Thursday, January 31, 2008

Be nice, children

I just heard on the news that there's a text message doing the rounds encouraging Australians to turn their backs on the Indians at the MCG on Friday.

That's a 10/10 on the un-Australian scale people, we don't stoop to their level.

Instead use all that pent-up anger and energy that you've been harbouring over the Singh decision and vent it out by screaming even louder for our boys. Far more satisfying.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Oops

Ok so it's emerging that Shaun Tait is depressed, and has been for a while, and he's actually been courageous, not cowardly.

I'M SORRY SHAUN, I FEEL REALLY REALLY BAD.

But as I clarified in my last post, with the information that was available it was suspiciously reminiscent of Sally Robbins.

However that is not the case and I think it's commendable that he has put his health first (ala Geoff Gallop!). I wish him a 160 km/h recovery, and I hope we see him happy and healthy soon.

Before I crawl away into a creek to weep about what a horrible person I am, I learnt about an intriguing string of coincidences today.

I never realised it is ESPN who own the broadcasting rights for cricket on the subcontinent (and threatened to sue Cricket Australia for $60 million if the Indians pulled out of the tour). Interesting of course, because ESPN own cricinfo. I also learnt that one of my favourite wineries is owned by an American company. Both these things disappointed me.

Also, I just heard this on the news:
"...Justice Hansen, when handing down his full reasons for the decision in Adelaide on Wednesday, said he was not told that Harbhajan had three previous breaches of the ICC's code of conduct until after the sentence was imposed.

He said he was particularly concerned about a charge of attempting to intimidate an umpire, for which Harbhajan was given a suspended one-Test ban and also fined.

"Overnight I have given earnest consideration to the code of conduct to see if it empowers me to reopen the sentencing process," Justice Hansen said.

"Regrettably I have concluded that I cannot do so and the penalty imposed by me must stand. At the end of the day Mr Singh can feel himself fortunate.""

Bloody hell. See I'd been (reasonably) happy to accept the appeal decision as being one made by someone who knew more about the situation than I did. However now that I've heard this, I'm quite annoyed. This person who was supposed to know more about the situation than I did, didn't! It's not on.

Anyway, that injustice is something else for me to weep about in the creek (when I get there, I'm not done yet).

On a lighter note, I'm rapt that David Hussey is playing with the national side at the Twenty20 at the G on Friday. I've seen him play at state level and I'm thrilled he's been given a shot, even if it is "only" a Twenty20 match, and even if he does play for Victoria. Don't screw it up, Davo!

Finally, I was wondering why the balance in earth had shifted on Monday. Something wasn't quite right, it was like the planets had aligned strangely or something. It wasn't until Tuesday that I realised it was because the English cricket team flew into New Zealand. Michael Vaughan is closer.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shauny does a Sally

Hands up if you know who Sally Robbins is.

Sally Robbins is famous for being the rower who decided that she'd had enough of rowing and she was going to lie down and take a rest. The only problem with her plan was that she and her team were in the middle of a gold medal race at the Athens Olympics. Up until that point, they had been well placed to take the bronze medal. After Super Sal decided she was mentally and physically exhausted and decided to lie down, we lost.

She quit. And that is un-Australian.

Shaun Tait has also quit. He also seems to think he is mentally and physically exhausted. I hereby deem him un-Australian.

In cricket, the Australian form is to be dropped. When you're dropped, you're gutted, you're determined to be selected again and you go to an extreme to be super fit to the point where the selectors would be publicly ridiculed for not picking you. It's happened to the best of them, and I might go so far as to suggest that it is one reason we are so fabulous.

As for Shaun Tait, well if he'd played in the fourth test there is no way he would have quit. Right? His timing almost makes it seem like he's chucking a tantrum.

I think he seriously let the side down at the Perth match, and yes he would have been dropped. But that isn't the end of the world. He could have gone away, improved and been picked again.

He may yet prove me wrong. I have no doubt he will in fact, simply because I suggested otherwise and the gods seem to like demonstrating irony on me. Although he might not be looked upon favourably for what he's done. A bit like ol Sally, when she expressed her desire to row for Australia again. Bahahaha! Good one, Sal.

Anyway I hope he does come back, because no one likes to see someone self-destruct. But snap out of it!

EDIT: I would like to clarify. Having a mental illness is different to doing a Sal. From the information that's been provided so far, he's lost his love of the game and is knackered. To me that does not imply a mental illness. It implies he's done a Sal.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

History of the Ashes

I saw this video a while ago and laughed for hours. I have been thinking about it, over the last few days, and decided to dig it up. Thanks to Bernard at squetch.com. Donnnnn Braaadmaaaaaan...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gilly's going


Adam Gilchrist has just announced his retirement from test cricket. I'm astonished, to be honest. I know over the last few days he has dropped a couple and not scored much, and the criticism has been dished out, but I've always thought of Gilly as an incredible fighter, who invariably comes back and proves himself. But he's 36, and I suppose maybe he just can't be arsed anymore. He called the bluff of the critics. Plus it'll mean he won't be playing tag with Mark Boucher to outdo each other for the record.

