The Professor, Mark Fiorenti and Paul Dalligan talk Women’s World Cup, review the Matildas trip to the semi-finals, look at the surprise packets of the tournament, discuss whether the tournament has been a success and preview tonight’s final between Spain and England. Mark Fiorenti previews the Premier League season predicting who will finish in the top 4 and bottom 3 and talks about Ange Postecoglou’s start at Spurs. Paul Dalligan reviews round 5 of the NRLW and round 25 of the NRL.
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.
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!
The International Cricket Council (‘ICC’) has now called the MCG pitch ‘poor’ based on the report by match referee, Ranjan Madugalle. It hasn’t taken the press long to jump all over that with the Age reporting that the MCG pitch produced for the Boxing day Test has become ‘infamous’ because it is the first Australian pitch to be described as poor. If that pitch was poor, then I wonder how pitches prepared on the sub-continent or in England would be described?
One only needs to Google the topic to find descriptions of sub-continent pitches as ‘diabolical’ and ‘a minefield’. One article reported the much vaunted South African Proteas’ batting line-up being skittled for a mere 79 runs with 33 of 40 wickets taken in the match falling to spin. In the 2015 Ashes series, there were complaints that pitches at Trent Bridge and the Oval had been doctored to suit England. In the Trent Bridge Test, Australia made only 60 runs and were all out before lunch on day one.
Certainly the MCC served up nothing as bad as that. The match referee’s rating was driven by his view that the pitch did not allow an even contest between bat and ball. Is that a bad thing? Clearly the ICC thinks so but I think it is much ado about nothing. But the fans didn’t agree as 260,000 spectators watched the Melbourne Test over the full five days.
With the new ICC points system coming in from 1 January 2018, the MCG has dodged being slapped with a three point penalty. Any ground that totals five points over a five year period can be
suspended from being used for ICC matches for one year. Given the past history of Test pitches, it would seem there will be plenty of grounds not seeing Test cricket due to suspension….can the ICC or Cricket Australia afford to suspend a ground that draws a crowd of 260,000? I think not!
What do you think?
The MCG curator must have felt sorry for the English cricket team with the pitch he turned out that was more in keeping with slower English conditions. As I expected, the match ended in a draw with the Aussies retaining a 3-0 lead in this Ashes series.
Since stumps were called yesterday, I have read and listened with interest to the pundits advocating long and loud for a ‘better’ pitch at the MCG. Those making the call include Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, Cricket Victoria CEO Tony Dodemaide and MCC CEO Stuart Fox. A comment was even provided by the Australian captain Steve Smith. Apparently, the pitch was ‘lifeless’ and needed to provide ‘more variation’. Smith’s observations appear a bit disingenuous given he and his team were batting to save the match and prevent an unlikely England win. I am sure he and the other Australian batsmen were pleased that the ball was bouncing straight and true on day five of the match.
Correct me if I am wrong, but test match cricket has three possible results….a win, loss or draw and, unlike in most other sporting contests, the ‘dead rubber’ matches are still played. While limited over matches have their place in the lexicon of cricket, they should not be used as a yard stick to judge test cricket. They are different games with different expectations. In my opinion, the commentators have been blinded by the hit and giggle of the short form of the game and seem to want all cricket played the same way, finishing with a win or loss.
Having been raised watching five day test matches, I find the battle of wits and skill over the extended period to be a true ‘test’ of ability. It is clearly still a popular form of the game as more than 88,000 flocked to the first day of the MCG test, even though the series had already been decided in Perth the week before. I did read with interest pitch critics saying the pitch was to blame for the fall off in attendance after day one. I think those writers conveniently overlooked the fact that Boxing day was a holiday but many people needed to return to work the next day.
Have a great 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!
Round 17 of the AFL season started on Thursday night and these Thursday night games have been aptly called ‘Pie night’ games by Fox Footy. The games are largely only possible due to the bye rounds where only six games are played each round across three weekends. Many people do not like the 6 x 6 x 6 way of having a bye, but in my opinion, I think it is fine. I would rather that method than a complete break in the mid-season. It affords every side a break, there is still a good number of games for each weekend and it allows for the introduction of these Thursday night games which appear to have attracted good crowds and TV ratings. I have heard some in the media saying the bye rounds mean the AFL season loses momentum. I do not agree or see it as a problem. After all, if you think about it, the old VFL competition only had six games a week and we thought that was plenty back then.
The round also started with another Hawthorn escape and I think the Swans would be ruing the three 50 metre penalties which resulted in two goals in a game that was decided by five points. The 50 metre penalties were there, but it is massive penalty for innocuous incidents that had little to no impact on the play. There was also a big disparity in the free kick count, especially up to 3/4 time. The Hawthorn free kicks were probably there, but there were a lot of free kicks not paid to Sydney that should have been paid. Again, in a tight game it makes a difference.
In the Euro Cup, Portugal continued the run of outsiders winning big competitions this year and without a meaningful contribution from Cristiano Ronaldo. The highlight of the tournament though still has to be Iceland’s defeat of England. One wonders how such a result could occur when one considers the disparity between the two nations in population and football history. Clearly England need to re-invent themselves if they wish to seriously challenge for major silverware in the future.
The Tour de France continues on and I must say even with the halfway mark just reached, it looks like Chris Froome will again be in front at the end. He seems a cut above the rest and barring some unfortunate accident he is over the line.
The British Open continues to be a major Championship that eludes Australian golfers even now that we have some of the top golfers in the world. Greg Norman ‘was our last winner and that was a very long time ago. I see our best chance with Adam Scott, but I am far from confident that any Aussie will be lifting the claret mug this year.
Have a great weekend!
With Leicester City being the surprise winner of the EPL this year it seems to have started a bit of a trend with some surprising results in sport of the last week. First you had Jack Miller winning the Dutch Moto Grand Prix at 500/1 and then Iceland beat England in the Euro Cup. Iceland was not as big a surprise as the team is currently ranked 34 in the world, but what an amazing effort for a country with a population similar to the City of Greater Geelong!
In the AFL the local derbies seem to have a lot of traction with the local supporters. The AFL is trying to push the Queensland and NSW derbies, but what about Tasmania? Both Hawthorn and North Melbourne play in Tassie and yet there is no local derby. The rivalry between Hobart (North) and Launceston (Hawks) is as big a rivalry as any in Australia, but both games this year are in Melbourne. To me this short changes the Tasmanian connection for those two clubs and I think at least one game a year should be held in Tasmania with the venue alternating each year. Good for football and good for Tasmania!
Have a great weekend!
Well 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 carrot 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 saw 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 before 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 win 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!