Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Criticising your own... or not

Shane Webcke's written a book about his career in League. I know little about him other than he was a forward, a hard-bastard in fact, and that he played for Brisbane and the Kangaroos. There's news coverage this morning that suggests his book was going to include critical comments about fellow players regarding an allegation of sexual assault made against them a few years back. Now, it appears the books been pulped. A few quotes have however, been mysteriously made available... go figure.
I want to put on the record my strong belief that, whether or not any criminal charges were to be pressed over the Alhambra incident, the three players involved should not have been allowed to play in that match against the Storm," Webcke wrote. "I believe that the majority of ordinary decent people who make up our community would have supported such a stance and would have admired the Broncos for taking it.

The fact we have three players in a public toilet with a woman, and drunken players kicked out of hotels, should have been enough for us to say: 'you're not going to play.'
Yeah, well, what to say?

The news of the pulping of the book may be a stunt? Who knows? I hope Webcke doesn't recant his criticism, it's justified (and mild). The attitudes of some sportsmen towards women are appalling as evidenced by the regular and predictable stories of sexual assault that coincide with seasons' start and finish. This season's no different as I've previously noted.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Congratulations England

A run-chase that almost faltered - a confident start followed by the wobbles, but still England won the game.

The Ferns were resolute however, they turned a very getable score into an almost defendable one, losing only in the 48th over. I might blog some more about it but here's a couple of shots from the game.

On the left, the late NZ rally, Doolan plays through midwicket. She went on to score 48, the full scoreboard is here. On the right, Doolan again, this time bowling - she took three wickets.

Well done the Ferns and thanks!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jane McGrath inspires Aussies

The Jane McGrath foundation will benefit from donations made at today's ICC Women's World Cup game between England and Australia just as it did during the last test between the Australian men and the South Africans at the SCG. It's great to see Cricket Australia so thoroughly get behind the Foundation which provides funding for breast care nurses on a national basis and promotes public awareness of breast cancer, particularly amongst younger women.

The game between England and Australia was to be the final, if you read the press before the competition, but that's next to impossible now. Still, I'm not at all surprised to see the Australian's on top - they've restricted England to just 161. The Southern Stars will feel they've not played to their potential and will want to knock over England - one finalist - to prove they've not dropped out of the top tier. If anything, this tournament's proved that the top four are considerably stronger than the bottom.

Elsewhere, New Zealand's White Ferns have changed their team from the win over India but not rested too many of their top guns. They've just posted the highest score of the competition to date, 373 for seven with both captain Tiffen and Suzie Bates scoring centuries, Bates scoring 168! Assuming they skittle Pakistan quickly, they'll probably head quickly over to North Sydney oval to watch the Australian innings.

I've heard the experts say winning a tournament's different from test series and momentum is everything. Whatever happens between England and Australia, but I'm barracking for our Australasian cousins, the Fern's clearly have momentum.

Update: Australia have beaten England by eight wickets, that'll not help their preparation for the final which will be against New Zealand who've comprehensively beaten Pakistan.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free cricket tickets... honest

It's an offer simply too good to pass-up, free tickets to the Women's World Cup final, North Sydney Oval, this Sunday from 10am.

I 'spose you could do your washing, car's a mess too and God knows when you last visited the rellos (trans: relatives) but bugger that, go to the cricket, cheer the White Ferns, the kids will get a balloon animal and have their face painted while you grab a sanger-sandwhich and a beer...

Courtesy of the clever and charming tournament Director, Miss Eugenie Buckley, I've got some tickets to give away. Contact me on to make arrangements (basically, you'll need to pick them up from the city Friday afternoon).

Here we go, here we go, here go...

It was a glorious afternoon in North Sydney yesterday. The autumnal cool air and warm afternoon sun made for perfect conditions.

North Sydney oval has old-world charm. The stadia are vintage, recovered from various developments at the SCG apparently. They're shallow and tightly surround the pitch. A large embankment on the east side of the ground is the perfect spot to sit if you've got a hat and sunscreen (though you can't easily see the replay screen). The ground was completely open when I arrived, late in New Zealand's innings, meaning anyone could have stopped by for free (sadly however, the bar had closed).

I caught the last ten overs. Just before I arrived I heard applause as Mason hit a four and a six. She struck another boundary but was then caught at mid-wicket. By then however, it didn't matter. New Zealand had momentum and wickets in hand. Bates joined Browne and both continued to play aggressively, Bates batting well out of the crease - even Gouher Sultana's near full-tosses didn't deter her though she did cop a couple in the ribs. The Ferns had luck too, benefiting from a couple of misfields and four leg-byes in the last few overs (but the Indians had bowled tightly throughout, conceding only eight extras compared with the Ferns 25).

