lyon needs a special mention. He has been much maligned and I have been guilty in that regard, however, you look at his scalps so far in the series and he has picked up crucial wickets. In the last test he got Cook in the first innings and Stokes in the second who were their teams highest scorers. He has earned his spot.

I can now go to the Boxing Day test and enjoy the cricket. Some would say it would be better to still have the series alive, but it is like being 10 goals up on Collingwood going into the last quarter just knowing you can enjoy the game.

Last week I lauded the Gunners for making the knockout phase of the Champions League for the 14th straight year and then they go out and lose to Manchester City 6-3. That is a tennis score isn’t it? Man City have been irrepressible at home this year and I suppose you could look on the positive side and say “well at least Arsenal got 3 goals”. I think the fixturing so close to the away game in Italy may have had an impact, but for the top team to concede 6 goals it is a bit of a worry.

Have a great weekend and a very Merry Christmas and we will muse up again in the New Year!

Friday musing – the Ashes, Champions League, Arsenal……..

Chris Barwin HillsWith the result of the test in Adelaide and the results of the other tests recently it became very obvious that winning the toss goes a long way to winning a test match. This has always been the case, but it does seem more so now with the way pitches are prepared. Captains have always been preferred to bat first, but usually the pitch offered a fair bit of assistance to the quicks, particularly in the first session. The side batting second usually had the better of the conditions so you could still set up a win batting second.

It all seems to have changed with the “drop-in” pitches as they don’t seem to offer as much bounce early nor spin later. There has been some suggestion that there be a toss for the first test of a series and then it be rotated after that, but I would not agree with that suggestion. I think the better idea is for a return to the old style of pitch preparation which gives both sides an even chance.

Good to see the Gunners make it through to their 14th Champions League knock out phase in a row. Interesting how Napoli miss out with 12 points and yet St Petersburg get in with 6.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Ashes, sledging, Jason Day & more

Chris Barwin HillsWell I don’t think we can let an Aussie win in a Test match go without a bit of commentary, particularly as the Aussies were closing in on a record number of tests without a win.

Mitchell Johnson produced one of the great all-round performances in a test match in my time
following cricket. 103 runs for once out and 9/103 with the ball, so by my reckoning he is leading the averages with bat and ball at this stage. We all know one test doesn’t make a summer and in the last Ashes series in Australia he only produced one good performance, so I am not getting carried away, but it was a damn good start for a player that thrives on confidence.

Cricket is often identified as a ‘team sport for individuals’, but the contrary view to that is
that batting partnerships are intrinsic to winning matches. Australia produced three of the best partnerships of the test and won the game with Haddin/Johnson in the first innings and Warner/Clarke & Haddin/Johnson again in the second innings.

Speaking of Warner, we all like sportsmen that break the mould and speak their mind, however, I think he went a bit too far with his comments about Jonathan Trott.  He should’ve just left it as “a few of their batsmen looked a bit scared out there”.  Clearly Trott was showing signs of stress and perhaps Warner’s comments helped polarise his position and in turn prompted him to return to England and seek help.  It was interesting to read Greg Baum’s article in the Age during the week about cricketing suicides. It is clearly an issue and while we don’t like to see them make runs, I don’t think anyone gets any joy from the cricketers, or any sportsmen for that matter suffering mental
breakdowns.

Away from the cricket it was also good to see Jason Day salute in the Golf World Cup. I thought
given what happened in the Philippines he performed very well and it was a fine gesture to donate a portion of his winnings to the victims of the typhoon. Hopefully the headlines from that will raise the profile of the plight of the people from his mother’s homeland.  I have waxed about his performances before in the Majors and I don’t think it will be long before he finally snares one.

