THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #82

A brief one as I have become caught up in the spectacle that is the Winter Olympics. Still, enough sport here for everyone.  

Winter Olympics
            As much as I would love to be writing here about the wonders of Australians at the Winter Olympics, you just know that a country where it’s 90% desert or drought and with our snow regions amounting to less than one Swiss Alp that’s just not going to happen.
            Of course, our media thinks we are wonderful. I mean, an Australian girl was 23rd and missed out on the finals in the moguls so we got to see her run more than fifty times. The leaders? Well, we saw them once, I guess.
            But the best thing is that because Australians are so lame at anything where the temperature is below that of fresh vomit (apart from beer – we are awesome when it comes to ice cold beer) we are actually getting to see the best in the world. Because focusing on our own athletes is just perpetually embarrassing.
            As I said on the InsidePulse Winter Olympics Roundtable, I love these fames. And the sheer insanity was brought home by the death of the young Georgian athlete in the luge warm up. The commentators bemoaned a lack of Australian men in the luge. I wonder if there is a correlation? No; it’s just that winter sports do not rate that highly here. I have watched street luge competitions in the Adelaide Hills and we certainly have the men capable of doing it. But why dedicate yourself to a sport where the best you’re going to get out of it is a chance to represent your country and be watched by maybe hundreds of your own country-men? Sure, there is the love of the sport thing as well, but you have to have something else if your chances of winning are somewhere between none and zero.
            But I’ll keep on watching because I love it, and that means I missed the opening round of the Super-14 rugby union and some cricket and the pre-season of the AFL. But it’s worth it.

Cricket
International
2nd One Day International

Australia v West Indies
West Indies 170 (39.4 overs); Australia 2/171 (26.3 overs) – Australia won by 8 wickets
            One of the lowest crowds ever for an international one day match saw one of the most insipid performances by a visiting team. It was disgraceful and embarrassing. That’s all I’m going to say. This series has degenerated into a farce of mammoth proportions and we’re only 2 games in…
3rd One Day International
Australia v West Indies
            Rained out for no result. End of a long, hot summer and it gets rained out. Try telling us there’s no climate change in the world!
4th One Day International
Australia v West Indies
Australia 7/324; West Indies 8/274
            Australia won this on the back of a superb century by captain Ricky Ponting. The West Indians were not disgraced in this match; they were simply out-played. And the Australians smelt blood and went in for the kill, but just could not get it finished. That says something for their grit and it makes us wonder why they did not show that sort of grit all through the series. They might have won something.
Rose Bowl [New Zealand in Australia] – 1st One Day International
Australia Women v New Zealand Women
Australia 241 (47.2 overs); New Zealand 126 (36.1 overs) – Australia won by 115 runs
            Completely dominant performance by the Australian women here, much like their male counterparts. New Zealand just had no answer to anything the Australians threw at them, although their bowlers did manage to dismiss the entire team. Still, let’s hope this picks up a little as the series progresses.
Rose Bowl [New Zealand in Australia] – 2nd One Day International
Australia Women v New Zealand Women
New Zealand 142 (37.3 overs); Australia 6/111 (29.5 overs) – Australia won by 4 wickets
            The Duckworth/Lewis system meant that the target for the Aussies was 110 runs from 32 overs because of persistent rain. Hot and wet was that day here in Adelaide. Notice how I’m talking about the weather and not the cricket? That’s because it was an ordinary game. And I dare say the humid conditions had a lot to do with that.
Rose Bowl [New Zealand in Australia] – 3rd One Day International
Australia Women v New Zealand Women
Australia 7/238; New Zealand 136 (41.1 overs) – Australia won by 102 runs
            And the dominance continues. Look, I’m not saying the Australian teams aren’t any good, because clearly they are. It’s just that the opposition this summer has been less than stellar. And that has made for too many one-sided games and too many results like this that are just plain embarrassing.
Sheffield Shield
Victoria v New South Wales
New South Wales 225 & 387; Victoria 418 & 4/200 – Victoria won by 6 wickets
            Somewhat surprising result here in a way; New South Wales had been earmarked by Cricket Australia as the place for test players to go when they aren’t playing tests, and so should have been in the box seat. However, with a few away on national duty in the one day side, maybe it was not going to go their way. Whatever it was, this was another brilliant game of domestic cricket where the winner was not a foregone conclusion and the scoring was high and fast. Entertaining for all four days, and that’s what has been sorely lacking at international level.
Western Australia v South Australia
Western Australia 284 & 189; South Australia 9(dec)/380 & 8/94 – South Australia won by 2 wickets
            They made hard work of it, but the South Australians eventually pulled out a hard fought win on the last day. This was yet another really good match, especially on the last day when the South Aussies should have romped home, but some tight bowling and fielding from the Wester Australians made their job that much more difficult. The winner was actually in doubt dor a fair chunk of that last day. All cricket should be this intense.
Ford Ranger Cup
Victoria v New South Wales
New South Wales 224 (49.3 overs); Victoria 5/216 (42.4 overs) – Victoria won by 5 wickets
            Duckworth/Lewis meant Victoria’s revised target was 213 runs from 44 overs. What does it day when the standard of domestic cricket matches far surpasses that of the international matches we are being force-fed? Cricket probably needs a wholesale overhaul. I don’t mean get rid of anything – keep the three forms of the game. But limit the amount being played, introduce rules that reward attacking cricket. Make playing days in longer forms of the game longer. Anything to make the game evolve in the new millennium.
Tasmania v Queensland
Tasmania 5/264; Queensland 245 (49.3 overs) – Tasmania won by 19 runs
            All my comments above regarding entertaining domestic matches just as easily apply to this game. Australian domestic cricket is healthy; international cricket at the moment not so much so. Four teams dominate – Australia, India, England and South Africa – with Sri Lanka occasionally putting up a good fight, but that’s it. How can the game expect to be taken seriously on the world stage if there are only 9 countries given ‘test match status’ and of those 4 are hopeless? (Okay, not fair, because the West Indies used to be an absolutely dominant force in world cricket and could well be again.) Still, at least we get good games here.

Australian Rules Football
The pre-season competition has begun, and this will give us an idea how the recruiting has worked for the teams. Not only players, but also members of the coaching staff will have huge impacts this year.
            I would also like to point out that I will be continuing to bring the SANFL scores this year. But the SANFL commission has had, in my opinion, a complete brain fart. They have virtually signed the death warrant of the Port Adelaide team in the SANFL. While the real Port Adelaide is now in the AFL, not having that presence in the SANFL will really relegate it to a second string competition. If it does come to pass that the SANFL loses its Port Adelaide, I will stop covering it here. But that’s next year. And we are, of course, assuming that I will still be doing this in 12 months…
AFL Pre Season Cup
            I won’t be using the official name for the competition because why should I give free publicity to a bank that rips people off? Oh, and after my little explanation of the AFL last week, I should say that in the pre-season competition there is one major change – goals scored from more than 50 metres out (55 yards) don’t get 6 points, they get 9 points and are called a super goal. This rule is just for the pre-season.
West Coast 1.16.12 (117) def Essendon 0.12.10 (82)
Port Adelaide 2.15.15 (123) def Adelaide 1.8.10 (67)
            This is something of an upset, especially the final margin.
Hawthorn 3.16.12 (135) def. Richmond 0.9.8 (62)
Western Bulldogs 1.5.14 (53) def. Brisbane 1.5.6 (45)
            The rest of round one will be completed next weekend.

Rugby Union
Super 14 Round 1
Blues (NZ) 20 def by Hurricanes (NZ) 34
Force (Aus) 15 def by Brumbies (Aus) 24
Cheetahs (SAf)34 def by Bulls (SAf) 51
Crusaders (NZ) 32 def Highlanders (NZ) 17
Reds (Aus) 28 def by Waratahs (Aus) 30
Lions (SAf) 13 def by Stormers (SAf) 26
Sharks (SAf) 18 def by Chiefs (NZ) 19

Soccer
A-League – Round 26
Central Coast Mariners 3 def Newcastle Jets 0
Round 27
Wellington Phoenix 3 def Central Coast Mariners 0
Newcastle Jets 1 def Adelaide United 2
            Adelaide won their last game of the year before heading off to the Asia Cup. Whoopee. More embarrassment for Australia on the world stage.
Perth Glory 2 def Brisbane Roar 0
North Queensland Fury 2 def Gold Coast United 1
Sydney 2 def Melbourne Victory 0
            And now the finals start. The top 6 teams will be going for it. Yes, 6 teams out of 10. More than half the teams make the playoffs. Don’t get me started.

Basketball
NBL Round Twenty
Townsville 102 def Adelaide 87
            And thus Adelaide have achieved the indignity of their first ever wooden sopoon.
New Zealand 109 def Gold Coast 94
Wollongong 94 def Melbourne 82
Cairns 79 def by New Zealand 84
Melbourne 73 def by Gold Coast 91
Adelaide 79 def by Wollongong 82
            Comprehensively on the bottom.
Perth 92 def Townsville 73
            And we have the pointy end of the season. And, unlike soccer, the top 4 will play off for the championship. That makes more sense.
WNBL Round Eighteen
AIS 84 def Perth 61
            What? Hang on! Yes! AIS won a game! Their only win for the season in the last game of the season! Yay!
Logan 82 def by Bendigo 86
Bulleen 88 def Canberra 78
Sydney72 def Perth 59
Dandenong 81 def by Adelaide 82
            But other results did not go their way and so Adelaide finished in sixth place.
Townsville 88 def Bendigo 58
            Again, finals start next week. The top 5 teams out of 10 are playing. (Taking note, soccer? Half the teams in the finals?)

That’s this view – Feb 8 through 15.

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