Saturday, 26 September 2009

Cats or Saints?

Today is the one day in September. Geelong take on St Kilda in the 2009 AFL Grand Final at the MCG. The eyes of the nation will be on Melbourne, as on the same day the Storm host the Broncos to decide who will meet late finishers Parramatta in next week's rugby league grand final.

I've wanted Geelong to lose in many Grand Finals before, and they've done a good job of it. I spent a large amount of year 9 maths classes discuss cricket and football with the only other Aussie Rules fan in the year, a die-hard Geelong supporter. I was quite happy to see Geelong lose their fourth GF in seven years. Last year, it was good to see Hawthorn stop them from winning two premierships in a row.

Then there is St Kilda. They have only ever won one premiership, by the narrowest of margins right at the end of the game in 1966. A tv commentator just observed that they have a British-like passion for supporting their team while expecting them to lose. Another win would be another fairytale. But they are also big rivals as far as I am concerned. They are one of the few teams I'd be happy to see the Cats beat. In any case, if St Kilda won, England would have to win a soccer World Cup!

That's the heart. As far as the head goes, both teams started the season amazingly well, and then slumped. I think the Cats are further down their recovery from the slump and have had the better form in recent weeks. The Saints also are coming off a fairly tense and exhausting road through the finals, which might have taken something out of them. Both teams have real quality this year, and there is potential for a game as intense as the first quarter of last week's Geelong-Collingwood clash, but my tip is that the flag will be flying high, from dawn to dark, down at Kardinia Park.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Sheep, scabs and other Champions

Going by the Australian media, you'd hardly think this Champions Trophy is on. To be fair, it is on in South Africa at awkward times and it is currently the business end of the football seasons. Perhaps more to the point, when did Australia even pay any attention to previous versions of this tournament?

So far in Group A, Pakistan have fought off the best team WICB money (or organisational ability?) can buy. This team, which would probably even make England look like an ODI powerhouse, gives Australia there entry into the competition tomorrow, while the sporting eyes of the nation are on Melbourne. The India-Pakistan match seems to have more potential for drama.

Meanwhile, Group B is turning on the excitement. Sunny England has Sri Lanka's top order in real trouble, after the Lankans had put away the favoured hosts. If the results can be interpreted as a hierarchy, then the South Africans are left only above their comprehensively defeated opponents. To keep the S theme, lets call them Shebangabang - after all, that's what they're called by the advertising advisors to the Australian ODI sponsors.

It wouldn't be an ICC event without room for criticism, and F50 isn't the flavour of the month, but I reckon that simply as a chance for so many teams to play cricket against each other in a tournament, it isn't bad. It deserves a bit more attention over here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The red dust is over the town

It might not be Christmas, but there was more red dust over the town this morning than I have ever seen in Sydney. Actually, that wouldn't be too hard, but there was an awful lot of dust. (I wonder why it was reported as 'kilotonnes', rather than the wonderful sounding 'gigagrams', though ;-)

Unfortunately, I got the camera out just as the sun rose high enough to escape the scattering effect causing the eery red glow. Even once it had dissipated, the dust cloud reduced visibility and the cars drove past looking like they'd just come back from the outback. In Parramatta, the dust not only stole the lustre of our newish building, but managed to cover even the underground areas of the station.

The dust may have settled, but the wind still hasn't let up. Quite an unusual day.

Friday, 18 September 2009

NZ bowlers face match-fixing allegations

AP report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Who'd have thought it?

How bad is England at ODIs?

I've been a bit too busy to put up quite a few thoughts recently, as the Ashes have given way to a long ODI series almost universally recognised as bizarre. (I suppose it serves some purpose as a warmup for the next ICC event.) I was particularly worked up by the selection approach of SMH's Jamie Pandaram, but I've managed to calm down by now.

More remarkable are the latest results between Australia and England. I think it's fair to say that since this time last year, the Australian Test team hasn't seen a great deal of success, but their performance, while patchy, has looked much more promising than that seen when a slightly different team has stepped on to the field for the day-long game. I'd certainly say this about what we saw in the southern summer, and even though the Australians seemed to have looked better and better as the current series has dragged on, I'd still say they're not as good as the team which once again conceded the Ashes.

The various quirks in the schedule and system mean the ICC rankings tell a different story, and in his usual over-excited manner, Jamie says a whitewash is inevitable, barring a miracle (or rain, sometimes also referred to as an 'act of God'). Why would he even suggest such a thing? This is not a team that inspires such confidence. With that in mind, the solid 6-0 scoreline only serves to make surprisingly clear something that really isn't news: England can't play one day cricket. England really, really can't play one day cricket. Even I am finding it embarassing!