Retirements, ground invaders and finals fixturing – footy news week 16

The Essendon saga is pretty much concluded so finally the focus can get back to the football, the last round and the finals.

The highlight

A raft of player retirements have been announced this week including Justin Kositchke who  lines up for the first time in 10 weeks for the Saints for his 200th and final game. Kositchke will be joined by the retiring Stephen Milne as well as 22 year old Dylan Roberton who returns from being rested form the Saint’s last match. Rested from the penultimate game of the season with no finals to be played? It’s different that’s for sure.Talking of resting players StKilda’s opponent Fremantle have rested 7 players amongst 10 changes this week. Ross Lyon, ever the pragmatist, has pulled a familiar move for Freo fans they also sent a shadow side to Tasmania in Round 21, 2010.

Essendon will farewell two loyal servants on Saturday night with David Hille and Nathan Lovett-Murray calling time on their careers. One player who won’t be alongside them is Dustin Fletcher who hurt his hamstring during the week. Had he played Fletcher would have become Essendon’s games record holder. He is currently level with Simon Madden on 378 games but fair to say this has been overshadowed by other events at Essendon. Fletcher only managed 13 games this season but is keen to play on in 2014.

The lowlight

Ground invasions. Essendon just can’t seem to escape the headlines for all the wrong reasons. In their Round 20 game against West Coast at Docklands  a spectator ran onto the playing surface not once but twice. The man ran on the field, tripped and was apprehended but somehow he wriggeld free from security as he was being escorted around an internal walkway and ran onto the ground for a second time. On Saturday night, what looked like a kid in a helmet ran onto the field in the second half of the game against Carlton at the MCG. But to top this a young girl was on the MCG before the Essendon v Carlton game having a kick to kick with her dad. Her Dad just so happens to be coach of the Essendon Football Club and she was on the ground because she had been listed as General Manager on the Bombers team sheet. Some people were annoyed Essendon didn’t adhere to the AFL rules that only accredited people could be listed on a team sheet that grants them access to the playing surface. Requiring a security clearance to take walk on an oval is a bit like needing a license to climb a ladder in my opinion, but the kick to kick on the ground and the hug between Hird and his daughter in the change rooms after the game  struck me as carefully choreographed and planned events in the public relations campaign to create the image of James Hird as the perfect family man who can do no wrong. Sort of along the lines of Lance Armstrong could do no wrong because he was a cancer survivor who ran a charity, he had the squeaky clean public persona and cult like following. There are strong parallels between these Hird and Armstong: the denials, attacking people who speak against them, the unquestioning faith some people have invested in the duo blinding them to Hird’s/Armstrong’s faults. I’m just not sure who James Hird is going to sit down with Oprah style to tell all, Caroline Wilson? Probably not. Note that Hird’s wife drove him to and from the AFL commission hearing on Tuesday too.

Become General Manger for a day
Become General Manger of Footy for a day

The unbelievable

Either the AFL have been trying to slip out press releases under the cover of controversy created by the Essendon verdict or trying to deflect from the scandal by putting out a phalanx of press releases of varying value.

Finals venues

First it was that the MCG could host all 4 games on the first weekend of finals which would include two games on the Saturday –  the first double header at the MCG since 1986. That was Monday and Tuesday, and just as the seemingly unlikely double header gained some traction the AFL  announced on Thursday that the MCG couldn’t host two games in one day and Geelong’s Kardinia Park was being considered to host a final. Another seemingly unlikely scenario to which Geelong’s likely opponent, Fremantle, lobbed a protest. What’s not being mentioned is something Rohan Connolly mooted in The Age on August 20th and the most likely outcome – one of the finals will be played at Docklands and the Victorian club who is fixtured to play there will probably be pretty pissed off. I’m not sure if the AFL are deliberately trying to make a story out of nothing but finals fixturing is hardly worthy of a mini series of melodramas across a week.

