Archive for December, 2012

The Test match as novel

In light of a certain 4.2 over run chase in the past few days, I thought it a pertinent time to put to you a theory I’ve been working on.

It is a theory of why cricket tragics seem to value Test cricket infinitely more than its two limited-over brothers.

Let’s get one things straight: I’m not a Twenty20 hater.

I quite enjoy snacking on a bit of hit and giggle every now and then, but only as part of a healthy cricket diet. In between light lunches of One Dayers and fulfilling dinners of Test matches, I really shouldn’t pig out in between.

So Twenty20 and I maintain the same relationship I hold with chocolate. It’s a sometimes food, not to be confused with the meat and potatoes (and vegetables) of a healthy diet.

The reasons I hold for preferring Test and One Day cricket also stack up with my healthy diet analogy. While a bar of chocolate can be utterly delicious, satisfying and exactly what you need at the time, eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner will make you sick in the stomach.

So it is with Twenty20.

A delicious roast dinner, on the other hand, is the ultimate meal. It leaves you satisfied, wanting no more than what you were provided. But more importantly, you know it’s done you good. The meat gives you iron. The veggies do their thing, replete with vitamins and minerals. The gravy is unctuous and delicious.

It seems like you can’t even compare eating chocolate to eating a filling, nutritious dinner, just as you can’t compare a T20 to a Test.

The comparison becomes even more skewed when you place a ‘good’ T20 against a ‘good’ Test. It’s just becomes unfair.

The foodie comparisons end here, as the reasons for liking food and liking cricket seem to diverge.

As Twenty20 cricket rises to ever more prominence and success, cricket-lovers search for reasons why they resent the new game so much.

“It’s just not cricket,” they say.

It’s certainly not cricket as one would see in a Test match. It is an entirely new beast.

Then again, One Day cricket was an entirely new beast when it came to prominence. Although it is now the divisive middle child of the trio, One Day cricket still would feature higher in the hierarchy of most cricket tragics than the younger, more boisterous brother of Twenty20.

Here’s why.

Cricket, for the spectator, is about investment. Inevitably, this investment boils down to a very simple equation: investment = time.

What do I mean by investment?

We all know the tenseness that comes from a Test match that is ever-so close. Nails are sacrificed to the cricketing Gods, hair is torn out, Televisions are flicked on and off and between stations as people seek a release from the palpable nervous tension.

A great example of this was in the 2005 Ashes, when Michael Kasprowicz and Brett Lee were batting to win Australia an unlikely victory, to have it snatched away in the cruelest fashion with only two runs required.

Both nations stopped that day. It was monumental; everyone watched it, and everyone who watched it knew it was monumental.

The number of fingernails reduced to mere stubs that day, on the field and off, would be close to some sort of record, such is the tension created by Test cricket.

It is the ultimate tension in cricket, and it is created over five days, over 460 overs. The more time you spend watching or listening to these 460 sets of six, the more invested you are, and the more epic the games become.

A Test is like a novel. There are many published every year; some good, some bad. Great ones go down in history as some of the greatest works ever written. Some are consigned to the sporting scrap heap, but are dragged up when convenient for the statisticians and argument makers among us.

It is the investment of time required to appreciate the novel that makes it so special. A novel can convey so much information to those willing to take the time to read it.

Anyone who does read War and Peace or Middlemarch will attest that it was well worth it, despite the slog required to complete it.

Test matches are the same. The plots unfold more slowly, and are told more delicately. The authors of the action are given this grace.

Some authors choose to accept this as a chance to tell the story slowly, opening themselves up to being labelled boring or worse. Certain storytellers revel in putting the reader through a kind of torture with their pacing. Some readers decide to skim through the novel as a result.

Not all novels are necessarily great, as it is with Test matches. But the time investment, assuming the spectator dedicates the time to appreciate it, will inevitably yield some form of learning, no matter whether it possessed the stuff of greatness or was of generally poor quality.

The One Dayer can possess similar levels of greatness as a Test match, but its obvious time limitation restricts the amount of storytelling the authors get the chance to do.