I hope the next two days of this game are fabulous for him. I really hope we win now, the boys have tremendous incentive to give him the send-off he deserves. And more than anything, I hope he doesn't think he's not retiring at the top of his game, because he's a champion, and we all love him.

The next question is, who will replace him? As a WA girl, I vote Luke Ronchi... Brad who?

EDIT: He's retiring from all forms of cricket. I'm heartbroken!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ohh, we're halfway there...

Andrew Symonds has just got Harbhajan Singh out. Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer is playing on the radio and I am reminded of the last Ashes series.

Life's good.

Out for 153

From the cricinfo coverage:

"Standing ovation, of course. Tendulkar said last night that sometimes he has to check the scoreboard to know if he's on 0 or on 100 as he gets an ovation whenever he walks into bat, too," says Jenny Thompson from Adelaide.

And so he should. All hail Sachin Tendulkar!

Ranking the evil opponents

Losing is never a good thing, but it's worse to lose to some teams than others.

I've given this a lot of thought over the last few weeks. This is my list of shame.

8. Bangladesh - it's great to see them win, even at our expense.

7. Pakistan - they've had a rough twelve months or so. The sympathy vote.

6. West Indies - it's a close call but I put the Windies here. They're ok.

5. New Zealand - they are worthy adversaries but beating New Zealand is like punching your special little brother. And although their hatred for us is the equivalent to our hatred for England, we just pity them in response (because we're too busy directing any potential reciprocal feelings towards the poms, you see). So I feel sorry for them really.

4. Sri Lanka - a threat in the ODI arena.

3. India - although it is getting close to a tie with South Africa for second place, way back I've got a bit of Indian heritage, so I suppose there is a small allegiance. But let me emphasise, it's miniscule. Their recent antics have put them higher on the list of shame.

2. South Africa - they're so SMUG. And they say we choke. What is that about?

1. England - of course. All heritage is out the window when it comes to the poms. In fact it probably makes it even more unbearable to lose to them.

While India, South Africa, England and Bangladesh are firm in their respective spots, the others are open to change... depending of course, on their level of threat.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

England, England

Did anyone believe Ricky Ponting when he said that Australia hadn't ruled out Shaun Tait? I didn't. He'd have needed a smack if they'd picked Tait over Hoggy.

So the fourth test is due to start in roughly nine minutes. How exciting!

Anyway. I found this at cricinfo. According to the feature, England are now mediocre as they were in the 1990s.

To me this implies that there was a period when they were excellent, presumably in the early 2000s. This would suggest that at some point they were perceived as a serious threat. And yes, I know they won the Ashes in 2005, and I'm not making light of that, but even they would have to admit that it wasn't exactly a convincing series win. (Although maybe I've just grown accustomed to 5-0 being a convincing series win). To a very large degree luck was on their side, as right up to the last innings of the fifth test it could have gone either way.

In my humblest of opinions, England need more players like Kevin Pietersen. He's not satisfied with just playing cricket at international level, he wants to be the best. The others seem deficient in ambition and drive. Though it would also be good if KP attempted to seem like he was a bit more interested in being part of the team as well. It's all about balance.

Anyway, despite their Ashes victory, I really cannot recall them ever being perceived as a short term, long term or otherwise serious threat here in Australia. No force to be reckoned with. The statistics may well indicate otherwise, but England have, in my recent recollection, always been "only England" and I can't see that changing in the foreseeable future.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Steve Waugh speaks, Australia stops and listens.

So we're trying to sell cricket to the Americans by means of an Australia versus England "Ashes" exhibition match in Los Angeles.

And while Daniel Radcliffe, Robbie Williams and Jude Law didn't turn up to play for England as they'd agreed to, England defeated Australia.

Steve Waugh was leading the Aussie team that included Mike Whitney, surfing champion Layne Beachley and everyone's favourite Daddo, Cameron.

This is from ninemsn

Waugh - playing his first game of cricket since retiring in 2004, scored 40 runs off 26 balls, including one six that nearly wiped out [Mel] Gibson in the VIP tent - did not seem too upset about the loss until a reporter asked him when was the last time he lost to England.

He thought for a few seconds.

"That's a good question," Waugh pondered.

"Quite a while.

"It's going to hurt tonight now I think about it.

"Thanks mate."

Classic.