The 2014 fixture

The AFL announced the structure of the 2014 season. The NAB cup is gone replaced with two practice matches and an as yet to be determined representative game. The AFL home & away season will remain at 22 games but is extend from 24 to 25 weeks to include two byes for each club in  Rounds 8-10 and Rounds 18-19. The season will feature a split round to start on March 14-16 ( 5 games) and March 21-23 (4 games). It will be interesting to see how the AFL handles Round 1 as, of the main AFL venues, only Docklands, Sydney Showgrounds, Cararra and  Subiaco will be free from cricket commitments until Round 2.

The Indigenous All Stars team.

You know the AFL were trying hard to distract people when the  International Rules series got some airtime during the week. The Indigenous squad of 34 players to take on the Irish in October was announced, wait for the player withdrawals to start soon.

VFL Watch

Port Melbourne’s full forward Dean Galea returned from injury on Sunday, in the final round of the home & away season, to stake his claim for the VFL leading goalkicker award, The Frosty Miller medal. After Saturday’s matches Galea was 6 goals behind Frankston’s Michael Lourey and things weren’t looking great at half time when Galea only had 1 goal beside his name. Two goals from difficult set shot’s into the wind in the third quarter got Galea firing and when the game was up for grabs at the start of the last quarter with Port Melbourne leading by only 1 point, Galea stepped up with four final quarter goals. Galea was too strong for the Coburg defenders out muscling them to take a series of contested marks and convert the set shots.

A bit of an unusual and unfortunate side note for Michael Lourey is that he did actually kick the same number of goals as Galea across the season (55) except that one of those goals was scored in the first half of Frankston’s match against North Ballarat where a second half head count revealed Frankston had 19 men on the ground and their score to that point was wiped including Lourey’s goal.

A trip to Victoria Park. It’s hard to explain what was more unusual about this day: The 11:00am start time of a VFL match, the fact that Collingwood and Werribbee managed 6 goals between them in the first half but 20 in the second half, that Werribee could only manage 2 goals to half time and 5 goals to three quarter time but kicked 8 in the last to nearly pinch the game, Ben Hudson acting like a goose, the VFL match being  a curtain raiser to a TAC Cup match not vice versa, the lurid yellow outfits of the Dandenong Stingrays (Think the Eagles inaugural ‘Yellow Peril’ design with a cartoon stingray replacing the eagle teamed with Hawthorn’s all yellow socks from the 80’s), Dandenong’s abysmal kicking – 0.10 at half time or the Collingwood after match function I attended in some bunker underneath the Sherrin Stand where I shared free party pies and sandwiches with Anthony Rocca.

No sting rays were harmed in the making of this promotion but 3 humnas were severley embarassed
No stingrays were harmed in the making of this promotional photo. Three humans were severely embarrassed.

Bendigo Gold surrendered to a final round massacre at the hands of Geelong losing by 201 points, their biggest loss of the year in a season where they lost all 18 games by an average of 96 points.

VFL finals finally make it to Kardinia Park this week when Geelong will host Casey Scorpions on Friday night in the first ever VFL final at the venue. Perhaps it is being used as a trial for AFL finals at the ground….

The Quote

 “James Hird is under the most pressure of anyone ever”

Luke Darcy dives into his kitbag of hyperbole during the Carlton v Essendon game on Chanel 7’s ‘Saturday Night Football.’ The only way to watch this BT hosted ‘entertainment’ (used in the loosest possible sense of the word) masquerading as  football coverage is on mute.

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AFL Tattoo 22: The forward line

It seems you can’t get on an AFL list these days unless you have some form of permanent body art. So in the grand tradition of the little paper (Herald Sun) I present a team of not left handed, mensa graduates with Buddhist- Irish uncles who were drafted between pick 25 and 47, but a team of current AFL players with serious ink – the Tattoo 22.

The forward line

If you’re going to play in the forward for this team it helps if you have your name permanently sketched onto your back.

Missed someone? Feel free to add your suggestions by leaving a comment at the bottom.

HF: Dustin Martin (Richmond)

Dustin martin tattoos

Before he was drafted to Richmond, Port Adelaide asked Dustin Martin “Are you dumb?” There is no record of his answer, but a couple of years later he got his neck tattooed, to compliment his stomach tattoo, and just this year he got the back of his hand tattooed.