You also have to acknowledge the performance of Adam Scott. He wins the Aussie PGA,
Masters and shares the team result in the World Cup with Jason Day as well as finishing 3rd overall and is the overnight leader in the Aussie Open. I hope he becomes the 2nd golfer to take home the triple crown as he seems to be a very humble and likeable fellow.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Back to basics with umpiring decisions……

Chris Barwin HillsDue to work commitments getting in the way of a good time, I didn’t see or hear much about the first day of the first Ashes test yesterday so I don’t know if there were any controversial decisions. But that got me to thinking about the Decision Review System (DRS). When it was first introduced I thought it was a good idea, because the umpires were coming under increasing scrutiny due to the technology available to the television broadcasters. Taking into consideration what happened in England in the last Ashes series, I think the system should be scrapped and it should return to just adjudicating on run-outs and stumpings. It would seem the DRS has created more issues than it has solved. The umpires decision is final and it should remain so. If the technology reveals that umpires are making mistakes then get better umpires.

I think this also carries over to the AFL. The goal review system was introduced to avert the howlers like the Tom Hawkins goal in the 2009 grand final. From what I have seen, the camera angles are inadequate and so it is impossible to come to a definitive conclusion and it usually comes back to the goal umpire. I think that system should also be scrapped and we should go back to relying on the goal umpire’s decision.

There is a push for goal line technology in the world game and if the experience in cricket and AFL football is any guide I would avoid it all costs.

One sport where the technology does seem to work is in tennis.

Sportzfan Radio show #234.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!12 February 2012 234.2 – The Panel discuss the test series between Australia and India with the question being whether Australia has improved that much or was India that bad. Paul Dalligan feels it has a lot to do with new bowling coach, Craig McDermott. Even Sportzfan Stan gave the Aussies the thumbs up with a nine out of ten. Tennis is also on the agenda with a look at Australia playing China in a Davis Cup qualifier being played in Geelong this week. The Panel agree that Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic have the advantage over Ze Zhang and Di Wu. The Professor raises the question whether Australia will get back into the Davis Cup top 16. Mark Fiorenti comes on to discuss soccer, beginning with Sydney’s coach, Vitezslav Lavicka ‘resignation’ this week. Names rumored to replace him include Italian great, Gianfranco Zola, former Sydney FC player Dwight Yorke and Graham Arnold. There will be other coaching vacancies at the end of ther season and these are also discussed. Paul Dalligan looks at the pros and cons of Harry Kewell’s signing by Victory and whether it was a good thing. Internationally, England’s coach, Italian Fabio Capello, announced his resignation after the F.A’s decision to strip Chelsea’s John Terry of the England captaincy over racism charges during a Premier League match. In rugby league, Paul Dalligan was pleased that the independent commission is off the ground after four years in the making and he discusses the future of the ARL with the coming media rights negotiation.

Sportzfan Radio show #227.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!20 November 2011 227.2 – Mark Fiorenti also is critical of Socceroo’s coach, Holger Osieck with tactics and team selection. He thinks the tie against Saudi Arabia in February 2012 will be played at AAMI Park in Melbourne. Mark also reviews the current A League round and provides an update on the English Premier League. The Dr Leslie CSA is on later than usual in today’s show. The Panel discuss an email on the passing of the late Peter Roebuck and Sportzfan Stan agrees that he was a very good cricket writer. They then discuss 20/20 Big Bash cricket with the Melbourne Stars signing Shane Warne and playing atthe MCG. World Champion Hot Dog eater, Joey Chestnut is appearing at an eating contest in Melbourne although Sportzfan Stan has difficulty believing that eating can be a sport. Paul Dalligan is also on a day off (at a Russian wedding if you don’t mind) so it is left to the Professor to review the Kangaroos win in the Four Nations Tournament over England. The show then crosses to Mordiboy for a live update from the President’s Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Course and he says the coverage by the media on the event has been amazing. Finally the Panel looks at the current NBL round and they try to make sense of the Melbourne Tigers beating the top side then losing to the bottom side the next night.

