Almanac Sport: All in a day – calypso cricket, Les Bleus rugby and Dream Team hoops


In my youth, there was genuine excitement when seeing three international teams who excelled and entertained in their respective fields.  In a 15 hour period, the 2021 version of these teams all played Australia.


West Indies cricket has been in a dramatic slump since losing the Frank Worrell Trophy in 1995, but for decades prior they were the reason you watched and played cricket.  The brutality of the pace battery of Colin Croft, Collis King, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Patrick Patterson and Curtly Ambrose was engrossing viewing.  Then, battered and bruised, their opponents would then be bashed around the park by Greenidge, Haynes, Richards, Lloyd, Richardson and Lara.


The West Indies were to cricket as the French were to running rugby.  At the innaugural Rugby World Cup, France stormed their way to the Final on the back of the power of their forwards and the flair of the backs.  The semi final against the Wallabies at Concord Oval is considered one of the greatest games ever played.


Coached by the eccentric Jacques Fouroux, the backline included Pierre Berbizier at half, Serge Blanco at fullback, Didier Camberabero and Patrice Lagisquet on the wings with Phillipe Sella in the centre.  Up front, they were led by Daniel Dubroca at hooker and Jean Condom in the second row.  They played the game with a joie de vivre not seen since the game turned professional.


In 1992, the whole world watched in awe as for the first time the United States sent a basketball team to the Olympics with professional players.  Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler and Magic Johnson.  They truly were a Dream Team and waltzed to the gold medal.


Johnson has a story of his own, interwoven with the scourge of HIV which dominated the health news of the previous decade.


France have yet to win a Rugby World Cup and it’s been eleven years since they’ve won the Six Nations.  Their current touring party is without some of their premier players, but even so, they won the Second Test against the Wallabies. Most galling is they could only score one try to Australia’s two, with penalty goals keeping them in front.  Only an awful mistake at full time cost them the First Test last week.


Australian rugby has never been weaker.


At St Lucia, the ground is lit by what can only be described as candlelight, but for Australia’s batting line-up the lights are definitely out.  The fielding at times has been shambolic and, as a result, the bowling has been taken down by Chris Gayle who can hardly run between the wickets.


The 12 month delay of the Tokyo Olympics could still be to the detriment of this golden generation of Australian basketball.  It has cost them the services of Ben Simmons and has added age onto the knees of Ingles, Dellavedova and Mills.  Yet, the Australian comprehensively beat the United States.


Admittedly, the Americans are waiting for some players who are still engaged in the NBA Finals and the players are grappling with the adjustment from the NBA rules to the international FIBA rules. However, they should still be dominating.  This result was no fluke.


This is a consecutive defeat to the Boomers and a consecutive defeat overall, after the shock loss to Nigeria the day before.  For America they are hoping that what happened in Vegas, stays in Vegas.


These powerhouses of world sport aren’t what they used to be.  Traditionally Australia should have the measure of the West Indies and France in the same way America should dominate us on the pine.


Therein lies the beauty of sport.  Nobody knows how fortunes change from game to game, let alone era to era.  The only thing that is certain, everything seems better from when we were just kids.




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About Wayne Ball

Tragic fan of the Australian and NSW cricket teams (for those of you outside NSW, there is a difference, despite what David Hookes said). Not a fan of T20. Penrith Panthers are the only club of decency and all which is good in Rugby League, the Waratah's were once the national team of Rugby Union, the first non Victorian team in the VFL/AFL is the Sydney Swans, and they all enjoy my passionate support. Sings for Wanderers. Internationally, I have been to see the Oakland Athletics and Green Bay Packers play. One day, I'll see Norwich City play for the FA Cup at Wembley.

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