 

CHF: Lance Franklin (Hawthorn)

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As one of the more outrageously talented and well known footballers it’s slightly surprising that Franklin’s is anything but outrageous: a sleeve of Aboriginal artwork. A second sleeve is now under construction too.

 

HF: Clancee Pearce (Fremantle)

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Spiderman. Of course.

 

FP: Robert Murphy (Western Bulldogs)

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Robert Murphy is a different cat. Exhibit A: A tattoo of Paul Roos and the words “Keep on trucking” Some say it’s Elvis but I think we all know that would be too mainstream for Robert Murphy.

 

FF: Travis Cloke (Collingwood)

Collingwood+Magpies+Recovery+Session+3IO6a1MuAYpl

Trav Cloke seems like a pretty average bloke give or take that he’s David Cloke’s son and he plays for Collingwood. Get him to turn around at the beach and it’s a whole other story. A set of wings? Why?

 

FP: Michael Walters

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A whole collection of stuff: a sleeve working it’s way up to his neck, his name written on the inside of his bicep, a little bit of star work , a dragon, potentially a cross behind his ear, maybe a tea drop somewhere soon. It’s a thumbs up from me.

 

Have I missed someone? Add your suggestions by leaving a comment at the bottom.

AFL tattoo 22: The midfield

It seems you can’t get on an AFL list these days unless you have some form of permanent body art. So in the grand tradition of the little paper (Herald Sun) I present a team of not left handed, mensa graduates with Buddhist- Irish uncles who were drafted between pick 25 and 47, but a team of current AFL players with serious ink – the Tattoo 22.

The midfield

It helps if you have a sleeve to get a run in this midfield.

Missed someone? Feel free to add your suggestions by leaving a comment at the bottom.

W: Chris Masten (West Coast)

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Is this guys a bikie or a footballer? Ink all over the shop including up and down both legs, one sleeve and the begginings of another, a wild and woolly beard and a rude 1930’s psych ward style haircut to match – the complete package. I am wondering why he has a grizzly bear and a 3D perspective illusion triangle on his legs.

C: Nathan Jones (Melbourne)

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Solid, standard B grade sleeve, nothing fancy just getting the job done. Strong parallels to his football career.

W: Adam Cooney (Western Bulldogs)

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A sleeve was just too parse for a man who proposed to his partner with a burger ring so he got a sock encapsulating the essence of fish instead.

Ruck: Mitch Clark (Melbourne)

clarke tattoo

Thumbs up: The overnight sleeve tattooing process was a success. A sleeve and his name down his back plus hand ink and some Mr Squiggle work on his chest. Who could possibly have more?

RR: Dane Swan (Collingwood) CAPTAIN

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What the hell was I thinking? I don’t even like tattoos. A bit late for that perhaps. Where to start? Two sleeves and full torso work plus some leg stuff. More of his body must have ink now than doesn’t, now that’s acommitment to ink. For his unparalleled penchant for body art Swanny has to be captain of the Tattoo 22. The clincher for me are the knuckle tatts – ouch! But it wasn’t always this way check the Swan timeline of tattoos. (In the first picture he’s actually wearing industrial make up to hide his tattoos and prank teammates)

Untitled

1. The cleanskin 2. First a single three quarter sleeve 3. Then it started spreading across his torso and another sleeve was added 4. time for some leg work and the knuckles 5. Fill in the gaps – the whole torso and the fore arm to knuckles are completed

R: Dane Beams (Collingwood)

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Beams has been operating with a sleeve since he was drafted and patriotically managed to work in a stylised Australian flag – how touching. He must have an aversion to tattoos on his left side as he’s opted for some upper right leg work rather than the double sleeve look.

Have I missed someone? Feel free to add your suggestions by leaving a comment.

Revising history, team lifters and three quarter time rev ups – footy news week 15

The highlight, The lowlight, The unbelievable, The boring.

All this wrapped into one section – it must be the 34 page AFL charge sheet on Essendon. No , it’s the other great literary work form the week, Darren Jolly’s article in The Age.