A small group of supporters, many who looked like parents of team members, were in the stands. We joined them for the last two overs and then applauded the team as they joined the pair that'd hit the winning runs. Danny Morrison did the presentations to polite heckling - c'mon Danny, walk-in with the bowler mate - and Pulford was player of the match having taken a pair then knocked 71.

Tiffen's pre-match prediction that her pace bowlers would do well was spot on. Devine, Pulford, and Browne took five, spinner Mason just one - remarkably the rest were all run-outs.

It's possible the Ferns won't make the final though they should. On form, Pakistan won't trouble them on Thursday which means Sunday's final will be New Zealand against England. Interestingly England last won the cup at home in 1993 and New Zealand at home in 2000. New Zealand ought to be adopted by the hosts and the expats should be there en masse... New Zealand cricket fans will need distraction from the domestic series!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ferns off to a flyer

India won the toss and elected to bat, they've lost two wickets for just 37 runs after 12 overs bringing the danger pair of Chopra and Raj together!

Update: Browne makes the critical break through, getting Raj out caught behind for just 21 - her average before this game was 89. India now 68 for three and falling just below three runs an over after 23 overs.

Update 2: Pulford knocks over Rumeli Dhar cheaply. India now 87 for four.

Update 3: Captain Tiffen runs out Indian captain Goswami. India 108 for five... Chopra still in on 49.

End of Indian innings: The Indians have posted 207 just falling short of batting out their overs. Chopra held the innings together batting through to the 38th over and scoring 52. The Indian score was bumped-up by Reema Malhotra who scored faster than a run a ball and was not out at the end on 59.

Live blogging will cease now as (a) no one's reading and (b) I'm going to skive off to the game. Horrah!

Chicks sport, who cares?

What is it with the lack of coverage of women's sport in Australia? I recall being particularly peeved when the 2006 trans-Tasman netball was not live on television even though the rights were with the national free-to-air broadcaster.

Coverage of the ICC Women's World Cup is good by comparison, it's live and although it's not free-to-air, all North Sydney oval games are on Foxtel. Tick for television. Tick too, for ABC radio which has had live commentary of all Australian games. The print press though, they've hardly paid any attention to the tourament. Perhaps it's because Australia has struggled and will likely not now make the final? The online presence, beyond the excellent tournament homepage, is also limited. NZ Cricket's tournament site is good with interviews, match reports and the like as is the cricinfo mini-site.

Miss Field is likewise underwhelmed by the lack of coverage. And, courtesey of the handmirror, so too are NZ bloggers ludditejourno and Anne-Marie.

Women's sport suffers badly from a lack of media attention which translates into poor attendance, in most codes, and probably affects participation(?). In Australia, swimming has been the exception although the new trans-Tasman netball competition is also live and free-to-air (plus, it seems, subscriber access to high definition). In New Zealand, my memory is that only netball gets consistent coverage.

I'd speculate as to why this is, but it's obvious really.

Monday, March 16, 2009

White Ferns must win match against India

The White Ferns face India at North Sydney oval today, Tuesday 17 March, and must win to have a chance of making the final. Assuming the remaining super six games go on form, England will be in the finals and will face one of India, Australia or New Zealand.

India have momentum in their favour having won a tight contest against Australia but little separates them from the White Ferns. Both have beaten Australia - NZ by 13 runs and India by 16 - and both have lost to England - NZ by 31 runs but India by a whopping 9 wickets!

The White Fern's captain seems to think her team is better suited to North Sydney oval where the pitch favours pace bowlers. In her blog on cricinfo, Haidee Tiffen identifies fast bowlers Nicola Browne and Sophie Devine as key to their chances as well as making clear her own responsibilities to bat through the innings.
...secondly a top-order batsman, like Anjum Chopra against Australia, has stayed on till 40 overs to steer the batting. We have that sort of batsmen, who can stay long and score at a quick rate and when we get it right we are a very strong batting team.
For New Zealand to win, they'll have to bowl well and minimise the extras (the conceded 19 extras against England and 15 against Australia). The key is dismissing Mithali Raj and Anjum Chopra cheaply. Watch for NZ's Aimee Mason to play an important role too. Mason's taken eight wickets through the tournament, including four against South Africa, at a strike rate of 19.

C'mon Sydney-based Kiwi's, if you can, North Sydney oval's a ten minute train ride from the city (you can get trains from Central, Town Hall and Wynyard)! Surely a long lunch or an early finish is the least your team deserves!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Assume cultural stereotypes, first position!

