Jump Ball Sports
I found myself writing “Even rain can’t dampen the excitement surrounding this Ashes series” and then realised how terribly clichéd that is.
I wanted to press delete, but I couldn't think of anything better. So let’s just pretend I wrote it in a more unique way and move on.
It’s only been a little over a week since that epic first Test, but it feels like a month. Five tests over a month-and-half provides the perfect tension between anticipation and gratification.
The Australian brains trust has opted to bowl first despite being 1-0 up, a relatively benign wicket, the mouth-watering prospect of Nathan Lyon bowling last on a deteriorating wicket, and - most rational of all - the risk of stirring up the ghosts of Ricky Ponting's disastrous decision to bowl first at Edgbaston in '05.
Only two down at lunch (albeit for not much) is far from vindication, but here's hoping.
Joe Denly has just been sent packing btw. I would take all that bowling first talk above back if it wasn't a thinly veiled reverse mozz that seems to be working.
The AFL is akin to a driverless car, a wildly successful product that is the envy of its issue-ridden local sporting rivals.
Against this backdrop, few would blame AFL HQ for keeping a relatively low profile as it rides on the game’s coattails. After all, if it ain’t broke and all of that.
And yet, Gill McLachlan and co can’t seem to help themselves, with the latest misstep being McLachlan going public with his wish for Giants star Stephen Coniglio to remain with GWS beyond this season.
One could at least argue that fundamental rule changes and the introduction of AFLX fall within the AFL executive’s remit, no matter how misguided.
Not so wading into the future of a highly sought after FREE AGENT.
While so obviously inappropriate and a bright red flag in respect of the judgement of the person charged with running the game, it is also a move made even more erroneous by the fact that it follows former AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick becoming embroiled in the ugly saga over Buddy Franklin’s snubbing of the Giants for the Sydney Swans back in 2012.
Roughy for CEO anyone?
Brett Dids Farwell
Two things jump out from Brett Deledio’s retirement announcement:
Has a coach (let alone a first time coach) had to endure more off-field indiscretions from his players than Nathan Buckley during his Pies tenure? Here’s a hastily assembled black and white rap sheet since 2015:
Lifting the hood on the Teague Train
A stream of consciousness on Carlton's David Teague appointment:
EPL is back and it’s bloody fantastic.
Manchester City and Liverpool are looming as prohibitive favourites, but storylines abound:
As a Foxtel subscriber, I cursed Foxtel losing its EPL rights to Optus and spent the next two years relying on SBS’ spotty EPL coverage schedule. Then it dawned on me that $15 per month for an Optus subscription is highway give-backery. Do yourself a favour.
I love a good sporting hoodoo and the Wallabies' losing streak against the All Blacks at Eden Park dating back to 1986 is right up there.
There is an element of win-win about it for Australia ahead of Saturday night’s second Bledisloe Cup Test match in Auckland, particularly with this largely unheralded Wallabies incarnation. Win and rejoice, lose and the legend grows.
But back to last Saturday night’s triumph in Perth and what is says about rugby union’s contemporary place within Australia’s domestic sporting landscape.
Despite the ongoing struggles of the largely irrelevant Super Rugby competition and the ongoing Izzy Folau mess, the Wallabies – particularly when up and about - have not lost their allure amongst mainstream Australian sports fans.
Of course, national teams playing in primetime will always command a certain degree of attention, particularly from Essendon fans on the receiving end in the Marvel massacre.
But rugby union is also a fantastic spectacle – similar to AFL in its unpredictability and yet different in its subtle brutality – and is blessed by master commentator Gordon Bray, who surely must be able to spread his magic across other sports for all to enjoy.
Win or lose, if Australia can maintain the rage on Saturday night, this Bledisloe Cup will have served as an invaluable warm-up act for the Word Cup later this year.