Jolly really struggles deciding which side of an argument he’s going to take. This time Jolly goes for a bit of revisionist history  and omits some key details about what happened in the lead up to the 2006 grand final.

“The Swans media guy asked my wife Dea and I if we would do an interview for a small story about having a baby and playing in a grand final. We weren’t all that keen, considering Dea was heavily pregnant, but we agreed.”

I have never been pregnant but I wasn’t aware that sitting and chatting and being preganant were mutually exclusive events If the journo had requested to force feed your wife oysters, blue cheese and bourbon I wouldn’t have been keen either but it was just an interview. Also if as you say you weren’t keen you could have said no to the interview request, but I think deep down you sort of liked the attention.

“By the time we got home, the photographer and journalist were waiting on our front door step.”

Those damn journo’s have the temerity to be punctual, how annoying!

“When the story landed on the front page the next day, it was a shock and it put extreme pressure on us right before I was about to play. The story read: “Jolly to miss grand final to be with his wife”. As this was never said, you can imagine how angry we were. It was a huge beat-up.”

Misquoted? Well that is a poor effort by the journo. Get the Swan’s media department to issue a press release. You don’t even have to write it – they’ll do it for you. All sorted, the “extreme pressure” has been released and you can get back to focusing on footy. Come on admit it a front page story that must have been cool.

“Somehow the media got wind that we were in hospital because they were stationed out the front, waiting to grab me for any information.”

Damn pesky media getting wind. Somehow Darren makes his wife giving birth all about himself. The media wanted me, come on admit it you liked the attention.

“One of them even had the nerve to ask if they could come into my wife’s room to take some photos. Another wrote a note to my wife while she in the delivery suite, asking if they could get an exclusive when she had delivered. It was a circus.”

The midwife wore giant shoes and a red nose, the doctor had a chair and a whip, the anethetist was a bearded lady. Oh a media circus. Also Nana rang she’d like her phrase ‘the nerve of them’ back.

So it seems Jolly thinks the media overstepped the mark, were intruding too much on his private life and he’d had enough of it all. I think that’s fair enough, I think I’d be pretty guarded with my interactions with journos from now on, probably politely decline interview requests and the like. Let’s move now to what happened when he flew to Melbourne

“I arrived in Melbourne to be greeted by a hundred reporters and cameras.”

Really? Exactly one hundred? Not a scrum of, not an uncounted number of  but  an even 100 reporters and cameras. Pray tell Darren what did you do next?

“Once I arrived at the hotel, I had a bite to eat went to bed.”

What? No, no, no, back up a second you’ve left something out there, you forgot to mention this:

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Jolly was so pissed off with the media, the misquotes, the intrusion on his private life, the ludicrous requests, the nerve of them, that he decided to pose at the airport with a picture of his new born daughter on his cool flip phone. (I had to do a bit of digging to find this picture but here is the link) There he was more than happy to ham it up for the waiting media even after the “extreme pressure” the “beat up” and the “circus” they’d put him through. I would say the truth is somewhere along the lines of pre the 2006 Grand Final Jolly was happy and excited to go down “Media Street” (as Denis Pagan would say) but then it all blew up when he played a stinker in the Grand Final. Now seven years later he’s revised history with this version of events and conveniently omitted the picture that tells a thousand words. I will give him credit though for admitting that he played very poorly in the Grand Final.

Please write more articles Darren Jolly – they are so much fun to pull apart. I’d tell your ghost writer to do more research too and not trust everything you say.  Also good luck in the VFL.

