Greetings of the Season to All,
A special bumper holiday issue for all as we prepare for Christmas Day, Boxing Day (The Test or the Sales) and 2014. For the cricket fans our main course is pretty much done and we are now just mopping up the gravy. Right from that fateful day on November 22 when Mitchell Johnson ripped through the England middle order and I slipped while playing a pull shot to break my arm we have seen a completely dominant Australian test team.
In the days prior the baying for Aussie blood had become a sport in its own right and the team selected was replete with was apparently a number of flawed cricketers and characters. I too will be joining in the consumption of copious volumes of humble pie! Every player in the team had question marks on their cricket, their character or their resilience – some still remain but largely they are now seen as the right selections for Australia. Much has to do with the unifying agent in the sheds of “Boof” Lehman and what a mighty turnaround we have seen in both teams since the drubbing at Lords.
We approach the Boxing Day Test with The Ashes secured, unfortunate that it is a dead rubber. I have enjoyed the resurgence of the Australian team and in particular players like Warner, Haddin and Johnson who have proven they are not only good players but good to watch. I am surprised to be writing that of those three in particular! I have not enjoyed the repartee on the ground though – sledging usually has some sort of humour attached – in general what we are watching is basically abuse which is neither amusing not entertaining. Certainly hope both teams can lift their games in that area.
The English foe is imploding at about the same rate as the Aussies have risen, culminating this week in the immediate retirement of Graeme Swann. He made the decision to retire while being clubbed around at the WACA, yet he does not announce it until days after the game’s completion. Clearly all is not right and the commentary since from the retired spinner has cast a pall over the touring team. Many are pleased with his retirement especially Australians who were sick of the collar up and the smirk, but he must be respected for his cricket. He just bowled off-spin; never had to throw the ball for variation, succeeded in this era of monster bats where edges and mishits still clear the ropes; and with Monty bowled England to victory in India. He was the English advantage so much so they created pitches for him, not surprisingly no such generosity has been provided by curators here.
But let’s hope the gravy is duly mopped up in Melbourne and then Sydney with competitive cricket but ultimately Australian victory – because after that the offerings from Cricket Australia for dessert are pretty ordinary. A One Day Series where the marketing is targeted for the fans to dress up rather than the contest and the Big Bore League with roped in boundaries, artificial atmosphere and artificial allegiances. Please can we get back to a full summer test series!
As the close of the year descends a look back on 2013. A great year for Australian Golf with Adam Scott becoming our first to don the Green Jacket in Augusta a feat not closely matched by Tony Johns who donned the Green T-Shirt in the 2013 at Flinders. On the turf Gai’s success in the Melbourne Cup with Fiorente will have inspired many to “Live the Dream” with her, I wonder how many of those were already trying to the same with Bill Vlahos. Then there is the 2013 football season, fortunately the record books will always bear the name Hawthorn as premiers. They only got to enjoy it for half a minute as their hero Buddy hijacked the celebrations to announce his departure to Sydney. Then of course there is the indelible stain on the season left by the saga of the Essendon Football Club, Cult Hird, The AFL, ASADA and the shady deals between them all. Here are my votes for the best and worst of sport in 2013.
3 Votes – Adam Scott
2 Votes – CJ Waller’s Spring Carnival
1 Vote – Friars Under 19s Flag
Special mention – the irony of Carlton defeating Richmond in a final from 9th
3 Votes – Essendon Football Club…..and any associated parties
2 Votes – Australia at Lords
1 Vote – Socceroos vs Brazil/France
Special mention – Fremantle in the Grand Final – Yuk
With all that behind us – or at least we hope it is onto 2014. Reports are in from all AFL clubs and every one of them is flying! The markets agree with most Hawthorn supporters and think that the loss of Franklin won’t make a difference and they are the early favourite for the flag. I reckon losing the top banana will make a difference – but there is much time to ponder that. On the track we will see the split of Team Snowden from Darley after Autumn, I look forward to see how they perform without the Arab riches. But the biggest thing to look forward to is Brazil and the World Cup, the Australians have not fared well in the draw and progression to the second round will take a mighty effort. But we do get to see the best players on world stage for a fabulous festival of football.
Then the Friars are back on track with a new coach in Fraser Cameron and looking forward to a very competitive 2014 along with a great intake of Under 19 players to follow on from 2013. The players return to the track mid-January with practice matches in March, prior to that the club is holding its Golf Day at Eastern on Feb 7. Anyone who would like to participate contact me directly.
Go Friars, Go Blues, Please survive Hammers, Go Aussies (At the G and in Brazil)
Wishing all a Merry Christmas and Fabulous 2014,