Archive for March, 2013

Leadership rumours extend to Aussie cricket team

As the race for the leadership of the country heats up very quickly, then dies just as quickly, rumours were circulating about Mitchell Starc making an eleventh hour stand for Labor leader. Similarly, Simon Crean stood for the captaincy of the Australian cricket XI and for the key role in the latest Milo and Weet-bix ads, thereby ensuring his position as the most powerful person in Australia.

Granted, most of these rumours were started by me, but my job as a blogger is to simply report the facts, no matter how self interested or untrue.

But we have seen a bigger explosion of captaincy candidates in the wake of Michael Clarke maybe possibly (definitely) being out for the fourth Test match than there were Spartacus’s at the great Roman slave’s sentencing.

We’ve seen Ed Cowan, little Ed, the acclaimed scribe of the side, throw up his hand as leadership and captaincy material. Ed says that the more balls he faces the more runs he will score (thus his upcoming autobiography, his fourth, More Balls). But as well as showing off his mathematical skills, he also deigned to say that if he does the little things right, packs his bags on time, wears his sponsors cap at a jaunty angle and complains at the right times to big Uncle Mickey he might have a shade of a shot at having the little ‘c’ next to his name. Just to clarify, though, you don’t need a ‘c’ next to your name to be a leader, says Ed.

Spoken like a true usurper. Remember one week after the ides of March, Pup.

Little Davie Warner, too, a bladesman of some repute, not just due to how he waves it about but also because he’s just as likely to slay 100 foes as fell himself. What precisely David Warner could offer his teammates that Phil Gould couldn’t I have no idea. He could probably tell them that it’s mate versus mate, Commonwealth State versus former Commonwealth State, but beyond that I imagine his tactical nous and off-field diplomacy and speechmaking doesn’t compare to his opening batting partner. Importantly, however, his batting average does, and in a country where all that seems to matter is averages of batting score and tattoos, that might be enough to see Davey get the gig. In fact, it might be worth giving him the job to justify the millions spent on all that media training.

“Look how far we’ve come! Even Dave can present well to the media.”

I kid, of course. Compared to Ed Cowan anyone is made to look like a bumbling baboon, including myself.

And moving right on to the next of the baboons in the queue, scratching their noodles in the hope it will impress someone around the joint. Of course I speak of Shane Watson, the golden-haired, golden-armed, golden-batted golden boy of Australian cricket. It’s a pity his whole body is made of gold and is in constant need of buffing and rebuffing (pun) because otherwise he might be able to do simple things required of a professional sportsman these days like not get injured and be able to scribble ‘three things Shane can do better’ on a piece of napkin.

Then again Shane just had a baby, and that was the sole reason he was in Australia. I’d probably go back home to see my baby be born. After all, your baby’s going to be alive much longer than your cricket career. Unless you’re Sachin Tendulkar of course, who’s been playing cricket for literally as long as I’ve been alive. Scary and weird, scary and weird. Time to give it away Sachin.

It really doesn’t matter who skippers this Test match, does it? We’ve already confirmed that we’ve been flogged in India. Why even play this dead rubber? It can only lead to further humiliation of our boys, and I’m sure the Indians wouldn’t want to see that. They are, after all, humble, loving folks who welcome strange looking Australians to their shores with endless hugs, plates of vegetarian spiced stew and admiration for their captain. And who wouldn’t admire an Australian team captained by Shane Watson. Or Ed Cowan. Or Dave Warner.

All fine people and fine players whose spot in the side is completely and utterly guaranteed by virtue of their indispensable run-making of late.

In fact, let’s go all Port Adelaide on this biz-naz.

11 captains to take the field for the Aussies. You heard it here first.

Dear Sport, sincerely, confused blogger

Dear Sport,

I’ve been watching, reading, listening to and generally just been around you a lot for the past few weeks, and I think it might be time for a break.

Rest assured, it’s not you. It’s me. Well it is you really, but it’s more the effect that your actions have had on me, and so therefore we can sort of pretend that it’s just me being emotional. Right? If not you can go get stuffed.

But before you go all Kanye West on me, I’m actually going to finish what I have to say. Frankly sport, you’re performances recently have been far from the best video, sorry, performances of all time.

I’m confused, Sport. I’m confused both mentally and sexually.

First you tell me that the Melbourne Demons are copping a half a million dollar fine for tanking, but they actually didn’t tank. They just intended to tank, and tanked in a premeditated way, but on the field they actually didn’t tank. That was confusing and just plain linguistically irresponsible Sport. At the time I didn’t know if I could forgive you, but I have and I’ve since moved on.

Then you tell me that the Sharks are in trouble, Sport. You tell me that they’ve contravened some code that no one really seems to know anything about. What’s more, it seems that the people who are supposed to be protected by said code actually don’t care, and just defer to the guy (or girl) with the syringe in some sort of zealous act of faith in club protocol and spirit.

“These people mean me no harm, they’re just doing their best to make sure I’m more hormone than human.” This attitude confuses me, Sport. Why don’t you tell those who play you they’re doing something wrong? Or at least tell the people who have been doing it to come forward and admit they’ve done something wrong. Or maybe those who administered the drugs? Or maybe those who oversaw the systematic cheating of the drug laws to show an ounce of courage and admit they made a mistake?

No? That’s too much to ask for? Well what about the dudes who’ve been on the case of this four two years? Can’t they just come out and tell us whodunnit? No? Even that’s too much to ask for. Well gee, Sport, I thought we were closer than that. I just… don’t really know what to say.

And that wasn’t even the end of it, Sport. Last of all you tell me that cricketers have homework? They actually have to write things down? I don’t know where you come from, Sport, but when I want to get better at something I don’t just sit down and write about it (except for writing, ironically). Surely making them jump through some flaming hoops or running on the heads of man-eating crocodiles would be far more effective for physical specimens like Shane Watson than writing ways that the Aussies can improve in India.

In fact, I actually did Shane Watson’s homework. And James Pattinson’s. I didn’t do Khawaja and Johnson’s homework, I don’t really care for them too much… But here it is! Sorry it’s late:

Score more runs.
Take more wickets.
Field better.

See? All done? Amazing right? Who knew, it just got lost somewhere in the WordPress ether. Can they play in the third Test now, Sport? Pretty please?

Well, if that’s really the attitude you’re going to take, Sport, I don’t really know where this can go.

I just… I just…

Sharks being circled? What’s next, Bulldogs’ heels being nipped?

In what is an irony spotter’s dream, everyone in the rugby league community is now circling the Sharks.

While it was previously the domain of the finned, cartilege-laden predator to swarm around its prey, circling them with demonic intent before rudely removing a digit or limb from their chosen victim, nature has found a way to turn it around on them this time. That’s right, finally the shark has become the hunted.

In a further sprinkling of irony, all this turning around of nature has been achieved through the most unnatural of means: using drugs to improve on nature. Confusing, isn’t it?

Shark victims and prospective shark victims aside, not many can be all too pleased by this news of Sharks being hunted, as it confirms the presence and widespread use of illegal drugs in the NRL. Not only have fourteen players been implicated, but it came to light on Fox Sports today that they’ve even been offered a year extra on their contract plus full pay so they don’t sue the club.

What does that tell us? Are the club trying to pay off players for something that was ostensibly the club’s fault? Did the Sharkies, knowingly and willingly, flaunt the drug code to gain an unfair advantage? I’m sure there are a number of reasons why you would offer your players those sort of incentives not to sue you. But you know what, for all those reasons I suppose that there are, I can’t think of any other myself. Maybe you can give me another explanation? Try the comments section below if you have any bright ideas.

All I know is that it’s a really bad look. It really looks like the club has given their players this stuff willingly. Two, three, four players may have just been a coincidence. But 14? 14 players is a whole starting team. And at one club. The chances of this being a coincidence are dropping by the minute.

A blurred photo... Looks suspicious, doesn't it? Is it a dirty, roided up footballer taking drugs? Or is it a man walking in a train station? You decide

A blurred photo… Looks suspicious, doesn’t it? Is it a dirty, roided up footballer taking drugs? Or is it a man walking in a train station? You decide


But let’s not pretend it’s just the club at fault here. A professional athlete has a responsibility for what he puts in his body. It’s his livelihood, and he can’t blindly subject himself to professional advice like cyclists apparently did all through the nineties and naughties. Tyler Hamilton was just as doped as Lance Armstrong. They both cheated; they both knew it was wrong. Whether Lance tried to force Tyler into it or not, Tyler still shouldn’t have doped. Same goes with the Sharkies. If something looks like dead rat, smells like dead rat, then it’s probably a dead rat. Any my dad always told me not to eat dead rat because it ain’t no crème brûlée.

I’m sure more than a few of you have received a text message or two from you mates with some rumours that are swirling around the other clubs as well. The rumours go that the Sharkies are merely the first to fall, and that major clubs are going to fall in the coming months, and with serious penalties and consequences. But these are just rumours, and they’re bound to proliferate in times like this. You can’t help but feel though that even when this Sharks matter is cleared up, there’s still a long way to go for ASADA. They’re not done yet.

Another interesting questions revolves around what the banned players are going to do while they’re cooling their heels on the sideline. What’s their media performance going to be like? Are we going to be told the hows, whys, wheres and whats, just like we were with Lance? I’m not going to be so bold to say that the public deserve to know, but realistically the public probably deserve to know. If one of Cronulla’s biggest players, the hero of kids who support the team, happened to take drugs, I don’t think putting a gag on him would be the right thing to do.

The players who took drugs have to be part of the solution.

All this is of course hypothetical, but it looks like it’s very much becoming a reality, and fast.

It’s also not a great look for all those folks who attempted to bluff ASADA into not investigating by thinking they’d called their bluff. Remember, an absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. There’s substance behind this investigation. Get used to it.

And if you’re a drug cheat, you might want to get used to being on the bench, because you’ll most likely have at least six months to practice it.

I found this funny guy on the web, so I spoke to him

I was trawling around WordPress the other day and happened to stumble upon an extremely hilarious blog. It’s called Stand, Spray and Deliver, and basically is what it says: people showering you with sport, spittle and opinion, and not necessarily in that order.

To that end, I thought I’d contact the bloke who runs that shoddy show.

It’s not often that people as arrogant as myself come across someone they must simply admit is better than them. Of course, this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I did feel that this bloke was on a similar crash course with defamation and infamy, so I decided to get to know its author.

You must understand that I jest, and that this author, whose name just happens to be Dane (a coincidence with precisely nothing), is in fact much more descriptively talented, wordily gifted and analogically crafty than myself.

Whether he be ranting about rugby league’s latte-sippers, or those wretched rugby proles, being cantankerous about cricket or even courageously calling the curling, Dane’s blogs always yield a pant-moisteningly hilarious read.

I went ahead and contacted the chap with his thoughts on the upcoming Test in India, as well as a few sundry issues that I thought he could lend a thought or two on.

Pine Warming Paddy: Dane, it’s lovely to have you with us. What was not so lovely was the shellacking delivered to us by the Indian tweakers and willow-wielders. Do you think that we should blame our toothless Lyon or foolhardy selectors for not capitalising on a reasonable first innings total?

Dane: Being a long-term fan of Australian cricket, I reserve the right to complain about anything to do with the team at any time. In this instance, all parties are in the gun.

Firstly, when I discovered at the toss that the team would be top-heavy with pace, I wanted the selectors spuds on a platter for forgetting about the importance of a pitch inspection prior to play. Seriously, with this kind of ‘intel’, these blokes are becoming as irrelevant as MySpace.

However, my scattergun blowtorch then turned upon the unfortunate Lyon for not being able to plug the nasty flow of MS Dhoni on a spinner’s nirvana. I understand that when the Indian skipper decided to go bonkers that the battle had parallels to the little monkey man fighting on all-fours against the Japanese bear-hugger in Bloodsport. It was a deadset mismatch with only one ribcage that would end up crushed against a flabby torso. But come on Nath, this is the prime reason you are in the team! To take wickets on sand. And you failed.

So in summary. Stuff ’em all for wrecking my weekend.

P: What do you think about the prospect of a return for the prodigal son ‘Big’ Mitch Johnson? Would we profit from picking a left-arm slinger, or would we be better served putting his Test career to bed, for good?

