I have been a longtime supporter of Ange Postecoglou and was especially pleased when he was appointed as Socceroos coach to replace Holger Osieck. There can be no doubt that Ange has turned the team’s fortunes around as at one stage the Socceroos had slumped to number 100 in the FIFA world rankings but he now has them back at 39 after qualifying for the World Cup. Ange also managed to win an Asian Championship along the way so he is definitely leaving the National team in a lot better shape than when he took over. Given that success I was most disappointed that he decided to pull the pin on his time as the manager of the team. A bit like David Gallup, I am puzzled as to why you would walk away after having scaled the mountain the hard way. It reminds me of David Hall, who was the original trainer of Maykbe Diva. After the first Melbourne Cup win he went overseas to pursue a training career leaving the Diva with Lee Freedman to chalk up two more wins. At least he had the first win! The search is now on for a new manager and I have heard many names mentioned including current Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold, Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi, former Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic, Melbourne Victory’s Kevin Muscat and, in a blast from the past, Aussie Guus Hiddink. I hope the powers that be stick with a well credentialled Aussie coach. Personally I think Arnold has the ability to do the top job. He already knows the difficulties having been the Socceroos coach from 2006-2007 and he has been a success in the national competition with his A League side currently holding all three trophies.
Great to see the Ashes series has started as it is the most anticipated series in world cricket. In the recently completed First Test, the Australians gained the ascendancy after being able to scratch out a slim first innings lead then managed to take some crucial, early second innings wickets. The Aussie speed trio of Hazlewood, Cummins and Starc were wonderful and had the English on the back foot in both innings. Providing the three can stay fit, they will be more than a handful for the English over the final four tests. A special mention to the skipper too. Steve Smith’s innings was the real difference between the sides and the only reason the Aussies had a first innings lead. Without his contribution we would have been facing a sizeable deficit to make up and that would have completely turned the tables. Our top order needs to take a leaf out of Smith’s book and seek to occupy the crease rather than go after quick runs all the time. After all it is a ‘Test’ not a 20/20 game.
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!
While I did not back the winner of the Victoria Derby, Prized Ikon, it was a great story for the Cummings family. Four generations of the one family training a winner of such a prestigious race would be unparalleled not only in racing, but probably in sport generally. There has been a number of father/son combinations and even grandfather/father/son’s in various sports, but I cannot think of any to equal this effort. Three generations of the Aitken family played for Carlton and three generations of the Hird family played for Essendon. Perhaps one of James Hird’s sons could make it a fourth generation for the Bombers.
Keeping with the family theme Kieran McEvoy won the Melbourne Cup on Almandin and he is the brother-in-law of last years winning jockey, Michelle Payne. Almandin is the third son of Monson to win the Cup in the last four years. The other two being Fiorente and Protectionist. When you think about it, racing produces probably just as many family associations as AFL football. A lot of jockeys had fathers that were jockeys and a lot of trainers had fathers that were trainers.
The biggest story in sport this week was the Chicago Cubs breaking a 108 year drought in the World Series. Even if the Cleveland Indians had of won they would have broken a 68 year drought. This continues a wonderful year for drought breaking title wins. The Cubs also did it by winning the last three games, with the last two away to Cleveland. This was somewhat reminiscent of the NBA when the Cleveland Cavaliers took the title in an away game to Golden State.
A good start in the Test cricket yesterday and it further proves the value of good bowlers. Australia struggled in the recent one-day series in South Africa with a second string attack, now with more like their front line attack in place they were a lot more effective. If we can get James Pattinson and Pat Cummins back playing consistent cricket with Mitchell Starc, the Australian attack will be formidable. Bowlers win matches.
