January 2008


Matt gets down to particulars and inaccuracies about yours truly.

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The action was imperfect, the ball toss too far over the left shoulder, but the imaginary flight of the ball drew a call of ‘ace’ and a dubious look from his little sister; her copy-book backhand had connected with nothing but air.

He recalled the ball to hand, stood side-on to his sister, who spun the racquet in her hands and swayed, bent-kneed, bum-out, transferring her weight from side-to-side, ready to return serve.

He paused a moment, as the train in the near distance sounded its horn. Then he bounced the ball deliberately three times, cocked his wrist, picked his spot, raised his racquet and threw the ball above his left shoulder.

He fell into the court off-balance. The serve was returned sharply cross-court on the forehand — a rally, at last. Forehand versus forehand, big brother and little sister.

The ball clipped the tape of the net. He dove forward, spooning it up and over her head, forcing her to retreat to the baseline and play the ball, back to her brother, between her legs.

A simple angled-volley was all that was required but he under-cut the ball and it looped and fizzed with spin and landed in the backhand corner. She connected with another copy-book backhand, one eye on the train arriving at the platform below.

The ball wrapped on the frame of her racquet and skied up and over the metal beams of the station shelter.

His eyes went up, following the trajectory; the train arrived and gusted the ball towards the baseline. He shuffled a few steps backwards and to the left to take the ball on his forehand.

The ball dropped, bounced above his head, and his arm came through and his wrist flicked through the shot to slam the ball down the centre of the court.

‘Winner!’, he cried.

His little sister was half-way down the steps, their parents waiting with tickets.

All the spectators boarded the train and left the imaginary trajectories and tennis balls on the overpass that lead to Platform 2.

India didn’t waste any time in pulling its trump card, suspending their tour of Australia pending the outcome of Harbhjan Singh’s appeal against a three match ban for racial vilification.

Gideon Haigh sums up the situation:

We’re just getting used to the idea of the statutes where a captain has the opportunity to report an opposition player and I don’t think it’s going to work, because I think it opens the game to the potential for these kind of tit for tat, he-said she-said kind of accusations and it’s just going to make the game ungovernable.

Indian captain, Anil Kumble, said: “Only one team was playing within the spirit of the game, that’s all I can say.”

The aggression with which Australia pursued the win in the final hour of the game, incessantly appealing for dismissals that weren’t there left this cricket optimist a little deflated after securing the win.

Meanwhile, Ricky Ponting remains deliberately ignorant: “There’s been one little issue that’s come out of the game. Otherwise, the spirit between both teams in both Tests has been excellent.”

Did you not hear what Anil said, Ricky?

I’m certain India will play the Perth test match, and optmistic raw-boned Australian quick Shaun Tait will be there to greet them.

UPDATE:

Today’s Top 10 articles on The Age list four out of ten related to cricket, right next to Why 10 is too young for your first Brazilian.

Who or what is Greg Matthews?: “This ain’t groovy, guys”.

What is this verbal agreement they speak of?

Ponting ‘must be sacked’, according to Peter Roebuck:

The notion that Ponting can hereafter take the Australian team to India is preposterous. He has shown not the slightest interest in the wellbeing of the game, not the slightest sign of diplomatic skill, not a single mark of respect for his accomplished and widely admired opponents.

Ricky Ponting gave what seems like his final opinion in The Australian: “It’s my job as captain to make sure everyone stays within those boundaries and I am satisfied we have, not only in this Test and series but in recent years.”

Gideon Haigh lends his intelligence to the discussion of racism:

Racism is serious. Racism is about the denial of another person’s essential humanity on the basis of their skin and their culture. Racism is about embedded prejudices, institutionalised discrimination, real economic and social deprivation… To say, then, that one cricketer calling another a monkey on a cricket field is racism is to define the idea frivolously. Was Symonds belittled? Was he hurt? Was he disadvantaged?

Mike Coward explains why Anil Kumble thought “Only one team [was] playing in the spirit of the game”: “Historians and social anthropologists will also have a field day, for this debate extends well beyond the realm of sport.”

At last count, 75% of those polled think the Australian cricketers are bad sports.

Will the tour go on? Two words: Television rights.

“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing” came into common use after American football coach Vince Lombardi uttered the phrase at a pre-season training-camp media conference. Later on Lombardi repudiated himself, implying that he meant, “Winning is not everything – but making the effort to win is.”

Ponting

Australia won the Second Test against India at the SCG today, but it was not a victory for the patriotic to take a picture of and sign & sell as memorabilia. After suffering the bulk of bad decisions India deserved a draw, however, the match, and eventually the result, was marred by poor umpiring.

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