The View From Down Here #41

Another week, another round of scores. A short one with mainly scores and only a little commentary as my own training and life have taken precedence at the moment. But I promise to be back and abusive as ever as soon as possible.
            And for Graham of Rochester (wherever the hell that is), an answer to an email question: What is Australia’s ‘national sport’? That’s an interesting question. Officially, we don’t apparently have one, although Surf Life Saving and swimming are both cited. Those in the south and west of the nation will tell you it is Australian Rules, while many will say it’s cricket and a lot of women claim it is netball.
            If we look at participation numbers, cricket in all its forms (outdoor, long form, short form, electric light, indoor, women’s, men’s, school) is the most participated sport in the country, with netball coming in second. And then it gets tricky, but it does appear that swimming or soccer come in third, and lawn bowls is up there as well. If we take into account spectators – both live and television audiences – then Australian Rules football and cricket vie for the number one spot. If we look at how well we do on the international stage, then swimming takes the top spot, especially considering Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships, world records, etc.
            So, in summation, there is no real answer to your question. Australians like to think of themselves as a sporting nation, despite the fact less than half of all adults actually participate in anything even closely resembling sport. Good question, sorry there’s no answer! (PS the stats here were taken from the last available complete data I could find, which was from 2005)

International Cricket
Apart from this, the only cricket of any note concerning Australia is the Indian premier League being played in South Africa where many players are pushing for national selection whilst not actually on the official tour. I reckon that’s a brilliant idea from all of them, and should only make Australian cricket stronger. Mind you, it will do the same for the other nations of the world also…
Third One Day International
Australia 7/198; Pakistan 171 (47.1 overs) – Australia won by 27 runs
A game for the bowlers, with Michael Clarke the only member of either team to score a half century. But it was not the most exciting game, downright dull in parts. And here we all were thinking that the advent of Twenty20 cricket would liven up the other forms of the game!
Fourth One Day International
Pakistan 197 (48.4 overs); Australia 2/200 (44.2 overs) – Australia won by 8 wickets
Pakistan’s apparent inability to last the full fifty overs most of the time is proving costly for the team. Too many of their players throw their wicket away. Having said that, in this case it was due in no small part to Australia’s bowlers actually applying good pressure. And credit must go to the field placements and rotations of stand-in captain Michael Clarke.
Fifth One Day International
Australia 4/250; Pakistan 3/254 (47 overs) – Pakistan won by 7 wickets
And despite the win, Pakistan went down 2-3 to Australia overall. But this game was a very good one, with Australia’s Shane Watson and Pakistan’s Kamran Akmal both scoring an unbeaten 116 in their respective innings, and both being the main shining light for their respective teams with the bat.
            In general, this was a good, solid series win for Australia, though there was nothing really spectacular from either side.

Australian Rules Football
Look, this is getting monotonous. But at least it’s not restricted to the big leagues. This week it was revealed that a lower level club has decided that the Ku Klux Klan is a good image, while another feeder club for the AFL in Melbourne had a serious brawl (Ben Cousins, alleged reformed druggie was involved) at a match. Australian Rules Football – it’s in fine shape at the moment, isn’t it?
            On a slightly different note, Hawthorn president (and former premier of Victoria) Jeff Kennett has opted to pay a fine after his outburst against umpiring instead of attending ‘retraining’. And I think that’s good. The umpires are over-protected, and the fact that they are having worse and worse games is a detriment to the game as a whole. But the blame cannot be placed solely on the umpires – the AFL rules committee keeps changing everything every year so everyone is confused. It is hard to get umpires, I am aware of that, but some of them at the highest levels seem to think they are as big as the game itself. The umpiring at the Brisbane / Essendon game was very good; the men in white were hardly noticed. The umpiring at some of the SANFL games was abysmal. So I am glad some-one in power has the balls to stand up and say what everyone else is thinking. And I think now we should leave the rules alone for a few years!
AFL Round Six
North Melbourne 11.9 (75) lost badly to Collingwood 19.13 (127)
Collingwood are having a real up and down season. Against teams like North Melbourne who are going not well, they play magnificently; against better teams they go to sleep. North Melbourne, though, are struggling.
Hawthorn 16.10 (106) just over Carlton 15.12 (102)
The last kick before the final siren win for the Hawks. Close game, good game, and both these teams should be there in the finals race come September.
West Coast 9.10 (74) lost to Fremantle 13.9 (87)
The ‘Western Derby’ did not go the way everyone expected, giving Fremantle their second win of the season and leaving West Coast with a lot of questions hanging over their heads. But West Coast did lost it with their horrible inaccuracy in front of goal.
Brisbane 17.9 (111) def Essendon 9.14 (68)
A strong win for the young Brisbane team. Eventually everything is going to click all the time and they are going to be an impressive unit.
Port Adelaide 15.15 (105) def Adelaide 12.7 (79)
The South Australian ‘Showdown’ was a good game, but Adelaide’s trumpeting at the start of the year about themselves has proven strangely hollow. There was an interesting note in the crowd, however, when after Adelaide coach Neil Craig lamented the booing of Nathan Bock the previous week (he’s the ‘alleged’ girl-beater who thinks women are mere punching bags), the Port fans came up with a slightly offensive but clever sign. This was promptly taken away by the crowd controllers, whereas other signs abusing the Power were left standing. Interesting the double standards. Oh, the game? Not a brilliant game skill-wise, but damn was it intense as both teams really threw themselves at it.
Sydney 14.10 (94) def Richmond 11.9 (75)
Game went according to script, but Richmond’s fight did show that they are getting better, slowly but surely.
Melbourne 10.8 (68) def by Geelong 15.21 (111)
Geelong did not get out second gear all match and still handily dealt with a determined and fighting Melbourne. At least Melbourne looked like they were giving it a real go this week, whereas Geelong looked as though they were having an extended training run.
Western Bulldogs 11.10 (76) def by St. Kilda 14.20 (104)
That does it, St Kilda are the real deal this year. Their inexperience will harm them come September, but next year they will be a genuine threat.
SANFL Round Six
Norwood 17.6 (108) just def by Central Districts 16.13 (109)
One of the best games I’ve seen. Centrals tried hard to lose it with their poor kicking in front of goal, but it was a strong showing from both teams.
North Adelaide 14.9 (93) lost to Woodville-West Torrens 15.11 (101)
The Eagles did what they had to to win, and North did not help their own cause.
South Adelaide 11.9 (75) lost to Glenelg 14.7 (101)
The Panthers lost again, even though they had more than enough chances to win. Glenelg played well enough to show they will be there again in September. But can they make the big one again? Their form this weekend does not say they will.
Port Adelaide 10.8 (68) lost to Sturt 17.8 (110)
And the Magpies remain winless for the season.
Bye: West Adelaide

Motor Sport
V-8 Supercars – Winton
Two races, one on Saturday, one on Sunday, with qualifying in between. A somewhat hectic weekend, and the abbreviated qualifying did not really seem to affect the races that much.
Race 5:
1st Craig Lowndes (Ford)
2nd Jamie Whincup (Ford)
3rd Steven Richards (Ford)
4th Rick Kelly (Holden)
5th Cameron McConville (Holden)
Race 6:
1st Craig Lowndes (Ford)
            Yes, again. Two in a row on the weekend for Lowndes.
2nd Mark Winterbottom (Ford)
3rd Garth Tander (Holden)
4th Paul Dumbrell (Holden)
5th Will Davison (Holden)
            This also saw Whincup’s worst result for the season so far – 13th. But that’s just a minor hiccup.
            Next race is in Tasmania in 3 weeks.

Round Five
Fever 67 only just def Swifts 66
Holy cow! What a game! A thrilling finish for one of the best games I’ve watched in ages. If you can catch a replay, especially of the last quarter and extra time periods, do so. Damn, this game is so much faster and more intense than basketball!
Pulse 60 lost to Mystics 61
And another one! The two extra time periods were edge of the seat stuff. You know, there is a reason why netball is so popular in this country…

Vixens 50 def Thunderbirds 42
Melbourne really are looking to be the team to beat this year, and a strong win over Adelaide here just consolidates that.
Magic 50 def Tactix 48
And another close game; another good game! Four games this round, and not a dud amongst them! It is so good for Channel One HD to be showing us this so tragics like me can plant ourselves and watch… just a shame that some of the football matches this past weekend were not worth watching…

Bye: Firebirds and Steel

Rugby Union
Super 14 – Round 12
Hurricanes 45 def handily Blues 27
Lions 20 def by Crusaders 32
Cheetahs 10 def by Waratahs 18
Reds 13 hammered by Brumbies 52
Sharks 23 def Highlanders 15
Bulls 32 just over Force 29
Stormers 14 def by Chiefs 28

Rugby League
Round Eight
Manly 8 killed by Melbourne 22
            And Melbourne some modicum of revenge for their grand final loss last year. And Manly really are a one-man team, aren’t they? They just can’t seem to win without the woman-beater in their team. Good.
Parramatta 28 def North Queensland 18
Gold Coast 22 def South Sydney 14
            I’ve given up trying to work out Souths at the moment. One week they play some great rugby, the next they struggle in the field.
Cronulla 12 def by Sydney Roosters 19
Newcastle 28 def Brisbane 12
Canberra 10 lost to Penrith 18
St George Illawarra 12 just over Warriors 11
Bulldogs 22 just over Wests Tigers 20
            The Bulldogs proved that last week where they relied on Marshall was not all they had in their arsenal. With Marshall out ill, the team still stepped up to win on the back of the kicking of Hazem El Masri. This was a tight, good game and really worth catching the replay. And unless I missed something, it’s also the first time the Bulldogs have been behind at half time this year, and they still managed to pull out the win. They are looking the team to beat this early in the season.

And that’s the view…

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