THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #122 – We didn’t get the World Cup issue.

Australia didn’t get to host the World Cup Soccer. Apparently this is the end of the world. But it’s only soccer. I’m surprised the competing nations didn’t all get given a nil-all draw, and then be forced to shoot at a goal protected by a skinny man with gloves until some one finally managed to score enough to win the event. Oh, they did. But the goals were measured in dollars and the skinny man with gloves was just the intermediary between FIFA and everyone else.
            I’m not actually bitter. While it’s a blow for the tourist money and means many of our nation’s stadia won’t get upgraded, I think having the McDonalds of world sports here and giving them everything they want despite the fact that (judging by audiences) 80% of Australians don’t even care about the sport is just ludicrous.
            Of course, that’s just me and the soccer lovers (a nasty habit which can be broken by aversion therapy) will say having the WC is the best thing ever, letting me know via nasty emails and responses… although their comments will lack grammar, proper syntax, punctuation and anything even approaching decent spelling, making them as hard to understand as Glen Beck’s logic. Oh, I do continue this rant further down, if you want more vitriol.
            Now: The view!

Cricket
Australia v England – 2nd Ashes Test
Australia 1st innings 245; England 1st innings 5(dec)/620; Australia 2nd innings 304
            England won by an innings and 71 runs.
News
Ten Thoughts on the Second Ashes Test:
1) The new Adelaide Oval grandstand looks so underwhelming on TV. All the charm and character of the Adelaide Oval of the past has been replaced by a generic small-ish stadium. And apparently this is “progress”.
2) 3 wickets for 2 runs! Australia were 3 for 2!? What in the holy hell was that shit? They dropped Mitchell, how about some goddammed batsmen while they were at it?
3) England should have gloated so much more in that first innings of Australia. They should have laughed at them and made them feel like they were pathetic. Because Australia deserved it. Hussey (93), Watson (51) and Haddin (56) scored some runs. Ponting got a duck. Clarke got 2. The 8 extras were the fifth highest score of the total! Gloat, England! You’ve earned it!
4) Early English wicket on day 2… then they decide to bat for a while… Australia better be ready for a lo-o-o-ong day. Dropped catches, missed run-outs… an even longer day.
5) Day 3 was stopped short due to a sudden thunderstorm with pelting rain. (Don’t I know it! Frantic dash outside to rescue the washing…) England were 4/551, with Pieterson 212 not out. You’d have to say England’s day again, and the rain may be the only thing saving Australia’s bacon at the moment.
6) Early on Day 4 and England declare at the mammoth total of 5/620. Australia will have to rely on the weather and dour batting to save this one.
7) Australia looked to be saved by the rain again after tea, but the skies cleared and then Australia lost a vital wicket in the last over, with Clarke gone for 80-odd, leaving Australia 4/238 at the end of the day with one day left and only rain there to save Australia.
8) Surely Ponting’s position must be up for review. Another double failure with the bat and, really, his captaincy is not inspiring. And North as well… and he was being touted as captain material not that long ago.
9) And doesn’t day 5 with Australia defending the meagre total start well for the Aussies with wickets falling regularly (Harris got a king pair… that’s two golden ducks… that’s no runs at all, dismissed on the first ball…). Australia clearly wants to beat the rain as much as the English! Hey, Australia, trying IS an option!!
10) England won and they thoroughly deserved it. Australia were outplayed, outcaptained and outclassed across the board.

