Tag Archives: south-africa

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 – 3rd test wrap up, AFL rookie draft, Melbourne City take the FFA Cup……

Sfan OB6The 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 hanscombinnings, 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 filipovicwas 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 atim cahill 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!

Weekend musing – Jordan Spieth, Faf Du Plessis, big changes in the Aussie Test team…..

Sfan OB6I 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 Ashleyspieth 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 duplessisto 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 fergusontest 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 milesand 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!

Weekend musing – Australia’s Test woes, Ireland defeats the All Blacks…amazing!

Sfan OB6Last 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 testthat 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
the-amazed-international-media-reaction-to-ireland-beating-the-all-blacksin 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!

Friday musing – Golf, Cricket, Spring Carnival…….

Chris Barwin HillsThe thing that really piqued my interest in the sporting arena this week was the story about Phil Mickelson calling 16 year old US born Australian Ryan Rufflels (the son of former tennis player Ray Ruffels) to try and get him to Arizona State University on a golfing scholarship. Apparently Ryan plays off plus 6 and in a recent monthly medal at the Victoria Club shot rounds of 10, 9, 7 & 9 under. Wow! Golf seems to be producing some real prodigies at the moment and hopefully Ryan can go on and create a name for himself. Which country would have the bragging rights? I think that while he was born in the US, he grew up in Australia and took up golf in Australia, I consider that to be enough to claim him as an Aussie.

It was interesting to see that less than 25,000 people for the International T20 match against South Africa last Friday at the MCG. That is a disappointing crowd and casts a bit of doubt about the overall interest in the cricket coming into a summer where Australia will be hosting the One Day World Cup. Apart from the Ashes that is always well patronised, the cricket does seem to be losing its mojo. I have mentioned this in the past and in my opinion, it has a lot to do with the year round coverage of cricket throughout the world. The football is played over a period of six-seven months and then there is the build up and anticipation for the following season which is all very well staged managed by the AFL. The international cricket season has started with very little sense of anticipation and not helped by the recent test flogging at the hands of the Pakistanis. Time will tell if they can build some momentum into the World Cup.

The major races of the spring have now been completed and there was a number of notable performances, however, I do not think that any horse stamped its authority on the spring. There was not a dominant sprinter, there was not a dominant weight for age performer and there was not a dominant stayer. Having said that the “one off” performances of Terravista, Adelaide and Protectionist (you could also add in Admire Rakti in the Caulfield Cup) where truly great performances.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – cricket, AFL, Sydney Swans……..

Chris Barwin HillsWell I have been concentrating on the cricket in Sth Africa recently and this week is no exception. My observations and reiteration of a few maxims from the last test and the series are as follows:

1) You don’t insert the opposition;
2) You don’t enforce the follow-on;
3) Bowlers win matches, batsmen save them;
4) David Warner says some absolutely stupid things, but he seems to thrive on the pressure he draws  to himself and away from his team mates. A rare breed of sportsman;
5) I don’t think you can underestimate the influence of Shane Warne’s presence in Capetown. Clarke finally produces an innings of some magnitude and the team turns around the disappointment from the previous week;
6) Test cricket is a test of mind and body and Morkel certainly tested Clarke’s body, but his mind  won the contest;
7) The Sth African batsmen could teach our boys a thing or two about a solid defence;
8) Batting first in modern cricket seems to be too much of an advantage. Clearly Capetown was  prepared in the hope that Sth Africa would win the toss again.

On a different tack, the AFL flagged this week that the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) in Sydney  would be phased out. Given that Sydney has netted two very big names in Tippett & Franklin in the last two years it is no surprise, but is it fair. It is not my idea, but I agree, that the COLA should be there for the 1st or 2nd year players and rookies, but not for those who are on decent contracts, say greater than $150,000 per annum. Taking it one step further, why wouldn’t the same group of players in other states also be entitled to a COLA. Say you get a rookie from WA coming over to Victoria on basic payments, they are going to struggle financially and will need to get a job to supplement their payments because they do not have the fall back position of living with their parents.

Food for thought.

Have a good weekend!

Friday musing – Test cricket, Jason Day, Marley Williams……..

Chris Barwin HillsWell Australia well and truly got a touch up in the 2nd Test in Port Elizabeth. Losing ten wickets for about 90 runs when the openers have put on 120 is just not good enough, no matter how good the opposition bowling is. Again there has been discussions about the Decision Review System with players being given out on very flimsy evidence and I remain of the view that the decisions should revert
to the central umpires unless they call for a review.

