Happy New Year to all,
What a way to kick off the week of the first Group One race for the year with the Australian professional sporting landscape being thrown into turmoil! A pleasant Tuesday evening of pontificating with The Sage and general schadenfreude abounding at the plight of the Bombers made way yesterday to fears for the sanctity and integrity of all of our major sporting codes. I suspect the cycling fraternity will be schadenfreuding everywhere now! Then the summer has thrown up so many more conversation points.
But first onto the drugs! After the hubbub in the last couple of months on the illicit drugs issue, my point of view was “So what?”. Why does the AFL have to fix a society problem, if illicit drugs are not on the banned substance list for WADA why should the sporting body care. The clubs should be able to deal with any issues that arise as a result as would any employer. But being illicit, gaining access to these substances will involve contact with individuals involved in the nether regions of society. That provides the nether dwellers access to players along with leverage on them to be involved in other nefarious activities – such as match fixing! My tune has changed.
Then there are the performance enhancers. The overriding concern I have based on the “revelations” so far. They have revealed nothing. I would have thought get a fish on the end of the hook and then proclaim the work done and send the shudders through the competitions. The great result is that there is now a common will to do something about this across all codes. This is great for professional sport, but there is a missing piece.
Access to some of these substances on the banned list is still across the counter. At the amateur and semi-professional level there is no testing and no budget to test – that being the case the more unscrupulous of players at this level can freely pump themselves up on their cocktail of choice. The scarier extension to this is at the elite junior levels where kids are competing for the attention of professional clubs. I would suggest that any “solution” that is put in place for the top level competitions is extended to the rank and file competitions. Obviously budgeting for such efforts will be difficult. Target testing at the lower levels would seem unfair but likely to return “bang for the buck”, also not every test needs to be a “test”. Just the threat of peeing into a jar would be a deterrent for many. Importantly when decisions are made on this critical the leaders need to consider the entire code and not just the elite level.
An Informed Observer’s Offering?
All summer we have been debating the “informed rotating player management policy”. My pre-yuletide rant covered this. Up front the giggle games can rotate all they like, the games are meaningless and do provide an opportunity for us all to see other players. Unfortunately there are some of them we would not choose to see, but those views are by nature subjective. However for the test team, surely we want to watch the best team available for the conditions that are to be presented. Which should mean the bowling attack for India should be different to that for England. Obviously more spinners for India, however the Indian tracks are a graveyard for the fast bowlers. With Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson be the two most potent bowlers, in my opinion, and either carrying or returning from injury. Why bother taking them to the sub-continent, I would prefer to keep them fresh and fit for The Ashes. Given the riches of fast bowling talent we have surely the workhorses such as Siddle, Johnson and Bird should be good and competitive in India.
On another note – the more meaningless the game is, the more open it will be to the match-fixers. Something that applies across all codes.
Then there is Watto! Yes he has now made some runs, but when the squad was picked his batting credentials were poor at best. His test and Shield credentials remain so. But what irks this observer is the access he has to the selectors and his ability to dictate his role in the team. We do not read about any other players discussing what they will do for the team when they are not even in it! Players at club level with the “ear” of the selectors or the coach are often maligned and despised among their teammates, I don’t see much different here. Unfortunately all we will get from the players is “toeing” of the company line – as we have had all season. He might be one of the best batsmen we have, but I reckon he has to prove it.
The Mini Carnival Begins
Onto a topic where there is no issue with the gambling, but where there are also plenty of questions about its integrity. As a punter and fan I am heartened to see the level of scrutiny being placed on the sport and whilst recent headlines have been damaging – the wakeup call has been made and greater scrutiny resulting. And if I hear another trainer sooking about it I’ll spew! But we are off to the Heath for the first Group One of the year the CF Orr Stakes (R7, 1400m WFA).
Last year this was a benefit race for Black Caviar, this year might very well be for her sibling All Too Hard. A slight concern about being first up, but 2nd in the Cox Plate is good enough for me even though the price is pretty short. King Mufhasa has been a top performer for many years and must be rated a chance, Callanish is eight from eight and facing his biggest test but the home track gives him a great chance and Pinwheel is a very consistent performer for the Sheikh.
Selections R7 – 9-1-6-4
Plenty of other group races on the card including the Group 3 Preludes to the Blue Diamond.
Race 6 – 2,4,6,8
Race 7 – 1,4,6,9
Race 8 – 2,6,8,9,11
Race 9 – 2,4,10
This represents 240 combinations so $30 investment returns 12.5% of the dividend.