Tag Archives: test-cricket

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 – 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 – Essendon, James Hird, the Ashes….

Chris Barwin HillsI was disappointed to see the Essendon saga rear its head again this week, although it would seem that the major spotlight is on the AFL and not my club.  There is still a bit more to play out on this matter obviously and if the Herald-Sun sees fit to put it on the front page and then devote 4 pages at the front of the paper instead of the sports pages, then it still must sell papers.  I just want to put it all behind me and concentrate on football.

One of the issues seems to be James Hird getting paid.  From what I understand him not being paid was part of the original sanctions, but not part of the final deal.  Certainly not a Hird/Essendon problem, but certainly a problem for the AFL.  I know it is quite a different set of circumstances, but police that have been charged with serious criminal charges are suspended on full pay.  Hird has not been found guilty of any criminal charges and it is only governance issues so good luck to him.  Given that it appears the AFL fed most of the leaks to the papers perhaps they have been hoist by their own petard.

With regard to the cricket what a good toss for Australia to win, but the first day produced 4 players getting a start and not going on and getting a century.  At the time of writing Michael Clarke has made his second century of the series and Brad Haddin has just got his 3rd half century of the series and Australia look like batting their way into a position where they really could not lose the test.  It is amazing when you on the back foot in a series that the catches don’t stick  with the Poms dropping three on day one.

Great to see the Gunners season rolling on, their defence seems to be holding up pretty well this year and they haven’t forgotten how to score.

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 #232.1

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!15 January 2012 232.1 Daniel starts with the observation that when Sportzfan Radio went off air in 2011 the Australian cricket team sucked, but now they are world beaters. Sportzfan Stan talks about China being a great market for Australian Rules Football. Special guest Jamie Pi comments on this and also goes on to talk about the growing impetus of players of Asian heritage contributing to AFL with Lin Jong being drafted by the Western Bulldogs. He says it is very important to get the message out that Asian kids can play the game. Jamie also comments on how the Southern Dragons will perform in 2012 in division 2 of the Southern Football League. The Panel have a brief discussion of the NFL playoffs and each teams chances. The Gelding talks racing and starts with a discussion of the penetrometer and the grading of the track. He didn’t have a great day yesterday at the track but did manage to get a selection up for the ladies from the Tennis club. Mark Fiorenti comes on to talk soccer and says his soccer wishes were fulfilled at the end of 2011 but not to good for the start of 2012.

Sportzfan Radio show #229.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!4 December 2011 229.2 – Mark Fiorenti continues with his look at the A League and the Melbourne Heart playing a match this weekend against Wellington in Gippsland. He also looks at the LA Galaxy playing Melbourne Victory next week at Etihad Stadium. John O’Callaghan & Nicole Chvastek join the Panel for the last hour of the show. Sportzfan Stan opens the discussion regarding St Kilda Football Club’s anticipated million dollar loss mostly due to playing at Etihad Stadium. John says he finds it extraordinary and simplistic to just blame the return from the home ground. He poses the question whether football is sustainable at AFL level. John reprises his push to have a criminal law against doping in sport and also match fixing. Paul Dalligan talks rugby league and the tragic news of the death of Arthur Beetson and says it is a massive loss for rugby league. He was the first indigenous person to appointed captain of any sporting team in Australia. Paul also discusses the proposed changes to rules for the All Stars game on a trial basis. Nicole starts a discussion about the development of Michael Clarke as Australian cricket captain. John says he thinks the Australian cricket captain’s job is second only in importance in Australia to the Prime Minister’s job. Daniel suggests maybe Michael Hussey should have been given the job. Sportzfan Stan says Ricky Ponting has been a great servant to Australia but his time has come and he shouldn’t be in the team. The Panel look at the proposal for topless basketball by Rick’s Cabaret and give it the thumbs down and says it denegrates not only women but also basketball.

Sportzfan Radio #183.1

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!12 December 2010 183.1 – Sean makes a rare appearance in studio and Daniel starts with an apology as it took him five days to read Mark Fiorenti’s blog so he knows nothing about what happened in the sports world for the week. He also adds his favourite Qatar player after some research is Eric Clapton and Sean adds that FIFA’s new game Qatar hero. Stan gets into Daniel again about basketball asking him how he thinks the Melbourne Tigers will go against Perth. Sean thinks as it is Al Westover’s 200th game it may get the Tigers across the line. Their is also a discussion about the the test cricket side and Stan is for sacking all the player sand the selectors. Dan Butterly talks US sport and commences with his view on the Heisman trophy and who will win it. He thinks Cam Newton from Auburn will win it, even with all the cloud of suspicion over him regarding the behaviour of his father. Dan also talks about the Bowl matches coming up with 35 being played over three weeks. He likes Oregon to beat Auburn in the Championship game and TCU to beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. There are moves afoot within the Conferences and Hawaii has now decided to leave the WAC and join the MWC in 2012. The Professor asks whether the MWC will play a game in Australia given Hawaii is halfway here. Dan agrees that it would raise the MWC profile. Sean says AAMI stadium would be perfect to host such a game. Dan feels Brett Favre’s streak will end at 297 as he will not recover in time to play in tomorrow’s game.

The Professor thinks there may have been a first last week when the Gelding was not on the show at all. The Gelding talks cricket first discussing the problems with Victorians trying to get into the Test side. He then moves on to racing and reviews his selections for the Flemington meeting. Although he got off to a great start tipping Aloha to win, it was all downhill from there with his other three selections failing to even be placed. The Gelding’s favourite Qatar player is Jimmy Page from Led Zepplin.

The Panel discusses Gary Ablett’s revelations during the week where he hadn’t spoken to his coach, Bomber Thompson since March this year. Sean talks about a rumor that James Hird and Thompson had been talking about getting together for 2012 but because Essendon’s coterie groups wanted Matthew Knights out, everything got moved forward twelve months. Daniel starts talking about Bob Costas (NBC sportscaster) but he really means the Geelong president, Frank Costa. Stan is swinging the axe again and Sean observes he is going to put Centrelink out of business as everyone is getting the knife.

Mark Fiorenti talks up the local Melbourne derby between the Heart and the Victory with over 23,000 at AAMi stadium. Sean went to his first game during the week to see Heart play but they went down in front of around 2,000 people. Mark says it was the lowest ever at an A League game in Melbourne. He says the FFA must address this as mid week games don’t work.

Sportzfan Radio #181.1

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!28 November 2010 181.1 – Daniel is suffering with a toothache and gets plenty of sympathy, especially from Stan who says if you don’t clean your teeth you pay the penalty. The Gelding is late but hopefully he has a note from home. Stan has his weekly question to Daniel on the Melbourne Tigers. Daniel says he doesn’t think Tigers coach Al Westover should be sacked because he likes him. The Gelding talks about the First Ashes Test and the form of Michael Hussey. Daniel wants to know why Brad Hodge isn’t in the team and Stan observes that it is probably due to Victorian batsmen having fallen foul of the selectors in the past. Dan Butterly delivers his US report and starts with a discussion of Vince Young hurling his pads into the stands and then texting an apology to the coach, Jeff Fisher. He thinks that it was easier to get rid of Brad Childress than Brett Favre in Minnesota. He doesn’t think Favre will quit until the end of the season. In the NBA he feels that the Miami Heat don’t have a leader on the team as Wade, LeBron and Chris Bosh are all playing ‘nice’ to each other. Daniel talks to Dan about LeBron’s return to Cleveland and says it should be an exciting game. He would go if he had a ticket. Daniel would like to see LeBron not voted into the starting five in the NBA All Star game and wants the Professor (and Sportzfan listeners) to vote for Amare Stoudemire to try and achieve this. Dan thinks LeBron will do the ‘powder clap’ in Cleveland. He has nothing new to report on Carmelo Anthony and says he will be staying with the Nuggets at this stage. In College football he is amazed that Boise State missed a field goal against Nevada that would have won the game. They went on to lose it and therefore won’t play for the national championship. Dan also talks on the BCS comments from Ohio State President Gordon Gee – he disagrees with him naturally. In MLB, the Yankees playing hardball with Derek Jeter but Dan believes he’ll eventually resign for what the Yankees have offered. Daniel explains the ‘powder clap’ for the listeners. The Gelding talks about the winners and losers from Sandown and Randwick and says the rain played havoc with the fields due to so many scratchings. The Panel discusses the heavy penalty handed out to rider Danny Nikolic over his behaviour to stewards after he was found wearing a modified racing vest.

Sportzfan Radio #179.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!14 November 2010 179.2 – Daniel thinks the Melbourne Tigers theme song is very annoying to listen to and believes there should be no basketball theme songs. The Professor wonders whether Daniel was alive when the Leyland Brothers were on television. The ‘F’ word looks at the local A-League scene. Archie Thompson back for Melbourne Victory will be a positive however the Victory have lost one of their other strikers. He doesn’t believe Victory can make the top three given their current ladder position. He is going to see both Melbourne Heart and Victory in the next week but will only be wearing a Heart scarf. Mark also has a quick look at English Premier League and the Socceroos upcoming friendly against Egypt. The Panel discuss IPL’s growing disruption to other forms of cricket with Australia’s test series against Bangladesh needing to be moved as it clashes with IPL matches. Paul Dalligan is stoked about Greg Inglis heading for the Rabbitohs and says it is the biggest signing in his lifetime. He is disppointed that Australia was beaten by the Kiwis in the last minute of last night’s final of the Four Nations Tournament. Social media expert, Sean Callanan believes the Queen has a lot of work to do to catch up to LeBron James on Facebook. He likes people quoting tweets but has a problem with journalists quoting tweets but then not linking back to the original story or using their twitter handle. The NBA and the NHL are always trending on twitter when the games are played which says those Leagues are on the ball with social media.