THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #71 – AFL Draft

It’s cricket time and the West Indies are playing in a test match against the Aussies! So what is this focused primarily on? That’s right – Football!

Cricket
International
West Indians Tour Of Australia
First Test – Australia v West Indies
            Australia 8(dec)/480; West Indies 228 & 187 – Australia won by an innings and 65 runs
            Australia enforced the follow on and the game was over within three days. And, predictably, the press has been full of calls for (a) the whole series to be scrapped as the Windies obviously aren’t worthy of pulling up Australia’s socks, (b) Chris Gayle, West Indian captain, to be fired, (c) an overview of Australia’s opponents, or (d) the scrapping of test cricket all together.
            Okay, it was not a brilliant performance from the Windies, especially their second innings (apart from Barath who scored his debut test century in the second innings of his debut test – well done to that young man!), but the cries from the media, past players and commentators has been maybe a little premature and possibly hysterical. For a start, and I’ve said this before, the Windies did not have a real warm-up schedule in Australia before that first test. Second, teams that are regrowing need this sort of international exposure to actually improve. Where would Australia be now if the disasters of the early and mid 1980s had resulted in Australia no longer allowed to play tests against better nations?
            The next test is here in Adelaide and I plan on going for at least one day of it, but I am not expecting a debacle. I think the Windies will rebound well. Will they win? I doubt it. Will it be entertaining and hard-fought? For sure.
Sheffield Shield
Tasmania v South Australia
            Tasmania 389 & 4/129; South Australia 363 – Match Drawn (Tas 2 pts)
            This was a tight game between these two teams fighting for respect this season. Unfortunately weather and light conditions conspired to make the result what it was, but there were some brilliant individual performances that still made watching the match worthwhile. Cowan’s magnificent 225 in the first innings for Tasmania earned him man of the match honours, while South Australia’s George managed to grab 8 wickets (for only 84 runs) in the first innings, then two more wickets in the second innings for 10 for the match.
            Definitely some players worth watching in coming years.
Victoria v Queensland
            Vic 378; Qld 195 & 133 – Victoria won by an innings and 50 runs
            Victoria won in less than three days in what was a completely dominant performance, not only firming them as the favourites for the Shield this year but also damaging, maybe irreparably, Queensland’s chances. It was a complete team performance by the Vics, and an embarrassment by the Queenslanders.
Western Australia v New South Wales
            WA 131 & 245; NSW 274 & 2/106 – NSW won by 8 wickets
            A bit of a bowlers’ match until that fourth innings. The thing about the Sheffield Shield this year is that there seems to be more results than past years. This may be a slightly skewed view from my perspective, but the games are certainly more entertaining. And this was no exception. Even though after Western Australia’s first innings it all seemed to be a foregone conclusion, they certainly did not give up and made a real game of it until the end.
Ford Ranger Cup
Western Australia v New South Wales
            WA 3/309; NSW 180 (38 overs) – Western Australia won by 129 runs
            A comprehensive win by the Sandgropers, which was not expected. Having said that, with what seems like most of the New South Wales team representing Australia, they always put forth the excuse that their teams in the domestic competition are second-string and so they should not be expected to win all the time. I shan’t dignify that with a response, but to say that Western Australia played very well, especially young Mitchell Marsh (son of former Australian opening batsman Geoff) who scored 60 runs not out off only 29 balls, while his brother Shaun scored 116. Talk about running in the genes!
Tasmania v South Australia
            Rain reduced this game to a 17 overs a side game.
            Tas 7/130; SA 3/131 (15.1 overs) – SA won by 7 wickets
            Another close game between these two teams. The difference was another individual performance, however, as young Cooper from South Australia blasted an unbeaten 78 runs from 43 balls. But that is to take nothing away from the teams. Two games played, two games fought hard for close wins in both cases. An entertaining week of cricket from Tasmania and South Australia!
Women’s National Cricket League Twenty20
Women’s National Cricket League
            With the Cricket Australia Womens Cup on involving the Second XI teams from the states (basically the reserves teams), there were no women’s matches this past week at the higher level.

Soccer
            I did not think too many people would actually care about my opinion of FIFA and international soccer. But I received 37 e-mails. 16 wanted to tear me a new arse-hole, 2 wanted to discuss things rationally, 19 agreed with me. That’s a pretty even split there.
            But to answer one accusation thrown at me – I may not have played soccer at international level, but if that was the criterion for writing at the Pulse, then how many would be able to write about WWE, NFL, NBA… the list goes on. This is my “View”, my opinion.
            That’s all.
A-League – Round Sixteen
Central Coast Mariners 0 drew with Perth Glory FC 0
            Yawn! Dull match, predictable result…
Melbourne Victory 4 hammered Gold Coast United 0
North Queensland Fury 2 def Adelaide United 1
            Another loss for Adelaide has soccer officials concerned. You see, Adelaide will be representing Australia in an upcoming Club championship, and their current form (sitting on the bottom of the table) indicates they will embarrass Australia as much as last year’s teams did. And when we are looking at attempting to maybe one day hopefully become something of a minor force in world soccer possibly, this is not the look we apparently want to give the rest of the soccer universe.
Sydney FC 1 def by Newcastle Jets 3
Brisbane Roar 4 def Wellington Phoenix 1
W-League – Round Nine
Central Coast Mariners 3 def Newcastle Jets 1
Melbourne Victory 1 def Canberra United 0
Perth Glory 2 def Brisbane Roar 1
Adelaide United 2 embarrassed by Sydney 6
            So neither Adelaide team could take a trick this weekend, obviously…

