Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Was there was a mix up at the airport and we ended up with the Trinidad Croquet Club by mistake instead of the West Indies cricket team? (more…)

My Dad wanted an Australian flag to fly from a flagpole. Back then we didn’t have el cheapo flags being turned out in such numbers as today and we didn’t know where to go to get one. He was delighted when a friend who was Post Master of a Post Office had just taken delivery of a new flag and quietly gave Dad the old one. So up went a flag pole on the side of the one the sheds and the flag was flown when Dad felt like flying it. Mum also made him a Fitzroy flag to fly when Fitzroy won the footy – a rare occasion at times – but that is just an aside. (more…)

Here we are, shortly to resume play after lunch on the Fourth Day of the First Test, Australia v Sri Lanka.

Things are evenly poised at present but my predicition is for fireworks tomorrow on the last day. As I type, Australia is 2/146, giving a lead of 260. The Australian batters will need to accelerate the pace to put them into a stronger lead but also leaving enough time to bowl Sri Lanka out.

Where I predict things will become interesting will be with Australian off-spinner, Nathan Lyon. I believe he has bowled better so far this summer than his actual statistics show. He has a lovely, flighted delivery that can turn nicely in the right conditions.

This pitc411189-nathan-lyonh is deteriorating with uneven bounce but even more importantly for Lyon, there is a very distinct patch badly scuffed on pretty much the perfect line and length for an offie. My prediction is that Lyon shall lead the bowling on the last day, his bowling becoming hand grenades, turning and jumping from that particular patch on the pitch. But the Sri Lankans have greater experience against spin bowling so fireworks may well be in store.

An exciting last day is definitely on the cards, even with two sessions still to come today.

And so it finishes…

Posted: December 3, 2012 in Ranting
Tags: , ,

Time for one last relevant cricket post for now

As I begin to type, Australia is now 6/198 in its chase of an unlikely target of 632. The fat lady is doing vocal warmups in her dressing room.

There is absolutely no doubt that Australia has been comprehensively outplayed by South Africa in the final Test in this series. Hashim Amla demonstrated beyond all doubt that he is worth all the talk before the series about just how good he is as part of a batting display by the Springboks that really showed just how lacking in penetration the largely inexperienced Australian bowling lineup was in this Third Test. I cannot help but wonder what things would have been like with a fit Peter Siddle back in the team rather than both still recovering from their marathon efforts in the Second Test. But they weren’t there and while Mark Starc and Mitchell Johnson both took wickets, the breakthroughs were a damned long time coming. Then the South African bowling attack, lead by Dale Styen having finally showed just how damned good he is, bowled fast, aggressively and accurately. Plenty of Australian wickets have fallen not through batting errors but being beaten by superior bowling.

The better team is about to win this match. But yet again I am left wondering why in hell we only have a three Test series. I did a quick check earlier today. The past five series between Australia and South Africa have been four series of Three Tests and one ridiculous one of only two Tests. And now yet another Three Test series is shortly to conclude a day early.

Why? Why? Why? These teams are as competitive as all hell. They play hard, fast, exciting, attacking cricket that provides plenty of thrills and excitement. But we only get to see glimmers of it all. For six series now, we are yet to be actually given a proper series of five or even six Tests. And I am unable to find a single justifiable reason for it.

It is bloody ridiculous. And as a dedicated supporter of the Australian team, it has to be said that I don’t like seeing a series finish up like that.

Australian cricket lovers have been given a real treat so far this summer. At the start of the Third Day of the Third Test against South Africa, the Australian team are really up against it. The first two Tests were draws. The draw at Brisbane in the First Test was largely the result of rain but we got to see some wonderful cricket. The Second Test went right down to the wire in Adelaide with excellent play by both sides.

Come the Third Test in Perth, things were nicely balanced. But the marathon efforts in the Second Test by Australian bowlers Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus saw them unable to fully recover in the just three days until the start of play at the WACA leading to a largely rookie Australian attack despite the return of Mitchell Johnson.