Move over, Keats

On Saturday at the Test Match That We Lost, the ABC commentary team were asking listeners to write and then SMS cricket limericks. So I composed one and sent it in. I don't even know if it was read out on air, I don't think it was somehow. Does that make the lowest of the lowly audience plebs? Woe!

Anyway. Here is my masterpiece.

There is a great man called Huss
He can score 88 with no fuss
He's out there with Ponting
The Indians are wanting
They'd love him to lose his focus.

As you can see, it was composed early in the day. When victory was still within our grasp!

The Windies lose to South Africa

Is anyone surprised?

I'm not. I watched a bit of it. The bit where the West Indies had three run outs (and seemed to think it quite funny, but that's a different story). Now that's just complacency. You can take risks, but surely if you see that taking risks isn't paying off for your higher-order teammates, you wouldn't do it. Is this strange logic? Maybe it was the West Indies' secret weapon tactic. Run at all costs. If this is the case, I hope they drop it immediately. For their own sake.

Because no one wants to see them defeated by South Africa. South Africa are way up there on the list of teams to not get beaten by.

India sure showed Australia

I love reading some of the blogs written by Englishmen. The way they rejoice in Australia losing is quite entertaining to read about.

I said previously that a loss was the only thing that would redeem Australia after the events of the last week or so. That said, just prior to the game you wouldn't have got that impression. The teams both seemed to just be getting on with it. And, at the end of the day, India played better than we did, and they deserved to win. The game wasn't clouded by disputable umpiring decisions, and the integrity of the players was not brought into question. It was a good game.

Obviously I'm quite disappointed that we lost. Not least of all because I was there on the day (and was roasting in the sun). Also because it will now be 17 wins until we can break the record. Damn!

Still though, it wasn't England. That was the first thing I thought when Shaun Tait walked out onto the field, bat in hand. Just be thankful it ain't the soap-dodgers. Thank you, God. Although, after the India furore of late, they're not much better. Which reminds me. I did wonder... why were the Indians celebrating after the match? Surely they don't want to be branded BAD WINNERS. Oh no, I forgot, that only happens to us.

I was impressed by the crowd at Perth. Our mob are notorious for being racist and particularly verbal about it, which isn't something I condone, or am proud of at all. But as far as I'm aware, it went smoothly. And the Indian supporters weren't a tenth as rowdy as the England supporters. But that's the fault of the Barmy Army.

Back to the story. Kudos to Mitchell Johnson (I hear his girlfriend isn't blonde! - there's hope for us brunettes yet!). If he'd had one more batting partner it might have eventuated. But there are so many ways to look at it. If the openers had performed better in the second innings (or you know, at all) we would have won. If Gilly, Symonds, Lee had pulled in 50 each. If Justin Langer could have suddenly appeared, used a Confundus spell so we forgot he wasn't supposed to be there, and scored hundreds of runs. If a spaceship had landed on the WACA and delivered us four in-form Adam Gilchrist clones. If the heavens had opened on day four and the game was washed out. None of these things went our way, however, and we lost.

I loved Ricky Ponting's post match interview. He didn't blame anyone except the team, he accepted responsibility for his mistakes, acknowledged the amazing decisions of Anil Kumble, the efforts of the Indians, and didn't give ONE INCH to make him seem a bad loser. And at the press conference when it was suggested that Ponting is losing is touch? For losing one game? God, if losing one game meant the captain was past his prime, goodbye Smith, Vettori, Vaughan, Kumble. And the rest!

Ricky Ponting will show them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The third test

And so it begins.

The third test starts today in Perth, my home city. And I'm stuck at work while my brother is going to the game, the lucky shit.

The Indians have dropped the verbal abuse charges against Brad Hogg. They're such a mature bunch, those Indians. But anyway, I wonder why they've dropped the charges. Did they wake up to themselves? Was it purely a gesture of goodwill because they were behaving like spoilt petulant brats after they lost the second test? I wonder if they expect Australia to do the same... drop the charges I mean.

Now that the whole thing is dying down a bit (for the time being at least) the one thing that stands out to me is how many people think that Andrew Symonds shouldn't have complained. Why is it acceptable for racism to occur in cricket?

Anyway. It was a clever move to schedule the appeal for after the series. Singh gets to play, Symonds' complaint is upheld.

And local lad Chris Rogers is in the side for Matty Hayden. His test debut and all! Fingers crossed it goes well for him. And if it doesn't, well, the Warriors can have him back. And at least he'll have a nice hat as a keepsake of The Opportunity That He Shot Himself In The Foot With.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Not walking is not cheating. And the rest.

Let's split the issues here.