I should hardly be surprised by news that despite topping their pool, something they were not predicted to do, the White Ferns will not play at North Sydney oval on Saturday as scheduled as I'd hoped. This is Because cameras are only at North Sydney oval and that's where Australia were playing there regardless of where they ended up in the first round (having come second).

The White Ferns are now playing out at Bankstown - I'm sure a perfectly nice oval.

An Australian colleague passed this news on to me, having correctly read the schedule and enjoying correcting my error. He goaded me to protest - of course I did.

"Typical bloody Kiwi, always having a moan", he said.

"Typical bloody Australia, rorting and cheating the competition", I replied.

Update: I was wrong about the schedule...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bound to be astro-turfing...

But fun, much more so than the 'naf mystery jacket owner Naked lied about created to flog cheap gear.

I'm curious. Bets? Craiglist makes sense, some other networking/dating site perhaps?

Update: it is not astro-turfing or some corporate strategy, I regret my earlier cynicism (I'm not usually cynical ), it is however, plagiarism. Melburnian Craig is reprimanded here for ripping off the idea from a New Yorker who's ever so slightly pissy...

White Ferns off to tricky start

After eleven overs, NZ are two for 40. Tiffen still at wicket however.

Update: Great recovery, NZ now three for 99. Tiffen took a back seat to Satterthwaite who's gone on to post her highest score, currently 69 (previous high score 67) and is scoring at close to a run a ball.

Update 2: Now five down for 132 (32 over). Satterthwaite out for 73 from 76. Vice Captain Mason went cheaply but Sara McGlashan and Nicola Browne continuing to score at around four an over.

Final: NZ posted a good score, 250, and then knocked over the South Africans for the paltry score of 51. Five of the South Africans were out without scoring and only one made double figures. Bates and Mason took four-for, Mason in four overs and conceding only two runs.

England similarly flogged Pakistan. This means the White Ferns play England on Saturday 14th at North Sydney Oval.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Windies defeated, next stop Bowral

The White Ferns beat the Windies out west in Bankstown - no match report from me, I was busy with public service.

Next up are the South Africans who lost today to the Australians (Aussies posted a good score and the South Africans couldn't complete their overs). It looks like NZ fielded their top team against the Australians and gave some a rest today. I'll not make this weekend's game as it's in Bowral (an hour+ south of Sydney).

Assuming the White Ferns win their remaining games, they'll top their side of the draw which will likely see them play England, ranked second in this competition, in the first game of the Super Six. That game will be played Saturday 14th at the wonderful North Sydney Oval.

If there's someone with connections to Kea, please let them know to ask them to repeat their encouraging of the kiwi-expat community!

Monday, March 09, 2009

ICC Women's Cricket World Cup

NZ's off to a great start in the ICC Women's World Cup beating the Aussies at home in a close game that, sadly, was decided by Meers Duckworth and Lewis. NZ would've won had the game gone on, honest, and despite the weather it was an cracker game. A prelude to the final perhaps?

NZ won even after a mid-order collapse. Great batting by NZ captain Haidee Tiffen (see above playing strongly in front of square) and attacking bowling by Kate Pulford got the Kiwis home. Pulford took three, including a great LBW to dismiss Nitschke (who'd just belted her for six), and 'keeper Priest took a couple of important catches including a screamer in front of first slip to dismiss Sthalekar (off Pulford's bowling). The Aussies conceded too many extras (21) and, let's be fair, had to play in the tougher conditions.

North Sydney Oval is bloody marvellous. The ground is small and purpose-built. A cluster of well maintained traditional stands, a temporary replay screen and a wide grassed hill are ideal for watching and for families - my youngest played with Stuey McGill's kids before discovering the balloon animals and face-painting (congrats to the organisers for catering to the kids, it's simple stuff and enables the parents to relax and stay longer). Even though this is a serious competition, any trans-Tasman event is, the presence of so many kids really adds to the atmosphere - at the risk of being nostalgic, the game on the weekend reminded me what sports used to be like before professionalism totally took over.

Games are also being played at Drummoyne Oval, Bankstown, Newcastle and the Don's home of Bowral. Public transport to all the grounds is very good - Bowral excepted perhaps. I've not been to the Drummoyne Oval but I'm told it's equally family friendly.

Having won their opening game, NZ are now in a great position heading into the Super Six stage of the competition. Get along and watch! Tickets are available online with NZ versus the Republic of South Africa, Bankstown, Saturday 14th, available for the princely sum of $20 for a family!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Credit when it's due

Lindsay Mitchell and I will likely not see eye to eye on many things but I understand that she's a conviction politican and so I understand her dismay at reading an ACT MP suggest the Bill of Rights be amended to accommodate his pet project; discredited, knee-jerk law-n-order crappola.