A fighting comeback by the South African batters saw some respectability in a total of 228 but which should not have meant much of a challenge to an Australian lineup. But their bowlers, particularly Dale Steyn smashed the Australian line-up. Steyn’s delivery to remove the incredibly dominant Michael Clark was as close to perfect a delivery as you are going to get as a combination of line, length, pace and just the right amount of movement in the air. Clarke didn’t do anything wrong except possibly in that his form was too good – other players would probably have missed it entirely but Clarke was batting well enough to still get an edge. Then with the pitch flattening out a little, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla accelerated the pace putting the South African team in a dominant position after only two days play. Matters are more finely balanced than the match figures may otherwise suggest but as things currently stand, it is hard to see the Springboks losing from here.

I have to pause before the main rant in order to give some major credit to Amla. He dominated at the crease from almost the moment he arrived. 3340His footwork against the quicks was quite remarkable. At one point, against a sharply paced ball that was very wide, he didn’t have to reach for it to crack it to the boundary, he had moved all the way across in a remarkably relaxed manner  that you just don’t see against the quicks, to then belt it. His anticipation of where a ball is going to be bowled is quite remarkable. And as I type, play has just recommenced and Amla has made the single to bring up 100 off only a ridiculously low 89 balls. Aggressive, hard batting but without going the slog and while being bloody hard to bowl to. In a way, it was a pity that he did not bring up that 100 yesterday in Doug Walters 100-in-a-session style as he was batting well enough to do so.

So now we come to the really stupid thing, the ugly thing. This is only a three Test series. It features the number one team against the number three team on number three’s home grounds. This was always going to be a cracker of a series. And ever since South Africa was readmitted to international cricket status, all clashes between the two sides have been crackers, full of top cricket and serious competiveness. But we still only have a three Test series. This is insanity. It is ridiculous. It is a bloody insult to the players and the cricketing public. And it is an incredible waste of an opportunity.

Let us assume that South Africa win this Third Test. If it were a five Test series or even a six Test series, the stage would have been set for an incredible remainder. The players would have been pumped. The crowds would have been pushing through the gates in venues like Melbourne and Sydney in droves.

But none of that is going to happen because we only have a pissy little three Test series. Here it is only early December but this summer’s series against South Africa is just under two days short of completion.

Why?

Why only allow three Tests for what was ALWAYS going to a real rip-snorter?

While I am sure there will still be some good cricket yet to come in the upcomingThree Test series against Sri Lanka, why on earth would the cricketing authorities purely and simply waste this brilliant opportunity for a real series that goes a damned sight longer than being all over by early December?

This is not the first time we have all, including the players, been insulted by stupidly short series between Australia and South Africa and here we are, doing it again.

Bloody pathetic and a brutally wasted opportunity.

Can anyone think of a decent reason why the cricketing authorities would have bothered with this stupid programming? No, I didn’t think so.

What a stupid STUPID waste.

In Australia last week, the Federal Government announced the setting up of a Royal Commission to investigate child sexual abuse. This was a surprisingly prompt Governmental response in the wake of a New South Wales police officer going public with his concerns and allegations about the extent of the Catholic Church hindering investigations into allegations of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy. There was a significant public outcry calling for some realistic action at last.

The Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, generally referred to as the most senior member of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia, was quick to cry foul. His reasons over time for claiming any investigations of the Church would be unfair have variously included that they are already investigating such claims themselves, that they are already taking it seriously, that it is nowhere near as bad as claimed but a beat-up by the media and other interested parties, blah blah. Consequently Pell made a pious plea for any Commission to be more wide-ranging than just targeting the Catholic Church.

Not surprisingly, the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, a former seminary student and ardent supporter of the Roman Catholic Church, also supported the call for something far more wide-ranging than examining the Church. I am left with the opinion that the resulting Commission, the specific parameters of which are yet to be finalised, has been made far wider than the Church thus pandering to the likes of Pell.

In the wake of all of this, last Thursday Pell came out with the startling public statement that he believed the majority of Australians supported or at least had no problem with the way that the Church was handling matters of alleged child sexual abuse.

My immediate reaction was what bloody planet is Pell actually living on?

