Sunday, December 21, 2008

Australia v South Africa Review.

Congratulations to the Proteas for an exceptional run chase today. Whilst it was painful as an Australian cricket fan to watch at times, it was one of the better test matches in recent times on Australian soil and sets up what should be a fun series. 

Whilst no Australian batsman managed to post three-figures, this side of the Australian game seems to be no concern. Certainly there are questions over the future of Matt Hayden, however no panic should exist in this regard - if Hayden continues to falter, Klinger's superb season should be rewarded and potential superstar Phil Hughes is only a year or two away. Did Australia score enough runs on a placid pitch? Probably not. Is Australia's batting a weakness? Definitely not.

Bowling, on the other hand IS a problem that should leave Australian selectors with some concerns. The loss to the Proteas in Perth has thrown light on just how much of a struggle the post Warne/McGrath era could become. Whilst Mitchell Johnson has established himself in this game as Australia's frontline bowler, his supporting cast were pretty meek. 

The defeat in Perth encompasses many things. Not scoring enough runs, meek bowling and the main point: The fact that Australia were outplayed by a Proteas team which demonstrated resilience, class superior tactical nous and grace under pressure. Ricky Ponting, rather than putting his finger on any of these points instead blamed Cameron Sutherland. Yet again, Ponting demonstrates the class in defeat that has been one of the sad hallmarks of his tenure at the peak of Australian cricket. Instead of lauding the South African achievement, he blames the curator and then calls out the "passengers" in his team. Whilst many, including we of this blog have exhausted much space on the interweb deriding the tactical nous of ponting, his graceless press conferences must be considered equally damning. 

Ricky Ponting considers how he scored 0 & 32 on a dull and lifeless pitch. 

Again, whilst all credit must go to the victors, the punchless Australian bowling attack must come under scrutiny. Lets start with Brett Lee. Never the most cerebral of bowlers, Lee has always relied on bludgeoning batsmen out rather than thinking them out. In the last four years or so, he has bowled to a good pattern and at pace. Now as he has begun to lose his pace, he looks to be unable to adjust. Of course Lee deserves a chance to right the ship, but without the express pace, Lee could be turning his attention to a full time career in Bollywood sooner rather than later. Peter Siddle looked punchless although he looked to be the better of the bowlers on day five. Unfairly for the big quick, he will be the test matches casualty. Likely, he is the passenger to whom Ponting refers. Unless he is of course referring to Shane Watson, who was 12th man and offered a poor drinks service. Often, Ponting would wait one over, maybe two for his warm milk. Krezja, between flashes of brilliance is yet to be able to put together a long probing spell of bowling. That takes time, his potential to be quite decent should earn him some patience.  

So what to do? In a perfect world, this young team would be led by Simon Katich. 

This is not a perfect world.

At best we can hope for a minor tweak. I would advocate a squad for Boxing day of Hayden, Katich, Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Symonds, Haddin, Johnson, Lee, Hifenhaus, Krezja and Bollinger. If the deck doesn't look conducive to spin - I would happily go in with that four man pace attack. Bollinger and Hilfenhaus both deserve to make their test debuts and both offer more than Siddle did in Perth.

For what it's worth, it was a pretty dull Perth deck in this match. However, it produced a result. Australia managed to lose 20 wickets on it. Ponting, a guy with Australia's best job should have the generosity to not put the spotlight on a guy who earns maybe 5% of what he earns. For all of the intensity of the Border, Taylor and Waugh years, there was still a graciousness in defeat that is lacking under Ponting. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Art Of Being A Tennis Dad

Being an aspiring "tennis dad", I have been keenly following the antics of John Tomic, father of Aussie young gun Bernard. Earlier this year, Bernard was the youngest ever winner of the Australian Open juniors, taking out the title a few months after his 15th birthday. This would suggest that he is our most promising junior since a pimply, teenage Lleyton Hewitt. However, like many a young hopeful on the tennis circuit, his farjer (father) is a paranoid loony tune. At a recent tournament in WA, he remonstrated with officials about alleged foot faults from an opponent of his son, before ordering his son to walk off the court. WHAB was unable to contact John to pick his tennis dad mind, so we were forced to look elsewhere for some pointers.

A phone call to Jim Pierce, farjer of former women's star Mary, culminated in him threatening to kill us, so we hit a dead-end there.

However, a canny series of phone calls led us to the master. One Damir Dokic.

Officer, can you show me where the exit is?

Remembering some of his past comments, such as; "I have thought about dropping a nuclear bomb on Sydney since Jelena lost in the first round this week, for which Australia is to blame", and "I have even thought about killing an Australian in revenge...", I polished up my Dutch accent by watching Goldmember many times on the long flight to Serbia. Here's what Damir had to say about all things tennis dad.

WHAB (in Dutch accent): So Damir, what do you think of your daughter's latest comeback attempt?

Damir: It's bad. She was once very good player but Australia with the help of Croatia and the Vatican brainwashed my daughter. More than 40% of women in world tennis are lesbians. I wouldn't be able to stand it if it turned out that Jelena was one of them. If she was a lesbian I'd kill myself.

WHAB: Right...I take it you still hate Australia?

Damir: Yes. I would like to kill one. They wreck Jelena. I always say you can't make good people out of crime and bitch prostitute.

WHAB: And what about the U.S. Open?

Damir: It is crime organisation. What do you do, when you pay for two pieces of fish but you only get one? You would be angry, too. The USA country doesn't have a heart, they have cold concrete. I'm never going back to that place, it's too dirty and too communist.

WHAB: And the English?

Damir: The Queen is on the side of democracy and the rest of the country is fascist.

WHAB: Hmm, on to your second bottle of that I see...Have you given any advice to John Tomic?

Damir: Yes. I say you are right and Australia is wrong. They're the kind of people that give you sausages in 40 degree weather and then refuse to give you water. Come play for Serbia.

WHAB: Any more plans to kidnap your daughter back?

Damir: Yes. I don't want her in Australian Open. I will kidnap her in Australia. They are the crazy ones who give you hot sausages before the match when it's 40 degrees Celsius outside. I always say you can't make good people out of crime and bitch prostitute.

WHAB: So what does a semi-retired tennis farjer do these days?

Damir: I love women, wine, food and kids. And by women I mean women. Not wife. Sometimes I drink, but so do other people. So what. I am nothing when President Clinton liked his sex and Boris Yeltsin was drunk every day. I am not dangerous.

WHAB: Still waiting for the call from NSWRU?

Damir: I stood for NSW Super 12 coaching position. NSW great. Queensland bad. I cannot believe that NSWRU didn't want to interview me. I am great coach.

WHAB: So how can I be the best tennis dad I can be?

Damir: Don't be Australian or American or fascist. Eat fish, not sausages when it's hot and make sure you get two pieces. Drinking is ok. If you have daughter, try to make sure she is not lesbian. More than 40% of women in world tennis are lesbians.

WHAB: Well that wraps it up Damir. I'll take this story back to Austra...I mean Holland and publish it so people know that you're not crazy.

Damir: I don't make problems. Others make problems. If you make something bad to me, I react.

WHAB: I know Damir, I know. Thanks for your time.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Australia vs South Africa

Well it's seems an eternity since we dusted off a second-string Kiwi outfit. You would have thought that Cricket Australia would have thrown in a couple of one dayers or some T20 with the sheep-shaggers after the Tests instead of having a ridiculously long layoff in the middle of the cricket season, but what would I know?

This shapes as an intriguing series that could go either way, though South Africa seem to forget how to play when they tour here. However, opening batsmen Neil McKenzie believes that they can get the job done this time. "It will be a tight series, no question. But if we can keep all the toilet seats down in the dressing room and tape bats to the ceiling, as well as actually playing well, I think we can beat Australia. We think they are vulnerable at the moment, and as long as we stay off the white lines and cracks out in the middle, then we have the ability to win this series," said a tired looking McKenzie, who had the look of a man who had been up all night trying to get into bed without creasing the sheets.

Aussie captain Ricky Ponting, who has shrugged off the loss of Stuart Clark, says the South Africans shouldn't be getting too cocky. "They are a bunch of chokers. That's why they'll never be as good as us. That, and the fact that I'm a far superior captain and all round cranky pants to Graeme Smith, who is a choker and a lame sledger, " he said. "On Stuart Clark, I've said it before, he is only our fourth best pace bowler so we won't miss him at all".

There's been a lot of talk about the strength of South Africa's bowling attack, but now it's d-day. They need to perform from the get-go or else they'll initiate self-destruct mode in a batting lineup put under pressure.

Great to see Krejza in for another Test, on a track which probably won't be kind to him. It's the matches like these where we're going to find out if he's the real deal. He showed enormous potential in India, proving this dud scribe wrong again. I think Siddle will be hard to handle at the WACA, but long term, there are concerns that he doesn't move the ball in the air enough. When all's said and done, a Test match without Stuart Clark's magnificent line and length bowling and wildly entertaining batting at 11 just isn't quite the same for us cricketing purists.

My Birthday perfectly coincides with the opening day of this match. A day off work, a couple of coldies, and a comfortable place on the couch in front of the telly will do me just fine.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

WHAB's Top 10 Douchebags For 2008

Another year in sport is almost done and dusted so it's time to reflect on those sportspeople who amazed us with their stupidity, entertained us with their antics, or just downright pissed us off.

Sonny Bill Williams: It's no surprise that we've barely heard any SBW news since he fled Australia, and, I'd venture to say that most people here have forgotten all about the tattooed one who's time in Oz was spent eternally wrapped up in cotton wool. The only thing that Williams excelled at (in the five matches he eked out of each season), the shoulder charge, is illegal in Union. From the vague and infrequent reports from Toulon, the word is that they wasted their money. The man had enormous potential but never reached it because of people like Phil Gould climaxing every time SBW dropped the shoulder. There's much more to the game than dropping the shoulder Gus...segue to next douche on the list.

Phil Gould: It's impossible to have a Top 10 Douchebag list without this clown of a man in it. He's not in here for any single reason; it's more a collection of his yearly dose of obnoxious comments, finger pointing, media whoring, overuse of the phrase "Yeah baby", and his penchant for pumping up the lamest match of the round as a blockbuster. I wonder if there'll ever be 10 more douchier douches that can manage to knock this baffoon off this list.

Greg Bird: We all know you did it. You got hammered and smashed up your pretty girlfriend's face with a glass didn't you? Can't remember eh? You massive, monstrous douche. Enough said.

Todd Carney: So talented, yet just so stupid. One drunken night out after another, incident after incident. You just want to go out with the boys, I get that, but when you start pissing on people, that's going too far son!

Ricky Ponting: Becomes easier to dislike with each passing match and exclusive interview. I'm not going to go on about him too much; our opinion of Ponting is well known here. After all, we named this site in his honour, so all that's left to say is Ricky are a douche!

Andrew Symonds: I was once one of those fans who hoped that Symmo would come good and cement his place in the Aussie cricket team. Now, I couldn't care less. The Symonds soap opera rolls on...and on...and on and I just don't have the time or patience anymore. You either want to play cricket for Australia (the dream of the majority of untalented Aussie blokes) or you don't. It's that simple.

Harbhajan Singh: Was better behaved when Australia toured India (Zaheer is upping the ante on him in the douche stakes), but for his antics on the Australian summer tour and for his bitch-slapping of Sreesanth, I couldn't leave him off this list.

Zaheer Khan: Hates all Australian cricketers (possibly all Australians) because he got sledged when he sucked in the 2003 World Cup final. There are not many members of that team still going around, but he hates us just the same, and carries on like a complete tool when he picks up an Aussie scalp. Needs a good kick in the nuts.

Alan Didak: Honestly, how many times can you be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Plaxico Burress: Being a man who can only wish that he played in the NFL, with athletic prowess, earning millions, being lauded by fans and winning Superbowl rings, nothing agitates me more than a wayward star...except a really stupid wayward star. Everyone got problems man. The answer is not in taking a loaded gun to a packed niteclub in New York City and shooting yourself in the leg. In fact, you should never shoot yourself in the leg, ever. Your teammates, the fans, and the punters who took the Giants at $17 to go back-to-back deserve better. You are a douchey man.

Let me know if I missed anyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Racing News

An excerpt from an article by Max Presnell after Takeover Target's win in the Winterbottom Stks:

"Take a bow, Joe Janiak. He showed, in this era of big-number training operations there is still a place for the hand-tailored top-liner. Around five years ago the comment was made: "Imagine what Takeover Target would do with a real trainer." Takeover Target wouldn't even be here now." I hear ya Max.

There'd have been no royal trips overseas if he was churned out of the Hayes horse factory.

The Target lines up this week in the 1400m A.J Scahill Stks on Saturday. There are only four other horses brave enough to take him on!

In Honkers, Douro Valley is having a crack at the Hong Kong Vase (2400m). Don't like his chances here as I think he tops out at that distance. The fields on this raceday are world class as well, but hopefully he can run a cheeky race. Another interesting runner is Purple Moon, the 2007 Melbourne Cup runner-up.

The baldy-face of Apache Cat will hopefully be storming down the Shatin straight to victory in the Hong Kong Sprint. At his very best, I would back him to win this. Not sure he is at his very best presently but could be peaking at the right time. Go the Cat!

The Cat, eyeing off a Honkers Group 1

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Daly Rages at Royal Sydney

John Daly has defended his actions in the wake of his latest rampage at today's Australian Open first round. The two-time-very-long-ago major winner smashed a fan's camera into a tree, kicked an elderly man's walking frame out from under him and threw a small girl into a water hazard. He left the course without confronting the press, and reportedly left the cab escorting him to his hotel without paying the fare before smashing up his hotel room with a 5 wood. WHAB caught up with the big fella later this evening after he'd calmed downed/drank four bottles of whisky. "The guy with the camera, he was right in my face, just-a snap-snap-snappin' away man. I'm outraged. Who does that? So I smashed his camera into a tree. And then the old guy says somethin' like "why'd you do that for?". So I told him the old bastard why. Then this fat little girl tries to tell me that I'm her dad! That I met her mother at the Casino last time I was in Oz. That was it, I just god-damn lost it after that. I thought enough was enough but then the cabbie missed the entrance to the drive-thru and I couldn't get some booze to clear my head, so there was no way I was paying that asshole. And the hotel room, well, it just started closin' in on me. Lucky I had my trusty 5 wood handy. What a fucked day man!" Daly, who shot a six over par 78, confirmed he'd be back bigger and badder for his second round. "I'm fine now that I'm away from all the bad people. Hopefully the tournament organisers can weed out these trouble-makers and I can get back to doing what I once did best. Who knows what tomorrow might bring?".

Wednesday, December 3, 2008