The Professor and the panel of the Gelding, the Judge, Coutta and Paul Dalligan talk about the Socceroos making the last 16 at the World Cup, the AFL releasing round 1 of their 2023 fixture at the same time as kick-off in the Australia v Argentina match and the AFLW CEO strangely absent during the Grand Final presentations. Paul gives his NRL wrap-up for 2022 and Gelding talks yesterday’s racing at Sandown and gives some tips for today’s Bendigo & Sha Tin race meetings.
The Professor and the panel of the Judge, the Gelding and Coutta review the results from the Australian Open to date including Ash Barty’s win in the women’s singles – the first time an Australian has won the Open in 44 years, the win by the Special K’s – Kyrgios and Kokkinakis in the all Australian men’s doubles final Jaime Fourlis and Jason Kubler making the mixed doubles final and Dylan Alcott’s last match in the men’s quad wheelchair singles.
The Judge queries whether the women’s cricket matches against England can be called ‘the Ashes.
You can hear this episode of Sportzfan Radio on our YouTube channel here.
The Professor and the panel of Sarah Radlow, Paul Dalligan and the Gelding discuss the release of the AFLW 2022 fixture during the week and are disappointed the AFL gave it less than 24 hours breathing room before releasing the men’s 2022 fixture. Paul Dalligan looks at the best stories in NRL for 2021 and the Gelding reviews the big racing stories for the year. The panel also predicts the outcome of the coming Ashes series between Australia and England.
You can see this episode of the show here.
I read that Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chief Executive, David Gallop said there had been ‘huge’ amounts of interest in the
Socceroos coaching position from local and overseas candidates. One wouldn’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to understand such a level of interest in the position recently left vacant with the resignation of Ange Postecoglou. After all, the hard work has already been done given that the Socceroos have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup.
With at least fourteen candidates on the list of potential coaches, I note there are only two Australians – Graham Arnold and Tony Popovic. Aside from Postecoglou, the Socceroo’s recent past is littered with International coaches such as Guus Hiddink, Pim Verbeek and Holger Osieck. The difference between Postecoglou and the other three is that Postecoglou cared about the future of Australian soccer, the Socceroos and the A League. To the others is was just a job with one simple task – to qualify for the World Cup with no real interest in much else.
Talk has it that Dutchman, Bert Van Marwijk is a short priced favourite for the job. Van Marwijk’s recent claim to fame is coaching Saudi Arabia to qualification for this year’s World Cup. He is back on the shelf after the Saudi Football Federation couldn’t agree with him on the terms of a new contract.
For Australian soccer’s continued growth, the FFA need to appoint a
local person and Graham Arnold would be the perfect choice. He has the qualifications for the job. For a start he has already been in charge of the National squad back in 2006 and 2007. He has gained more experience in the intervening ten years and is currently the coach of the very successful Sydney FC. Postecoglou proved conclusively that Australian coaches are up to the task of coaching at International level so there should be no impediment to appointing Arnold.
However, I have no confidence that the FFA will get this most important of decisions correct. After all this is an organisation that squandered $45.6 million of Federal assistance in an ill fated (some would say impossible) attempt to convince FIFA to award the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to Australia and we all know how that turned out.
The Australian selectors aren’t paying due regard to the long term future of the Australian One Day International team with its choice of Cameron White to replace Chris Lynn in the squad for the coming matches against England. White is 34 and whilst he has had a reasonable start to the Sheffield Shield and Big Bash seasons, one wonders what caused a change of heart by Australian Chairman of Selectors, Trevor Hohns. You may recollect Hohns’ comments twelve months ago after White had criticised the selection of Sam Heazlett in the Australian ODI squad. He said “Cameron has had plenty of opportunities … he has had plenty of opportunities in the past and it’s probably fair to say performed okay without being earth shattering”. Not the most flattering of opinions and a fair put down for a pro sportman.
Whether Hohns believes White’s form has improved to the extent to be now included in the squad or White has served his penance for the criticism of the selectors, those selectors feel White is better than anything Glenn Maxwell can produce at this stage of his career. For whatever reason there appears to be a rift between Maxwell, the selectors and Australian captain Steve Smith. One only needs to look at Smith’s recent comments about Maxwell to gain a hint on where the problem might lie. Smith suggested Maxwell should change his training practices. If the skipper makes those observations it a safe bet it will be a while before Maxwell is considered for further ODI duty.
Maxwell has the flair and more importantly, the ability to play the one day game at the highest level and at 29 represents more of the future for Australian cricket than White does at 34. Whatever the reason for the disconnect between Maxwell and the Australian cricket hierarchy, it is up to the selectors and the skipper to resolve it so that the best possible team can be put together for the 2019 World Cup and in my opinion, Maxwell is in that side!
A 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 remembered 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!
