Tag Archives: steve-smith

Weekend musing – Test series wrap, Victoria wins the Sheffield Shield……

Sfan OB6A disappointing end to a very interesting test series in India with Australia capitulating in the second innings of the fourth test. Up until that stage, the series had been evenly poised and was one of the most talked about series in India that I can remember. Steve Smith clearly the star for Australia with the bat and Pat Cummins making a successful comeback to test cricket augurs well for the future. A lot has been made about friendships between the teams being sacrificed in an all out attempt to win. All I’ll say about that is the friendships cannot have been too solid in the first place if a bit of name calling and sledging has brought them undone.

Sticking with cricket, it was great to see the Vics salute again in the Sheffield Shield for a record third straight win. It also must be 81946500remembered that none of the wins have been on home soil. The first win was in Hobart, the second an away win against South Australia and the third was in Alice Springs. It cannot be underestimated how valuable Cameron White has been as Captain of the Bushrangers. His experience and tactical ability has come to the fore once again.

There was an article in the Herald Sun this week discussing the success of the Victorian horses in Sydney this year. It has been put down to the heavy tracks in Sydney which has meant the Victorian horses are going up there fitter than their northern counterparts. I think there could be a parallel with the two Sydney football teams based on their performances last week. Both Sydney teams played teams from Adelaide where the weather has meant that full training outside has been undertaken, whereas, perhaps the weather in Sydney has meant that a lot of their training has been indoors. Certainly something to keep an eye on in coming weeks.

I am also amazed that various pundits are prepared to write teams off after one round of football. It is a bit like making too many predictions on a pre-season series which doesn’t mean much.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Test cricket, twilight Grand Final, Nick Kyrgios, Golden Slipper…..

Sfan OB6Well 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 http---prod.static9.net.au-_-media-2017-03-17-16-12-maxwell3_1703a_1000Maxwell 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 mclachlan-change-620x370xxthe 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 Horse-Catchy-103462-636x424weekend 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!

Friday musing – Cricket, Aussies #1 in Test Cricket

Chris Barwin HillsWell 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 system1440188864611 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. faulkner-aussie-cricketThis 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!

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 – Ashes washup, Nat Fyffe…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell the Ashes are over and Australia has lost 3-2 with none of the five games going into the fifth day. When you examine the averages it is hard to see how Australia lost. Joe Root was the only English 1440188864611batsman to average more than 40 for the series, while Australia had Chris Rogers, Steve Smith & Dave Warner who all averaged over 40. Warner got a half century in each test without going on to get a hundred. Then you look at the bowling and while Stuart Broad took the most wickets with 21 the next best Englishman got 12 wickets, Australia had four bowlers who took 15 wickets or more.

In a series where the ball seemed to dominate the bat, no bowler really dominated. Broad’s 21 wickets has to be considered in the context of his match winning 8-15 in the fourth test, take that away and he averaged just over 1.5 wickets an innings. The 21 wickets is less than 2.5 wickets an innings which is hardly a domination compared to previous series. It was more like one bowler stood up each innings and then didn’t do much else and that applies to both sides.

In the final test Shane Warne was harping on about the selectors making a mistake and not playing Peter Siddle for Josh Hazlewood in the 4th test. To that stage Hazlewood had taken 16 wickets at an average of 25.75, not bad numbers really, but he was not really providing the Glenn McGrathish pressure that allowed them to playUnknown two left arm bowlers. Here I think was the major selection blunder playing the two left arm bowlers who were a bit all over the place. I would have dropped Mitchell Johnson for the last two tests and played Siddle or Cummins. They eventually played Siddle and he surprised everyone with a stellar performance in the final test.

Overall, if you win three games as easily as England did, you deserve to win back the Ashes.

Turning briefly to the AFL there was a lot of discussion earlier in the week with the Nat Fyffe incident with many of the pundits calling for his suspension. Quite rightly the MRP chose not to impose any fine or suspension. The incident was a free kick for too high, but nothing more than that. Having said that I am an unabashed Fyffe fan and hopes that he wins the Brownlow and goes on to get the Norm Smith medal in a Freemantle grand final winning team.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing is back – Test Cricket, Big Bash, Asian Cup & more

Chris Barwin HillsHappy New Year!

Well it is all about the cricket at this time of the year and my first observation relates to the standard of pitches that have been produced for the series against India. For as well as Virat Kohli and Steve Smith have played, there has been a lot of runs and not many wickets.

A lot of the Australian wickets have gone in the chase for quick runs. I wonder if the Indian authorities warned their Australian counterparts about preparing wickets to suit Mitchell Johnson. Johnson has struggled on these pitches with only one session in Brisbane where has been truly dangerous. It is hard to be too critical when there has been two results from the first three tests, with Australia batting India out of the Melbourne test to ensure they won the series.

However, I am sure if these pitches had been presented to the English last year there is no way we could have won 5-0. Nathan Lyon will be the number one bowler for the series and who would have predicted that at the start? I think in many ways for as well as the Indians have played, their fielding and catching has been sub-standard and you can’t keep dropping catches and win matches.

I hark back to one of those ill fated series in the 1980s against the West Indies when the Aussies dropped at least 30 catches. When you are playing one of the best teams in the world you have to limit their scoring not let them off the hook.

Continuing the cricket theme I have a comment about the Phil Hughes tributes. When does it all get too much?  I understand the test team has been truly rocked by what happened and it is quite unparalleled in cricket, however, I think we are getting very close to putting a lid on the tributes. His family have been decidedly absent from the public eye and I now think it is time for the players pay their respects in private.

Finally on the cricket, I have watched a little of the Big Bash and it is great to sit down and watch a bit of sport at night time and see a result. I am sure Channel 10 are rapt they have the rights. My accolade goes out to Brad Hogg playing for the Perth Scorchers. At 43 years of age he came on the other night and landed his spinners perfectly and essentially set up the win for Perth. Amazing!

The Asian Cup starts tonight and I must say my enthusiasm has yet to be piqued. Perhaps once it gets going I will be more interested, but at this stage the jury is out.

Continuing the World Game theme, I went to the Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory game last week in Geelong and while the result was not so good and it was still very hot, the crowd and the atmosphere were very good. I think of the AFL venues, Kardinia Park lends itself to soccer because it has narrow wings. The Victory have two more games at the venue in the next two years and my guess is the experiment will be continued or even expanded.

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.

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!