You've got to hand it to ABC producer David Nixon (not to be confused with BBC magician David Nixon, who is dead). While on a two day sledgapalooza, he first reads out anti-racism policies, then he does an Indian voice piss-take on Monty Panesar:
But he turned up in Brisbane cranky, made a ton and picked a fight with the Pommie No.11. Yes, threatening to break Anderson's arm was a cheap shot but Clarke did lead Australia to victory, and that's all that matters. The Australians may have won ugly but at least they won.
Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. Meanwhile, Hackbeard the pirate at the Sydney Morning Herald:
The Clarke sledging thing? So shoot me, but I don't like it. Sledging that is banter is fine, but threatening bodily violence to an opponent is well over the other side of the line. As they say in the classics, it just isn't cricket …
Does Red Bandana really want someone to shoot him?
Anyone who really believes Clarke really threatened to break Jimmy Anderson's arm is kidding themself, or being intentionally provocative. Click. Bait. For a start, both verballed Clarke, who did not threaten to break Anderson's arm, he merely tried to scare Anderson that Mitchell Johnson would break his arm. Secondly, a real threat is when a grizzled old footballer says to a youngster "get a kick and it will be your last" then follows through on his threat. You know, the kind of thing we all celebrate and laugh at when it is said by Jack Dyer, Teddy Whitten, Mopsy Fraser, Carl Ditteritch and the rest of the justifiably famous hard men of footy. No doubt Union and League have their equals.
The Brain "lectures in sports studies at Monash University's National Centre for Australian Studies" and so probably knows how to kindle an issue. While The Bandana played international rugby and would have copped many an earful from bellicose Kiwis, Saffers and Frogs (some of which he would have approved of, if he thought it was funny).
Is Luke Darcy ever called the "token bloke" when he commentates netball? I ask only because Kelli Underwood was certainly called the "token chick" when she commentated footy on Ten. True gender equality will only be reached when there is equal tokenism.
Personally, I have no issue with the gender of the commentator. If s/he is good enough, s/he should commentate.
What upsets me about a commentator is not the gender, but the reasons given by blokes as to why chicks should not commentate. Back when Underwood was on Ten, Mick McGuane (on RSN, which was then 927 Sports where Nadia Horne must feel rather lonely, unless Deane Lester is also a woman) was asked what he thought about Underwood's work. McGuane replied that he did not like her because she could not predict the play. His on-air colleagues failed to follow up with the obvious question: which blokes can predict the play? Out of the 1,295 (yes, I checked the Census) commentators commentating AFL footy in 2013 hardly any predict the play or even convey a sense of where the ball might go. Despite commentators regularly patting their on-air colleagues on the back and telling each other how brilliant they are ("best in the business" gets a hammering), there are staggeringly few good commentators, and even fewer who predict the play. It is hard to believe a bloke criticising a chick is less about style and more about disputed turf. McGuane used to commentate footy on Seven, but got the elbow when Seven realised there was not enough airtime in the universe to accommodate a McGuane sentence. I would have had more time for Mick's opinion if he had said he did not like Underwood's bogan accent, but if he had done that he would have opened up a whole can of Pandoras vis-a-vis blokes and bogan accents.
Angela Pippos, who used to host the breakfast show on 927 until she got the flick, and who does not have a bogan accent, yesterday turned her attention to female commentators and cricket:
It’s shameful a country that worships sport treats women who love cricket so shabbily. Are you seriously telling me there isn’t one woman in this country capable of occupying a spot on the Channel Nine commentary team?
Do women aspire to be like Tubby, Heals, Slatts and Warnie? And if so, why? Or has Pippos deployed a cheeky tongue?
Did Stephanie Brantz cop the cold shoulder from just the players? The way I heard it, she copped the cold everything from most of the Nine commentators too. The Big Bash players on Foxtel seem more than happy being interviewed by women. Not that Brantz appears to have too many objections; publically, anyway.
Did Brad McNamara tell Pippos she should flip burgers. "And if you can't stand the heat, get over to the drive-through window."
Was Kate Fitzpatrick a tokenistic appointment, or was she there to provide a woman's perspective? No doubt many would suggest a tokenistic appointment and women's perspective tautologous, but with so many women watching cricket surely a tokenistic perspective, I mean, women's perspective would be a welcome adornment, sorry, addition to the commentary. On the other hand, with so many women watching cricket, Nine doubtless thinks it has the right mix of identical commentators.
A representative of the England coaching staff spoke to umpires after Mitchell Johnson ransacked the tourists in the first innings with one of the most stirring performances ever seen at the Gabba. The discussion was informal and England at no stage intended to make an official complaint but the query regarding this vague law showed how concerned they were about the hammering their side was copping.
England may have considered complaining about the short bowling, or at least clarifying the "indistinct laws on dangerous bowling", and they may be circling the wagons, but one former English skipper maintains his customary perspective and common sense:
Revenge is sweet. And raw, disciplined, aggressive Test cricket is back. So, it appears, is sledging. Mental disintegration becomes a less acceptable aim when it actually happens (although who knows how much was already seething under the apparently cool surface?)
I wrote last year about how rare hostile fast bowling had become. There had been a drift towards cost-effectiveness, towards efficiency, accuracy, squeezing the opposition. Self-control, tendencies towards defensive field placings, probing were on the up; adrenalin, emphasis on attack, all-out hostility on the wane. Australia have reversed the trend, thanks to Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke (and maybe Darren Lehmann).
Take Bodyline out of the equation (when, by the way, short fast bowling was popular in England). Is there one instance in the history of Australia v England cricket where hostile fast bowling has not been championed down the ages? Spofforth was not called "Demon" because he played Dungeons and Dragons. Frank Typhoon Tyson is not Frank Zephyr Tyson. John Snow. Lillee & Thommo. Willis in 1981. Harmison in 2005. All of those instances of fast bowlers stitching up batsmen have been legendised; by the winners, anyway.
Australian captain Michael Clarke is set to be charged by the International Cricket Council and fined a percentage of his match fee over the expletive-laden tirade at England tailender James Anderson during the first Test in Brisbane.
Drunks, the wave, intrusive sound systems, ads, slop entertainment, merchandise watermelon hats, expensive food, expensive entry, rubbish view, not enough replays, sunburn - as if a day at the cricket wasn't dismal enough already without being confronted by experience orientated food (and its pretension surcharge):
"While batting during Victoria's first innings, umpires determined that Wade had tampered with the pitch. Both umpires considered the change to the pitch, which resulted in the creation of a long valley within the protected area, had been created by means other than natural wear and tear."
Wade denied the charge and a full disciplinary hearing was held, led by Daryl Harper, the match referee and former Test umpire.
WITH the first Test six days away, Cricket Australia and the ABC have still not signed a contract for the broadcast rights. If the deal is not done, there may be no radio coverage of the Brisbane Test.
Anyone got an opinion on how the AFL stream works? It's never smooth firing up the footy at AFL.com, but once you are on board it is easy enough to switch between games. As long as you are not actually at the footy. Internet coverage is pretty shitful at the MCG and the Dumb. Not that I can imagine myself switching between the AW and ABC streams for the cricket.
Stakeholders Sutherland forgot (no doubt it slipped his mind) to mention Channel Nine has a say in the preparation of Australian pitches (and when he says "too many" he really means "any") but I agree with him 100% about the nature of our pitches compared with the wanton pitch doctoring in England and India:
''We have played nine Test matches away this year. We have not seen a blade of grass or a drop of moisture on any of those pitches.''
''We have to learn to play in those conditions. The teams we have played against have quite blatantly tried to exploit the perceived weakness we have batting against spin and perhaps not having front-line spin bowlers, and perhaps they've done well because we haven't won too many Test matches of those nine.''
''In terms of Test cricket we don't give them any direction because we have got great confidence in what they're doing.''
''And we're not looking for an advantage with our pitches. We want fans to see a good contest between bat and ball and we know each pitch has its own characteristics and we want that to continue.''
"I've got nothing mean to say, or a bad word about Ricky Warne said. I know he beats himself up mercilessly about being the only captain ever in Australian history to lose three Ashes series. And I know he regrets and beats himself up about the fact that he – like Nasser Hussain – is the brunt of jokes whenever someone puts the opposition in, after that horrific decision at Edgbaston in 2005. So I don't particularly want to be mean about Ricky because he's a good guy and tried to do the best he could."
It's sad that Shane Warne at 44 has a best mate in Michael Clarke who is 12 years younger at 32. You often hear Warnie referred to as "king of the kids" which is like calling someone a "great character" and which mostly means someone needs to be avoided. Is Warnie a practical joker, too?
Warnie is right about Edgbaston, Ponting's captaincy defining howler. The decision to bowl first (probably crazily based on Tubby's decision to bat first in 1997) contributed to Punter's managerial inflexibility. I wonder what he would have done had he won the toss in the last Melbourne Ashes. He says he would have bowled.
But anyway, what's so special about Clarke's captaincy so far?
[Fairfax Cricket] will be led by Tim Lane, a Fairfax Media columnist and the former voice of cricket on the ABC who calls AFL on 3AW, and Melbourne-based commentator and journalist Bruce Eva, with another Fairfax columnist Dean Jones and former fast bowler Damien Fleming.
Ten years ago the Australian Test team was dominant, but now we cannot afford cheap wickets, which, at the drop of a bat, prompt massive collapses. So fingers crossed Tim has lost his magic touch for taking Aussie wickets.
"Clarke looks set for another big score... he's out."
One of the more inglorious - ignominious? dead set embarrassing? - set of statistics. A beautiful set of numbers, if you are not Australian. Australia has played the second most ODIs but does not feature in the top eleven chases in ODI history. (New Zealand features four times, and in fact six out of the top fourteen.) On the other hand, after last night, Australia has conceded an astonishing seven of the top eleven chases. With the judicious application of Cricket Maths it could have been seven of the top ten, but last night's result knocked one Australia shambles from tenth to eleventh.
No Lillee, Lindwall or Lara? No Gilchrist or Miller? No Greg Chappell or Barry Richards? Twice as many Englishmen as Australians? No Murali? No problem. Wisden's selection of an all-time World XI, the type of exercise that gets men in Hush Puppies and cardigans wrestling on the floor, is a good one.
1. Jack Hobbs
2. W. G. Grace
3. Don Bradman
4. Sachin Tendulkar
5. Vivian Richards
6. Garry Sobers
7. Alan Knott
8. Wasim Akram
9. Shane Warne
10. Malcolm Marshall
11. Sydney Barnes
McGrath for Akram? Lara for Tendulkar would have been a hoot vis-a-vis the reaction from India. Pity Malcolm includes the cheat in his Second XI.
Meanwhile, the other Malcolm reckons Knott instead of Gilchrist is mad:
Knott may have been a beautifully soft-gloved keeper and lovable eccentric with an odd batting style but he cannot hold a candle to Gilchrist as a cricketer. All this high-minded piffle about Knott being the best pure wicket-keeper ignores Gilchrist’s destructive qualities as a brutal game-changing batsman.
It was impossible for me not to conclude that they considered Australian cricket's relationship with India more important than how they looked after us and communicated with us. They let me down and let the team down. I'm still struggling to forget that.