The three-strikes law's (and its variations) been around an age. As I've commented before, it's clap-trap disguised as giving voice to victims. I don't know Lindsay's views on this element of ACT policy but I do know that she's not afraid to call bullshit even on her own party - even if they turn on her for doing so.

New season starts with rape allegation

If you woke up and wondered what time of year it was, this story would tell you it must be the start of the League season. Tragic. Just tragic! This must be the third or fourth year in a row that the start of the NRL has resulted in allegations of sexual assault.

Vale Matt Laffan

I heard last night that Matt Laffan had died. I'd first became aware of him only when he stood as an independent for Lord Mayor of Sydney. I then seemed to see him everywhere, on TV in the streets and around the courts. He was a remarkable character, an inspirational figure who appears to have never once let serious disabilities deter him from his goals. His passing is sad, but his life was magnificent. There's a lesson in that.

Update: At a conference today, in a session on social inclusion, Matt's name came up and it was clear he'd been known widely. A number of remarkable leaders in the field spoke about how people with disabilities can engage meaningfully in work with far less "fuss" than might be thought. Numerous messages resonated for me but none more so than the consensus that it is attitudes to people with disabilities, not the disability itself that is the major constraint and that fear and ignorance can be easily overcome. The five people speaking today did Matt proud.

Update 2: I should hardly be surprised by how many people Matt inspired. I've found lots of traffic heading this way from searches for information about Matt. Many people new Matt and have posted their own stories about his life including Stuart Khan, Matt's cousin.

Having it both ways

The media are keen on the prospect of a common border between NZ and Australia. The focus is on passenger access and this makes sense if NZ wants to grab a larger share of the tourism dollars expanded by Australians. Enabling them to check-in and clear customs just the once will represent a real benefit and could shift business - particularly from the domestic market where suddenly a trip to Queenstown is both cheaper, quicker and now less fussy than a trip to Perth and Brisvegas.

If, as seems clear, this is the main objective it makes sense but what of the risks?

NZers enjoy a priviledged position in Australia. We've no need to become permanent residents to work and access most benefits. This means it's a pretty simple matter to up-sticks are relocate. As noted in an earlier post, Key has to balance his goals in tourism with the accountabilities he took on pre-election; the promise to reduce the loss of skilled labour trans-Tasman!

When's he going to do that and how?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Andrew Little's election

I'm pleased that Andrew Little's taken on the Labour presidency. He's always struck me as an incredibly thoughtful and reasonable man, able to be a fierce advocate without being unpleasant or hectoring. His leadership of the EPMU has been characterised by a very constructive engagement with business leaders around shared goals; productive, profitable and sustainable industry. Mike Williams departure ought not be with a sigh of relief. He took over in difficult circumstances when the loved and admired Michael Hirschfeld died suddenly. Much has been made of some of Mike's errors, but they never numbered as many as his successes and the party's in great shape by any measure.

An ambitious man in Australia

Key's honeymoon continues despite tough times in New Zealand but I wonder what happened to the fire from the election campaign? Remember John wandering around empty stadia lamenting that our biggest export was talent? What about the billboards that promised an end to all those teary farewells? That was all going to change wasn't it? John will claim time's moved on, that the global crisis has shifted the goal posts. But shouldn't that mean people are more, not less likely to return to NZ? Probably you can argue it either way.

The promise to stop Kiwis leaving was ridiculous, the crisis always overstated and the solutions hollow. National's policy, such as it was, focused principally on importing people not on stopping departures. So should Key now be held to account for the continued net flow of Permanent and Longterm Departures to Australia for instance? Yes, but that won't change anything much.

Oddly though, when interviewed this morning on Australia radio (not available online unfortunately), Key made no mention of his concern that New Zealand will soon be denuded of talent. He focused instead on the challenges in the Pacific, on the financial crisis and easing travel between the countries. All valid and reasonable. He, in fact, acquitted himself well, but I wonder what he'll say to the parents who're still taking their kids to the airport? Perhaps he's arranged for them to join him on his Hercules flight home to be literally parachuted into struggling communities en route to Wellington?

The false reality of an election is over. The practical challenge of delivering on the over-blown promise needs attention. What solutions does National have really? When the trans-Tasman super portability kicks in, there may well be some additional movement back to NZ but it won't be great as too many people have lost too much equity and must now rebuild before they can retire.

It's no surprise then that David Farrar has written just the one post about migration since the election (that compares with four in the month or two before it). I can't help but recall Bolger's sage advice against stirring up race-relations during the 1990 election; he's reported to have said "sure it might help us win the election, but what will we do when we show up on Monday to govern?"