I was hardly surprised when the results of the latest Nielsen poll were publicised yesterday, Monday November 19th. According to that poll, 95% of Australians supported the establishment of this Royal Commission. Now even if you allow for the margin of error that is inherent in any such poll due to the very small population sample size that is utilised, that is still a majority of Australians by any definition. Does Pell really believe that the majority of that majority are supporting the establishment of this Commission while at the same time being so supportive of the Catholic Church? What’s going on – do we have about 20 million schizophrenics running around Down Under?

The reality of course is that any right-minded person is not happy with the actions of the Roman Catholic Church. Over the years we have seen strenuous denials of what was becoming blindingly obvious, investigations going nowhere, ‘civilian’ former employees of the Church revealing damning information such as direct knowledge of Church officials (ie clergy) deliberate hiding incriminating evidence where it would not be readily found etc etc. If the Church was, as Pell insists, taking matters so seriously, then why has it insisted it should be allowed to continue with its own internal investigations rather than being open to external criminal investigations that would happen pretty much anywhere else in the country? Why is the Church so vehemently opposed to being held accountable?

One of the real obstacles facing this Royal Commission when it comes to investigating the Catholic Church is the convoluted structure of the whole mechanism. The legal status of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia was strenuously tested in the Courts with an unsurprising finding in 2007 that the Roman Catholic Church cannot be held accountable for anything in Australia for the simple reason that there is no single entity as such. Every diocese (I believe there are something like 34 of these) are set up as individual, legal entities, entirely self-contained. There is no single point of accountability. The closest to such is the national Council of Bishops but that is still an unincorporated organisation hence the lack of any actual, legal national entity that may face prosecution or be sued. Then there are the various other Catholic enterprises that are not even accountable to any diocese or Church authority in Australia but instead report direct to the Vatican.

This entire structure is quite unusual and it is hard to see this serving any other purpose than to make it so very difficult to ever pursue any part of the Catholic Church for anything. There is a heap of at least anecdotal evidence of trying to take civil action against dioceses only for them to cry poor because their funds have gone to ‘the church’. Except, yet again, there is no entity to account for anything beyond that specific diocese. Pell was recently in the public eye over this as well. A particular Catholic organisation that allegedly has an outrageously high incidence of allegations of child abuse being made against it, received a large sum from the Church in Australia – specifically where from is unclear, yet again, due to that convoluted structure. Insiders have since reported that this fund was required to pay off people making such allegations. Pell denied this, claiming that the funds were required to ensure that organisation’s financial viability. Unfortunately the two are not mutually exclusive. But then Pell did a Pontius Pilate with the metaphoric washing of his hands – he insists that they have no knowledge of that entity’s internal dealings or authority over them as they are accountable direct to the Vatican. So, we can only assume that some vague, indeterminate body that somehow represents the interests of the Catholic Church in Australia had no problems with handing over large sums of money without any actual details of what is was really for or any accounting for how it was used. No, I don’t believe that either.

I am not anti-Catholic as such. Some of the loveliest human beings I have ever known have been products of the Roman Catholic Church. When I was in a hard place, I had some people from the Society of St Vincent de Paul come to my aid. But those sorts of people are not the ones that are the targets of these heinous allegations. They are not the decision makers who appear to go to ridiculous extremes to hinder investigations. They are not the ones trying to keep the Church free from any form or sense of socially and legally acceptable accountability.

The more we hear of this obscene situation, the nastier it is looking. The way I see it, judicial authority has to rule damned quick that no interference with the Commission or other legally instigated investigation is to be tolerated by any member of the Roman Catholic Church; that any person interfering with any investigation is to be subject to the full extent of the penalties of the law; that any person taking actions such as deliberate hiding or even destruction of relevant records is to similarly face the full legal penalties.

Finally, if George Pell is genuine in saying the Church as (informally not legally) represented by him is genuine about not accepting any child abuse within its ranks, then all he has to do is stand back and let it a proper external investigation go ahead without continually trying for the attempted pity vote by crying foul.

Sadly, judging by past experience, Pell and the rest of his bishopric mates will continue to propagate a system that holds itself above genuine accountability, especially for the destruction of young lives that has resulted.

Somehow, this aspect of the Christian Church, supposedly abiding by Christ’s teachings, seem to be ignoring the admonishment “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” But, Georgie-boy, don’t let your spiritual leader’s insistence that you be accountable to the temporal stop you from continuing to be as convoluted and uncooperative as possible and continue to deny any sense of legality, justice or even basic human decency.

Is it any wonder that for many people, the Roman Catholic Church is not so much a religion as it is a shining example of disgusting hypocrisy.

 

 

 

 


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Ross C. Hamilton – author and reviewer

Ross is a compulsive writer and reader. He never seems to be far from either something to read or something to write with. His other writing includes his blogs Words by Ross, Funny Shite and Ross’s Rant. www.rosshamilton.net.au
He is the author of the award-winning novella It Hides In Darkness and Conversations with Myself
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A couple of years back, I set up a separate blog for writing about cricket. However I have been consolidating blogs to make things easier to maintain so my cricket posts are returning here to the Rant.

The First Test in the Australia v South Africa series is well underway, approaching the end of the Third Day as I begin to write, after the Second was washed out. Unless Australia has a particularly woeful effort with the bat, I suspect a draw is on the way.

My interest is in some issues outside immediate play.

The Digital Review System has been in operation for several years now. I was unhappy about the way it had been implemented, with predictive technology being used to overturn umpiring decisions by at times, the slimmest of margins. This is not what was intended by the system – it was supposed to be a means of overturning the howlers, the really bad decisions that sometimes occur. As I have blogged before, Billy Bowden is my pet hate in that respect – when he’s off, he’s really off.

The use of the DRS saw predictive technology ie Hawkeye, playing a crucial role; in the case of an LBW, if Hawkeye predicted a ball would have otherwise gone on to clip a stump by a slim margin, then in basic terms it was out. This was a slap in the face to umpires as they have an instant to make a decision. If it is close then that is not good enough as an element of doubt creeps into the mind. The rules are quite explicit on that point – the batter has to be actually ‘out’, not possibly out, not probably out. The application of the review system also saw Hawkeye being used as if it was infallible, a position I was dubious about from the outset. On one particularly memorable occasion, a batter was dismissed, bowled, with the ball just barely clipping the stump enough to dislodge the bail. And they were out – no question. Yet for some unknown reason, the television commentators on Channel Nine at the time played Hawkeye’s view of the delivery – and to their mixed embarrassment and amusement, Hawkeye showed the ball as missing the stumps!

While it has taken inexplicably long for them to do so, cricketing authorities have finally acted in a sensible fashion. No more relying on predictive technology showing a ball would have just barely hit the stumps or just barely missed. In the case of an LBW, it has to show that at least 75% of the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps. There are to be fewer decisions overturned when there was little in it to begin with. That is taking the review system to what it was always intended to be – to provide a means of rectifying the howlers – a belated but sensible decision.

Something I am not quite so keen on is the introduction of Channel Nine’s ‘spider cam.’ This is a wire suspended above the ground, carrying a camera which appears to have a form of rotating lens head, judging by some of the shots. And the nature of the camera vision being shown is undoubtedly impressive, bringing a whole new visual element to things. However technology should never be permitted to interfere with a game.

With the introduction of ‘spider cam’ cricketing authorities had to rule on what happens if the ball hits the camera or its wire. Answer: dead ball.

How high is this suspended wire at say the Gabba where this Test is being played? I don’t know. However if the authorities saw the need to make a provisional ruling in advance, then it is not an unreasonable assumption that the camera and its suspension are within reach of the ball.

Is it fair that a batter can belt the hell out of the ball, only to have it declared a deadball because it clipped the spider cam? Or a fielder have his catch overturned because on the way down it was judged to have given the wire a nudge? Even worse, could we be headed towards a whole new area of argument of whether or not the ball struck the camera or suspension system? Do we need to introduce yet more technology to determine whether or not the spider cam technology has cause to force a call of ‘dead ball?’

Sorry, Channel Nine. In this instance I believe you are in error. A pretty picture from the introduction of new technology is not justification for the potential introduction of more dead balls and interference with the game. Technology for the benefit of the broadcaster should not and must not be allowed to act in a detrimental manner towards the game itself.

And now for something completely different…

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

This is my first blog about cricket for a long time now. Ages ago I switched cricket posts to another blog which has been allowed to go dormant. However last night I saw some an example of decision making by the Australian hierarchy that is simply nothing short of nonsensical so this week’s primary Rant returns to the cricket field.

If you know anything about Australian cricket, you will be well aware that one of our most dangerous players in the short versions of the game is David Hussey. He can come in during the second half of an innings and drop a very heavy foot onto the accelerator. In the 20-20 version of the game, this ability is even more valuable and he can brutalise a bowling attack. Yet Hussey, D is more or less out of the current line-up, being pushed into a position of rotation for an available slot. And why? Because of the appointment of the captain.

The current captain is George Bailey. I am aware of Bailey’s existence but not much else. Yet, rather inexplicably, he has scored the captaincy ahead of much more experienced players. His appointment as captain gives him an assured place in the batting order. And if that place is in the middle of said batting line-up, then someone else has to go. Hence Hussey, D onto a rotation list of players hoping to get at least an occasional slot.

The only acceptable justification for this situation is if Bailey is justifying his place there ahead of Hussey, D. So let us look at some statistics.


BAILEY
HUSSEY
Matches
8
Matches
38
Highest Score
42
Highest Score
88
Total runs
125
Total runs
756
Centuries
0
Centuries
0
Fifties
0
Fifties
3
Ducks
0
Ducks
3
Balls faced
110
Balls faced
621
Total innings
8
Total innings
35
Average
25
Average
23.63
Strike rate
113.6
Strike rate
121.74

  

Here is a reality check. A far less experienced player has been made captain out of the blue and despite his lack of results behind him, his presence has seen one of the real destroyers shoved onto the outer, despite the latter’s average being much the same as Bailey’s but with a noticeably higher strike rate and stronger proven record.

I know virtually nothing about George Bailey. For I know, he is a male equivalent of reincarnated Mother Theresa in which case I would sincerely apologise to him. But regardless of how good a bloke he may or may not be, his position in this team is simply not justified ahead of David Hussey yet the ability of the Australian team to lift its current ranking from a very dismal tenth position in the world rankings depends on the team’s overall strength. And more than any other version of the game, the 20-20 game is more a batters game than any other. Yet one of our strongest middle-order batsmen has had his effective career put pretty much on hold for a captaincy appointment that defies any of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

Did we win our first game by defeating Ireland? Yes. But, with all respect to my distant Irish kindred, so what? And please don’t go getting excited and point out that Ireland defeated Pakistan in a World Cup match. When the Pakistani’s have an off game (and despite their continuing stream of talented players, they have a lot more off days than ones when they’re on) the local pub’s eleven could beat them. After the beer has been flowing for a while. And don’t forget that, rightly or wrongly, the spectre of match fixing and throwing games etc still hangs heavily over the collective heads of the Pakistani team. So we can pretty much take that Irish win out of consideration for beating Australia. Don’t get me wrong Ireland possibly has more fight in them, shot for shot, ball for ball, than anyone else in international cricket. The extent of their improvement in only a few short years is nothing short of remarkable. But they still should not have a realistic chance against Australia at this tiem. The captaincy of the Australian team played no meaningful role. I could have come out of my decade’s retirement from low-level club cricket and captained that Australian team to a win in those circumstances. So George Bailey is yet to be actually tested. And meanwhile David Hussey must wondering just whose toes he trod on to be treated as he has been.

I made myself a promise to blog here every Wednesday. Unfortunately I am a day late in posting this time but as I was fixing up some edits on a soon-to-be-released small book, I forgive myself.

It is hardly unusual for me to be l letting rip against Australian television. But this time I actually have some positive things to say in plugging a couple of programs.

30 Rock is a great little comedy. Created by Tina Fey and loosely reflecting her time writing for and then performing on the US comedic icon, Saturday Night Live, this is genuinely funny viewing. The characters in the show have been wonderfully cast in creating a diverse range of comedic conflicts and contrasts as it makes fun of television and big business. I had no idea how good a comic actor Alec Baldwin is in a role such as the one he has here and his casting was quite a gem. And how could you not like and appreciate Fey’s Liz Lemon?

This program should have excellent ratings but that is unlikely. Why? Because it is broadcast at a ridiculously hour on Australian television.

Parks and Recreation  features another graduate of SNL, Amy Poehler. Her depiction of a local-government-obsessed public servant in a mockumentary style of program is another little gem. And the diversity of the cast behind her is just as well put together as that of 30 Rock. And they have their Big Name in there as well with Rob Lowe playing a beaut, quirky role.

Just like 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation should be going gangbusters but sadly it is broadcast even later than 30 Rock in Australia.

Interestingly, Fey and Poehler are friends as well as co-performers together on SNL. This may be why there are some similarities between the two programs but more than enough differences to avoid any ‘me too’ comparisons, although Parks and Gardens has come under a little fire in the past for being too similar in technique to The Office.

These are genuinely funny television programs. So why on earth are they condemned to such late night slots? Not everyone has the flexibility of hours that I have these days and so can often afford to sit up that late to watch things that have been hidden away in the attic of late night viewing.

Hey television networks – do you have something against genuinely entertaining people? Why on earth are two of the most entertaining programs on Australian public television, condemned to the late shift without any real audience? And what are they losing out too in the programming stakes? So-called ‘reality’ garbage like The Shire, GC, the repacked-but-still-the-same-crap Big Brother?

Here’s another thought. Both of those programs feature a strong cast, good writing and the experience of two well-credentialed leads, all from North America. But we have some damned good writers and performers Down Under. So why on earth doesn’t Australian television make the most of some of them by encouraging and supporting local development of more than just ‘me too’ ‘reality’ garbage? As I have said before, that means jobs, economic production, creative opportunities, revenue streams and potential export dollars.

Wake up, Australia! Please!

Some folk in the struggling nation of Bangladesh, have come up with a rather remarkable and far-sighted idea for addressing future food and economic need.

This is a poor nation. Its location has it assessed as being greatly at risk from impacts of environmental change. And, just like everywhere else, its population is growing. So how will the future Bangladesh manage to continue feeding its citizens?

Bangladesh already has extensive rice farming with a great many rivers and other water sources to support the water-needs of rice. A new proposal has been brought forth that this rice farming be combined with fish farming, by stocking the water-rich rice fields with fish. Thus the production of one staple – rice – is used to produce more of another staple – fish. It even provides the opportunity to produce crops of prawns in conjunction with the rice growing, thereby producing a product for export and increasing the flow of economic wealth into that impoverished country.

http://tinyurl.com/cpaqoa6

This is quite wonderful stuff. There would be issues needing to be addressed to make harvesting of the fish a viable process. Similarly as rice fields hold shallow water which is more subject to warming which in turn reduces oxygen retention and increasing water temperature to a level not conducive to fish of an eatable size, provision of cooler water refuges would presumably be necessary.  And the overall scale of fish-rice production would need to be at a level to make the fish harvesting economically viable. However these issues would surely not be beyond resolution?

If fish are increasingly introduced into the rice-growing process, then might that not also see through the natural food cycle, fish helping reduce the presence of other aquatic life that might not be so beneficial to the rice crop, making this a much more environmentally sustainable option?

Consumption of rice in Australia has been increasing. The Ricegrower’s Association of Australia point out that Australian rice harvests are sufficient to feed “20 million people, 365 days a year.” That’s a lot of rice. Continuation of water supply to satisfy the rice crop needs would be an issue to Australian growers. Yet it occurs to me that the more temperate northern zones with monsoonal water falls, might be quite well suited to this combined rice-fish farming.

If we as the human species are to survive, then I suggest this sort of sensible, multi-cropping, seemingly environmentally-friendly approach is one to be emulated and encouraged. What else might benefit from similar, wide-ranging thinking? 

Now if you have an opinion on what I’m blathering about or even just feel like saying hi, then don’t be afraid to leave a comment or post something to me via Twitter or Facebook. I don’t bite – at least not always.