It was great to watch the Socceroos qualify on Wednesday for the World Cup in Russia. I didn’t think they played that well, but deserved the win and deserved the free kick and penalties which resulted in the goals. It is hard to fathom how the Honduras captain could come out and suggest the referee was on the take! While I didn’t think the Australians played to their potential, the Hondurans were very ordinary. Australia’s big problem is the best finisher in the side is Tim Cahill and he is now 38 years old. Cahill himself wants more game time for Melbourne City to hone his skills for the World Cup, but at 38 he doesn’t get to as many contests as he may have in his prime. His finishing against Syria won the game for Australia, but his contribution between goals was negligible. This is a delicate balance because they need him in and around the team. I do not envy the task of Melbourne City manager, Warren Joyce.
Also great to see Elyse Perry get a 200 for the Australian women’s cricket team. She is a genuine all-rounder in all forms of the game and a match winner. I doubt Australia has produced a better all-rounder in men’s or women’s cricket. Not only that, she has also represented Australia in women’s soccer. What a player!!
Speaking of cricket the men’s squad for the first test was announced today with a few surprises. Shaun Marsh being re-called for an 8th time was a big shock, but Cameron Bancroft almost picked himself with his recent record. Also out of left field was the selection of Tim Paine as the keeper. Before he started breaking fingers he was the heir apparent to Brad Hadin, but Paine isn’t even the first choice wicket keeper for Tasmania so what do the Australian selectors know that the Tasmanians don’t? While it was out of left field I support the move because he is a very good keeper and a very accomplished batsman. Marsh effectively taking Glenn Maxwell’s spot is the real bolt from the blue. Maxwells’ shield form has not been that bad with a couple of 50’s and a 45 not out in the most recent game so his form had been okay compared to Matt Renshaw. I have questioned the selectors before and most of the time they seem to get it right, but Marsh has more often than not been a disappointment when selected for Australia so I can’t agree with them there.
Have a great weekend!
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!
It was announced this week that Kevin Sheedy was returning to Essendon in an ambassadorial role on something like $250,000 a year over 4-5 years. To me this is waste of money and it also smacks of desperation. Perhaps the club have been given an indication of the likely findings of the AFL tribunal and feel they need to muster some public and corporate support by a past club great not tainted by the current situation. However, in my opinion, to have Sheedy in that role is somewhat misguided. As the coach of the club he did a wonderful job promoting the club and building up the profile of the club whereby at some stage in the 1990s the Essendon Football Club were considered to have most number of supporters of any club in Australia. I think as the coach of the club he had a voice and because he was often quotable he got a lot of press, but I doubt he will carry the same degree of weight in the media in the role of a club ambassador. I am happy to be proved wrong.
Michael Clarke has been criticised for not batting against Afghanistan the other night and it was probably the same people who laud him as an astute captain. I think he made the right call. Clarke is not an explosive batsman who can pummel an attack to all parts of the field. He is a technically correct batsman who has to build an innings. With the state of play in that game he was better off allowing the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh, James Faulkner & Brad Haddin to increase the run rate. Clarke has as ODI strike rate of less than 80 and the others are all around 100 or more so he made the correct decision in the interests of the team where the run rate may influence the ultimate position in the group stage.
Have a great long weekend!
Well the big three races of the Melbourne spring have been run and won by international horses. The Japanese took out the Caulfield Cup, the Irish the Cox Plate and now the Germans have the Melbourne Cup. If Adelaide had been owned by Italian interests you may have questioned who won the war! There has been a lot of discussion about the influx of international horses and whether there should be a quota placed on them, particularly for the Melbourne Cup. Bunkum I say. If the locals want to win these races they should adjust their breeding and training regimes and start to focus on middle distance and staying races and not just breeding and training for sprinter/milers. For too long getting a horse to produce early in it’s career has been the focus instead of looking to the future. I think we should keep bringing in the international horses as not only are they better than the locals, they add plenty to the discussions at this time of the year. With Slade Power running in the Darley Classic tomorrow, the pain for the locals may not be over and we may be beaten at our own game.
I remarked last week about the pitches that had been produced in the recent test series against Pakistan and that may have been disrespectful to the Pakistanis’ as each of their second innings were better than our first in each test. The Australian’s were completed outplayed and any pretensions they had for being number one in the world has taken a severe blow. To be number one you have to be able to win in all conditions, not just those that suit your best players. Some of the selections have to be questioned as well. Bringing Glenn Maxwell in and playing him as a number three seemed as strange as the puzzling decisions in dropping Alex Doolan and Steve O’Keefe after one test. I can understand the theory of playing to your strength, but clearly the pitch blunted even the best fast bowlers, let alone the likes of Mitchell Starc. The batsmen need to learn how to play spin and the spinners need to learn how to bowl in those conditions.
What an amazing performance by the West Sydney Wanderers in the Asian Champions League final. For a club that has only been in existence for just over two years, they have played in two grand finals and won the premier club competition in Asia. Admittedly the A-League has only been going for a short time, but for a start up club to have achieved that much in such a short space of time is unprecedented. I think it even out-strips the Melbourne Storm’s win in the 1999 NRL grand final. It must say something about Tony Popovic’s coaching and he must be high on the radar for the national team or something substantial overseas.
Have a great weekend!