Basketball
NBL Round Ten
Wollongong 59 def by Adelaide 82
New Zealand 94 def Cairns 77
Townsville 100 def Adelaide 88
Perth 78 def by Gold Coast 82
            After this round, 6 of the 8 teams sit on 7 wins with Cairns on 6 (and Melbourne on 3). This season, for all the doom-sayers (and I was one of them, I admit it), is proving to be not only close but anyone’s year (except Melbourne). And well done for that happening, whether by accident or design, because it is the one sure way to get the fans to view your product – the unpredictability of winners and losers. No one team is dominating. This is a shot in the arm for the sport at the highest level in Australia.
WNBL Round Eight
AIS 42 def by Canberra 77
Adelaide 86 def Logan 65
Perth 58 def by Bendigo 61
            This leaves Perth with just one win so far for the year, with only winless AIS below them on the table. For a team that boasts so much talent. This must be a huge concern.
Bulleen 88 def Townsville 70
Dandenong 67 def Townsville 55
Canberra 66 def by Sydney 76

Rugby Union
International
            In their recent win over France, New Zealand are claiming a French player eye gouged one of theirs. While it is hard to see on the television replays, it is indicative of what is happening in world rugby – the northern hemisphere teams are slowly trying to destroy the game from within.
            In fact, this week the International Rugby Board head honcho Mike Miller told The Guardian newspaper that he felt rugby’s evolving laws are not to blame for the dullness of recent games, especially in the northern hemisphere. “I think there are more issues in England, based around the style of play and the number of matches,” he said. Yes, he blamed England.
            But, he went on to say, teams that still try to play attractive rugby – like New Zealand, Australia and ales – are being hamstrung by the kick and catch game that has now become so pervasive.
            Spectators at games and viewers of the televised product are dropping, and if it continues, sponsor support will also fall. Rugby Union needs to do something and do it fast or else they are going to end up just another minor sport in a world where other games are seen as more exciting and/or easier to follow.
Spring Tour
Wales v Australia
            Wales 12 hammered by Australia 33
            Wales did not score a single try in this loss, their biggest to Australia on more than a decade. It gave Australia a high point to finish their tour. So 2009 ended like this for Australia: six wins, a draw and seven losses (of these losses six were at the hands of South Africa and New Zealand). So an up-and-down season for the Wallabies, and they will need to find consistency if they are to improve on this in 2010.