VFL Watch

Port Melbourne power forward Adrian Bonnadio doesn’t kick goals he kicks team lifters. With his usual key forward partner and VFL leading goalkicker, Dean Galea, absent on the weekend due to injury it was up to ‘Big Bonners’ to shoulder the extra load. And he did so admirably, leading hard up the ground, taking marks with his vice like grip, crashing packs, tackling and bullocking his way through opponents. He was a particularly impressive in the first half of the game against Geelong where he kicked two team lifters. Alas it was not enough to get Port over the line in a see sawing affair. In a classic match that went right down to the wire, Geelong’s last quarter centre clearances, mainly from Taylor Hunt, and a late snap by Paul Chapman got the Cats over the line. Geelong’s dominance of the set plays highlighted the difference between an AFL reserves team and a VFL team. The full time professional footballers, Geelong are practicing their centre square set ups at 11am on a Wednesday morning whilst the VFL boys at Port Melbourne  are busy at their job, driving a forklift, running their own plumbing business, putting the had word on someone and closing the deal as a used car salesman, etc. The only sour note for the Cats was a painful looking popped shoulder to skipper, Troy Selwood. Port Melbourne will need to beat Coburg this weekend to secure a finals berth but should take comfort from the fact that they are one of only a couple of teams that can really test Geelong.

Melbourne rookie listed player James Magner racked up 51 possessions for the Casey Scorpions against the Bendigo Gold on the weekend. It could have been more if he hadn’t been benched in the last quarter. Curiously, Magner has played only 2 games for Melbourne this year despite their struggles. He was elevated off the Rookie list in 2012, played 17 games and acquitted himself fairly well as a midfielder/tagger. However he wasn’t put on the Demon’s main list at season’s end and returned to the rookie list for 2013. It was Round 18 before he was elevated to the senior side his season. Magner is one of the favourites to win the JJ Liston trophy, the league Best & Fairest award in the VFL.

Northern Blues Coach Luke Webster was having a bad day on Sunday. His team had only kicked 3 goals against Werribee up to three quarter time and appeared to be more interested in fighting than playing football at times when he went out to address his players on the field. It has become standard practice for most VFL teams to rope off their players and trainers on the ground at the quarter time breaks as fan are allowed onto the ground during the intervals. The Blues support staff managed to rope off only 2 sides of the team huddle leading to quite a loud ‘interaction’ between an overzealous fan & a security guard. However this did not distract Webster from his task as he called the players in fro some final instructions before the fourth quarter began. He implored them to “Have a f&cking go” as they had shown “f&cking nothing” so far today and told them to “F*ck that fighting shit off” The words must have inspired the Blues as they kicked 7 goals in the last quarter. Werribee still won by 48 points though.

The Quote

“it’s probably also a touch deflating on an opposition when they’ve done all this work and kick a goal and there’s only 50 or so people clapping.”
Cameron Ling in The Age on what it might be like for Geelong’s opponents at Kardinia Park.

AFL Tattoo 22: The backline

It seems you can’t get on an AFL list these days unless you have some form of permanent body art. So in the grand tradition of the little paper (Herald Sun) I present a team of not left handed, mensa graduates with Buddhist- Irish uncles who were drafted between pick 25 and 47, but a team of current AFL players with serious ink – the Tattoo 22.

The backline

If you’re going to play in the backline for this team it helps if you have your name permanently sketched onto your back.

Missed someone? Feel free to add your suggestions by leaving a comment at the bottom.

B: Jarrod Rivers (Geelong)

Rivers_recovery246x316a

How do you spell my name? Ah that’s right I got it written down my spine so I’d never forget. Yep

FB: Daniel Merrett (Brisbane Lions)

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No comment.

 

B: Nick Malceski (Sydney Swans)

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It would seem Sydney’s ‘No Dickheads Policy’ doesn’t extend to lame tattoos. It looks like Malceski’s superimposed a dying duck onto the bogan staple – a full back Southern Cross.

HB: Denis Arnfield (Carlton)

arnfield

Arnfield has a portrait of his Nana on one shoulder and potrait of someone else on his other. He ‘s got his name written on his back above a giant swan and a rabid Kangaroo trying to break the Australian coat of arms – brilliant. Denis, you are overqualified to  play in this team.

CHB: Jake Carlisle (Essendon)

carlisle

Ah look there’s his name written down his back and what’s that on his stomach? Ah yes, of course, a list of his sister’s names and the year they were born. At least it makes the orange bra not the most embarrassing thing he’s wearing.

HB: Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn)

Cyril+Rioli+Hawthorn+Hawks+Recovery+Session+F9UN9VeLtuNl

Name on the back, yep. Sitting on what looks like a burning set of cricket stumps, not sure why. Don’t come saying Cyril doesn’t play in the backline, he’s the best 15 touch player in the AFL and can surely play anywhere –  he’s just that good.