Sportzfan Radio show #226.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!13 November 2011 226.2 – Mark Fiorenti comes on to talk soccer and has to deal with questions over the Socceroos defeat by Oman overnight. He thinks it was a subdued performance and one of the worst in recent history. He is looking for a much better outing against Thailand on Tuesday and predicts a one all draw. The Panel also discusses Internationl friendlies between England/Spain, France/USA and ‘traditional’ rivals Gabon/Brazil. Mark also quickly reviews the fortunes of Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory in the A League. The Panel discuss the proposition that cultural diversity is the reason Australia is not performing as well in sport and believe this is not a true reflection of how things are. Paul Dalligan is enthusiastic about the rugby league Four Nations Tournament with the stirring win by England over New Zealand making way for the final next week between Australia and England. He says England will be fired up at home. He also discusses Des Hasler’s sacking at Manly and the implosion there. This will free Hasler up to coach Canterbury Bulldogs next season. The Panel look at golf and the Australian Open with many Aussies doing well and Tiger Woods form improving with the President’s Cup a week away. John Daly’s antics are discussed as well and it looks like his most recent walk off will be the last straw. Daniel Eade has a bit of hayfever and the Gelding comments he was worried that as Daniel had not been in the studio for a few weeks, he thought Sportzfan Stan had sacked him. Daniel talks NBA lockout and thinks there could still be a season. He also discusses NBL television ratings with the 1.15am game netting a very poor 15,000 viewers Australia wide.

Australian cricket needs a revamp and quickly!

I often listen to Stan (@sportzfanstan) on Sportzfan Radio calling for underperforming sports administrators and coaches to be sacked. Recently, he has been critical of the Australian Test team’s performance in the Ashes series against England and I would say with good reason.

If I compare how the successful teams from other codes behave – Collingwood in the AFL and St George in the NRL, there are hallmarks that lead to that success. Discipline, elite training regimes centred around world class training facilities, an astute and experienced coach, forward planning for filling the gaps that regularly occur in the playing ranks over time, investment (money and time) in drafting replacements and succession planning.

These hallmarks are not apparent in the Australian cricket team. I am continually surprised at Australian players making comments in the media regarding team selection, injuries and batting order. At best this shows an amateurish approach by those in charge of Australian cricket. Can you imagine for one moment that Alan Didak would suggest that a fellow Collingwood team mate should be playing in place of another?…or that he should be playing on a half forward flank as opposed to the wing? It just would not happen. Please take note James Sutherland.

Australian cricket was once at the forefront of all cricketing nations in all forms of the game. Well out in front of the pack with the rest struggling to remain a respectable distance behind, let alone catch up. Instead of building and laying solid foundations for the future, leading Australian cricket administrators have taken their eye off the road ahead and it has been left to deteriorate to the shambles that it is today.

There is one thing for certain. In this crowded sporting marketplace, it takes little time to lose relevance with the sporting public….just ask the NBL. Professionalism of a high order needs to be injected into Australian cricket and quickly and this means more than changing captains, players, coaches or selectors. An attitude change is required and quickly to reverse the trend.

Sportzfan Radio #179.1

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!14 November 2010 179.1 – The Professor starts by asking Daniel whether there should be a “mercy rule’ in basketball like there is in baseball, which then starts a discussion on the Melbourne Aces and whether their double header games are only 7 innings in length. The Gambler gives an update on Danish Rock who has been put out in the paddock for a six week spell. Stan has more basketball questions for Daniel about the Melbourne Tigers including whether an import (or two) will be sacked. Daniel says if the Tigers are 0-6 after the next two games they will both be sacked. Daniel doesn’t think Al Westover will be sacked though. The Gambler complains about the traffic created by the Australian Masters golf. Mordiboy sends a text predicting Tiger Woods not being able to win the tournament and thinks Daniel Gaunt will win by a shot. The Gelding discusses yesterday’s racing at Sandown and Rosehill. He says with the track being a ‘heavy 9’, runners needed some wet weather form to be in with a show. He says that like Danish Rock, Queen Asa is also going out for a spell.