Right. Let’s get this horrible day’s wrap out of the way, shall we?
What promised to be a batting pitch at Lords turned out to be just that – for the English batsmen. With an Australian scorecard that can only be described as embarrassing at best, the only bonus that can be derived from such a spanking is that Monday night will be a relatively early one. That said, I suspect Day Five is going to be Australia’s best day of the test.
The Oz boys have a hell of a lot of work to do in between now and Old Trafford, as the obvious change in spirit can be detected from a mile away. In the space of a week, we’ve see the squad go from being almost able to salvage a test to being so badly belted, Scotland Yard nearly needed to be called in to deal with the mass assault. The team’s swing in attitude was probably most noticeable in our teenage hero from the first test, Ashton Agar, who has gone from smiling and shrugging when he is dismissed to standing his ground and reviewing a decision. Worrying times.
But don’t despair, Cricket Australia. With off field glory comes on field results and… oh, hang on. Wait a minute.
Let’s make a short list. Former coach sues, opening batsman attempts to punch opposition opening batsman in a bar on the eve before a test, said opening batsman’s brother takes to Twitter to air his grievances about Cricket Australia and that “f***ing selfish” Shane Watson… no wonder CA itself came out with an exasperated tweet like this:
In what was not an amazing weekend for Australian sport – again – and not an amazing British Open for Adam Scott – again – Phil Mickelson walked away with the coveted title after a less than impressive back nine from early leader Scott. Just when it looked like the nation might have some redemption, it was stolen away. Guess this is the start of karma coming back onto us from 200 odd years ago when we were a nation founded for convicts. Eish. This is going to be a bleak year.
Credit to Mickelson though, he was just too good when it counted. At the end of the day, any major that doesn’t have Tiger’s name on it, I’m relatively happy with.
The first round of Super Rugby play-offs saw a hapless Reds unit destroyed by a rampaging Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday, much to the horror of those wanting a swan song for Ewen McKenzie. Personally, I prefer to see it as getting Ewen into practice for what will no doubt be a devastating Bledisloe Cup; after all, sometimes practising getting your butt handed to you on a plate is a good thing, right? At least by the time the Rugby Championships roll around, we’ll be the best damn losers in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Brumbies, Australia’s shining light left in the competition and probably our only decent hope all along, fought off a more than gallant Cheetahs unit in temperatures that resembled the Arctic. It would be interesting to find the spectator who proclaimed to have a “Rathboner” purely to see if it was actually measurable in such temperatures (for scientific purposes only). The match for the Brumbies was not without worry, and indeed it came down to the last play to see whether or not the match would head into a tie-breaking situation; not bad for a largely disrespected union’s first crack at the cherry.
As a result, this weekend sees the Crusaders descend onto Hamilton to tackle the defending champions and Jake White returning home to Pretoria, where I would imagine a mixed welcome will be waiting. The week off should do both the Bulls and Chiefs a world of good, but given the apparent ease with their victory on the weekend, one would think that the Crusaders probably have the best chance to pull off a victory. As for the Brumbies? Well, I’ve never seen a horse beat a bull yet. I guess there’s always a first time, but I wouldn’t be feeling particularly comfortable in Gauteng on a Saturday night if I was from Canberra at any given point in life, let alone if I had just knocked out the last remaining team from the Republic.
Let’s be honest. At least after this weekend, the Wallabies will be able to concentrate on the Rugby Champs with as close to a full squad as they’re going to get.
The Tour de France concluded with Chris Froome taking out victory, a non surprising result given his strength and form coming into the race. Now, of course, begins the decade long wait to have the results confirmed. In a forgettable tour for previous winner and Oz’s Cadel Evans, he was never really in the race; which I find encouraging given the red (or yellow) flags that the tour has been inclined to indicate over the past few years. Cycling; I feel for you, I really do.
Chin up though, Australia. We managed to get one victory that most of us adored – the Gold Coast Suns defeating Collingwood in the AFL. There’s only one thing that’s more enjoyable than watching the Pies lose a match, and that’s watching Eddie Maguire watch the Pies lose a match – that sight is enough to warm the cockles of even the most hardened of hearts. With a few controversies off-field again in the papers (forgive me for beginning to think there’s less negotiating with authorities on the streets of Sunshine than in AFL House at the moment) that little ray of golden bliss almost made it all better.
Now, for a night where I don’t want to torture myself by watching another session of Ashes cricket. It’s the small things that make life more enjoyable.
Have a great week.