 

And of course Cyril’s more recent addition – the hawk across the chest that everyone wants to see. Here it is

 

cyril

Have I missed someone? Feel free to add your suggestions by leaving a comment.

The Steve Rixon Ashes Diary 2013 – Chapter 6

Cars on the boundary edge at Durham - headlights at the ready
Cars on the boundary edge at Durham – headlights at the ready

Chapter 6

Batting collapses, beach trips and Tim May

The Fourth Test: Riverside,Chester-Le-Street, Durham

Me: How was the trip up north?

Steve Rixon: Thank goodness we got out of Durham. I mean Chester Lee Riverside or wherever the hell we were. None of us had ever heard of the place before and never want to go back there again after that final day batting performance. Divvers played at Durham for a few years mainly because it reminded him of a small version of er Launceston. It’s a pity then that the  only ground condition secrets he could pass onto the batsmen was that during county games they park cars around the boundary edge and at night games get the drivers to turn on their headlights. Imagine if there was a Test match in Shepparton that’s about the equivalent.

Anyway it was onto Northamptonshire for a two day game against the England Lions (that’s England A rebranded in case you were wondering) Some people were questioning why we didn’t play a proper four day first class match between the tests to get in more batting practice. It was a fair point I suppose but I guess those people don’t have awareness that you need down time in a long tour and the two day game freed up the squad to visit Blackpool for a couple of days and hone their skills at beach cricket. There’s a real lack of awareness that beach cricket is excellent preparation for a test match.

Hadds, Harris & Sidds at the beach. Sidds couldn’t resist showing off his constelation
Hadds, Harris & Sidds at the beach. Sidds couldn’t resist showing off his constelation

Me: I hear Warney has been around the squad a bit. Are you concerned he might take your spin coaching job?

No Warney and I get along great he has the awareness that  I’m the spin coach and he’s the bowling mentor spin focus. We have an awareness of our clearly defined roles and responsibilities as outlined by Pat Howard and his high performance gurus. Yep an awareness that those guideline documents are blank!

Warne showed Lyon & Agar how to do the blowfish. I was surpirsed he could stretch that far given all the procedures.
Warne showed Lyon & Agar how to do the blowfish. I was surpirsed he could stretch that far given all the procedures.

Nathan Lyon has been judged a bit harshly of late, and was pretty stiff to be dropped for Agar to be brutally honest. Lyon’s been working hard on his awareness and is really developing in to a good bowler. I got the IT bloke to jump on the internet and look up some stats for me to do a comparison  now that Nath’s played the same number of Tests as my old buddie and offspinner Tim May.

Matches Wickets Average Economy Strike Rate 5 wickets
Nathan Lyon 24 84 32.4 3.06 63.3 3
Tim May 24 75 34.7 2.37 87.6 3

So he’s better than Tim May and I don’t remember people saying he was crap when he was partnering Shane Warne – maybe that’s got something to do with it! Lyon has been partnered by Doherty & Maxwell! Poor bastard.

Phil Hughes, well what can I say. I heard this the other day,

“the first four years of my Test career, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t know what it was about… you find that your fitness is not right, your technique is pretty wayward and inconsistent and you are getting poor results, then you start taking an analytical approach.”

I thought, you beauty, Hughesy is thinking know, he’s gained an awareness of how to analyse hisgame an awareness of how he’s going to improve. Yeah it all seemed great unitl I realised that quote was from Richard Hadlee not Hughesy. Oh well maybe the penny will drop one day.

It was  good to see Rogers get his first Test century at Durham after missing out in Manchester because of that bloke up on the Old Trafford balcony waving about distracting Rogers. The bloke was Dan Salpietro a bit part Victorian player who plays at the same club in Melbourne as Rogers, Prahran. Well he did, Rogers made a couple of phone calls and Salpietro has been cleared to North Melbourne-Greenvale. Anyone who knows Melbourne premier cricket will know that’s an incredibly harsh punishment. No trophies for you Salpietro!

