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!
The 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. The 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!
The 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 innings, 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 was 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 a 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!
I 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 Ashley 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 to 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 test 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 and 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!
The Australian cricket team sank to a new level this week with another comprehensive defeat at the hands of the touring team from South Africa. This is an absolute embarrassment to go down so meekly on home soil. I don’t think I have seen two consecutive implosions like this in Australia since the rampant West Indian teams toured here in the 1980s. It has got a lot to do about the quality of our batsman. The South African bowlers have been good, but not that good.
We now have the chairman of selectors, Rod Marsh step away from his position and I think scrutiny needs to go onto the coach as well. Darren Lehman was brought in at a time when the team needed to relax a little after the regimented approach of Mickey Arthur’s, but it seems to have gone too far and batsmen don’t seem to know how to work through difficult periods of play. To me this is a coaching issue.
The bowlers have been okay, but I could not see how Joe Mennie deserved a spot ahead of Jackson Bird, with Bird being on his home track. I am also a bit surprised by the lack of success by Nathan Lyon. Lyon usually picks up his 2-3 wickets an innings, but he has had a poor run recently and will probably be dropped for the next test as long as someone else puts their hand up in this weekends Shield games. It also is a bit strange that Victoria has won the last two Sheffield Shields and yet cannot get anyone in the test team. Admittedly Peter Siddle was injured and may have been picked and the same could be said for James Pattinson, but surely someone is doing something right to win twice in a row. Peter Hanscomb with a century in the current Shield game is surely staking a claim.
There was more bad news for Australian sporting teams with the Socceroos only getting a draw in Thailand. This puts Australia back in equal third position behind Japan & Saudi Arabia and in danger of missing out on the next World Cup. Thailand were on the bottom of the table with only one goal and no points before the debacle the other night. There is still a bit to play out and Australia is the only team in the group without a loss, but they really can’t afford to drop any more points if they want the direct pathway into the World Cup.
Have a great weekend!
Last 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 that 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
in 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!
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
The Olympics are coming to a conclusion and I must say that my interest levels have been as low as I can remember for an Olympic Games. I don’t know if it is the timing of the events or all of the negative stories before the games started, but I have been significantly underwhelmed. Perhaps my level of enthusiasm is matched by the Australian results where very few of our competitors have performed at their best. It would appear from the vision I have seen that the crowds have stayed away too. If the athletics didn’t have Usain Bolt these could be the dullest games of all time where the side stories have far more interest than the performances.
I was interested in the Peter Nevill stumping during the third test in Sri Lanka when he waited for the batsman to lift his foot after playing the ball. The batsman was clearly out, but was it in the spirit of the game? I must admit some bias here, I was dismissed in a similar fashion playing school cricket and while I too was clearly out, I had avoided a bouncer and moved out of my crease before the keeper had passed the ball onto the fieldsman. I always thought it was unfair as it wasn’t the skill of the bowler that got me out of my crease. The same applied to the Nevill stumping.
Great news for Essendon supporters with Michael Hurley re-signing. When the players were suspended at the start of the year I thought Essendon would lose one of Hurley, Hooker or Heppell and they have all re-committed to the club. Essendon now need Jobe Watson to play another year so he doesn’t conclude his career as a banned player. He deserves to finish on a high note even if he does lose the Brownlow medal.
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 the Chelsea manager’s job continues to be a poisoned chalice with Jose Mourinho being moved on by the same Club for a second time the year after he took the title. It is pretty clear his team is not playing for him and being on the brink of the relegation zone, it did look to be inevitable and a case of when, not if.
Sticking with the EPL, Louis Van Gaal has also come in for some stick as well. While Manchester United have not been winning, they certainly haven’t been conceding many goals with the least “goals against” in the League so I don’t think it is all doom and gloom or as bad as the situation at Chelsea.
On the local scene we have the big local A League derby this weekend with Melbourne City coming off three very impressive wins as opposed to Melbourne Victory coming off three disappointing losses. The form guide couldn’t be more opposite. Personally I would like to see City continue their winning ways as they have been quite entertaining slotting the goals away at a consistent rate.
The Hobart test match finished, as predicted by most of the pundits, with an easy victory to the Australians. I think it is time the ICC stepped into the West Indies situation to provide more finance and support. Cricket needs a strong West Indian team as they are the only test playing “nation” in that part of the world and like the AFL commission fostering football in the northern states, the ICC have the same responsibility to world cricket.
Have a great weekend!