The View From Down Here # 29

What? That time already? Okay, I’m onto it. By the way, before we start, had another great day this past week – 43.9 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit). Where’s England’s cold snap when we need it, eh? That’s what I want to know…
            Okay, sport results:

Basketball
Where to start? Two Townsville players were arrested over a brawl outside a nightclub. More big-noting Australian sports-people doing stupid things and thinking they can get away with it because there is a perception they can move a round thing better than some other people. Morons.
            Next: the Wollongong Hawks (which, by the way, is the only team to have played in an unaltered form in every one of the 31 seasons of the NBL) have decided to call it quits because they cannot afford what is demanded of them in the restructured NBL. Tradition has thus died. By my reckoning, this would mean approximately 4 teams will be in the new NBL…
            An on-court brawl resulted in one player being fined. For wrestling.
            I’m not going to go an again about this sport… But… (oh, you knew there was going to be a but, didn’t you?) The media pack that follows basketball in this country is lamentable. In Adelaide we have some-one whose name I won’t print because he is allegedly litigious, who writes like he’s ‘one of da hood’, puts down every facet of the game not South Australian and actually doesn’t tell us a real lot. In the Melbourne paper I read, their scribe is as dry as a dead dingo’s armpit. And as boring as a cucumber sandwich. Maybe that’s something the new NBL could do to ensure there is more support – get media people put in place who write for people who read, not teenagers who live on facebook, MySpace, Guitar Hero and McDonald’s Big Macs…
NBL – Round 21
South Dragons 97 def Adelaide 77
Sydney Spirit 81 lost to Cairns 89
Townsville 101 def South Dragons 98
Wollongong 103 def New Zealand 98
Adelaide 102 def New Zealand 91
            And a nice way to send out retiring captain Brett Maher. This was his final regular season home game after more than 500 games for the Adelaide 36ers. In this day and age of the corporatisation of sport, it is very rare to find a one-club career player, let alone one as consistently successful as Mr Maher. And after all he’s been through, this was a fine way for the Adelaide crowd to say, “Good-bye,” unless by some miracle they make it through to the finals series. But it is a good thing to have such a positive in the NBL.
Perth 106 def Sydney Spirit 88
Cairns 88 lost to Gold Coast 93
South Dragons 93 def v Melbourne 83
WNBL – Round 17
AIS 79 def Dandenong 74
Logan 75 def Adelaide 70
Perth 72 hammered by Bulleen 105
Sydney 70 def Dandenong 60
Townsville 93 def Adelaide 55
Bendigo 86 def AIS 55

Soccer
A-League
First week of the finals, with legs and minors and majors… Well, let’s just look at the results, shall we?
Major Semi-Final
Adelaide 0 lost to Melbourne 2
            Melbourne have really had Adelaide’s number this season, and this was no different. At home, in front of a huge crowd, Adelaide simply could not get the job done. This makes Melbourne the favourites to win the whole thing.
            But this match showed yet another reason why soccer continues to mystify many – after the match the Melbourne fans started gloating and goading the Adelaide fans, fights broke out, missiles and flares were thrown, bottles were thrown, fires were lit, and police had to be called in. Yet again moronic soccer fans deplete an already stretched (thank-you, lack of government funding) police force because they do not know how to act like civilised human beings. The Goodies did a classic bit about soccer hooliganism where only one fan was allowed to watch each match in order to curb violence. A suggestion was made a few years ago to have no fans and make soccer purely televised. And while fans act like this and do it across the world so often, why not try it? If they don’t like it, then maybe they will start to act like a part of modern society, and not like the semi-evolved simians they so often resemble.
Minor Semi-Final
Central Coast 0 lost to Queensland 2
            And the other Queensland steps up… What? You’re asking. Well, this season, I am convinced there are two Queensland sides. There’s the one that wins by large margins and plays attacking football. And then there is the dour, boring side that only knows how to defend. Which team turns up on which day, however, is anybody’s guess, but if it was the attacking one all the time, then the other teams would have to follow suit, and the whole league would become interesting to watch, and Australia soccer might actually start to get somewhere in the world as other teams struggle to contain aggressive tackling… No, that last would never happens, not while FIFA encourages cheating by the teams, by allowing and actually rewarding the act of diving and faking and exaggerating for free kicks. That is one of the two main reasons why soccer is not going to ever really take off in the USA as a huge proposition. The other is that fact that you can play a game for 2 hours and have no score…