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Salpietro: Off to North Melbourne-Greenvale

The crowd at Durham was good except for a couple of things. How old is too old to signal a four at the cricket? I mean seriously those grey nomads in the green t-shirts and yellow hats were up waving their hats about signalling fours and they’re as old as me! Also that flog with the trumpet! He syas he’s a classically trained trumpeter who plays for the London orchestra or something so I was expecting Baroque period: Bach, Purcell or Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks. Instead we were fed a steady stream of show tunes, one hit wonders and movie themes: Yellow Submarine, Star Wars theme and The Final Countdown! It was like a teenager who had just discovered sheet music. And  fuck me if his seat wasn’t in front of the dressing room balcony for the first 3 days. I fixed him with a bit of the spare silicon tape we had lying around.

I guess I couldn’t comment on a test with talking about he umpires. Unfortunately not much is going to change. On the ICC elite panel 8 of the 12 umpires are Australian or English so can’t umpire in the Ashes. We are stuck with the same four umpires every test: Hill, Dharmasena Erasmus and Aleem Dar. The four of them  just do a dice do to see who stands in the middle, who gets to royally misuse the technology as 3rd umpire and who sits on their backside holding the box of spare balls for 5 days as the 4th umpire. Some are saying that India should supply some umpires, they currently supply zero. Maybe it’s their way of trying to hold the ICC to ransom over the DRS system? You can’t play without umpires. There have even been calls to bring back Billy Bowden! Please don’t inflict that on us again!

Me: Yeah no one wants that. Any tips for the line up in the 5th test?

Steve Rixon: Well I think Jackson Bird is going to have a rest because he was just so intense up at Durham that he’s worn out. He couldn’t even join in with the boys at beach cricket in Blackpool, so he’ll sit this one out.

Jackson Bird: Intensity burn out from staring down the Baggy Green
Jackson Bird: Intensity burn out from staring down the Baggy Green

We’re are going to give everyone in the squad who hasn’t played  a run out in the last Test except Wadey. He’s not quite ready yet or something, anything to make him keep practicing his keeping with me 4 hours a day. Anyway can you put $50 on … umm … ah … I’ve got no idea. Ah stuff it put $10 on Watto to make a ton! Haha, should get some good odds on that!

Me: Can do mate, see ya.

2001: An Ashes Odyssey XI

The 5th and final test of the 2013 Ashes series is soon to begin at The Oval and looks to be an elongated victory lap for England. The Oval has not been a happy hunting ground for Aussie teams this millennium with England securing the Ashes at The Oval in both 2005 and 2009. However there was a time when this wasn’t so; rewind to 2001 when Australia batted first racking up 4/641 declared including 3 individual centuries (Langer, M Waugh & S Waugh) and then knocked England over twice, thanks to 17 wickets to Warne & McGrath, to win at The Oval by an innings and 25 runs.

This is not really a fantasy XI – how ironic – it is in fact the XI Australia fielded against England for that 5th test at The Oval in 2001. Warm your heart by reminiscing about the glory days of yesty-year and despair as your compere this line up to the current Australian XI.

Here it is:

1. Matthew Hayden

Hayden was only averaging 38 in test cricket at the time despite coming off his career defining tour of India, and only managed  234 runs at 33 on this tour. England never was a  runfest for Haydos, he managed only one century in his final test in England, The Oval, 2005.

Hayden retired in 2009 after 103 test, 8600 test runs with 30 centuries and an average of 50.

2. Justin Langer

Langer returned to the team for the fifth test replacing Michael Slater and hit a century in his only innings, kick starting the highly successful opening partnership with Matthew Hayden.

Langer retired in 2007 after 105 tests, with 7600 test runs, 23 centuries and an average of 45.

3. Ricky Ponting

Ponting managed 338 runs on the 2001 tour with a top score of 144. He’d only made eight centuries in 47 tests by this stage of his career but his best was just around the corner.

Ponting retired in 2012 after 168 tests, 13000 test runs with 41 test centuries and an average of 51

4. Mark Waugh

Mark Waugh was Australia’s leading run scorer in the series with 430 runs at an average of 86 and two centuries. He topped off a fine tour with a series high nine catches.

