Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Johns’

Watson looking hot for the title – Aussies tag along

Sorry about the cricket glut people, but you know what you’re getting yourself into when you click on a webpage that has a still of Andrew Symonds absolutely dominating a streaker.

What are you getting precisely? Well, more or less a random assortment  of sporting thoughts at my whim. Don’t like it? Then go read somewhere else (note: please don’t read somewhere else, you’re all I’ve got)

But mostly it’s just because I’ve run out of ideas. There. Onto the blogging.

I spoke to a dear friend of mine the other day about the ICC World Twenty20, which I am thoroughly enjoying at the minute. Some of you more avid followers (both of you) might know this dear friend as Diablo. Diablo told me that he couldn’t give two hoots about the World T20. Being a newly deflowered viewer of illicit Indian streams I thought he was crazy. Both on these streams and on Twitter people were going mental for this thing. It’s trending every time there is a game on.

Yeah, I just got Twitter, the gateway to lazy journalistic practices and me becoming a narcissistic Generation Me’er, whatever that is. Follow me @WarmingthePine.

I do promise you one thing though, I will never, ever, quote Twitter if I am attempting to break a story. News might be made on Twitter these days but how lazy do you have to be to control-C someone’s 140-character-or-less internetings and call it a news story? Gets me all worked up in my pant region.

Also know that I am a reluctant user of hashtags, and find them a reprehensible but necessary evil.

Anyway, so my friend said not many people are watching the World T20 because of Nine’s terrible coverage and generally a lack of promotion and interest. I suspect my friends with Foxtel and without a hole in one to their name might have been more interesting to talk to on this subject. Diablo is horrifyingly uninteresting to talk to at the best to times.

For all those who don’t know, Australia qualified first in their Super eight group with a couple of absolutely crushing displays against India and South Africa. Or should I say, Shane Watson qualified Australia first in their Super eight group, because at this stage the Aussie T20’ers are a bigger one man team than Newcastle Knights circa 2005. God forbid if Shane Watson were as injury prone as the latest Rugby League Immortal. Oh wait…

With four straight man-of-the-match awards to his name and at one point topping all the charts in the tournament that matter (runs, wickets and sixes) Watson looked unstoppable. What a role he was on! He was even hitting spinners for six.

At first I rubbed my eyes. An Australian batsman actually laying willow on a delivery with rotations that weren’t in the direction from whence the white seed came? What is this arcane tomfoolery, the likes of which the best cricket writers in a Australia have apparently never seen? But my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Australian batsmen are actually allowed to hit spinning balls, sometimes even for six.

The Australian Cricket team is mobbed by a bunch of others who wear the same shirt as him, including his captain

Worryingly, though, in their last game against Pakistan the soft, meaty, and probably delicious underbelly of the Australian middle order was exposed and the ravenous Pakistanis took to it as hyenas to an exposed deerling gut. Imagery, people, imagery.

The guys in our team who weren’t Warner, Watson or Hussey hardly looked like they could bat at all.

After the game George Bailey said that in Twenty20 cricket you really needed your top order to do a bulk of the scoring. I thought that was all very convenient for George to tell us that, completely absolving he and the rest of the eight guys who are supposed to be in the team too of their batting failures from the last six months.

“Hey Shane, so, um, you and Dave can score the runs and me and the boys will be out the back having steaks and beers. Cool? No? Well, I’m the captain these days so, I don’t really care.”

While convenient, it ain’t right to place so much pressure on the three best players in your side to do the bulk of the scoring every game. Sure, they’ll do a lot of scoring, but when they fail the middle order has to do its job and score runs too. It’s easy for George to pretend he doesn’t have to bat just because he’s not listed in the top three, but when the pointy end of this tournament comes along in the next few days there will be no hiding behind Shane and Dave if they happen not to fire.

Time for you and your steak-eating pals to put away the table cloth and napkins and get an appetite for runs, George. Otherwise this one man team is going nowhere, and you’ll be back with the Hobart Hurricanes before you can say “but I told Shane to score all the runs.”

That’s not good captaincy George.

Also, any reader who made it this far, know that I refrained from using a refugee boat joke somewhere in this post. Points for anyone who can guess where.

Finally, if you haven’t realised, I’m really craving steak.

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Can we keep cricket from being a sideshow?