Cricket
International Cricket
Before we look at the results, remember Australia are ranked number 2 in the world in one-dayers, having only just lost the mantle of number one to South Africa. New Zealand are ranked number 5. Got that? Number 2 by a country mile versus number 5, only just ahead of numbers 6 and 7.
            In response to some people, I am not taking delight in Australia’s woes in cricket at the moment. But if they were losing and putting up more of a fight, I would be happier. The latest edition of Inside Sport magazine (Australia’s premier sporting magazine, with some of the best articles written on sport in this country) has an article about why captain Ricky Ponting is not liked by Australians. They put forward a lot of good details and come to a few conclusions, but here’s why I don’t like him as captain: he does not take responsibility for his mistakes, he comes across as a whinger, he does not accept constructive criticism (and does not ignore vindictive rantings against him), and he does not seem to care about losing.
            But the big news in Australian cricket this week was not the team losing, it was the fact that it appears there was an altercation in the change-room after Australia beat South Africa in one of the tests. Vice-captain Michael Clarke wanted the celebratory song to be sung early (reports say he demanded it be sung early) so he could spend time with his model girlfriend. Another player, Simon Katich, grabbed him by the throat, and they had to be separated by team-mates.
            Two things come out of this: One, and this is what irks most past players, it did not stay in-house. There have been rumours of other similar arguments, disagreements, whatever, but this one ended up in the public eye. Two, Clarke is being geared to be the next captain, and yet he puts a date first. As much as I rant against Ponting, he puts what he sees as Australian cricket first. Clarke is not showing that dedication.
            And finally, I would like to commend Paul Reiffel. The former Australian cricketer (handy bowler and good lower order batsman) has become an umpire, and he officiated in the second ODI. I think more retired cricketers should follow his example and get into umpiring. They know what goes on on the field better than most and can be more accepting of heat of the moment behaviours. Bravo, Mr Reiffel; may more follow in your footsteps.
Second One-Day International
Australia 5/225; New Zealand 4/226 – New Zealand won by six wickets
            New Zealand now lead the Chappell-Hadlee trophy series 2-0. Ponting was rested, Tait was injured. Australia dropped catches, fielded anaemically. Haddin was booed by the crowd when he came out to bat. What else? New Zealand deserved to win; they played better.
Third One-Day International
Australia 9/301; New Zealand 269 (47th over) – Australia won by 32 runs
            This was a much better match from both teams. Better batting, better fielding, good bowling, and more determination to win from both sides. This is all we ask for as spectators – two teams trying their hardest and playing like they mean it. Special mention must be made of McCullum from NZ who batted virtually one-handed with a wounded shoulder. And while Australia may have won, New Zealand were not disgraced. The next match is going to be interesting…
Other International Cricket
For fun, let’s look at how Australia’s arch-nemesis in cricket is going at the moment…
1st Test: West Indies v England (Kingston)
England 318 & 51; West Indies 392 – West Indies won by an innings and 23 runs
            Hmmm, 51 runs in the second innings… WTF?! Flintoff got 24, Strauss 9, Sidebottom 6, extras 6 (yes, extras were equal third highest run scorer), Bell 4, Pietersen and Collingwood 1, everyone else 0. Yikes! This means the Ashes series later this year is going to be between two teams who… well, let’s just say it is looking like being a war of attrition…
            I just hope it’s entertaining…
Women’s International Cricket
Second One-Day International

New Zealand 7/218; Australia 9/214 – New Zealand won by 4 runs
Third One-Day International
Australia 8/258; New Zealand 154 (39.5 overs) – Australia won by 104 runs
            What a form reversal! The Australian women really upped the ante in this one…
Fourth One-Day International
Australia 4/307; New Zealand 263 (48 overs); Australia won by 44 runs
            The series is now tied at 2 apiece, with the fifth and final match to decide the winner.
Domestic Cricket
Sheffield Shield

New South Wales 4 dec./521 & 5 dec./157; Tasmania 328 & 236 – New South Wales won by 114 runs (NSW – 6 points)
Victoria 400 & 6 dec./262; South Australia 9 dec/348 & 289 – Victoria won by 25 runs (Vic – 6 points)
            Nasty match, in a way. The bowling was vicious with a South Australian taken to hospital with a cracked skull. But it was a damn entertaining match and I enjoyed watching it. Even if SA were just edged out in a thrilling ending.
One-Day Series
Queensland 4/287; Western Australia 226 (47.4 overs) – Queensland won by 61 runs
South Australia 200 (46.5 overs); 4/204 (37.3 overs) – Victoria won by 6 wickets
Tasmania 8/197; Victoria 9/189 – Tasmania won by 14 runs
            This result was calculated using the Lewis/Duckworth system of advanced mathematics due to bad weather.
Western Australia 148 (40 overs); South Australia 2/150 (36.4 overs) – South Australia won by 8 wickets
International Cricket Late News
Australia have dropped down to third in the international ODI rankings, with India overtaking them (and closing in on South Africa), and New Zealand are now fourth; results of this series against Australia will dictate if they come up to third!
Allan Border Medal
This is the award given out to recognise the best Australian cricketers of the previous year, and since its inception in 2000, it has been a fair barometer. However, this year there were many critics stating there should not have been a winner because Australia played so poorly.
            I disagree. There still had to be some-one who stood out. And this year, for the first time, there were joint winners, as there is no count-back in the major award (there is in the other awards), we had two winners.
            But what was the news out of the night? Michael Clarke and his model partner Lara Bingle apparently getting it on, to quote, “like a pair of love-struck teenagers.” Our future captain acting like a child.
Allan Border Medallist
2009: Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke
Test Player of the Year
2009: Michael Clarke
One Day International Players of the Year
2009: Nathan Bracken
Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year
2009: Phillip Hughes
            And he should be opening for Australia. Now.
State Player of the Year
2009: Michael Klinger
Women’s International Cricketer of the Year
2009: Shelley Nitschke

Track And Field
            Steve Hooker, Olympic gold medallist, has set the second highest ever indoor pole vault leap, just missing out on Sergey Bubka’s 1993 record of 6.15m. He cleared 6.06m.
            The fact that this is an achievement of monumental proportions is why it is mentioned here. The fact that the media in this country passed it off with maybe a paragraph (as I am doing here) is a travesty.
            To many – myself included – his win in Beijing was a surprise. But it clearly was not a fluke. The guy is the real deal, and deserves more accolades than he is currently getting in his own home country. Instead we have to put up with hero-worshipping of over-hyped cricketers, drunken loutish footballers, overpaid soccer players and under-achieving tennis players.
            Congratulations, Steve Hooker. Long may you reign o’er the sport.

Tennis
A quick word.
            Abuse me all you want, but I stand by my comments that Grand Slam tennis is discriminatory against men, and the men are too gutless to say anything (since Pat Cash did and was abused by EVERYONE). However, Australian female sports commentator Rebecca Wilson agreed with me in an article she wrote for Australia’s News Limited newspapers.
            Thanks, Rebecca.
            To everyone else who whined: meh.

Australian Rules Football
Some news out of AFL-land. Over at Carlton, one of their players decked another during an internal trial game, then kicked him while he was down. I’m not going to comment on it (except it looked nasty), but this is probably not the start Carlton wanted to the season…
Pre-Season competition – NAB Cup
            Quick note of explanation – in the pre-season competition a goal is worth 6 points and a behind worth 1, but there is also a supergoal – scored from more than 50 metres out – which is worth 9 points. This does not happen in the regular season…
Round 1
Collingwood 1.15.17 (116) def. West Coast 3.3.9 (54)

Professional Wrestling
RCW ReAnimated IV 7/2/2009
            First show of the year, and not a bad way to start the year off, if I must say so myself.
Opening Match: G.D. Grimm vs TJ Rush
            A rematch for the number one contender tournament. Last time it was a time limit draw, and this time they come out knowing there has to be a winner. And a great way to start the show. They hit each other hard and hit some awesome moves, with a very even match-up before Grimm pulls out the win with a cutthroat. Great way to open the night and the year.
Match 2: Brad Smyth vs Plasma
            Fresh from the heel turn last show, Fuzion’s little Igor takes in a debutant, another masked wrestler. And for his first outing he did surprisingly well, hitting some good offence and taking Smyth’s attacks well. Smyth won only after Fuzion interfered and handed him the ‘knucks’, enabling a knock-out blow on Plasma.
            After the match Del Taurino and Marvel, two other masked wrestlers, came and abused Plasma back to the dressing room. Nothing more was said about it, but it seems something is brewing. Nice foreshadowing being done there…
Match 3: Jacko Lantern vs Matt Silva
            Two Victorians, both making their RCW debuts here, but both are well known across the border. And it was an interesting comparison. It seemed a little like a spotfest (although an entertaining one) and was not as stiff in places as we have become used to in RCW. The audience did not know either guy, making it hard to get into the match, but they won the crowd over and entertained.
Match 4: Luke Santamaria & VooDoo vs Del Taurino & Marvel
            Good to see RCW finally doing tag matches! This was well done, with the masked ones playing their roles nicely, and using psychology in going after Luke’s leg. But Luke then went and hit moves with that same damaged leg before collapsing in pain (maybe he’s watched too much Shawn Michaels…). That was the only down-side for what was an entertaining match-up. However, the ending came too late; there were two points beforehand where the match could have ended without seeming to drag. In the end VooDoo got the pin on Marvel after a Canadian destroyer.
Match 5: Miami vs Savannah Summers
            Two friends, two faces, going at it. Miami continues to impress as she goes along, fighting well, using her size advantage (height-wise) to great effect. Her handstand rana was a thing of beauty as well. Savannah’s experience won out in the end as she pinned Miami after a sit-out choke bomb.
Match 6: Fuzion vs Mimic ©
            This is for the title after Fuzion won last show’s gauntlet match. And it was a hard-hitting, strong match. Brad Smyth as Igor helped Master Fuzion a lot of the time, but really it came down to Fuzion and Mimic. And there was too much action for me to do it justice here. The end came when Fuzion got the ‘knucks’ from Smyth but hit Smyth and Mimic hit the Sega Mega Driver for the pin. Fuzion and Smyth then laid into Mimic afterwards, but TJ Rush came out to make the save. Fuzion demanded a rematch, TJ said he and Fuzion had unfinished business, and then it was decided next month it’ll be Mimic and Rush vs Fuzion and Smyth, and if Fuzion’s team wins he gets the rematch.
            This was a good show top to bottom with no dud or dull matches. Match of the night was either Mimic v Fuzion or Grimm v Rush, but I’d probably go for the opener because it was a good, clean match. A great way to start 2009!

PS Considering the way they’ve treated RCW – don’t buy rings (or anything) from High Spots…

That’s the view from down here!

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