Compliments of the Season – the Christmas Issue

Greetings of the season to all,

Welcome to the bumper Christmas issue to guide you through the silly season and some pontification on the events of past year.  At this time last year the test series was all over, the Ashes safe and just the tidying up of proceedings to go.  We are effectively at the same position now although the Aussies do have to win one of the final two tests to regain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.  I doubt that will be an issue, this Indian team has played a feisty brand of cricket but just can’t go all the way with the Australians.  By the same token I have been impressed with their willingness to take the game up to the Aussies and if they can continue to produce bowlers who can hurl it down at 140 clicks consistently, and produce batters with the attitude of Vijay, Kohli and Dhoni, success on these shores will eventuate.  The question for Australia is whether we can produce more batters and bowlers who can succeed on the sub-continent.

But the series has thrown a few talking points.  One of those being SK Warne’s comment on Mitchell Starc.  Warnie got it right, when things are not going his way Mitch’s body language is defeatist.  He has exceptional talent and could be as dangerous as Johnson – who incidentally had similar issues at this stage of his career.  What a turnaround he has made, so the future is bright for M Starc but he needs to be stronger when the going gets tough.

Then there is the over rates which have collectively been appalling.  Whilst I don’t disagree with the ban hanging over Steve Smith’s head I am astonished that the same is not in place for his Indian counterparts!  But as much to blame are the umpires who are now so scared of the players that they have lost control of the game.  Make the captains get on with the game, the time taken for field placements is too long especially with changes made so regularly.  Get rid of the antics of bowlers when they come on – the captain should have given them ample warning to be ready, just come on and bowl.  The batters don’t help often making the bowler wait at the top of their mark and calling for drinks and gloves being run out to players every 10 minutes.  To offer some balance, the game of test cricket has never seen the scoring rates we are seeing with teams looking for results and achieving well inside the set time frame despite the poor over rates.

Finally, I am pleased that the Indians have been on the wrong end of the pineapple with respect to the umpiring.  Their refusal to allow for use of DRS is nonsensical.  I accept that it is not 100% accurate, but it’s surely more accurate than the naked eyes and ears that are currently adjudicating.  I have reservations about the use and abuse of the challenge system, but the technology has continually improved and gets the right decision more often than just relying on the umpires.

Once Sydney is done we prepare for the World Cup, which has little appeal to me right now as the test series continues.  Of greater interest to me is the Asian Cup which the Socceroos kick-off on January 9.

But now for a look back on 2014, no triumphs for the Aussies in the majors but certainly some promise showing on the tennis court with Nick Kygrios and his Wimbledon showing while the Aussies remain prominent on the links without really threatening the majors.  Racing was dominated by the internationals winning the big three, but the biggest story was the tragedy of Admire Rakti’s death after the Melbourne Cup.  The win of Protectionist was outstanding, but it is simply a byline in the aftermath.

The year was defined to a certain extent by tragedy with the death of Phil Hughes struck down playing the game he loves.  The spirit of the game and the country shone through but a bit of a shame that such an event is what it takes to show.  As the country has done again after two tragic events not on the sporting field in recent days.  We should not forget Hillel Oscar who was also struck down as a cricket umpire in Israel a couple of days after Phil Hughes.  Throw in Rik Mayall, Robin Williams and Joe Cocker – might be pretty happy to finish this year.

Now for the highlights and lowlights for the year to adjudicate on, they have not been easy to select and debatable but here they are.


5 Votes – Western Sydney Wanderers winning the Asian Cup.  A feat never achieved by an Australian tem before

4 Votes – Daniel Riccardo had a fantastic year in F1 putting himself in the elite group of drivers

3 Votes – Stephanie Gilmore winning her 6th world championship

2 Votes – Hawthorn Football Club – as good as their season was their demolition of Sydney in the Grand Final was downright scary.

1 Vote  – The Diamonds (Australian Netball Team) undefeated in 2014, 19 wins in succession.

Special Mention – Jack Hale – ‘the flying Taswegian’ – doing some special things on the track. Early days, but he looks very exciting.



5 Votes – The death of Phil Hughes

4 Votes – The Essendon Football Club, ASADA, James Hird and everyone else associated with this schemozzle

3 Votes – FIFA and the sandbagging of the report into the 2018 and 2022 selection process.  Not specifically Australia, but our bid has been dragged into this mire.

2 Votes – The Socceroos at the World Cup – yes they had a tough group but that opening 20 minutes against Chile was terrible.

1 Vote – The Bulldogs handling of the departure of both their coach and captain.  (Noting it works OK if Tom Boyd plays 10 years!)

Special Mention – Michael Clarke’s hamstring.


But we look to 2015 in anticipation with The Asian Cup, The Cricket World Cup, and the F1 Grand Prix hitting us early in the year. An Ashes tour to keep us up at night in winter along with the annual fare of Wimbledon, Le Tour and the Golf.

In the AFL every team is training the house down as we look toward the AFL Season and they all go into Christmas undefeated!

Then there is the mighty Hammers who head to Christmas sitting 4th on the table, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day looms large.  But at this time last year it was the other end of the table that beckoned.

The other team training the house down is the Mighty Friars. With Bakes at the helm and a number of Under 19s graduating to senior level, we are looking forward to a very competitive season.  Training resumes at the end of January.  On the social scene the Friars Golf Day is booked for Friday February 20, anyone interested in a game can contact me directly.

Go Blues, Go Friars, Go Hammers, Go Aussies, Go Socceroos…..

Wishing you and your families all a happy and safe Christmas and a bountiful 2015,

Merry Merry,



  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Sal basically I agree 100 per cent ( not quite as excited re asian cup ) yes only a incredible tragedy stopped the bombers and the whole saga being number 1 again
    With a more than honorable mention going to the mighty redlegs going 3 peat in the Sanfl and beating a afl side a amazing achievment , Merry x mas , Sal

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