Waugh’s test career ended in 2002 with 128 tests, 8000 test runs with 20 hundreds and an average of 41.

5. Steve Waugh

Steve Waugh averaged 107 with the bat in the series which included two centuries. He injured his calf in the 3rd test (Simon Katich made his Test debut as an injury replacement in the 4th test) but managed to return for the 5th test to flay England’s bowlers all around The Oval for 157* on one leg. He even brought up his century in comical fashion.

Waugh retired in 2004 after 168 tests, 10900 test runs with 32 test centuries and an average of 51.

6. Damien Martyn

The 2001 Ashes was the series that ignited Damien Martyn’s test career. His first innings on English soil, in the first Test at Leeds, brought him his maiden test century 9 years after his test debut. Martyn had returned to the test line up in 2000 as an injury replacement after 6 years in the wilderness, but it was the 2001 Ashes that cemented his spot in the team and set him on a four year run of playing 52 of the next 57 tests for Australia. He missed a West Indies tour and a Top End tour against Bangladesh in 2003 due to mangling a finger in the 2003 World Cup. After the 2001 Ashes Martyn’s test average sat at 51.

Martyn retired in 2006 after 67 tests, 4400 test runs with 13 hundreds and an average of 46

7. Adam Gilchrist

Gilchrist only got to bat 5 times in this 5 test series but managed 340 runs with a top score of 150. His career average was 51 after this test and he also pouched 24 catches and 2 stumpings in the series.

Gilchrist retired in 2008 after 96 tests, 5500 test runs with 17 centuries and an average of 47. He also had a then record 416 test dismissals.

8. Shane Warne

Warne loved bowling to Englishmen and 2001 was no exception with him taking 31 wickets at 18.70 and an economy rate under 3. The tail, numbers 8-11, was only required to bat 4 times in the series so nothing of note with the bat.

Warne retired in 2007 after 145 test with 708 wickets at an average of 25

9. Brett Lee

Lee was the weak link in this side after he had returned from elbow surgery. He managed just 9 wickets at an average of 55 despite playing all 5 tests. He managed to keep swing bowler Damien Fleming out of the team even though Fleming was probably a bowler ideally suited to English conditions. Funky Colin Miller also had to be content with playing tour matches as Lee held his test spot throughout the Ashes. It is the only example I could see of Australia picking players with one eye on the future during this series.

Lee’s test career ended in 2008 after 76 tests with 310 wickets at an average of 31

10. Jason Gillespie

Gillespie managed 19 wickets at 34. Not quite Warne and McGrath but still more wickets, a lower average and a better economy rate than any Englishman.

Gillespie’s test career finished in 2006 after 71 tests with 259 wickets at 26 He also managed a double century in his last test.

11. Glen McGrath

Glen McGrath, like Shane Warne, could not get enough of  bowling to Englishmen. In the 2001 Ashes, McGrath and Warne took 10 more wickets than all the English bowlers combined. McGrath rumbled England with 32 wickets at 17 and an economy rate of 2.7 on this tour and received the “Man of the Series” award for his efforts.

McGrath retired in 2007 after 124 tests and 563 wickets at an average of 22.

In 2001 Australia retained the Ashes in 13 days and won the series 4-1. The series result probably should have been 4-0 except for a very sporting declaration by stand in skipper, Adam Gilchrist, in the 4th test and the innings of a lifetime from Mark Butcher.

Australia had five of the top six run scorers in the series, of the 11 individual hundreds made in the series nine were made by Australians and only two by Englishmen and the top three wicket takers were all Australian. Australia used just 12 players during the 5 test series as opposed to England’s 19.

Complete domination:  2001 Ashes Odyssey XI

Note: Seven members of this Australian XI retired within a 2 year span – perhaps not the greatest future planning by Australia. Also, of the 17 man Ashes touring party excluding the XI who played at The Oval, of the 6 remaining players (Fleming, Noffke, Miller, Secombe, Katich, Slater) only Katich played Test cricket after this Oval test.