I was trying hard to think of some witty and sophisticated way of articulating it, but I failed very badly. So ‘Fuck the Commonwealth Games’ is what I came up with. Apologies for the wanton vulgarity, but it really bugs me on so many levels that this joke still persists.
You know a rubbish when it’s put in the shade by the Goodwill Games. The latter was Ted Turner’s give-peace-a-chance, made-for-ratings spectacle that attempted to provide a de-politicised Olympics where everyone had a cuddle afterwards instead of boycotting and bombing each other. It peaked around the time the Cold War de-frosted and the Berlin Wall came down, and shriveled out with some Rugby League World Cup-style scheduling irregularities. But at least it was open to all, with world class competitors and world records set by global superstars like Sergei Bubka and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
The Commonwealth Games are the limping, leprous corpse of the Empire Games, an exercise conceived as an excuse for Britain to lord its dominance over the nations it had enslaved. They finally removed the overbearing nomenclature in 1978, but the stink of colonial oppression remains, even though the Commonwealth itself has ceased to have any relevance to anyone – unless you count their weird quasi-Survivor habit of kicking out the worst of the African Dictators every few years before readmitting them after suitable shows of contrition. Continue reading
Not on my watch...
Tonight’s match in Adelaide (man we must be low-rating to be playing on a Tuesday!) looms ominously over the Black Caps. While we’re 2-1 up in the series and gave the Australians an almighty fright with only 10 1/2 men in Sydney, there’s something about giving Ponting’s team a glimmer of light that bothers me immensely.
A friend emailed me today wracked by similar ill-feeling, but also suggested we post an ultimate currently-playing Black Caps XI, then allow for readers to respond. So that’s what we’re doing.
Under normal circumstances, you’d think that barring a couple of contentious decisions you’d go with the current side, but these are not normal circumstances. The premature retirements of the Bracewell era and the enforced divisions of IPL/ICL debacle have scattered a generation of cricketers to the four winds, and injuries have done for the rest.
Our criteria for selection is that a player must be currently active, ie playing the game professionally, and we’re picking them on a combination of form and pedigree. They don’t have to be in the nick of their lives, but should be in reasonable shape at least. Here, then, is my wishlist XI: Continue reading
Sky’s inspired decision to use Australia Day as an opportunity to revisit some of Australia’s sporting low-points was neatly overshadowed by their once-mightiest team continuing its freefall. This just days after Andrew Symonds called NSW’s decision to play McCullum in their state Twenty20 final “Un-Australian” – what, then would he make of his team’s play yesterday?
Having won the toss on a placid Adelaide pitch, in front of a packed house with the opportunity to put a bit of a shine on a thoroughly depressing summer, Australia played its worst game of cricket in recent memory.
After Warner and Marsh perished swiftly, Hussey and Ponting did the typical Australian thing and batted as if nothing were amiss. And while they were both in, nothing was. Ponting looked particularly venomous, at one stage flaying four consecutive fours off Ntini and then Steyn. For a moment you allowed yourself to believe that perhaps we were going to witness something enormous, the routed remnants of a great army finding it in themselves to forge a final, defiant victory.
But there was something else in Ponting’s batting, a deep, malign frustration, with his teammates and the hand he’d been dealt. His demeanour seemed to angrily ask why he was fated to lead this particular side. When he and Hussey – who is unrecognisable as the imperious Mr Cricket of a few short seasons ago – both departed within a few balls of each other Australia’s swift start and nascent recovery was in the balance. Into the breach strode David Hussey and Brad Haddin, with the latter perishing to a shot of such breathtaking arrogance it seemed to sum up Australia’s entire summer. Continue reading
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You have to give credit to Australia. This afternoon’s victory, with a ragtag team of passable cricketers, a couple of debutants and only Ponting as an all-time great was testament to the sheer willpower that resides in the Australian cricket team. They really had no right to win that game, with only the sublime Bracken threatening as a bowler, but they scrambled and grafted and never let their quarry get away, and got a well-deserved victory out of it.
It was a fascinating game of cricket, with each side cruising to unassailable dominance at various stages, only for the other to mount an improbable fight back. When Australia were 1/150 inside of 30 overs, with Ponting batting near a run a ball, 350 was a fair target, so for South Africa to pull them back to 249, thanks to another fine spell from Steyn, and brilliant discipline during the power plays should have set the game. Likewise Kallis and De Villiers had the game in the bag at 2/140, but couldn’t take it home.
That South Africa lost was, in my opinion largely due to Duminy, until today the young hero of the South African side, inexplicably getting stuck in the middle of an otherwise perfectly weighted innings. How do you blame a guy who got 35 at better than a run a ball? Continue reading
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Yesterday’s fifth day of the third and final test between Australia and South Africa tells us a thing or two about the state of world cricket. It also provides a useful yardstick for comparison with the current NZ team.
First, on the cricket. The state of Australian cricket is not quite as bad as some commentators have made it out to be. Yes it’s true that Australian teams of the last 15 years probably would have put the Jaapies away more quickly and efficiently than was done yesterday, but let’s not forget that you’ve essentially got a completely brand new bowling attack. Any player, even future greats, requires time to find their feet in international cricket. Having said that, there does appear to be one major difference between the current team, and those of the past. Spin. Continue reading
Today 15 men will walk out on to the Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of 90,000 baying fans and decide whether now is Australia’s time. After nearly two decades of unparalelled dominance, and of fighting back from the brink before, this looks like their last hope to stave off the inevitable march back to the land of cricketing mortality.
Since the end of the domestic season earlier this year against India, when batsmen from both sides put together fairly handsome scores, typical of high summer in Australia, the baggy green has started to look a little faded. In series against the West Indies, India, New Zealand and the first test against South Africa the top six are split cleanly into two even packs: those who’ve improved or maintained their averages, and those who’ve done the reverse.
Ponting 40.7 (vs his career average of 56.7), Hussey 35.8 (vs. 61.5) and particularly Hayden 23.5 (vs 51.3) have all slid backwards while Clarke 48.2 (vs 46.9,) Symonds 44.9 (vs 42.2) and most notably Katich 59.5 (43.5) have improved. Unfortunately the three missing out aren’t nearly making up for those cashing in, with the difference being 49.5. This means Australia’s top six, until recently the most formidible run machine in test cricket, is effectively playing one (extremely good) batter down. Continue reading
The Channel 9 guys have some of the best callers of all time, in Benaud and Chappell, but to hear Lawry, Slater, Taylor, Healy and Greig all summer when Australia is at the height of their powers is to behold truly breathtaking sycophancy.
Here though, with history mere minutes away they sat in stony silence, uncharacteristically struck dumb as South Africa closed in on a most momentous victory. Anyone wondering how voluble they’d be here if it was Australia chasing down the second highest fourth innings score OF ALL TIME?! It’s terrifying to imagine the cackles and wheedling praise. Continue reading
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