I would also like to make a comment about the umpires allowing the extra thirty minutes of play at the end of Day 4.  Having granted the South African’s the extra thirty minutes, I think the umpires were under extra pressure to see that it was justified.  Ryan Harris was given out LBW by umpire Dharmasena, when that umpire had hardly made decision all test and it was such a marginal decision that the commentators thought on first view that it was too high, but the ball tracker showed it just clipping the stumps so he was on his way.  They had no say in Rogers poor decision to take a run, but then Lyon was given out when he snicked the ball into his pads.  Two LBW decisions that could have gone either way going against the side who didn’t want the extra thirty mins justifies the umpires decision to allow the extra time.

I don’t know if it made any difference as I didn’t hear if the forecast rain arrived the next day.  Either way the South Africans deserved to win and whomever wins the toss in Cape Town will probably take the series.

Well another great performance by Jason Day to take the World Matchplay Championship and go to No 4 in the world.  He could have wrapped it up a lot earlier, but he got there in the end despite the Frenchman executing tww of the best saves you will see in a long time.  It is my prediction that he will win a major this year, more than likely one of the US tournaments.

I lot of discussion this week about Collingwood FC player, Marley Williams and whether he should be playing football given he has been convicted.  Given the hysteria surrounding Andrew Lovett and Stephen Milne who weren’t or haven’t been found guilty perhaps the discussion has been rather muted, but I think he should be able to play until he is sentenced.  He is a young player who needs the distraction of preparing and playing football, if he gets a custodial sentence he is out of the game anyway, but if
he gets a suspended sentence, then he has missed games that he probably didn’t have to.  Any working person in the same position would have the expectation that they could work up until they were sentenced.

It would seem that the wheels of ASADA are now turning and hopefully the conclusion to the Essendon FC supplement scandal is not as drawn out as has been suggested.  As stated last week I don’t think I am alone in saying that it has gone on for too long already.

Have a good weekend!

Friday musing – Test cricket, golf, Karrie Webb, Essendon FC……

Chris Barwin HillsI was intrigued to hear the South African captain, Graham Smith’s comments after his side was beaten last week. He tried to play down the impact of Mitchell Johnson and point to the pitch and then allege that Steyn and Morkel were sick. Well he was the one who chose to insert the opposition and rely on his much touted bowling line up. I think the issue here is, he made a mistake sending Australia in to bat. Like enforcing the follow-on, asking the opposition to bat is a very risky proposition.

Australia are in a reasonable position over night in the second Test with South Africa at 5/214, but A.B. De Villiers is still there and he is pretty close to the best batsman in the world at the moment. If the Aussies can get him out early on the second day with the new ball, it will put Australia in a good position to push for another victory.

Getting on to Ladies Golf, how amazing is Karrie Webb. She starts the last day of the Open five strokes off the pace and gets up and wins it. She doesn’t get the accolades the men do, but she would have to be close to the most successful Australian golfer of all time.

I remarked last week that I was disappointed the Essendon supplements scandal reared its head again and Caroline Wilson has continued the onslaught this week. First with Alistair Clarkson and today it is a story about the AFL’s handling of the issue. Is there still that much interest in this story? I think the horse has just about been flogged to death. Obviously as an Essendon supporter, I just want it over with, but since the AFL handed down it’s penalties last year, I get the impression that most other sports fans have also had enough. Clarkson spoke about it hijacking the season last year, well stop talking about it this year then!

Have a great weekend.

Friday musing – NFL, Super Bowl, NBA, Essendon FC, cricket……

Chris Barwin HillsNot being a big American sports fan I have not seen a lot of sport in my two and a half weeks in Hawaii, but I was there for the Super Bowl. My daughter and I went to a bar on Maui and watched the game from just before half time. While being seated by the manager I enquired as to whom I should be supporting and I was assured I should be on the Seahawks. The bar seemed to be evenly divided between the Denver fans, who were very quiet and the Seattle fans who were a little more excited with plenty of Sea-Hawk chants. I enjoyed the game, however, the advertisements and the entertainment seemed to go for a lot longer than the actual playing time. My daughter also enjoyed the game and the advertisements! I think the game was an endorsement for the maxim that a good defence will usually defeat a good offence.

My other sporting observation from my time in Hawaii was the saturation coverage of basketball. It did not seem to matter what time of the day it was, if you went into a bar or restaurant and they had sport on the television, it was usually the NBA or college basketball and that included the time leading up to the Super Bowl.

Since being back in Australia I have been disappointed to see the Essendon supplements saga rear its head again. I guess it is not going to go away until such time as ASADA have closed their file. This could go on for years!

A good start to the Test series in South Africa, but I am starting to get a little concerned about Michael Clarke’s ongoing form lapse. Having scored 100’s in the first two Ashes tests he has not passed fifty since. I have been happy with the continued good form of Steve Smith, who in the same period has made three centuries. With Shane Watson missing from the line-up I hope we won’t be found to be a bowler short.

Have a great weekend everyone.

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.