When Twenty20 cricket first popped its dyed blonde-haired, blue-eyed, attractive but completely vacuous head up I was totally OK with people not taking it very seriously. Like its human counterpart it was the one you could watch do its thing and enjoy while it lasted, but you never really felt like you owed it anything. You wouldn’t write home about it. You wouldn’t buy it Grange. When it was done you both went home and didn’t think about it again.

I also liked that it had some childish elements, as any fling based purely on lust does. I liked that Punter wore ‘Punter’ on the back of his shirt, and little Pup wore ‘Pup,’ and James Hopes rather bafflingly wore ‘Catfish.’ I liked that blonde, blue eyed, attractive but completely vacuous men and women danced on the stage, gyrating their hips more suggestively than a banker raising his eyebrows to the bottle blonde on a Friday night at Establishment.

I also liked that the old geezers in the commentary box had to try to remember which Usher song Mike Hussey had ‘chosen’ when he walked out to ‘bat.’

It was nice; a sideshow that distracted us, albeit briefly, from the meat and potatoes of test and one-day cricket.

I liked it because Twenty20 wasn’t really that serious back then. There wasn’t really any money in it. It was sort of interesting to see people slap and dash for an hour or two, but that was about the extent of the interest.

‘Hit and giggle,’ some called it. Perhaps rightly.

Sadly, people with money realised it was a hell of a lot more entertaining than the other forms of cricket in the same way Transformers is more entertaining than The Shawshank Redemption.

More robots fighting each other to the death. More weird, overdubbed voices. Not really, but there was more booty-shaking, less standing round saying “jolly good show” and lamenting those who had gone before, and a much, much greater propensity for fireworks and hip-hop music. Between these  last two factors alone, Twenty20 covered just about every singe demographic a twenty-seven-year-old unmarried but definitely looking marketing exec (sex withheld) could name, even the fabricated ones.

Fireworks keep the nerds happy. Hip hop everyone else. These are facts. Don’t like them, see your counsellor.

In amidst all of these bootilicious bodies, big sixes and cricketers wearing shirts that are way too tight for their oft-sloppy rigs, somehow the requirement of actually being able to play cricket was lost.

Remember when Andrew Johns almost lost a game for NSW because being a celebrity was enough to qualify him for the state cricket side? Probably not. But you remember him playing right? Or do you just remember him being in the team?

Apparently he was there to draw the crowds. The only problem was he couldn’t wow them with his banana kick, given that cricket is played with a non-oval ball that is mostly left unkicked unless you happen to be Mark Taylor or just really pissed off. Instead he had to rely on his straight drive. I looked up Joey’s Wikipedia page. There was nothing on there about how good his straight drive was. Or his off-break.

Funnily enough, there is aslo very little about Usain Bolt’s bouncer, aside from the fact that once he got Chris Gayle out when the coolest man in cricket was probably focusing more on swatting away West Indies Cricket Board contracts than Bolt bumpers. C’est la vie.

Similarly, googling Yohan Blake, another Jamaican sprinter, will yield many results about his times, his stride, his battle with Bolt, how he is called “The Beast,” his biceps and other things related to running 100 metres.

It may also reveal that Blake was being courted by the Sydney Sixers cricket franchise, presumably a response to his buddy Bolt being wooed by Melbourne Stars, in particular their captain Shaun Wane.

But nothing about his cricket skill. Cricketers rarely have to run 100 metres.

It’s because Twenty20 trivialised the real skill of the game of cricket, and the attributes vital to being a good cricketer, that we are in this mess. But the marketing execs are not satisfied with making cricket less about skill and more about cheap thrills (The Hip hop’s getting to me). Along with reducing many of the skill and attitude requirements of the game, they even want to put more players who have hardly bowled or struck a ball in anger to go with the Old Codgers currently supplementing their pension with Twenty20 contracts.

Being good at the game, apparently, is no longer essential to being a cricketer.

To me, this stinks. Stop the Blake and Bolt sideshow and let me watch people who can actually play go at it for the three brief hours T20 affords me.

I know Warnie’s going out with Liz Hurley and is is about 100 years old, but the guy can still bowl spin better than any other Aussie.

The old codgers running around with hip replacements I can deal with. Just don’t try to sell me the best players in the world and give me some guys who can dance well and run fast. That’s not what cricket’s about, and it never was.

Keep cricket and cricketers uncool, stay in school.

Respect.

