Posts Tagged ‘Mitchell Johnson’

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…

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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.

The perpetual seesaw of sports opinion

As a sports fan, do you ever fancy yourself to predict exactly what the headlines from the columnists are going to be after a game of cricket, rugby or whatever your chosen sport is? I know I do, and I’m quite bored with being able to do that, to be honest.

I think the problem strings from making a holistic argument based an individual fixture. Of course some sports lend themselves to this sort of thing more than others. Cricket is the ultimate example of this unique genre, as a quick gaze at the scoresheet will tell you everything you ever needed to know about the fixture.

“Johnson took 2/57 and only scored 8 in a One-dayer? Well, that’s far below his average and is an unacceptable economy, therefore he must have performed poorly.”

Article done, 800 words written, $800 made.

Tennis is another sport that fits into the genre, and we have seen a great example of this play out recently. Until he started doing well in the Sydney International, as far as I was aware, Tomic wasn’t fit to tie Pat Rafter’s shoes. Funny, though, as soon as he wins his maiden ATP victory, how he instantly becomes a reformed twit, reforming his body and his mind to become the consummate professional. A week ago he was telling Pat Rafter to shove it, and a year ago he thought the po-po were jealous of him.

The police aren’t jealous of you Bernard, not even now you’ve won your first title.

But don’t tell sports opinion columnists that.

It’s not their fault, and I’m not saying they suck or the Australian sports journalistic landscape might as well resemble the start of my S bend or anything like that. What I am saying, nay asking, is why we have to have such knee jerk reactions to every single fixture?

If the Wallabies win a game against England, they’re back, baby! Just as good as they were in the glory days. But, God forbid, should they lose to Samoa, well, then they’re literally the worst thing that ever happened in the universe, ever. No, no, no, don’t tell me they’re not! They lost to Samoa. It’s there, right on the page.

It either speaks to a lack of perspective in our writers or, more likely, a lack of willingness to make an argument in spite of the most recent result (singular).

One loss doesn’t make the Wallabies a bad team.

Mitchell Johnson didn’t become out of form between Melbourne and Sydney, nor did he become in form between innings in Sydney.

Bernard Tomic didn’t stop being himself because he won a tournament. That’s not to say we should all swallow the story about Bernard being an arrogant prick (see: last year’s worth of Bernard Tomic stories) as that mightn’t be true either.

No, I think we should be able to make an argument that is not necessarily backed up by the last match’s statistics, but is backed up by the stats from the one before, and the one before, and the one before.

First serve statistics are important.

First serve statistics are important.

For those of you who are philosophically inclined, you might be aware that this kind of thing is called inductive reasoning. Too often we are caught out pretending deductive reasoning (making a conclusion that necessarily [in a philosophical sense of the word] follows from the premises) will fly in sports opinion articles.

A classic example of this: Steve Smith bowls legspin, like Shane Warne. Steve Smith is blonde, like Shane Warne. Steve Smith bats with aggression, and can score hundreds, like a good batsman. Steve Smith is a good fielder, like Michael Clarke. Therefore, Steve Smith is the perfect cricketer.

I think this example clearly illustrates the failure of deductive reasoning as it applies to sport.

Rather, we should go on results not just from yesterday, but from a whole bunch of days before yesterday, as well as yesterday; identify meaningful trends and correlations and then make our arguments from there.

And more that that, too. We should actually watch games and make an informed statement on them. Analyse them. How did this bowler bowl? Was he unlucky? Was Nadal a bit flat that day? Or was he on fire?

These things are much more informative that saying: “Well this guy got 3/41 so get him in the Test side!” That’s what got Trent Copeland in the Test team, and, unfortunately for Trent, I doubt he’s coming back anytime soon.

Sport, for me, is more about emotion, flow and feel than it will ever be about statistics, even in the statistical giants Tennis and Cricket.

Tell me about the flow, about the feeling, about how a guy looked to be bowing, not just how many batsmen he got out, but also how he troubled them, how many he worried, how many he hurt. Tell me if Roger Federer looked vulnerable in what seemed like an easy three setter. And for peat’s sake can we stop thinking the world tilts on its axis every time a player has a good or bad game.

Finally, almost worthy of a blog in and of itself, can people stop calling Pat Cummins “Cummings.” It’s unbecoming (get it?) and so, so wrong.

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

The Big Winter of Cricket (and the Autumn Tour)

My first Winter of Cricket is upon us.

While I thought it would be hard to psyche up about the flinging of red leather as the snow falls around me, I’ve found the lead-up to these mouthwatering Tests has more than satiated my appetite for information and banter alike.

The obviously deliberate leaks of the Aussies ‘Dossier’ on how to get Saffas out added momentary fuel to the fire, though I must have been sleeping through the furore because I woke up this morning and there’s no counter comment, no mud slinging, not even some name calling or intrigue-accusing. I feel like I’m going to have to take it upon myself to start some rumours or something. Unless the news cycle just passed me by (I did wake up later than usual today).

As for sledging Hashim Amla and bouncing Jacques Kallis… well. They seem like sound plans, seeing as Kallis probably still has the scar from when Mitchell Johnson almost knocked his block off in 2009. That still has to be one of the best spells of fast bowling I’ve ever watched.

Too much claret at lunch, Jacques?


Amla is a run machine, sure, but maybe some well-timed comments about the lack of a Castle Lager sticker on his shirt (did I write that out loud?) will flap the unflappable. Not that that was what the dossier was suggesting with all its delicate language. It was a positively marvellous piece of literature, skirting around F and C bombs, dancingly suggesting they ‘really test’ Kallis or ‘engage him (Amla) in psychological warfare.’ The euphemistic nature of this document must be impressed upon naive readers, and surely a translation should be put out.

Something to the tune of: “Try to kill Kallis by bowling as fast as you can at exposed areas of his cranium” and “Break Amla down mentally until he is mushy pulp in your hands, bending to your will, giving you his wicket how and when you choose, but only after you have publicly humiliated him in front of thousands by making him duck and weave well-directed bouncers (though not as well-directed as the ones you shall deliver to Jacques) and have him replicating a frustrated trout fisherman in his attempts to nick your unplayable outswingers.”

Sounds like a good plan to me.

But I still think it’s all a big ploy, like the infamous Buchanan-gate of 2000.

Despite all the cricket reading, nothing can get you quite as fired up as banter between the boys (and girls) about the cricket. The girls weren’t particularly up for the cricket chat on Tuesday night, but the boys certainly propped up the team.

A night of brewing is often dominated by manly discussion. That night we bottled our german-style altbier and talked cricket. Mostly backyard cricket actually, but a bit of the upcoming Winter of Cricket was pored over and rigourously debated. Took me back to the place where the seasons make sense and Boxing day is spent horizontal watching people throw balls at each other. How I’ll miss that first morning of laziness, listening to either Jim Maxwell or Slats (depending, of course, on whether you are working or not) describing the action.

But to the bit you’ve all probably been waiting for; the cricket.

I really don’t know what to predict with this one, but I do think that one of the Tests, most likely Adelaide, is going to be a run fest. I think that will be a draw and the quality quick bowling will yield results in the other two tests. I think the Aussies, even sans Shane Watson, our best player by a bit, have the quality to take a game of these guys if they play out of their skin.

So I’ll predict a 1-1 drawn series. I was tempted to go 2-0 to the Saffas because of the quality of their batting and the fact that we have two unproven bowlers no matter which line-up we choose, but I have faith in Pattinson to crack some skulls and get the job done, possibly even outshining two of his three more fancied South African rivals.

I am backing Dale Steyn to knock over plenty of Aussies early, unfortunately. I think Dave Warner may be the the Daryll Cullinan to Steyn’s Shane Warne, though that might be taking it a few steps to far.

Should the Aussies play four quicks at the Gabba? Definitely. And at Perth too. I think the more we can use these guys and expose them to Tests the better off we will be. Mitchell Starc belies his slightly too full length with good lines and decent movement, which should make him a weapon at the Gabba and Perth. James Pattinson is be the best fast bowler in Australia right now, and should be until he retires.

In Adelaide I would go with Lyon, but I think picking a spinner for the sake of consistency alone would be a mistake.

If our batsmen do the business we should have no problem taking 20 wickets and winning one game.

There’s also a rugby tour on.

After a brief hiatus, the festival or sport resumes.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair