THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #78 – Cricket And Tennis

Another week, another view. I was sort of hoping for a little more feedback from my last column, but I got what I got. I know, NFL playoffs sort of dominate sport in the US at this time of the year, so it’s my own stupid fault for positing something that long during the first week of playoffs. Having said that, I am planning on watching the Superbowl (I’ve missed only one in the past 15 years). But it was good to see an Australian make an impression in the NFL, with kicker Ben Graham (formerly of Geelong in the AFL) pulling off a balls-and-all tackle at the end of last year. Why don’t all your kickers do that? And why aren’t more Australians (who can do that – without helmets and padding) in the NFL? I know there’s a few (maybe 4?) but it’s just a question.

Third Test

Australia v Pakistan
Australia 8(dec)/519 & 5(dec)/219; Pakistan 301 & 206 – Australia won by 231 runs
            Well, that was comprehensive. After all the infighting in the Pakistani team since the loss in the second test, and after Pakistani captain Mohammad Yousuf blasted one of his batsmen after the first day over a run-out, it seems that not for the first time the Pakistani team are imploding. Such a shame as they clearly have the talented players. Australia dodged a bullet in the last test, this time they deserved the victory. They outplayed their opposition completely with both bat and ball and in the field. This is the Australian team that we have been waiting to see again for a long time; let’s hope they can keep it up for the rest of 2010.
Sheffield Shield
            Still no Shield matches while the Twenty20 Big Bash competition is going ahead.
Ford Ranger Cup
            Again, nothing while the Big Bash is in full swing.
Twenty20 Big Bash
And while this short season goes on it continues to pull the big crowds and the results have been nothing short of amazing. A fantastic effort by Cricket Australia to get this one right, and well done to the state teams for taking the concept seriously enough to engage the public in a meaningful way. Kudos all round!
South Australia v Tasmania
South Australia 131 (18 overs); Tasmania 9/108 – South Australia won by 23 runs
            Tasmania had this one. They bowled SA out but simply could not capitalise. Tait and O’Brien from SA were the killers with 3 very economical wickets each. Having said all that, it was an entertaining match.
New South Wales v Queensland
(reduced to 9 overs a side because of rain)
Queensland 4/110; New South Wales 7/56 – Queensland won by 54 runs
NSW were the pre-tournament equal favourites and they have looked anything but in their matches. And this capitulation in a mere 9 overs was embarrassing to watch.
Victoria v Tasmania
Tasmania 8/160; Victoria 1/161 (16.5 overs) – Victoria won by 9 wickets
            Tasmania scored well but Victoria treated them with near contempt. Hodge’s 90 from 56 balls set them up for a solid and comfortable victory.
Queensland v Western Australia
Queensland 7/203; Western Australia 5/166 – Queensland won by 37 runs
            A complete batting dominance by Queensland led by opener Simpson’s 76 from 38 balls was the tale of this one.
New South Wales v South Australia
South Australia 81 (14.4 overs); New South Wales 2/82 (8.4 overs) – New South Wales won by 8 wickets
South Australia’s first loss and it was a biggie! Not good timing with the South Aussies hosting the final of the Big Bash on Saturday. It may be just as well for them that they’re not facing NSW in that match!
Women’s National Cricket League Twenty20
Victoria v Australian Capital Territory
Victoria 8/117; Australian Capital Territory 4/118 (19.4 overs) – Australian Capital Territory won by 6 wickets
            Two balls remaining! Close, tight match.
Queensland v Western Australia
Western Australia 6/114; Queensland 7/115 (19.5/20 overs) – Queensland won by 3 wickets
            One ball remaining! The women are making this competition tighter and tighter with each passing week!
New South Wales v South Australia
South Australia 8/84; New South Wales 1/86 (9.5 overs – New South Wales won by 9 wickets
            It’s wonderful that the women are emulating the males in playing entertaining, hard-fought cricket. But maybe the South Australians have carried that emulation too far. A quick check shows that this match was the curtain-raiser to the men’s match, so it was the men who copied the women? What the…? Not a good weekend for the South Aussies in the Twenty20…
Women’s National Cricket League
New South Wales v South Australia
South Australia 45 (24 overs); New South Wales 2/48 (9.4 overs) – New South Wales won by 8 wickets
            (Checks scores carefully.) Holy crap! That’s not a score by South Australia. I don’t know what it is, but when other players are scoring that in 20 balls, and the whole team is dismissed for it, it’s not a score! Christ… that’s an embarrassment to the sport, not just the team and the state.
New South Wales v South Australia
New South Wales 9/229; South Australia 153 (48.4 overs) – New South Wales won by 76 runs
            Better on the second match, but still anything would be better after that first debacle.
Victoria v Australian Capital Territory
Australian Capital Territory 177 (49.5 overs); Victoria 9/178 (47.2 overs) – Victoria won by 1 wicket
            Thank God we got at least one close game in the women’s league this week. Why do some do so well in Twenty20 but extend it to 50 overs and the results get lopsided?
Victoria v Australian Capital Territory
Victoria 8/229; Australian Capital Territory 7/219 – Victoria won by 10 runs
            Yet another close women’s game with neither team really dominating the other.
            On a side note, having been keeping an eye on the women’s cricket for a while now, I have come to wonder why the ACT don’t have a men’s team in at least the Ford Ranger one-day Cup or the Twenty20 Big Bash, especially considering how well their female players are doing. If memory serves they used to have a one-day team (and I believe Merv Hughes was involved at some point in this team), so why not any more? I can find nothing about it on any of the usual sites, and even the unusual ones are strangely quiet about it. If any of the readers can shed some light on (a) why the original team fell through, and (b) why there has not been a replacement team in recent years, I would be most grateful.
Queensland v Western Australia
Queensland 213 (49 overs); Western Australia 7/214 (47.5 overs) – Western Australia won by 3 wickets
            Yet another tight and close women’s match. Actually, I should stop saying that as it seems many of Australia’s domestic cricket matches have been close, showing the depth of the sport in this country.
Queensland v Western Australia
Western Australia 9/268; Queensland 130 (36.1 overs) – Western Australia won by 138 runs
            And after I type that last bit, I watch this one unfold live online and see that I have been made a liar of. Again. Sigh!

A-League – Round Nineteen
            And the round that never ends has another match this week.
Gold Coast United 2 def Newcastle Jets 0
I have been quite slack as other rounds have been played while the never-ending saga of round 19 continues unabated. Here’s what I’ve missed:
Round 20
Adelaide United 1 drew with Wellington Phoenix 1
Central Coast Mariners 2 def by Brisbane Roar 3
Melbourne Victory 0 drew with Sydney 0
Newcastle Jets 3 def North Queensland 2
Gold Coast United 2 def Perth Glory 0
Round 21
Gold Coast United 5 slaughtered Brisbane Roar 1
Perth Glory 4 hammered Newcastle Jets 0
Sydney 1 def Adelaide United 0
North Queensland Fury def Melbourne Victory 0
Central Coast Mariners 0 def by Wellington Phoenix 2
Round 22
Wellington Phoenix 3 def Brisbane Roar 1
Central Coast Mariners 1 drew with North Queensland Fury 1
Gold Coast United 1 drew with Adelaide United 1
Perth Glory 0 drew with Sydney 0
Newcastle Jets 3 def Melbourne Victory 2
Round 23
Wellington Phoenix 3 def North Queensland Fury 0
Adelaide United 1 drew with Central Coast Mariners 1
Melbourne Victory 6 demolished Perth Glory 2
Brisbane Roar 0 def by Newcastle Jets 2
Sydney 0 def by Gold Coast United 1


NBL Round Sixteen
Adelaide 91 def Cairns 77
New Zealand 89 def by Melbourne 94
            After saying Melbourne were out of it they are now suddenly only two wins away from a finals berth. Close season? Well, there has not been one closer. Can any of the 8 teams still make it? Hell yeah! And that’s all we as sports fans want – a legitimate contest between desperate teams with everything to play for and everything to lose. Bring it on!
Gold Coast 104 def Adelaide 89
Perth 86 def Cairns 61
Melbourne 89 def Adelaide 87
            The rivalry here is nothing short of homicidal. (And if you have seen the crowds, you’ll know that may not be hyperbole.)
Wollongong 96 def Gold Coast 75
WNBL Round Fourteen
Bendigo 92 def Townsville 77
Perth 75 def by Adelaide 94
Bulleen 108 def Logan 58
Dandenong 65 def by Canberra 79
Sydney 101 def Logan 86
AIS 65 Townsville 109
            I swear, the other teams are now using the AIS as a public training run.

More tournaments with the Aus Open starting on Monday (our time) In fact, by the time this is posted around 20% of the first round matches would have been played. But I will NOT be covering every single match! Just the good bits. Deal with it. (Having said that, even as I type this I have just watched former world number one Maria Sharapova lose in the first round! Holy crap!)
Ladies Medibank International
Elena Dementieva def Serena Williams (1) : 6-3, 6-2
            Williams claimed injury as the deciding factor.
Heineken Open
John Isner def Arnaud Clement : 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(7-2)
            A lot of unforced errors by the American on his way to his first ATP victory, in New Zealand.
Mens Medibank International
Marcos Baghdatis def Richard Gasquet : 6-4, 7-6(7-2)
            I expect both of these men to figure rather prominently in the Aus Open.
Moorilla Hobart International
Alona Bondarenko def Shahar Peer : 6-2, 6-4
Kooyong Classic
Fernando Verdasco def Jo-Wilfried Tsonga : 7-5, 6-3
            While not a classic match, the way Verdasco went out to win shows he may have the staying power to make an impression in the Open.

Other Sport
Golf: PGA – 2010 SBS Championship
Geoff Ogilvy –22; Rory Sabbatini –21; Matt Kuchar –19
            And the first tournament of the year goes to Australian Ogilvy.
Cycling: Tour Down Under Classic
            Greg Henderson (NZ) winner
            This is the prelude to the Tour proper, run through the streets and surrounds of my home town. I went to watch a stage last year and expect to do so again this year. While not as gruelling as the Tour de France, the heat and variable wind conditions make it a challenging event. Like the French one, it makes road cycling seem exciting, so go for it. And with some of the stages open to the general public, it really has a different feel from any other huge international sporting event. And for the second year, Lance Armstrong is racing and garnering a lot of the attention, which is not a bad thing for the race from an international point of view. And, for the record, he did quite well in this street circuit, which really is not his sort of race.

That’s this view – January 11 through 17.

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