Theoretically, therefore, the greatest possible One Dayer could never be as great as the greatest possible Test match. The lack of time simply does not provide the authors to expound the same quantity of greatness. That’s not to say the quality of that greatness can’t be the same.

I see the One Dayer as the equivalent of the novella.

Some novellas are true greats. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and A Christmas Carol have gone down in the pantheon of literature as some of the best works ever written.

That memorable game, ‘The 400 Game’ between South Africa and Australia at the Wanderers might well fit into this category.

But can they ever compare favourably to the sustained greatness of the best novels ever written? Sure, these titles are well known and considered great, and rightly so. The list of great novels, however, is lengthier and better developed by ‘those in the know.’

Literary critics and bookworms could rattle off their top 50 works of literature in next to no time. Sure to feature among most are the great novels: Ulysses, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Moby Dick, Don Quixote; and the rest, as you might say.

Novels, all of them.

I would hazard a guess that at least 90 percent of those considered by the experts as the greatest works of literature would be novels, just as 90 percent of the best cricket games ever played would be Tests. Time investment pays off for the reader, just as it does for the cricket watcher.

Finally, we come to that art form maligned as peasantry by the true cricket tragic: Twenty20.

The time investment is minimal, each game is considered meaningless. There is some time for the action to play out and be told, but before they have had the chance to let their carefully constructed storytelling sink in, the next delivery has already left the author’s hand.

It is this that creates a sense of chaos and meaninglessness about Twenty20. A sense that something has been left out, but you don’t know what. A similar sense to what you might feel sitting through a movie adaptation of a great novel.

The Lord of the Rings is a case in point; a rarely excellent adaptation of a great set of books. There were lots of things missing in terms of the plot, but more than that, there was something missing in the feel of it. It was epic, but not nearly as epic as the books.

It could be that the imagination tends to hyperbolize and extrapolate, leading to epic that would not be possible to replicate in film format. Test matches, after all, leave plenty of time for the imagination to do its thing.

But I think that it is the lack of investment required to view the movie that has an impact as well.

Not having to work through the slow bits to be excited by the fast bits, and not having any sense of comparison leads to action and storytelling being devalued. It is the same actions that would amount to greatness in other expressions of their format, only lesser incarnations.

I’m not saying that greatness can’t be achieved in cinema or in Twenty20 cricket. I’m saying that the kind of greatness achieved by these formats differs vastly from the greatness of a novel or a Test match.

The Test match, being longer, requires more time investment to enjoy. It gives the author more time to express nuance, and space to express it at his leisure by placing a less arbitrary time restriction on it.

Perhaps this boils down to the attachment complex created by the great art forms of the Test match and the novel, an attachment that must be fostered over time. Or it could be something else entirely

Whatever the case, it is the giving of time that allows the storytelling to make its full impact. Spectator investment is the reason for the un-placeable greatness of the Test match.

A brief note on a travesty

I know the title above is sadly reminiscent of a word overused by the mainstream media, but I felt it was one of the only apt words to use in lieu of “disgrace.” I’ve never been a fan of either really, but I feel strongly about the topic I am about to write about.

I am similarly passionate about the fact that many of the things people in the media describe as a “disgrace” or a “travesty” are absolutely not these things, so I suppose this thing fits in the same boat.

But both words do make for a catchy headline.

There was a “cricket game” (used in the loosest possible sense. The loosest) played between the Perth Scorchers and Brisbane Heat recently where the chasing side were given 5 overs to chase down a Duckworth-Lewis-revised total of 51. Leaving aside the fact that the Scorchers and Heat are newly contrived and pseudo-real franchises playing a massively dumbed down version of our sport for a moment, I think this is a move in an utterly wrong direction for the game.

Many people have complained and continue to complain that Twenty20 isn’t real cricket. I think it is cricket, but it has stripped it down to the last bastion: twenty overs is my limit. Any less and it ceases to mean anything and becomes just a form of slightly more nuanced baseball.

In this match, Nathan Coulter-Nile was awarded man of the match for his “match winning innings.” I’ve seen many match winning innings in my time. Michael Clarke’s treble in Sydney last year was a cracker. AB De Villiers in Perth this year wasn’t half bad. Tendulkar played a few in his time if I recall correctly. But Nathan Coulter-Nile’s was not a match winning innings.

He amassed a total of 23 runs from six balls. I will admit that it was this innings that won the match, but it was not a match winning innings.

To label it so is simply disingenuous and denigrates the notion of the match winning innings as something that is constructed, crafted, worked for and earned, like a sculpture. Not something that is blasted with a stick of dynamite and called a sculpture. No, Coulter-Nile’s innings was a cameo by anyone’s standards.

But maybe Twenty20 and cricket are moving the way of modern art. Stick a mirror on the wall and call it art, and have a meaningless explanation to justify it. The Big Bash League is Cricket Australia’s meaningless explanation, and their mirror is chasing 50 runs in five overs. Pointless and moot long ago? Entirely.

Which seems like a right shame to me, because cricket has so much more to offer the keen-eyed observer. The cheap thrills of 23 off 6 don’t compare to a restrained hundred from a naturally aggressive (born of the Twenty20 era) player like David Warner on a green top in Hobart last year. They don’t compare to a double from an under pressure Ricky Ponting against India. They don’t compare to three painstakingly compiled hundreds earned at a strike rate of 33 by Alastair Cook in the infancy of his captaincy career.

No, Coulter-Nile’s innings, and this game, shall not take pride of place, nor any place in the pantheon of cricket memory. It, along with the game it rode on the back of will be tossed out with the nonchalance with which he struck four boundaries off Dan Christian. It doesn’t, and never will matter.

That’s not to say Twenty20 is meaningless. But when Messrs Duckworth and Lewis’ method has been so bastardised as to try to achieve a result within five overs, there is too much contingency, too much plain dumbness, that the resulting game should no longer be called cricket.

It you can’t complete twenty overs, don’t finish the game. Call it off due to rain as cricket has done for 150 years. It’s not worth sacrificing a game with more soul than any of the others for the sake of a result in a meaningless competition. And if the administrators do feel the need to attain a result, then don’t call it cricket.

Rotation makes the world go round

The duality of my career as a medical doctor and Australian fast bowler has left me in a state of personality flux of late.

My Hyde side, the Australian fast bowler, must be wild and free, doing as he pleases and sneering at those who stand in my way. Batsmen often report, after gazing upon my countenance, the sheer terror evoked by what appears to be an utterly evil (Uttersonly evil? Anyone?), malicious personage hurling a pound of leather in their direction. I can understand. I’ve never faced my bouncer, but I’ve faced more than a few people who have, and the look on their face was terrifying even for the man who delivered said bouncer.

On the other hand, my Dr. Jekyll, the  man in uniform, respected by all, tries to make sense of the medical misnomers that are put to him. Granted, my Jekyll may have a bit of help from a certain female every now and then, diverting from the script of the classic, but that’s not to say his conclusions are not as valid as Dr. Nick Riviera’s, or any other respected man of the profession.

As you could imagine, Australia’s fast bowling “Crisis” would have struck a major chord in a man juggling the juggernaut fast bowler and medical man all in one body.

The fast bowler in me wants to tell these big sissies to harden up, run in and simply take pleasure in knocking batmen’s blocks off. A simple pleasure, but one that never gets tiresome.

Yet the doctor side of me (my better half, you might say) urges treading the path with caution when attempting to solve the puzzle that is the human body and its physical capabilities. We are, we have been reminded of late, delicate things whose powers can be extinguished very quickly and easily. Even the colossal physical specimen of Michael Clarke has been cut down by the hamstring scissors.

When he-who-does-not-bowl-fast can also be injured in the game of cricket, what hope do those who do have? Do we criticise the rotation policy employed by the Australian decision makers with too much Hyde-like vigour, while ignoring its creditable Jekyllian qualities?

As Australians we have the tendency to romanticise the trails blazed by rough, gruff, batsmen-hating quicks like Lillee, McGrath and Thommo. But just as the NFL have been safeguarding themselves against potential lawsuits from former players by tightening tackle regulations, Cricket Australia have realised that cricketers don’t want to have dodgy backs and crook shoulders for the rest of their existence.

While some wear these burdensome reminders of battles fought long ago with fierce pride, others have expressed that they would like to help their children build tree houses and billy-karts in the future. I reckon they’d probably like to be able to get out of bed and make a cuppa without reaching for the Neurofen too.

In fast-bowler form, such sentiment would be shrugged off as weakness, and the greater good would be respected: bodies must be sacrificed for the war to be won.

But there comes a time in most professions where people realise that what it is that they do, while it is their livelihood, it is not their entire life. As cricket descends further and further into professionalism, and Twenty20 tournaments become increasingly meaningless, modern day quicks have surely realised that injuring oneself for the greater good of the Buenes Aires Braisers or the Cootamundra Cricketers, and clubs with similarly illustrious histories, is just… hate to say it… not worth it anymore.

As an aside, I might mention that the other dastardly thing about professionalism is that people get paid much, much more than they did in the past. Those glorious times when fast bowlers made a living selling their sweat to lesser men are long gone, and money is now achieved through contracts and other associated nasties. This pitfall will surely be made more of later in this article. Or will it? (Yes, it will)

That’s not to say that Test cricket, the ultimate form of the game, should suffer because of the misdeeds of the limited over tyrants. The oversaturation of pyjama cricket places stress that is more than just physical on a cricketer. People travel much, much more than they did in the past. I know the surlies among you will shrug this off with the distain you shrug off a 150kph bouncer to the point of the elbow, but believe it or not some people feel the desire to rub it.

An international cricketer playing all three forms plays cricket overseas for six to nine months of the year, plus their three month home season. And sometimes, when the holes in the Swiss cheese align, a bunch of them all get injured at once. It’s just happened, and it’s no one’s ‘fault,’ per se.

Despite my earlier bollocks, I’m no doctor, and I really put trust in the methods of the learned few rather than the ignorant majority. The home remedies suggested by former fast bowlers both international and backyard include a health regimen of no strength training, bowling through the pain and more time in the nets. And diets? Pfft! Vitamin profiles are a myth.

I’ll take the vitamin supplements, analysis of individual’s body mechanics and manageable workloads any day over the voodoo wisdom of those who suggest it’s all bollocks.

I suppose that the question that is worth asking is when rotation should be implemented. This is certainly a worthy topic of discussion.

For example, was “resting” Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus the best course of action in the final Test against South Africa in Perth. From a cricket perspective, it definitely was not, but if you honestly thought those two guys were being rested and weren’t out due to injury then I want some of what you’ve been having.

Being a fashionable cricket fan, obviously players should prioritise Test matches and make it their aim to be fit for every single one. Their preparation should focus solely on this, with the other two forms being peripheral.

Which is a shame when, in the fashionable cricket heirarchy, the most peripheral form is also the one that pays you twenty times as much for a twentieth of the work.

Well that sure throws a spanner in the works.

Why Caroline Wozniacki wasn’t racist

Let me get one thing straight. Tennis players are not, never have been, and never will be funny.

Beloved of many, many tennis fans around the world, I woke up to find Wozniacki in the news for stuffing towels down her jocks and her, erm, bra I spose, and pretending to be Serena Williams. Sort of funny, maybe, right? At a stretch? Or at least we can appreciate how it could be seen as funny if we were really stoned or something?

WRONG! It is, I read, an indictment on her fundamentally racist and elitist Scandinavian character (well, we Scandinavians are pretty wonderful) that she should dare imitate a full figured woman (who also happens to be black). She transcended the boundaries of good taste, said various news sources and, well, let’s call them ‘special interests’ websites. This article is not to bring censure upon myself, and there is no censure I fear more than those with special interests. I have no special interests, and thus no clout with such vicious creatures.

So the above people apparently have a media pass for hammering the young Dane with insults. And who’s to stop them and tell them they’re wrong? Usually I cower in the corner and say “yes sir/ma’am, no sir/ma’am” until they get bored with such a pathetic creature and slink off. But this time, I really don’t think Caroline was racist.

Racist? Or just not funny?

Racist? Or just not funny?

What these folks won’t tell you is that she also mimicked her screams (every female tennis player has there own ‘brand’ of scream) and her gestures.

“Not relevant,” they might tell you. “The only relevant part is the part where she made fun of the other lady’s body shape, which is terrible stereotyping of an African-American woman and is therefore racist.”

Well allow me to delve into the dirty world of stereotypes myself.

Tennis players are not funny. They might seem to be living the high life, God knows Bernard Tomic is, but I think that if you look a little closer, there’s a lot of introverted, self motivated and highly unusual individuals in the profession. I don’t think it’s their modus operandi to pride themselves on their witty banter or on how many schooners they can put away on a Friday after massages.

No, I think they’re more at home, um, at home, watching a movie, listening to their favourite podcast, curled up in a ball counting how many balls they struck in anger that day. That’s not to say they’re all reclusive weirdos, but my point is that they are not the type who make jokes to all those mates they have all the time. They probably spend more time speaking to hotel clerks than their mates.

You’ll have realised by now that this is mostly hyperbole, but it serves to illustrate my final point which I will make in earnest: Tennis is not funny.

Wozniacki was playing an exhibition show-match with Maria Sharapova. Beyond hitting the ball really hard (which they do all the other times) what else can a tennis player do at one of these things. These events, which pro tennis players must just “errggghh” at every time their manager tells them they have to front up for one, are designed solely so the crowd can have a wee giggle and point at the things they players are doing on court, then go home and tell their friends all about how they saw Andre Agassi take his shirt off.

Sort of like going to the monkey enclosure at the zoo (note to those who are censuriously [new word, RT and share] inclined, this remark is not associating tennis players with monkeys, just with crowds who go to watch both do similar things, namely laugh, point at the performing creatures and go home and tell their friends about it).

Tennis players must dig into their bag of tricks. They do the between the legs, the no legs, the one legs (amazing aren’t they? They can make plurals of the singular), the kick-the-tennis-ball manoeuvre, the backwards stuff, and all that. That buys them about 10 minutes.

Then they start to do the impersonations. They begin to grunt, al a Gustavo Kuerten: “Eeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

Gustavo Kuerten: the former world number one just keeps on giving.

Then the Agassi. They’ve probably got a cap that makes their head resemble a certain billiard ball, and they’ll do the short steps thing that Agassi made famous. I remember hating those short steps (being a Sampras man myself) because it meant Agassi was on a role, big time.

Then they go for their fellow women players. The screeches come out: Monica Selles, Maria Sharapova, Li Na (or is it Na Li?), they’re all there. Then we hit Serena.

Serena, perhaps the biggest anomaly, in terms of physique, in women’s tennis. It’s clearly served her very well; the other ladies couldn’t keep up with her for however many years. It was that physique that forced others to accord and get bigger, fitter, stronger and better.

So surely, when Caroline stuffs her skirt and top with towels imitating Serena, we should look at it as praise of said physique, with perhaps a little jealousy thrown in. In a results based industry, I’m certain that most female professional tennis players would love to have Serena’s physical attributes.

I struggle to look at this incident and view it as racist. I see it as unfunny tennis players imitating other tennis players. For anyone who knows anything about tennis, they would know that Serena stands out as a colossus in her game, and that any attempt to replicate her on court game or physique should show exactly how much impact she has had on her sport.

I’m not going to say that “there was no black face therefore she’s not racist rah rah rah.” If we take the context into account, I think you can see for yourself that this is in no way racist, just a very unfunny impression. It’s not like Wozniacki was attempting to demean Williams’ physique, just replicate it. Hell, she won the point as well, so it was sort of befitting of Serena.

Was Wozniacki naive in imitating her? Perhaps. But it takes several naive steps of logic for people to think that her imitation of Serena Williams, possibly the best female tennis player of all time, is racist

Twenty20 cricket is not gansta rap

Finally, the right thing happened. This tooing and froing went on for too long, as it has with many Wallabies in the past little bit.

Quade might have been a basket case in the last three times he’s re-signed, but even loyal servant Will Genia had to go through this madness of uncertainty for a period this year.

I think it’s time to apply the razor to the Australia Rugby Union negotiation process; shave off some bodies that the players are required to negotiate with in order to finally put pen to paper. Many will benefit from this reduction in confusing protocol, particularly the ARU, who could be made to look a little silly one day when a code-hopper who signed with the Force decides to renege because he doesn’t like the cut of one of the ARU official’s jib. Gotta mind those jibs.

Occam's razor: Philosophical science or scientific philosophy?

Ockham’s razor: Philosophical science or scientific philosophy?

I say that the right thing happened with Quade because from the very beginning it should have been clear to everyone involved that Quade wanted to stay in rugga. He signed a three year deal with the Reds, as clear a sign of his intentions as there’s ever been.

Khoder Nasser, being who he is, probably wanted Quade to ‘keep his options open with a one year deal’ or some such stupidity. But Quade, despite his oft-criticised meddling manager, fronted up at the Reds and signed a treble.

It should have been known, from that point on, that whenever Quade spoke of ‘rugby league being on the cards at some stage’ it was simply a baulk at getting some more cash from the ARU. We might be getting slightly better at identifying the efforts of players to increase their value by mentioning other codes, but we’re not there yet. Even the merest mention of rugby or league from a player of the opposite code still prompts a media furore about ‘X player signing with the enemy.’ We’ve still got some way to go in this respect, I think.

As I said in a previous post, I think Quade will make his $800,000 back over two years for the ARU, even if he doesn’t pull on a gold jersey. The impact he has on Reds crowd numbers, as well as the belief in that squad, will be enough to justify keeping him on board.

Many people might be unhappy to see Quade back, but I assure you that there are a lot of Reds fans who are very happy, and will flock to see him don the crimson next year.

But enough about Quade, as I’m sure everyone’s bored to death of him. Onto the majesty that is the Big Bash League, and the travesty that is the caps being worn by certain members of the Sydney Sixers.

Are you serious, David Warner and Steve Smith (and anyone else I didn’t notice who was wearing said cap)?

To describe, I’m sure most of you are aware of the vomit-inducing caps the kids are wearing these days. This type has moved beyond being worn by rich white boys in America attempting to emulate LeBron James, who was attempting to emulate Jay Z, who was attempting to emulate Notorious B.I.G. It is now being worn by the kids of the Sixers.

Twenty20 cricket

Twenty20 cricket

There was nothing wrong with this hat initially, in fact it was a bold statement of an undeniably cool culture. But as it’s gotten more and more mainstream, it’s gotten objectively more try-hard. The brim has become flatter and flatter, the hat more and more balloon-like over the skull. It’s current incarnation resembles someone with a bun rolled around their head, Princess Leia style, who has tried to fit a baseball cap previously worn by Andre the Giant around their head. Also note that they have sticky taped a stiff pine brim at the front.

It offers no protection for the face and the eyes from the sun, which let’s not forget used to be the primary function of a hat. Instead it makes the Sixers players like petulant 12 year olds with terrible fashion senses who yelled at their mums for three hours in the ‘Basement’ section of David Jones (ironically located on the third floor). The mother, despite knowing better, finally relented and bought them the ridiculous cap, just to save her eardrums.

I take some solace in the fact that it’s not been instituted as a club policy to wear the abomination. Brad Haddin for example, despite his equally reprehensible habit of constantly chomping at a cud of chewing gum, has elected not to wear a saucepan on his melon, opting for the more traditional, UV-protective headwear.

The cricket’s been quite enjoyable though.

(Note that I’m not usually a slagger-offerer of T20 cricket, but this particular cap is just terrible)

What did I miss?

What the hell, man!

I duck off to Florence for a few days, eat some delicious food and see some very pretty townscapes and Michaelangelos, and come back to home base thinking nothing will have changed.

In that time, Ricky Ponting, one of Australia’s best cricketers ever, decided that he can’t be bothered sifting through “Ten reasons why Punter should retire” articles anymore, David Campese tweeted that he dislikes female rugby journalists, the entire Aussie pace battery went flat (I’ll never get sick of pace battery puns), Israel Folau told Parramatta to shove it and England beat the All Blacks.

Has the entire world fallen in on itself, or does the sporting news cycle just move that quickly?

To think, while I was eating bolognese in Bologna and Eggs Florentine in Florence (lie, never even saw it on a menu) Kurtley was running in a match winner against Wales and The Blecks (phonetic) were being put to the sword by an English team relieved not to be wearing red-wine-spew maroon.

Florence, in case travel and not sport is your thing

Florence, in case travel, and not sport, is your thing

When I left, just four days prior, Siddle and Hilfenhaus had bowled the house down in an effort to dismiss the Proteas on the last day in Adelaide, and both were recovering in an attempt to be fit for Perth. “Apart from a few callouses and some sore joints, how bad can their afflictions be?” I thought to myself.

Apparently bad enough to not recover in time to bowl on a bowler-friendly WACA track. So today we saw Mitchells Johnson and Starc leading the attack, with John Hastings about as conspicuous as James Pattinson was on the last day in Adelaide.

As a side note, here is an interesting factual/statistical development. I am informed by Brydon Coverdale (the cricinfo guy) on Twitter that Peter Siddle bowled 383 balls in Adelaide, and Ben Hilfenhaus 321. People called the effort Herculean, monumental, worthy of utmost praise. It also seemed like it made a whole Test rest a necessity (in what is a rather important game). Coverdale goes on to note that Dennis Lillee, that hairy-chested, open-shirted fast bowler of yesteryear, bowled 535 deliveries against Pakistan in 1976, and played the next Test with only a two day break.

I’m not calling anyone soft. Brydon Coverdale is.

The Wallabies, meanwhile, bored Wales silly before Kurtley Beale decided to win the game after one of the rather more brilliant pieces of rugby this season. Imagine if the Wallabies played like that for eighty minutes instead of two. The nation would cease activity for two hours every week and sit transfixed on couches, bar stools and stadium seats. But enough rugby scribes lament the Wallabies, so let’s try to be positive.

They did bounce back after losing to France to win three on the trot and make sure they’re ranked in the top four. Right guys? Right?

The Aussie cricket team are on the verge of losing in Perth, despite the fact another favourite of mine, Mitchell Johnson, is playing. He’s the guy no one thought could bowl a cricket ball without the universe exploding. I’ll admit that I only watched the last half of day three, but in the time I did watch he looked good. Mitchell Starc looked good too, but if we’re being realistic it was Johnson who bowled better, whatever the wickets column might read.

Campo did a bit of a silly thing too, saying that the “girl” who was covering the Wallabies wasn’t fit to sweep up trimmings from Greg Growden’s barber’s floor. The only good thing to come out of it was that most people, and by no means all people, seem to agree that Campo came out of it looking backwards and silly. It was nice to see David Pocock read it this way, anyway.

So basically, the moral of the story is to never go on holiday and to keep on top of sports news at all costs, lest you miss blogging opportunities.

PS I’m going to Munich tomorrow. When I get back Quade Cooper and Sonny Bill will be signed for Real Madrid (fight clauses and all), John Hastings will have scored a triple ton to silence the ‘haters’ and Nathan Hindmarsh will be making a comeback as a professional curler.

The wheels keep turning, no matter how many Chianti Classicos or Weissbiers you drink.

Such is life. Such is sport.

The bolognese in Bologna was delicious.

Tagiiatelli al ragù. It's Italian

Tagiiatelli al ragù. It’s Italian

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair