The View From Down Here #28

I notice some places in the USA are experiencing blizzards… I’ll take it. We’ve had here in good ol’ Adelaide the following weather this past week: Mon 36.6C (97.9F); Tues 43.2C (109.8F); Wed 45.7C (114.3F); Thurs 43.4C (110.1F); Fri 43.1C (109.6F); Sat 41.1C (106F); Sun 40.7C (105.3F)… You can have it. So what else has there been to do except watch sport on TV? Oh, yeah, and train for an upcoming show… in 40C+degree (104F+degree) heat. If it wasn’t compulsory… well, I’d probably still do it…
            Here’s all the sport that matters…

Basketball
For a change the news about basketball is actually focusing on the sport, with the make up of the finals series yet to be decided, and with only a couple of weeks to go. What a pity the actual games have, in general, not been too good. I went to watch a local u/18s match and was more entertained than by the so-called ‘big league’. Shame. It seems to be popular with kids, and yet it cannot catch a break.
NBL – Round 20
Sydney 78 lost to Perth 88
New Zealand 94 lost to South Dragons 101
Wollongong 104 def by Melbourne 113
Adelaide 107 def Perth 92
Gold Coast 139 beat Sydney 119
Townsville 123 comfortably beat Cairns 92
WNBL – Round 16
AIS 53 def by Logan 72
Bendigo 73 def Sydney 67
Adelaide 70 def Dandenong 67
Canberra 76 def Logan 53
Perth 38 absolutely annihilated by Dandenong 110
            Really? That was the real score? (Quick check of the official website…) Crap. That’s harsh. Okay, it was humid… but Perth were at home!
Sydney 69 lost to Bulleen 76
Canberra 99 def AIS 72

Soccer
Asian Cup
In this qualifier, it seemed both teams were determined to put on the most boring game of soccer imaginable. They came close.
Indonesia 0 drew with Australia 0
A-League
With there being a week off before the finals series starts, Sydney has fired its coach, and it seems every team has been forced to fire half their players. This is because Soccer Australia has this rather pathetic rule that next season’s list needs to be completed before the end of the current season. So players have to play finals knowing they won’t be there next year, coaches have to try and care in order to get a better job somewhere else. Following the diminishing crowds, many teams losing money, the whole league losing money, this is another bad sign for what had started so promisingly at the beginning of the season. And now this. How to make their sport even more of a joke in the public’s eyes…

Cricket
International Cricket
South Africa are now the number one one-day team in the world… at least until Australia beats New Zealand. So the Aussies say. They needed to win the last match – a dead rubber – against South Africa – who were resting their two main strike bowlers – to retain number one spot.
            And couldn’t.
            I’ve waxed lyrical enough here about what is wrong with Australian cricket. Now they have a young team which has to learn the international scene. My worry is with this current lack of success, Cricket Australia will panic and dump and change and dump and change until no-one knows what is going on, and the team is even more unsettled.
            I hope I’m wrong.
Fourth One-Day International
Australia 222 (all out in 48 overs); South Africa 2/223 (in the 32 nd over) – South Africa won by 8 wickets.
            And thus South Africa take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series. They deserved it. They outplayed and out-thought the Aussies. It was not a good match, by the way; the Australians’ effort so-called effort saw to that. Look, I am being harsh here, I know. I mean, they are representing their country, something I never did (my state, sure, but my country? no… and not even in cricket…) and that is challenge enough. But they really did look like they could not have cared less out there. Batting and fielding. Shame…
Fifth One-Day International
South Africa 6/288; Australia 249 (all out in 49 overs) – South Africa won by 39 runs.
And with this win South Africa take over the mantle of the number one team in the world in one-day cricket. And they deserve it. Well done. They played great, attacking cricket with flair and humility. Good on ‘em. Australia, I can only hope, will learn from not only this experience, but also the way South Africa won and how valiant they were in victory.
First One-Day International
(Different opponent)
Australia 181 (all out in the 49 th over); New Zealand 8/185 – New Zealand won by 2 wickets.
            Did either side want to win this? At the start of the game, it certainly did not seem like it. The Kiwis are not ranked particularly highly, but you would have thought Australia would have raised them to their level, not both of them trying to make state level cricket look like the highest level in the country. We did learn one thing from this match, though – Australia’s new wicket keeper (Haddin) appears to be a cheat. He broke the stumps with his glove, then claimed the ball did it, the umpire believed him, and a Kiwi batsman was given out. Sure, we could give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was an honest mistake, but if Gilchrist was still the ‘keeper he would have realised something may have been amiss and asked for video adjudication. Haddin just claimed the wicket. Another thing wrong with the Australians…
            The match ended up being quite the gripping one despite the comedy of errors being played by both teams, coming down to the very last over, the very last ball! New Zealand had equalled Australia’s score, any scoring shot would win it, and Vettori scored a four off the last ball to get a well-deserved victory. And the Kiwis go 1-0 up in the series…
            Good ending… mediocre match.
Women’s First One Day International
Yes, I found the results! I really wish this would be advertised better. I remember a few years ago now going down to one of the St Peters College ovals to watch an international women’s match. Not at Adelaide Oval, no, but at an oval of a prestigious private school. Even Cricket Australia treats the women shabbily…
Australia 8/150; New Zealand 8/151 (in the 49 th over) – New Zealand won by two wickets
Domestic Cricket
Sheffield Shield

Back to the Shield…
Queensland 247 & 179; Western Australia 236 & 4/193 – WA won by 6 wickets (WA- 6 pts, Qld – 2 pts)
All over in three days as well…

Tennis
Australian Open
Sigh. We all had such high hopes for this. But what did we get? Federer v Nadal in the men and a Williams sister (really? she’s a girl? sure?) in the women.
            Now, I’m about to put my foot in it here, but I think if the women want to get paid equal money for a grand slam, then they have to do equal work. At satellite tournaments on the world tour, men and women both play best of 3 sets. Fine, if the competition thinks it is warranted give them equal money. But Grand Slams?
            It sounds fair, but it’s not. In the first round of the Oz Open (which has equal prize money), the men played an average of 3.6 sets compared to the women’s average of 2.3. This is almost 1.6 times the amount of play. Men’s sets had an average of 9.6 games, the women 9.3. Small difference, but still a difference. I would also go for times, but the Oz Open website is missing quite a few.
            Then there are fan and viewing figures. The men have asked to have an equal number of early night matches, pushing women at times to the early hours of the morning. Just to be fair (and the reason of equal prize money was given.) and even things out. Oz Open officials are in the process of rejecting this request. Why? Because they know that as soon as the men’s match is finished a lot of fans will leave the arenas, and television audiences who are watching (also lower) will see half-empty stands. Women’s tennis does not get the same audience.
            So why is there equality in pay when there is not equality in work or drawing power? Because the misguided officials are afraid of the feminazis saying they are being sexist, when what they want is reverse discrimination. I believe in equality, but all things must be equal, and in a game like tennis there is no reason why it can’t be. Women get the same chances to be coached by the best as men. They get the same sort of equipment deals and specially designed equipment. All things are equal. Except the amount of work women do on the court.
            Oh, and on a slightly different note… Australian tennis at elite level sucks. I have seen more good kids give the game away because of a lack of opportunity than in any other sport except gymnastics and swimming (both of which have the ‘money talks’ mentality of taking on potential so-called champion athletes).
            Australia cannot ride on its past glories any longer. Something must be done in all sports to address a fundamental issue – the administrators have too much say and take too much money while coaches and athletes suffer.
            Thank-you.
            Mixed Doubles
Sania Mirza / Mahesh Bhupathi (India) def Nathalie Dechy (France) / Andy Ram (Israel)
            6-3, 6-1
            Women’s Doubles
Serena Williams / Venus Williams (USA) def Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) / Ai Sugiyama (Japan)
            6-3, 6-3
            Men’s Doubles
Bob Bryan / Mike Bryan (USA) def Mahesh Bhupathi (India) / Mark Knowles (Bahamas)
            2-6, 7-5, 6-0
            Women’s Singles
Serena Williams (USA) def Dinara Safina (Russia)
            6-0, 6-3
Yawn! Next…
            Men’s Singles
Rafael Nadal def Roger Federer
            7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2
An AWESOME 5-set encounter, first going one way, then the next, played in humidity in front of a red-hot crowd who just wanted to see good tennis, 4 hours and 23 minutes worth. Wow. And I mean that, too. Wow. Is this becoming the greatest rivalry in tennis? I think the matches are more intense than Borg-McEnroe (my personal favourite rivalry), and I actually like both these players. I think last year and now this first grand slam has shown that these two are going to rule tennis for a while to come yet, and with quality matches like this, we the public will be able to say in future years, “I saw them!”

Closing Paragraph
Well, I think I’ve said more than enough…
            However, I would like to point out that I am looking forward to watching the SuperBowl on Monday (our time) and seeing an Australian finally make it to the big one. Darren Bennett opened the way for Australians to become punters, and now there are four regulars in the NFL, and one of them is going to a SuperBowl.
            And the ones over there are not even the biggest kicks around. And to make it even better, these are punters who know how to tackle, how to run and how to take it. NFL talent scouts could not do much better than coming down here to recruit. And you want a few offensive or defensive linemen? Check out the rugby (league or union, don’t matter) players. A couple of Samoans, a Tongan, an angry Kiwi, a sour old Brit and a few over-enthusiastic Australians and you’d have the line to beat them all…
            And they would do it without padding.
            You’d have to supply the quarterback, though.

And on that note, I shall leave you to enjoy the view…

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