1. Bad umpiring. It needs to be addressed, but it is not up to a particular team to self-regulate. Nor should they not celebrate a victory because of wrong decisions. 'Gee boys well I suppose the umpires did help us with that, we might as well have lost, what's to be pleased about?' I don't think so somehow.

2. India are not beyond reproach. Their player was found guilty of a racial slur, and has been punished. It's fair. I agree that if you serve it up you have to be able to take it in return, but racist comments isn't sledging, it's in a league of its own, and it is unacceptable.What if it was the other way around, and Andrew Symonds had said something racist to one of their players? They'd be burning effigies of our players on the streets of New Delhi! Oh, wait.

I wonder, had India won, would they be quite so up in arms about Harbhajan Singh's suspension.

3. The Australians have a reputation for arrogance. I've heard various commentators say they should 'tone down their on-field antics'. In fact, Peter Roebuck wrote this in the Sydney Morning Herald today:

"If Cricket Australia cares a fig for the tattered reputation of our national team in our national sport, it will not for a moment longer tolerate the sort of arrogant and abrasive conduct seen from the captain and his senior players over the past few days. Beyond comparison it was the ugliest performance put up by an Australian side for 20 years."

These are very serious allegations. Australia are arrogant and their conduct is abrasive; their performance ugly. So, because Australia is so successful, they should display a sensitivity to the opposition, not show any emotion with decisions that are disappointing, (correct decisions can still be disappointing) and slump off field after the game in case they're seen to be rejoicing, or too happy, which is then seen as a slap in the face to the other side and deemed bad sportsmanship? Just in case the fragile opposition, having just lost, might be upset? I reject the suggestion that our performance was ugly. We weren't talking ourselves up prior to the game regarding the 16 wins, it was just another game. I would say the only thing that would redeem Australia is to lose. While they continue to win, they will continue to be 'arrogant'.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Indian cricketers keen to be labelled hypocrites

At his hearing with the match referee, Harbhajan Singh denied called Andrew Symonds a monkey. His case was supported by Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, and their team and media manager.

It's quite simple: he either did it, or he didn't. And as he's been found guilty, it would suggest that he did.

I find it amazing that his team mates were prepared to defend him, considering only yesterday Anil Kumble was ranting about how his team are the epitome of integrity.

Kumble's claws are out

So Anil Kumble has been bitching about the Australians so-called lack of sportsmanship.

From what I can gather, it's because (most) Australian batsmen don't walk.

I've given this considerable thought lately. I admire Adam Gilchrist for always walking, but then when I heard Michael Hussey defending himself by saying that he takes the good decisions with the bad ones, I also thought that was fair enough.

I think the real issue in this game was the umpiring. Is there any disputing this? It was shocking. And while I agree that the bad decisions naturally affected the outcome of the game, I don't think it's fair to blame the opposition for the poor umpiring. I think that in itself comes across as bad sportsmanship. (I also doubt that Kumble's team are all so honest. It's easy to be self-righteous when you've lost.)

I've also noticed some people whinging in other blogs, most notably lately over at The Corridor, that the Australian players are "childish" and "bullies" but no one who makes these claims ever really backs them up. Is complaining about a racist mark being childish? Because the Indians would be the first to jump up and down if the shoe was on the other foot. And I believe that if an Australian player made a racist comment to any player from any country, that player and their team would be entitled to, and should, make a complaint and pursue it as far as possible. There's no room for racism in cricket, and nor should there be.

There is a difference between sledging and a racial slur. Does anyone disagree? I'd be interested to hear exactly what is meant when people say to grow up, in reference to the Australian cricketers. Because unfounded accusations just resonate remarkably like tall poppy syndrome.

Friday, January 4, 2008

K Rudd likes cricket

I'm glad about this. Could we have had a prime minister who doesn't? It should be one of the debate issues.

I think the last one was rather extreme in his love of cricket. In fact when I did a tour of Lord's recently, we were told that when John Howard was last in England (his official visits always happened to coincide with cricket - amazing!), he sat and watched for five days straight and didn't once speak to anyone around him. And he wasn't just sitting in the stand, he was watching from somewhere nice, where people would have hovered about him, waiting on him.

That said, it could have been the bitter old bloke doing the tour who couldn't find anything nice to say about our old PM. Then again, was there anything nice to say?

BUT. My point is, Kevin Rudd has been at the cricket. They showed him sitting with the Indian team and chatting. And I think that's pretty cool.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Roy the Destroyer

Today during the second test commentary they were criticising Andrew Symonds for speaking out about the upcoming tour to Pakistan.

I wonder why this is. He's not in a political party, so it's not a matter of towing the party line. Surely Cricket Australia don't care much. They shouldn't. He's a free thinking person, I think it's admirable that he thinks there are more important things than cricket. Like world affairs. And safety!

And then he saved the game. What a champion.