Rugby League “too subjective” for those that play

“It’s just so subjective. I don’t know how they came up with the grading. Just how things are graded…it’s so subjective, and to have that subjectivity in myopinion altered from case to case is very disparaging for the players.”

These are words from the mouth of a real, existing and currently functioning NRL coach. ‘The game I coach is too subjective,’ he says. ‘The rules are up for interpretation. Not everything is black and white.’ Perspective and subjectivity Geoff. Google it. Then google objectivity, and see for yourself whether any referee or judiciary rulings will ever be objective.

Geoff thinks Steve Matai and his banned of brothers (get it?) need to have a place in the NRL judiciary system.

It’s when you see quotations like this that you bemoan the time that you do spend sitting on the couch watching the telly as those big boys run at each other, belting each other quite spectacularly, scoring some miraculous tried and yelling at the referees like confused apes. Those nasty men in pink and the ones who review the tape, meanwhile, sit and plot to undermine everything done by the players and coaches.

I don’t think, unlike my mate Geoff, that coaches and players should have a place in the judiciary system. Everyone knows that players and coaches will try to cheat to gain advantage. If they get away with it, they call it good tactics. When they don’t, they cry like three year olds who don’t get ice cream and TV for dinner. The disingenuous behaviour that flaunts the spirit of fair competition between teams happens because players and coaches are biased, and want to win. The laws that have been implemented in Rugby League, including two referees, video refs, and judiciaries have been put there to combat illegal tactics dreamed up by Toovey and his predecessors.

So who really has the more ‘objective’ view of the game, its spirit and its laws?

Wrestling? Invented by players and coaches to undermine the other team’s progress, and many consider it to be against the spirit of the game. Play acting, telling the ref you scored when you didn’t, taking a dive; all these are inventions of players and tactics of coaches to gain unfair advantage over the opposition. These are against both the laws and the spirit of the laws.

Players are told to intentionally belt a player over the head so they won’t come back because of a concussion that may affect them for the rest of their lives. It’s against the law, yeah, but they do it anyway. This wasn’t invented by the NRL judiciary or the referees, and its their job to say ‘hang on a minute, that seems a little off to me. Let’s ban the player who did it.’ We don’t need players hanging around saying that it was a good hit, and that maybe it was a little high, so we’ll give him a warning. Some players and coaches don’t listen to warnings.

So when Geoff Toovey asks for players to have a say in the judiciary system that judges them and their actions, I say no. What will players and coaches who have shown themselves to be self interested and self serving coaches desire in a judiciary system? Probably a system that allows them to spend as little time off the field for the maximum amount of illegal damage inflicted on an opponent. Probably a system that doesn’t punish Steve Matai for being placed on report every second week for a swinging arm to the head.

I’ll probably stick with the neutral-ish arbiters currently tasked with handing out suitable punishments to players and coaches who misbehave. However subjective Toovey finds their rulings to be, I think it would be vastly preferable to the punishments (that will also inevitably be subjective) handed down by players to their colleagues.

And now to Toovey, and why he and his fellows clearly don’t get the nature of officiating and probably never will.

The structured world is still an uncertain place. Laws are put in place to indicate which behaviour is acceptable and which is not. For example, the offside rule is in place to ensure defenders don’t have an unfair advantage by being in the face of the ball carrier before he can take a step. Simple? Very.

What is not simple is the  decision to rule on an offside infringement. The referee can only have one perspective. He must make a call within the space of a couple of seconds. For this to happen he must make a decision of his own as to whether a player infringed, and by how much. The actions of the players, illegal or not, are contingent and very, very situational. No two situations are exactly alike, and the fact that the referee can only ever have one perspective, his own (even with the help of cameras and linesmen who also only have one perspective) makes it so that he will not make the inch perfect decision every time.

This makes his ruling, by definition, subjective. He cannot rule as an omiscient observer. It is beyond the limits of human capability. Just  as Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer sometimes made the wrong decision and had their pass go to the wrong player or to ground, referees sometimes do not view the world as the Lord (or Dean Ritchie or Paul Kent) does.

So please Geoff, when you say something is subjective have a look at Wikipedia first. What you said in that interview was subjective. The laws themselves are up for interpretation, so embrace the uncertainty and stop taking it out on the referees, the linesmen, your dead dog, the judiciary and the fans when you lose.

Cement.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair