An inglorious Indian summer (1)

There’s a bit been happening with the Australian cricket team in India over the last week or two and people keep asking me,  “Why is a former wicket keeper the Australian cricket team’s spin bowling coach?” who better to ask than former Australian wicket keeper and current Australian cricket team fielding coach,  that crusty old blighter, Steve Rixon.


Steve Rixon: What do you want?


Me: Steve, how are you? How are you coping with the change of keepers ? You must be flat out as fielding coach.


Steve Rixon: It’s been a vast improvement. Haddin can catch – it makes a big difference you know.


Me:  I can’t imagine. I’m hearing you’re also the spin bowling coach now. What would you know about bowling spin, you’re a wicket keeper?


Steve Rixon: Spinners and wicket keepers need to have good synergy so it’s natural for a wicket keeper to coach spinners. Nah that’s just spin mate, I don’t even know what the word ‘synergy’ means. Like most of the media you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. I’m not the spin bowling coach, I’m the spin coach. You don’t think Invers and Mickey came up with the phrase “informed player management” by themselves do you? That was my work. I coach all the staff, coaches and players on how to answer media questions – I coach them in spin. Test me out – ask me another question.


Me: Alright then, why was Nathan Lyon dropped?


Steve Rixon: Well we felt as a team unit we needed to have a left arm spinner and a right arm spinner to make best use of the available conditions in the second test. Doherty and Maxwell had bowled really well in tandem in the nets during the first test and had really built up a good chemistry. We thought it was essential to take in two bowlers who had bowled together, admittedly only in the nets, if we were to play two spinners. That’s why Doherty and Maxwell came into the team – they’d bowled together but neither had bowled with Lyon before so he missed out.


Me: I see. That was convincing, you nearly got me believing that bullshit reason. That’s some good spin.


Steve Rixon: Um…. ah…. that was the truth actually.


Me: Now I’m completely confused. If you’re not the spin bowling coach then who is?


Steve Rixon: Well there isn’t one. You only need a spin bowling coach if you have bowlers who spin the ball – we don’t have any we’ve just got Maxwell, Lyon and ‘variations in flight and pace’ Doherty


Me: And Steve Smith?


Steve Rixon: 90 balls in a Sheffield Shield season a spin bowler does not make. Plus his stock balls are the half tracker and the full toss.


Me: Fair point but where are all the spin bowlers in the Sheffield Shield? Ricky Ponting has been Tasmania’s number 1 spinner in its last 2 shield matches!


Steve Rixon: Yeah Tassie are a joke playing a medium pace trundler like Evan Gulbis at No 10 and not playing a spinner.  Look I’ve been working on a plan for spin bowlers that’s going to come into the Sheffield Shield next season. Each team has to play 2 spinners in every game and they have to bat in the bottom 3. These spinners are to bowl their arms off in the nets but never pick up a bat and do a minimum of fielding training. Look a t Stuart MacGill he couldn’t bat to save himself and was a shocking fielder but he focused on bowling and he could really spin the ball. It will put a stop to this nonsense of spin bowlers/batsmen/quasi all rounders – Cam White, Steve O’Keeffe, Glen Maxwell. Spin bowlers need to focus on their craft by bowling heaps of overs not by practicing their batting. Either you’re a bone fide spinner and you bat bottom 3 or you’re a proper batsmen (who may occasionally bowl a few slow doorknobs ala Darren Lehmann).


It will also help develop genuine all rounders as each team will be looking for a third paceman who can bat in the top 7.


Me: It makes a lot of sense to me. Just quickly, who is going to lead the team song if Lyon’s not in the Test team?


Steve Rixon:  I don’t think we are going to have to cross that bridge for a while. Can you put $50 on India to win 4-0 for me?


Me: Good point and can do. See you mate





The Anderson files: interchange

Adrian Anderson no longer works at the AFL but some people continue to send him emails. Fortunately we were able to hack into the AFL’s email server to reveal:


The Anderson files – the unread emails of a former AFL operations manager.



Dear Adrian,


I love what you have achieved so far with all rule changes you and the rules committee have affected over the past 6 or more years. The changes to the game have increased my enjoyment of the game immeasurably and made it so much more of a great spectacle that I have gone to more games, bought more club merchandise and eaten more hotdogs at Etihad stadium as each year has passed.


One thing that has given me great delight is hearing that you are going to cap interchanges for season 2014. I hate nothing more than watching the interchange area look like a revolving door at the Hilton hotel with players running on and off the ground willy nilly. It looks terrible and is blight on the game as far as I’m concerned. The number of times I have sat at the footy and, for a quarter, ignored watching the play instead focused on watching  the mayhem at the interchange area and been thoroughly disgusted by what I have seen are uncounted. It has greatly lowered my enjoyment of the great spectacle that is our great game.


For a long time I thought, “The problem’s so big- what can I do?” then I came up with a cunning plan – let every player on the bench get a run on the ground each quarter. It’s Under 12’s stuff – give everyone a go – but it’s so simple it just might work. Therefore I suggest that rather than 80 interchanges you cap the bench movements at 16, 4 per quarter


Yours in football,

Footy news week – 03

 Footy is…. being swamped by NRL

NRL is on 5 days a week – Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday for the first 4 weeks of the season.

In case you missed it the NRL season was kicked off last Thursday night and was live on GEM for those following along in non-league states. Two things stood out to me.

  1. The coverage was hosted by Today Show host Karl Stefanovic whose opening lines were explaining his rugby league credentials and then Today Show sports guy Tim Gilbert bobbed up “interviewing” Tom Waterhouse. I really hope the AFL season opener on Chanel 7 isn’t hosted by Mel & Kochie!
  1. What is it with hosts walking across the ground doing intros? Andrew Johns took it to another level demonstrating, ball in hand, how a player confuses the opposition using two blokes from the crowd in Sydney Roosters jumpers as live props.

I flicked over to the NRL on GEM again last night after the game to see the post match wrap. And a motley panel it was to wrap up the game: Rabs in a Wide World of Sports polo, Gus Gould in an open neck suit at the other, and in between Tom Waterhouse and Weekend Today Show host Cam Williams with his tie at half mast.

What a TV presenter had his tie at half mast? No wait, WTF is a bookie doing on a panel discussing the wrap up of Friday night football. Joe Hockey certainly had enough tweeting:

“It’s just wrong to have a bookie so involved in the coverage of the footy. It has gone too far”

As they say in parliament, here here.

The highlight

Brisbane Lions winning the NAB cup is my highlight this week well to be more accurate my highlight was seeing Carlton lose a grand final. Bryce Squibbs new haircut/clippers accident was right up there too.

Being able to watch Carlton lose on two different broadcasts was also a highlight though it did strike me as odd that the only game of the year broadcast by two different networks (7 and Fox Sports) is the pre-season finale. I would much prefer if it was the Grand Final proper that was covered by two networks.

The lowlight

Champion data have come up with a rating system to categorise players as elite/above average/average/below average/poor.

Two things struck me:

1. Melbourne recruited Shannon Byrnes from Geelong – he was rated ‘poor.’

2. Kurt Tippet and Cyril Rioli were rated as ‘elite.’

The second part immediately alerted me that the rating system was fucked. A quick look at the stats:

Cyril Rioli career averages

Games Kicks Marks Handballs Disposals Goals Behinds Hitouts Tackles










Kurt Tippet career averages

Games Kicks Marks Handballs Disposals Goals Behinds Hitouts Tackles










I would definitely pay $1 million a year for a bloke who averages under 7 kicks a game!

I wish I had the time or the desire to traipse back through historic stats to find similar ‘elite’ players for comparison.

The unbelievable

The Travis Cloke parking fine. Another bullshit Collingwood story that demonstrated to me how far out of touch AFL clubs are with the rest of society. $1000 for a parking infringement! What’s next 10 lashes if you drop a mark at training? Public execution in the middle of the MCG if you miss a set shot at goal? The punishment hardly fitted the crime.

It also raised a couple of important issues.

  1. The Westpac centre is a sub standard training facility

I imagine Travis Cloke was parking in Gary Pert’s spot because there were no other available parks or has been stealing Pert’s spot because he has pole position in the car park – the James Bond car park (right out the front) if you like – and Cloke is a lazy bastard. I will assume the former which means dah deh daaaaah (threatening music): there are not enough car parks at the Westpac centre for all players, coaches and staff of the Collingwood Football Club. I can see Robbo doing a Herald Sun investigative piece on this now. What an outrage! What sort of shit, two bit club’s training facility doesn’t even have enough car parking spaces? Forget that Dennis Pagan’s office was a shipping container at North Melbourne in the 90’s at least they had sufficient car parking!

Imagine an alternative world where instead of being based at the amply car spaced Visy Park sharing training space with Carlton, Melbourne Storm had shared training  facilities with Collingwood. Brain Waldron wouldn’t have been able to fiddle the books whilst conducting all his business from inside his car in the car park as there wouldn’t have been any spaces for him to park in! There would have been no salary cap breaches and the Storm would still have those 2 premierships. A long bow to draw perhaps.

  1. Public transport

Shane Wakelin would have caught the train to the Westpac centre. He use to catch the train to play at the MCG, so why aren’t more of the Collingwood boys following his lead and jumping on a train – it’s just a short stroll through Yarra Park or along the Yarra from Flinders St, Richmond and Jolimont stations or even the No 70 Wattle Park – Docklands tram to get to the Westpac centre.

For his community service Travis Cloke could work to raise the profile of an important but underfunded organisation – Public Transport Victoria. I see Travis Cloke as the new face of PTV “If parking at work is costing you a fortune why not catch the train or tram to work and save yourself all those car parking hassles” and then “For $1000 you can get a yearly Zone 1 myki” with footage of a smiling Cloke touching off his Myki at Richmond station.  This is a golden marketing opportunity missed by Yarra Trams, Metro Trains and PTV.

The boring

The mind numbingly boring talk of rotations. It’s not interesting in cricket and it’s a hell of a lot less interesting in football. Talk that the AFL will cap interchanges at 80 next year has caused reactions ranging from moral outrage to mass hysteria amongst coaches and players. Melbourne’s Nathan Jones called a cap on interchanges “irresponsible”, Dom Cassissi tweeted that every player in the AFL would get tendonitis, Darren Jolly wrote an article in The Age about watching “The Block” that someone how ended up being an anti interchange cap piece and renowned short man Alistair Clarkson stood on a soap box and ranted about how AFL is the “most complex game in the word”

“It’s played over the longest period of time, on the biggest oval, with the largest amount of participants, with an oval ball. It’s a bloody tough game, and there’s no set plays or stops in the game like gridiron. It’s not a coach-driven game, it’s a player-driven game, and we’re just making it more and more difficult for the players in what is already a very, very complex game.”

What a wank! Pretty sure there are set plays. Maybe Hawthorn don’t have any that’s why they lost the grand final!

And then he said he and his assistants spent most of their time

 “not coaching, but counting the numbers of how many times players are coming off the ground”.

Well those two comments suggest to me Alistair that you have just talked yourself out of a job. All an AFL club needs is one bloke who can count interchanges (you could probably pay someone $30 an hour to do that) and not a $500,000 coach and similarly paid host of assistant line coaches as it’s “not a coach-driven game, it’s a player-driven game”

Amongst all of this wailing, gnashing of teeth and stupid hyperbole there was a sole voice of reason – John Worsfold.

“Me personally, I am comfortable that it won’t make much difference whatever it is”

“The players just have to change mindset again from going absolutely flat out for six to seven minutes, then coming off for a rest, to knowing they have to pace themselves a bit and stay out there like some champions of the game did for the entirety of their careers.

“The players will adjust and cope, there is no doubt about that.”

Wow common sense and AFL football – unfamiliar bedfellows indeed.

However I would take the interchange cap a step further. A wise football veteran suggested to me that the limit should be 4 interchanges per quarter. Each player on the bench gets a run per quarter. That’s it. Simple. So I have decided to lobby the AFL to bring in interchange limit of 16 for 2014, just to see Alistair Clarkson’s head explode.

VFL watch

Sometimes you travel to Windy Hill to find that the Essendon v Bendigo VFL practice match has been switched to Essendon’s Tullamarine training facility because the Windy Hill cricket pitch is too hard so you roll on down to Visy Park to watch the Northern Blues play Box Hill Hawks and are greeted by the sight of Heath Scotland picking up possessions at will and chiding/constructively giving feedback to his team mates when they stuffed things up. Matthew Watson got a couple of pieces of advice.

The highlight of my trip to Visy Park was seeing a massed medieval battle re-enactment taking place on the ovals of Princess Park. Weird.  But not as weird as what happened at St Kilda and Sandringham.

What did the 15 or so St Kilda players who didn’t play against Melbourne in a NAB Cup game at Casey Fields last Saturday do? Sat around twiddling their thumbs? Filled in wellness index forms? Trained really hard?  I’m not sure. But one thing they didn’t do is play for their VFL affiliate Sandringham. That’s right no St Kilda listed players took the field for Sandringham in a VFL practice match last Saturday.

If Sandringham and St Kilda do severe  ties at the end of 2014 as is dong the rounds on the rumour mill then I suggest Sandringham would want to do some serious  recruiting as Werribee (partially aligned to North Melbourne) dated a St Kilda-less Sandy in said practice match last week.

What they should do

The NAB Cup format is a dog’s breakfast and farcical if the top team doesn’t get to host the grand final. There are two options as I see it.

  1. Revert to knockout format.

Keep the three corned hat system to reduce the 18 teams to 8 and go knockout from then on. Put some more structure in place as to who will play who when & where in subsequent rounds so the clubs don’t have a sooky sooky la la ala the interchange cap and put the NAB cup grand final outside Victoria as much as possible. The Grand Final proper will be at the MCG for many years to come so take the pre-season finale on the road.

  1. Three practice matches

Scrap the NAB cup and grand final and have 3 weeks of practice matches

Week 1: NAB Country week.  Games in RARA  – Rural and Regional Areas – but not at regular season  AFL venues

Week 2: NAB Suburban week. Games at traditional suburban venues: Carlton at Princes Park, Richmond at Punt Rd Oval, Port Adelaide at Alberton, Fremantle at Fremantle Oval, Collingwood at Victoria Park, Essendon at Windy Hill, GWS at Blacktown, Brisbane at Carrara, St Kilda at Moorabbin, Bulldogs at Whitten Oval, Melbourne at Casey Fields f they so desire – there are plenty of options.

Week 3: NAB AFL stadium week. Games at grounds that host regular season games including Manuka Oval in Canberra, York Park in Launceston, and Kardinia Park.

Whichever format is chosen put 1 game a week on Free to Air TV, Foxtel pick up as many as they want and the rest streamed on the AFL website.

Membership slogan watch

Twitter:  \Carlton_FC

Not so much a membership slogan this week but clubs do use social media to connect with fans and members. It seems the Navy Blues aren’t quite up to speed with all these new methods of communication as I would suggest that the \ should be replaced with @ for Twitter. But don’t worry Blues fans it’s not like this mistake is in a prominent place – a 30 metre banner at Visy Park, facing the club car park and Royal Parade, which today hosts an AFL practice match.



Just in case thats not big enough – try this.


The Quote

“An $8 premium pizza with peking duck with pork belly, with Barossa Valley shiraz infused lamb – $8 that is different, this is significant.”

Dominos CEO. Hopefully this revolution will extend to Dominos pricing at AFL games – methinks not.

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