Australian Rules Football
AFL
It’s the time of the year for the national draft, when the young, dumped and hopeful players throughout the land throw their hats into the ring in order to hopefully get picked up by one of the AFL teams. Some see this as a meat market and call for it to be scrapped, but I feel the way it has helped even out the competition makes any so-called moral arguments fall by the wayside. This has been called the last uncompromised draft for more than a decade because of the concessions that will be given to the new Gold Coast franchise starting next year (not due to begin playing in the AFL for a little while) and the new Western Sydney franchise starting whenever (maybe 2011). However, Gold Coast already had the pick of some of the best young players.
            There is another draft for rookies in a few weeks, and there is a pre-season draft early next year, so this is not the last of it. However, it is the most important draft as, especially with regards to the young players, fans can see where their clubs are looking two or three years down the track.
            Here are the lucky first forty picked up. Their new club and their original club are also indicated. It should be noted that Melbourne had picks one and two and selected their two (who were no surprise to anybody) in alphabetical order. They have said, however, that had they only received pick one, then the youngster they picked second would have been their priority pick.
            So here’s the list:
1. Tom Scully (from Dandenong Stingrays to Melbourne)
2. Jack Trengove (from Sturt to Melbourne)
            All the experts feel Melbourne really got lucky as they selected the best two available youngsters, both with strong futures.
3. Dustin Martin (from Bendigo Pioneers to Richmond)
4. Anthony Morabito (from Peel Thunder to Fremantle)
            Good move by Fremantle, picking a local lad who is more likely to stay with the club than some-one forced to move from Victoria all the way across the country.
5. Ben Cunnington (from Geelong Falcons to North Melbourne)
6. Gary Rohan (from Geelong Falcons to Sydney Swans)
7. Brad Sheppard (from Wesley College to the West Coast Eagles)
8. John Butcher (from Gippsland Power to Port Adelaide)
            Risky strategy by Port, selecting players from Victoria. It has not been a proven long-term strategy by either South Australian team.
9. Andrew Moore (from Eastern Ranges Port Adelaide)
            And again.
10. Jake Melksham (from Calder Cannons to Essendon)
11. Jordan Gysberts (from Eastern Ranges to Melbourne)
12. Kane Lucas (from East Fremantle to Carlton)
            Another risk, as Carlton selects a Western Australian youngster to travel across the country.
13. Daniel Talia (from Calder Cannons to the Adelaide Crows)
            Following Port’s lead here, selecting Victorian kids.
14. Lewis Jetta (from Swan Districts to the Sydney Swans)
            Another risk, as Sydney selects a Western Australian.
15. Christian Howard (from Sacred Heart College/Glenelg to the Western Bulldogs)
            Seen as something of a surprise, but his second half of the season could foreshadow good things to come. This is the dark horse of the draft.
16. Jasper McMillan-Pittard (from Geelong Falcons to Port Adelaide)
            Three picks, three Victorians.
17. Daniel Menzel (from Central Districts to Geelong)
18. Luke Tapscott (from North Adelaide to Melbourne)
            I’m surprised he went this late in the draft.
19. Benjamin Griffiths (from Eastern Ranges to Richmond)
20. Nathan Fyfe (from Aquinas College/Claremont to Fremantle)
            Smart work, as Fremantle selected another Western Australian.
21. Ryan Bastinac (from Dandenong Stingrays to North Melbourne)
22. Gerrick Weedon (from Claremont to West Coast Eagles)
            Eagles staying at home; good move.
23. Koby Stevens (from Gippsland Power to West Coast Eagles)
            And then back to Victoria.
24. Jake Carlisle (from Calder Cannons to Essendon)
25. Aaron Black (from Eaton Boomers/Peel Thunder to North Melbourne)
            Surprisingly late selection for this youngster.
26. Travis Colyer (from Claremont to Essendon)
27. Callum Bartlett (from Geelong Falcons to Brisbane Lions)
28. Mitchell Duncan (from East Perth to Geelong)
            While it may seem another long distance selection, from Western Australia to Victoria, Geelong being the reigning champs and a dominant team of the past few years means they will having little trouble convincing him to hang around.
29. Jack Gunston (from Sandringham Dragons to Adelaide)
            Another Victorian to South Australia.
30. Luke Ball (from St Kilda to Collingwood)
            Back in the 1990s some youngsters were fined heavily for influencing the draft by indicating which team they wanted to play for. Ball did the same thing and nothing. Why? Well, first, his preferred team was Collingwood – who got what they wanted – and the AFL will do nothing against Collingwood ever, no matter how many rules they break. Second, his asking price was half a million dollars a year, putting him out of the salary cap of all teams in the hunt for him except Port Adelaide. How do Collingwood fit him in? Good question; no answers. But with his injury history and the way he pouts, I’d say it was a waste of a pick for Collingwood.
31. Jason Tutt (from Ainslie to the Western Bulldogs)
32. Nicholas Winmar (from Claremont to St Kilda)
            He goes to where his uncle Nicky was such a star. Nice, and let’s hope he can do what his uncle did so well..
33. Anthony Long (from Calder Cannons to Essendon)
34. Max Gawn (from Sandringham Dragons to Melbourne)
35. David Astbury (from Tatyoon to Richmond)
36. Joel Houghton (from Perth to Fremantle)
            Freo stick with their local policy.
37. Jamie Macmillan (from Oakleigh Chargers to North Melbourne)
38. Sam Reid (from Murray Bushrangers to Sydney)
39. Sam Grimley (from Northern Knight to Hawthorn)
40. Allen Christensen (from Geelong Falcons to Geelong)

Auto Racing
V8 Supercars
            Next year all of those reading in the USA will get a chance to see what I am waffling on about when it comes to car racing – the Australian V8 supercar series has announced a television deal with FOX Sports to show their races the week after they occur on the SPEED Network.
            As much as I bag it at times, I still watch it because I am sucker for the powerful cars hurtling around at speeds completely insane. So this is great news for the sport in Australia, and will begin with the upcoming Sydney 500.

Other Sport
Surfing – Stephanie Gilmore has won her third world title in a row in Hawaii this past week. This makes her the youngest surfer ever to win three in a row, and the first surfer to win the world title in her first three years on the tour. An amazing effort!
Horse-racing – Following the deaths of 20 horses in the past 2 years, Victoria has banned jumps racing after 2010. This leaves South Australia as the only state to still have jumps racing (culminating in the Easter Carnival at Oakbank) and may be the death knell for the sport in Australia.

That’s this view – November 23 through 30.

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