Have a great weekend
Well the Australian test team went to number one in the world test cricket rankings during the week on the back of the defeat of New Zealand in Christchurch and a 2-0 result in the series. Some people have suggested that this ranking over inflates their current “real” ranking in world cricket, however, you can only work with the system in place. I think the wins over the West Indies do not mean much, but defeating New Zealand on their home turf is no mean feat as they have had some very good results at home recently with a win over Sri Lanka and a drawn series in England last year. Australia’s loss to England last year and the subsequent win by England in South Africa recently would have England notionally right up there. The Aussie batting line up looks to be solidifying, however, our fast bowlers keep getting injured and in the future if we can keep Starc, Pattinson, Hazlewood, Siddle, Bird & Cummins on the park consistently(obviously not all at once) I think the side does deserve the number one ranking.
While it was good to see the Aussies successful in New Zealand, it was disappointing to see the bad behaviour of Hazlewood and Smith. This continues a run of indiscretions which the Australian team trumpet as playing the game hard, but to my mind spitting the dummy and carrying on like idiots has nothing to do with playing the game hard. I think New Zealand in the recent home and away series showed the Australians how the game should be played. At least Steve Smith acknowledged his mistake and vowed to improve in this department. I hope he does learn, because I like him as a player and he could be a very good Australian captain. Smith should besetting the example to the rest of the team though.
Have a great weekend!
Well not only is Jordan Spieth the number one golfer in the world, he is also the number one tipster in the world having tipped Matt Jones to win the Australian Open title last weekend. Knowing that Jones is a friend of his and that he had tipped him to win, it got me thinking if Spieth had allowed Jones to win, not necessarily consciously, but maybe unconsciously. Watching the final hole with an eagle chance to put him into a play off, Spieth’s putt looked a little unconvincing. Putting aside my conspiracy theory, a great effort by Jones holding off the world number 1 in Spieth and a former world number 1 in Adam Scott.
The final test against the Kiwi’s in Adelaide last weekend breathed some life into the cricket despite it only going for three days. Finally the ball carried sway with the top score of only 66 being made by Peter Nevill the Australian keeper. The day/night concept was an undoubted success, but common sense should dictate that not every Test should be played in that format.
The Kiwi’s continued to fair badly with the DRS with Nathan Lyon getting a reprieve. The ICC has since come out and advised that the decision was wrong, however, the third umpire has to be absolutely sure if he is going to overturn the officiating umpires decision and there was certainly some doubt in my mind. The other decision which I think requires some review was the decision to send Mitchell Starc out to bat in the dying stages of the game. I had no problem with Starc going out there and trying to belt a few boundaries, but why not send him in before Peter Siddle and not when there was one ball to go in the over. Fortunately it didn’t matter and Australia got home.
Melbourne City have strung together two 5-1 results in a row in the A-League and they should make hay before the January transfer window, because if Aaron Mooy is not picked up by a European side I would be very surprised. He appears to be a class above his opponents and deserves a chance for higher honours.
Have a great weekend!
Well 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 carrot 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 saw 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 before 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 win 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!
Well the ICC World Cup is finally over and while it was good to see Australia win, it was not much of a game. The Man of the Match was an interesting decision. It was clear that the bowlers had won the Cup for Australia, however, was Faulkner the pick of the bowlers? I think not! Starc and Johnson had better figures and Starc’s first wicket set the tone for the Kiwi innings. In the end I couldn’t split them and I would have given the nod to Michael Clarke for his batting and his captaincy.
Another sporting saga that went for a good deal longer than the ICC World Cup was the Essendon supplements issue. It may not have reached a conclusion yet, but it has certainly got close to it depending on what ASADA and/or WADA decide to do. As a domestic sport I cannot see WADA having too much interest in pursuing the matter and ASADA will have to think long and hard if they want to drag this out any further. To my mind, as a Bomber supporter, it is the right result as the players were always the innocent parties and the club has been punished already. I hope it is the end of it, but there seems to be a body of opinion out there that still wants blood.
Perhaps the positive tests to the two Collingwood players will be enough to draw the attention away from Essendon where there were no positive tests. Reading between the lines of the comments from the Collingwood football club, the positive tests could be linked to the use of other substances. Time will tell no doubt.
Have a great Easter!
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!