The View From Down here #30

Australia is really going through the ringer at the moment. The bushfires which have laid waste to a huge chunk of Victoria and claimed more lives than any other natural disaster in Australian recorded history are bad enough – and, believe me, they are well and truly terrible beyond mere words – but in Queensland there is flooding on an unprecedented scale, and the incredibly hot weather in South Australia has resulted in ever-worsening drought conditions.
            In Queensland, it is estimated that the total affected by flooding of some sort this year so far is greater than the area of South Australia (my home state). That’s about 8 Louisianas, 1 and a half Texases or almost 2 Californias. Under water. To give a comparison, the bushfires have burnt an area roughly the same as the state of Delaware.
            The fires have been huge on an unprecedented scale in Australia. The talk is that they dwarfed the California bushfires, but it is hard to tell because there were so many fronts. And it appears at least a few were started by human hands. The devastation has been total; in some cases entire towns have been wiped off the map. The death toll could reach in excess of three hundred people as they finally get into these isolated communities and examine the farm houses that have been laid flat. Tales of courage and hope are many; tales of loss and tragedy are more. Stories have filtered into the foreign press about rescued koalas and miraculous survivals, but the death is greater to all of us here. That so many could perish seems incomprehensible.
            It is almost Biblical in scale.
            However, that does not mean that morons like Pastor Nalliah are correct. He has claimed that the bushfires happened because of Victoria’s liberal abortion laws. Much like the preacher-person in the USA who claimed that September 11 happened because of gays. So the USA is not the only country that creates and breeds bigoted, hateful, crass, disgusting individuals who use the guise of religion to hide their inherent evil.
            Let’s not dwell on him.
            Shout out to Mark: I hope that your family comes back from this tragedy, mate. At least you all made it out alive. And to those who did lose loved ones in this tragedy – there is nothing I can say to make it better. But know that all of Australia is behind you. And with over $90 million raised by the Red Cross already, we have put our money, quite literally, where our mouths are.
            And to those who have emailed me from overseas – it is as bad as your news reports are saying. Maybe worse.
            Thanks also for your thoughts.
            And at times like this, being able to lose ourselves in sport is a wonderful thing…

Quarterfinals next week. Will we see another season of NBL? Will this be the final finals series? In my opinion, that is yet to be seen…
NBL – Round 22
Melbourne 103 def Townsville 87
New Zealand 103 def Cairns 69
Wollongong 102 def Adelaide 95
            Wollongong’s last ever home game. And they went out with a bang. And there goes the last semblance of tradition in our basketball…
Perth 100 def Melbourne 86
Sydney 97 lost to New Zealand 107
Cairns 80 just lost to South Dragons 82
Gold Coast 114 def Wollongong 104
WNBL – Round 18
            One more round, then the women enter their finals campaign as well.
Sydney 74 def by Bendigo 84
Canberra 118 hammered Perth 80
Dandenong 50 lost to Bendigo 60
Adelaide 77 def Bulleen 64
Townsville 73 def Canberra 60

Second leg of the semi-finals.

Major Semi-Final
Melbourne Victory FC 4 def Adelaide United FC 0
            FOUR-ZIP!! In a FINAL! What the…? No wonder Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar blasted his team and the politics of his sport after the match. He has since apologised, but he shouldn’t have. It was deserved. (On that, his contract was extended the next day.)
Minor Semi-Final
Queensland Roar 2 def Central Coast 1
            Central Coast are out, and yet go on to the Asian Club Championship later on this year. Gotta love Australian soccer and it’s self-deluded rules…
World Cup Qualifier
Japan 0 drew with Australia 0
Another boring farce of a game, but the result favours both teams, really.

International Cricket
This summer has shown some serious cracks in the Australian make-up.
            So here’s what I’d do:
            Find a young team, and settle on them. Even if they lose for a while, let them settle. Have a series of fast bowlers so they can be rotated and not burn out, and also have them covered in case of injury. Dump Ponting as captain, but keep him in as batsman, fielder, elder statesman. Don’t let Clarke be captain until he grows up. They have decided to use Haddin as captain for a match, but considering now has a cloud over him, that is not a good idea. So put Mike Hussey in as captain, even if just in the interim. Put up with losses created by lack of foresight in the past few years. Use Twenty-20 matches to blood new players, use the one-day team to give new players a longer chance. Put them in the test team as soon as older players fail consistently. Do not let emotion rule over common sense; loyalty is one thing, but letting a player fail for ten tests in a row is quite another. If they get dropped, state cricket is still there for them to find their form – not the national stage. And, finally, force the selectors to look outside New South Wales for more than the standard one player from SA, WA, Tas. There are plenty of good players outside NSW. Really.
            But it won’t happen. Nothing will happen, nothing will change. Shame.
Fourth One-Day International
New Zealand 8/244; Australia 4/247 (49 th over) – Australia won by six wickets
            The Chappell-Hadlee trophy series now stands at 2-all. A damn fine match, really.
Fifth One-Day International
Australia 4/168 (22 overs); New Zealand 6/123 (14 overs) – no contest
            The rain beat them. Again. Queensland’s notorious weather at this time of the year has once more robbed cricket of a result. But they won’t learn because Queensland demands its matches be held when it is pouring with rain. So because they already held the trophy, Australia maintains the Chappell-Hadlee in the event of the tie. Bad luck, New Zealand – you deserved it more.
Twenty-20 Match
Australia 7/150; New Zealand 5/149 – Australia won by 1 run!
            Wow! What a match! What a match! It was amazing, coming down to the wire, and NZ losing by the smallest margin! Just brilliant… and without Ponting or Clarke. Haddin did okay as captain, but it did seem as though Bracken did all the hard work. And New Zealand were not disgraced. The catch of the century (so far) went to Voges who caught it, started to fall out of bounds (which would have made it six runs) so threw it in the air, then stumbled out, regained his footing, ran back onto the field of play, slipped, and then caught it again. And, yes, that was out! Just… brilliant!
Women’s International Cricket
Fifth One-Day International

Not a ball was bowled before the match was abandoned, meaning this was also a 2-2 result. Curse the weather down in this part of the world at the moment!
Twenty-20 Match
New Zealand 5/91 (14 overs); Australia 1/83 (12 overs) – Australia won by 9 wickets
Due to rain, the match was reduced to a 14-14 match (I guess). But the Duckworth-Lewis system of complicating cricket beyond all reasonable thought saw Australia having to score 95 off their 14 overs to win the match. And then it rained again. So now Australia had to get 82 off 12 overs. And, I think, had to do the Agadoo dance between each ball while New Zealand sang arias from Sex Pistols songs. Doesn’t make sense? Well, it makes about as much sense as the DL system.
Domestic Cricket
Sheffield Shield

South Australia 6 dec./489 & 7 dec./143; Queensland 8 dec./300 & 313 – SA won by 19 runs (points – SA 6)
Another really good shield match. Queensland were set 333 to win in the last day and a bit after declaring early. Two sporting declarations which made for a good game. This match shows that the depth is there in Australian cricket, but as neither of these teams were called ‘New South Wales’, it did not probably even register at Cricket Australia headquarters.
One-Day Series
Queensland 9/230; Victoria 95 (36.3 overs) – Queensland won by 135 runs
            OUCH! That score-line has got to hurt…
New South Wales 7/245; Victoria 6/246 (49.3 overs) – Victoria won by 4 wickets
            And an amazing form reversal for Victoria, winning with 3 balls to spare.
Tasmania 8/254; Western Australia 7/255 (49.5 overs) – Western Australia won by 3 wickets
            1 ball remaining! Holy cow! Now there’s a tight match.

Australian Rules Football
Pre-Season Cup (NAB Cup)
Round 1 (continued)

Essendon 1.8.13 (70) def Western Bulldogs 1.8.12 (69)
            Scores tied… and with a few seconds to go a point kicked to give the Bombers the win. Scrappy game, but it is only pre-season.
Brisbane 1.8.8 (65) def St Kilda 0.8.8 (56)
            One supergoal the difference, that was all.
Fremantle 5.5.11 (86) lost to Richmond 1.12.8 (89)
            Fremantle’s inaccuracy in front of goal cost them.

Rugby Union
Super 14 – Round 1
Bulls 33 def Reds 20
Stormers 15 lost to Sharks 20
Hurricanes 22 lost to Waratahs 26
Lions 34 def Cheetahs 28
Crusaders 19 def Chiefs 13
Highlanders 31 just lost to Brumbies 33
Force 19 lost to Blues 25

Australian Women’s Open
It’s only fair – I covered the men, so now the women…
1 . Laura Davies (England) –7
2 . Tania Elosegui (Spain) –6
3 . Melissa Reid (England) –5
    He Yong Choi (Korea) –5
    Chang-Hee Lee (Korea) –5
6 . Katherine Hull (Australia) –2
    Karrie Webb (Australia) –2
The women had the disadvantage of not having a lunatic from America to make the game at least vaguely interesting. They had two 12 year olds compete though… Nah, the looney was more fun to watch as he exploded slowly on the course. If the women want to attract corporate sponsorship, put John Daly in drag and let him loose for a few games. That’ll do it.

That’s about it. After the fires it’s been good to have something to relax with. If you can donate, please look up the Red Cross. And keep the victims in mind.
            Thanks y’all.
            And that’s the view…

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