Great to see the Australian cricket team hang on in the third test in India. Peter Handscombe obviously took my previous musing to heart and produced his best innings of the tour and in the context of the series, perhaps the best innings of his fledgling career. I think this is probably the first time since the third test of the 2005 Ashes series when the Australian team has batted out a day to save a test. On that occasion Ricky Ponting batted nearly the whole day and we escaped with a draw with one wicket in hand. The Indians really took the game away from Australia on Sunday and to hang on as we did was a great effort and keeps a very interesting series alive going into this weekend for the fourth and final test of the series.
I was tickled on last weekend to see the horse Gingernuts salute in Sydney. Being a chestnut gelding this is quite a creative name by the owners and I am surprised it got through the authorities. It reminds me of the horse Seltun which is Nutles(s) backwards.
It is interesting that this weekend we have two sporting finals where the host team is playing away from home. The Victorian Bushrangers have made a habit of it recently and are hosting South Australia in Alice Springs in the Sheffield Shield final and in the AFLW we have Brisbane Lions hosting Adelaide Crows on the Gold Coast. As Victoria has won the last two Shield’s perhaps it is a winning formula, but clearly not ideal for local cricket fans. This scenario was apparent at the start of the season, however, the AFLW grand final is a bit more embarrassing for all concerned. The groundsmen in control of the Gabba apparently see their primary job to prepare the ground for the first test match of the year and AFL football takes a back seat. Leigh Matthews has said that this situation has existed since the Brisbane Lions started playing there and perhaps now with the Queensland state government getting involved, football might be treated a bit better.
Have a great weekend!
The Australian test team did us proud in India last week after I had speculated that they registered an below par score in the first innings. As it turned out, Australia’s score in the first innings surpassed India’s match total. Clearly India prepared a pitch to suit their bowlers and were hoist on their own petard. Steve O’Keefe did an amazing job to take 12/70, but the real test comes in backing it up. Most cricket followers will recollect Jason Krejza took 12 wickets in his first test in India and then played only one further test match and finished with an average of 43.23. Everyone also knows the Bob Massie story. After taking 16 wickets in his first test against Englad he only played 5 more test matches for another 15 wickets. I hope O’Keefe can back it up as, if he does, it will go a long way towards winning the series.
With the JLT Community pre-season competition now in full swing I am always amazed that people are prepared to bet on the premiership and brownlow medal on the back of pre-season form. These are practice matches where clubs are experimenting, building up players fitness and trying out rookies. There is no real pressure and winning and losing have the same end result. Last year a lot of Collingwood supporters got excited on the back of three convincing pre-season wins and they were considered certainties to play finals. By the end of the season they had only nine wins and finished twelveth. Yes they had some injuries to key players during the year, but did not live up to their pre-season form.
Have a great weekend!
Last Sunday Geelong hosted an international sporting event being the T20 game between Australia and Sri Lanka. Unfortunately the day was less than ideal for cricket with a lot of rain falling. This obviously deterred some of the crowd, but not the Sri Lankan supporters. There was approximately 13,500 people in attendance and I would roughly estimate that two thirds of the crowd were Sri Lankan fans. The game was good, with Australia failing to capitalise on a good start and probably fell 15-20 runs short of what I thought was a par score. The last 4 wickets fell cheaply and they could not get Moises Henriques back on strike. The Sri Lankan innings started poorly with the loss of early wickets, then they consolidated. With three overs to go they still needed 2-3 runs a ball but then Gunaratne cut loose. Moises Henriques came on to bowl the 18th over having been Australia’s most economical bowler to that time. His first ball was a dot, the next three went for sixes and he conceded 21 runs for the over and Sri Lanka went on to win on the last ball of the night which also went for six. Gunaratne was the architect behind the win and he did so playing proper cricket shots. It was a good night and there were no rain delays so those that stayed away missed a very good match.
Meanwhile, in India, the main Australian team started the Test series on Thursday. Australia won the toss and the top order all got starts with only Matt Renshaw going on to post a half century. Mitchell Starc later added some respectability with a half century of his own. I have always thought that if you bat first in a test match, that a score of 350+ is par. Australia fell short of that total but made up for it on the second day with an excellent spell with the ball. Steve O’Keefe’s six wickets in 24 balls has put Australia in the box seat to take this first Test and now they must rely on their batsmen to set India a big total to catch.
On Friday morning the sporting world was again burdened with further instalment in the Essendon supplements saga with news of a recording of a meeting that, the then president Paul Little says he
didn’t know was being recorded. Surely this now becomes a police matter if people are being recorded without their knowledge and consent. It is unfortunate that this saga continues to generate ‘news’ as I am heartily sick of it all. How about we concentrate on what is now happeneing on the football field.
Have a great weekend!
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!