Soccer
A-League Round 16 (cont)
Sydney 3 def Wellington Phoenix 1
Gold Coast United 1 def by North Queensland Fury 2
            1714 people bothered to turn up. So the so-called passionate supporters who so desperately wanted the World Cup in Australia couldn’t even go out and support the local league. “But it’s the World Cup!” they cry. And, sure, if Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Germany, England, etc play, the crowds will be there. But think about the final pool game between, say, Nicaragua and Nigeria, where neither team has won yet and won’t make it through to the next round… how many supporters are going to bother to turn up? Really? You say you would? Liar.
            And. Let’s be serious, you think FIFA didn’t look at this, only two days before the vote was taken, and take it into account? “They say the Australian people will support the World Cup, but they can’t even support the A-League!” Yes, sure, there’s corruption – there always is at this level of sport – but Australia got only ONE vote. That’s not corruption at work. That’s the rest of the world telling Australia that if you want a sport, you have to take it seriously. Crowds are down, TV ratings are down, interest is down, Soccer is the number 3 or 4 rated football code in the country.
            But, the apologists cry, 200,000 Australians play soccer! Yes, including children and juniors and indoor comps. And why? Because it’s seen as safe. But it’s not even the most popular sport (and no, it isn’t; the stats used are not comprehensive – soccer lovers use all forms of soccer in their stats, but ignore all forms for others) in Australia – cricket and netball vie for that honour. More kids ‘do’ swimming, even though they may not compete, than soccer. Counting kindergym (under-5’s gymnastics), more people do a gymsport than soccer as well. Of course, soccer apologists will say I am lying. They always do. Neglecting to mention they lie and that I have some decent stats on my side.
            The World Cup, they claim, is the biggest sporting event in the world. And yes, it is the biggest single sport event in the world. But the Olympics and Asian Games are both larger. Soccer claims the preliminary matches count towards its size; so why don’t Olympic preliminaries count?
            It’s soccer. They aren’t going to listen to criticisms. Their McDonalds sport is like a cancer on the world and they don’t care. It has led to wars, inherent corruption, cheating (ask Ireland about that one) and ridiculous amounts of crowd violence across the world. They think none of that matters. Why should the rest of us care?
A-League Round 17
Brisbane Roar 3 def Perth Glory 2
Melbourne Victory 3 drew with Brisbane Roar 3
Central Coast Mariners 4 hammered Sydney 0
North Queensland Fury 0 def by Newcastle Jets 2
Gold Coast United 3 easily def Melbourne Heart 0
Wellington Phoenix 2 def Adelaide United 1
W-League Round 5
Melbourne Victory o hammered by Brisbane Roar 4
Canberra United 4 hammered Adelaide United 0
Perth Glory 1 def Newcastle Jets  o

Basketball
NBL – Round 8
Gold Coast 85 def Sydney 68
Adelaide 92 def Townsville 79
Cairns 80 def Wollongong 62
Melbourne 82 def Gold Coast 78
Perth 90 def Townsville 64
Sydney 80 def by New Zealand 94
WNBL – Round 9
Townsville 61 def AIS 46
Bulleen 87 def Dandenong 75
West Coast 65 def by Canberra 92
Sydney 59 def Townsville 57
Bendigo 70 def by Bulleen 83
Logan 80 def AIS 45
Adelaide 66 def by Canberra  97

Motorsport
V-8 Supercars
Sydney 500
Race 25
1st Jonathon Webb (Falcon FG)
2nd Jason Bright (Commodore VE2)
3rd Rick Kelly (Commodore VE2)
            Only one of the five drivers – James Courtney – fighting out for the championship even finished the race! And there are complaints that his car, which was badly damaged, was actually not roadworthy enough to be allowed out of the pits after it was very quickly repaired. This is really going down to the wire…
Race 26
1st Lee Holdsworth (Commodore VE2)
2nd Steve Richards (Falcon FG)
3rd Shane van Gisbergen (Falcon FG)
Final Standings:
1st James Courtney
2nd Jamie Whincup
3rd Mark Winterbottom
4th Craig Lowndes
5th Garth Tander

Baseball
ABL
Brisbane 8 def Perth 1
Adelaide 1 def by Canberra 3
Adelaide 6 def by Canberra 11
Melbourne 1 def by Sydney 3
Brisbane 2 def by Perth 7
Adelaide 1 def by Canberra 6
Brisbane 3 def Perth 1
Brisbane 2 def by Perth 3
Melbourne 1 def by Sydney 2
Melbourne 1 drew with Sydney 1 (curfew closed game)

Australia!
Cricket
After last week, here’s my top 10 favourite non-Australian International cricketers. Again, this comes from a little over 30 years of watching cricket, and these are my favourites, not necessarily the best.
=(10) Richard Hadlee (New Zealand). I didn’t see much of him, really, and I think I probably missed out here.
= (10) Clive Lloyd (West Indies). Ditto for this master batsman.
(9) Chris Cairns (New Zealand). First New Zealander to make me care about them.
(8) John Davison (Canada). Yes, a Canadian. And, no, he didn’t play tests.
(7) Malcolm Marshall (West Indies). Deadliest fast bowler ever.
(6) Larry Gomes (West Indies). Steady, reliable batsman.
(5) Kepler Wessels (South Africa). Okay, I know he also played for Australia, but I think he really came into his own with the South African team after all the years of world exclusion.
(4) Daniel Vettori (New Zealand). Efficient bowler and a damn fine captain.
(3) Ian Botham (England). Would have been the best all-rounder, were it not for…
(2) Imran Khan (Pakistan). Best all-rounder.
(1) Sachin Tendulkar (India). Greatest batsman I ever saw. Full stop.
            Agree? Disagree? Want to rip me a new one? Remember, these are my favourites, not necessarily the best. Feel free to leave a comment.

And that’s the View through to December 6, 2010.

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