D: I know I risk wearing a jacket of rotten produce from the haters by saying this, but frankly I’m too honest for my own good, plus I would love some tomato for my toast right now.

Mitch Johnson- maligned, despised, mollycoddled and dermatologically defaced- is the kind of volatile force the attack needs to put some mud in the strides of the Indian bats, so I reckon it’s time to deploy the bastard. Sure, we may lose on a record haul of sundries, or his mother may again surface, but what do we have to lose?

Give Mitchell Starc a rest. He dished up first-class waste in the first Test, so replacing him with Johnson is a perfect like-for-like swap.

P: David Warner’s a guy who divides opinion. Some say he’s an eastern suburbs nancy-boy who can only go the tonk, while others put him up there among the best prospects we’ve seen in years. What do you think of old ‘one thumb’ Warner? Two thumbs up, or one horrifically mutilated thumb down?

D: Firstly, I have been made aware this morning that Warner is suffering from food poisoning thanks to Peter Siddle’s vegetable stir-fry. Let this be a lesson to any cerebrally challenged plodder out there who is considering vegetarianism that this is a dangerously evil ideology that should be avoided at all costs if you enjoy such luxuries as prolonged health. Stumps on that rant.

As for Thumbellina’s cricketing abilities, he again is one of the small windows of advantage the team holds, so I believe he needs to be perservered with. We need quick runs when they’re on offer as 90% of the rest of the batting order have shown minimal impetus so far, so if Dave can clock a quick 50 then I consider this far better than a watchful and snoozy 15 from 1000 that any replacement would produce.

Plus he’s a Roosters man. Case closed.

P: All the talk recently is about where people should bat, as if we already know who should be in the team. What stock do you place in batting positions? Should we move captain Clarke and Watto up, and drop others down? Or does it not matter a rotten quince?

D: Maths is not my strong point, and in my youth my abacus and calculator were most often used in building transmitters to communicate with extra-terrestrial life forms and not for crunching data. Hence my lack of decayed quinces given at this point in time with the manouevering of numbers in the batting pecking order. Sure, Clarke would probably be better served saving our arses earlier in the piece, but he says he likes spot five, so who am I to suggest the bottle should be taken from the baby?

If I had my way, he would be at four, Watson would open and Georgie Gardiner would be on the telly a lot more often.

A LOT more.

P: Moving away from cricket briefly, and I’d like to ask about the Sydney Roosters who I hear are a bit of a favourite of yours. Is the recruitment of OMG, I mean Money Bill, I mean $onny, I mean Sonny William Williams, the change the club needed to nab another premiership?

D: I don’t know if its trophy time, but I will say this. If any fisticuffs break out, the feather shall rule with an iron fist. Of feathers.

With Bill leading from the front and Luke ‘Cranky Pops’ O’Donnell firmly in toe, there could be a side order of knuckle sandwiches to be served with fine eastern suburbs coffee in 2013.

Of course, those sandwiches would be made with organic dutch ciabatta bread, none of this bogan Buttercup white shit.

P: Finally, new NRL CEO Dave Smith doesn’t know his Ben’s from his Benji’s. Should he be bent over and told where to go? Or should we persevere with the money man from Wales?

D: Thanks CEO Darren, with that blunder, you’ve proven that Australian Rugby league administration is still shining brightly! You’re fitting in nicely already.

Unfortunately, rugby league is still a game with blue collar roots that is trying its hardest to cross into the universe of being a glitzy marquee football competition. The top brass lurches from one cock-up to the next, while the game still maintains soaring levels of popularity. Personally, I couldn’t give another quince about the CEO’s background as long as he knows the basics, steers clear of John Ibrahim and gets the game financially secure. So Darren, if your Welsh accent is adept at offloading shitloads of raffle tickets, then you have my blessing old son.

Otherwise, piss off to the A-League.

If you want to follow Dane’s gear, I reckon go to his website by clicking this funny coloured text, and press the follow button in the top right corner (feel free to click my follow button too).

Or you can follow him on Twitter @PlayUp_Roosters. I’m @WarmingthePine if you didn’t know already.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair