Monday Meltdown – 15 July 2013

Hurt and broken.  That about best sums me up this morning, in more ways than one.  I’m actually beginning to think that my trusty laptop has become almost like a shrink, listening to my despair, watching me sob and attempting (unsuccessfully) to heal myself.  The worst part is getting that glimpse that a miraculous victory is actually on the cards, only to have it shattered in such awful circumstances.  Again, this is an unenviable position to be in and again, this wasn’t how Monday was meant to kick off the week, but so be it. Stupid England.

Although unlikely, if you’re not a cricket fan or simply been under a rock for a few days, it is possible that you have no idea what I am talking about, so I probably need to clarify.

With rivalry as deep as what runs between these two cricketing nations, there is little doubt that fireworks will be forthcoming.  Let’s face it, matches between India and Sri Lanka are amazing.

Ha. Who the hell am I kidding?

The weekend started off with the Ashes test genuinely looking like it could fall either way.  Ashton Agar, the teenager who has probably done more for Australian cricket in the space of five days as what the Australian government has done for the country in five years, has already been anointed the breath of fresh air and potential saviour of the Ashes series for Australia.  It was a gutsy call by Boof Lehmann to include him in the side in the first place having only played 10 first class matches beforehand, but it was a punt that definitely paid off.  Aside from the much needed runs he brought to the first innings total, he inspired a team that previously appeared to be drawing inspiration from either the bottle or the IPL.  Good on him.

Umpire Aleem Dar drew the ire of many around the world after several decisions that happened to fall the way of England (and mostly Stuart Broad), but let’s be honest, it’s a tough situation to be in.  There probably aren’t many men in the world that could say no to a begging, tall, blonde woman.

Both Ed Cowan and Steven Finn had absolute ‘mares, which can be perfectly summed up in a cracker of a tweet below:

Ashes

Poetry.

The match wound up a thriller with England almost managing to salvage defeat from the jaws of victory, but unfortunately, it just was not to be.  A victory to the home side by 14 runs, and we have what shapes to be a cracking series on our hands.

There’s always positives and negatives to come out of every match.  Australia can draw solace out of the fact that our line-up bats all the way down to number eleven.  It’s just a shame that it only starts at six.

But all good. We’ve learned the lessons regarding DRS and the use of reviews: basically, the first rule is never let Shane Watson call for a review of anything except his choice in hair gel.

Moving on to the Super Rugby results from the weekend and Friday night dished up a pearler at AAMI Park, with the Rebels staging a huge come from behind win over a Highlanders outfit that seemed to stop at half time.  With so many players moving on from the club at the end of the year including skipper Gareth Delve, Wallabies backmen James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale, scrumhalf Nick Phipps and two thirds of the front row, it was a magnificent victory to close season 2013 after a shaky start.  If anyone has any ideas about merging teams though, a Rebels/Highlanders team would be almost indestructible, given one plays the first 40 minutes like their lives depended on it and the other plays one of the strongest back 40 minutes going around.  Cooper Vuna farewelled his club with two tries in what was his best performance of the year, if you set aside standing up for his club captain in a bus in Umhlanga.

Vuna

(Photo: Chris Morrey)

Seeing the newest franchise into their fourth season promises so much with some solid name signings about to hit the public, and given the steady increase in games won per year (3, 4 and now 5) and being a firm believer in omens, I’m particularly looking forward to season 2028 which indicates going through the season’s preliminary rounds undefeated. Now THAT’S optimism!

The Crusaders, Chiefs and Sharks all had relatively predictable wins over the Hurricanes, Blues and Kings respectively, but one of the upsets of the season took place in Perth, with the Western Force running the Brumbies off their feet and scoring a 21-15 victory – hardly the ideal preparation for the Brumbies leading into their finals campaign.  It was almost a replica to the end of season 2012 for the Brumbies where they lost in the final round to an unimpressive Blues unit; but at least this year, there was no finals ticket allocation announcement made before they had actually made finals.  Well done, marketing and media team.  You’re learning.

On a personal note, I learned a very hard lesson – never place a bet with the Stormers coaches involving who is buying beers when their final match is at Newlands against the arch enemy, the Bulls.  The only question that I really need to ask is, South African men in the off season don’t drink much, do they?

Bleak.  Thank heavens for the exchange rate.

Moving onto the AFL and North Melbourne appear to be trying to out-do their own records for the amounts of choking (or, as the club call it, “last quarter fade-outs”) they can actually do.  After yet another loss after a significant lead, this time at the hands of Brisbane, it’s about time that the AFL start investing some money into the archaeological dig or hold a séance down at Arden Street to see if they can uncover the shinboner spirit.  Perhaps it has merely gone on holidays over the Winter and will be back in September when the weather warms up a little. Handy.

There were no real surprises results wise for the rest of the round, but to be honest, I’m just about over AFL given it’s insistence to stay in the front pages of the media for twelve months of the year.  If that old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is correct, there’s not many people that will be fond of AFL in years to come.

The inspirational banner of the round must go to the St Kilda Football Club who, with the return of Stephen Milne, could have had difficulty in trying to come up with a message that would resonate with everyone.  Their efforts?  See for yourself.

Saints

(Photo: Bound for Glory news)

Bless.

With the deciding Game Three in Origin this week, the NRL rounds were lacklustre, but probably the biggest surprise was the reigning premiers being smacked 39-0 by Newcastle.  The only bonus the Storm could take out of that match was that their jerseys were much prettier but with so many players out across the board, the Origin rounds are fickle at best.  It’s about time the NRL either move the matches from Wednesday (they won’t) or look at suspending the competition for a few weeks (they won’t).  Oh well.  At least the Storm boys have had their once a season thumping now.

In a(nother) sour note to end the weekend, news reports came in that both Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay have tested positive to performance enhancing drugs.  Headlines around the world will have editors scratching their heads as to whether “GAY POSITIVE” really reflects what their articles are about, but the bigger issue – particularly for Powell – surrounds Olympic title holder and training partner Usain Bolt.  I mean, if Powell is on the juice and STILL can’t beat him, JUST HOW GOOD IS THIS MAN??

It’s going to be nice to not feel compelled to sit up until stupid o’clock for a few days before the second test starts Thursday from Lords, so let’s all get some much needed shut eye over the next few nights to ensure we’re able to support our boys. Sorry, men.  Sorry, boy and men.

Have a cracking week.

About Mindy Pawsey

Overly passionate Aussie sportswriter who holds as many Tour de France titles as Lance Armstrong, as many Rugby World Cups as Quade Cooper and has lost less Ashes series than Ricky Ponting. You offer me biltong, I promise I'm yours - and PC isn't my thing. Follow me on Twitter at @MKPS001.
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