You lost. Get over it.

8 01 2008

(Picture via ABC News Online)

    And no amount of hysterical whining is going to change that.





    Now that’s what I’m talking about!

    27 12 2007

    As readers of my older blog will know, here in Japan I have severely restricted access to the cricket, owing to the fact that the ABC live stream is not available to overseas listeners. (In any case, I don’t have access to the internet at my desk.) When I checked the Boxing Day Test scores last night, things were looking . . . well . . . ominous–and even worse this morning when the Australians had been bundled out for a one-day total. But it seems things haven’t gone India’s way, either. As of 5.35pm local time, they’ve been dismissed for a paltry 196, and the Aussies are back in the middle. And here I am, reduced to “watching” the proceedings on Cricinfo’s live scorecard. No Harsha and Kerry show for me. Oh, well.

    Ninglun informs us that the PM made an appearance on the ABC commentary today. Howard did something similar during the Ashes last year, as I recall: I remember him defending his opposition in the 70s and 80s to sporting boycotts and economic sanctions against the South African apartheid regime.





    My cricket drought

    11 11 2007

    (No “Thunder Down Under” for me this year . . .)

    It was always going to be difficult to follow the cricket from a country in which it is only a very minor sport (most people you ask have never heard of it), but upon attempting to access the ABC Grandstand live stream today I was informed that the stream is unavailable to listeners outside Australia.

    So I will unfortunately be unable to enjoy Jim Maxwell and gang call what should be yet another easy Australian victory, as the Aussies prepare to penetrate the Sri Lankan tail (that just sounds wrong) in their second innings. (Sri Lanka are currently 5 wickets down and 122 runs behind Australia’s first innings total of 4/551.)

    In any case, it is good to hear that Michael Hussey (133) is coming back into form.

    Seeing as you’ve taken enough interest in this post to click the “Read more” link, here are some more cricket-related YouTubes:

    CNNNN: Australian Cricket Sledging Academy

    The Underarm Incident





    Egg on my face

    29 04 2007


    Way back in mid-February I expressed my doubts about Australia’s ability to win a third successive Cricket World Cup. At that time, they had just lost a tri-series to England and were in the middle of a shocker of a tour of New Zealand. Yes, the side was missing key players like Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds; but next-generation players including Phil Jacques, Cameron White, Shaun Tait and Nathan Bracken also failed to rise to the occasion. Moreover, that tour saw the career of last year’s international number one one-day cricketer Mike Hussey–often touted as a successor to Ponting–come crashing down to earth. (What is it about sport that causes one to write in horrible cliches?)

    Since that tour–and all matches since that tour have either been practice or official World Cup matches–Australia has won 13 successive encounters, including last night’s World Cup final:

    Australia v Zimbabwe at Kingstown – Mar 6, 2007
    Australia won by 106 runs. Australia 290/7 (50 ov); Zimbabwe 184/7 (50 ov)

    Australia v England at Kingstown – Mar 9, 2007
    Australia won by 5 wickets (with 55 balls remaining). England 197 (48.3 ov); Australia 200/5 (40.5 ov)

    2nd Match, Group A: Australia v Scotland at Basseterre – Mar 14, 2007
    Australia won by 203 runs. Australia 334/6 (50 ov); Scotland 131 (40.1 ov)

    10th Match, Group A: Australia v Netherlands at Basseterre – Mar 18, 2007
    Australia won by 229 runs. Australia 358/5 (50 ov); Netherlands 129 (26.5 ov)

    22nd Match, Group A: Australia v South Africa at Basseterre – Mar 24, 2007
    Australia won by 83 runs. Australia 377/6 (50 ov); South Africa 294 (48 ov)

    25th Match, Super Eights: West Indies v Australia at North Sound – Mar 27-28, 2007
    Australia won by 103 runs. Australia 322/6 (50 ov); West Indies 219 (45.3 ov)

    29th Match, Super Eights: Australia v Bangladesh at North Sound – Mar 31, 2007
    Australia won by 10 wickets (with 49 balls remaining). Bangladesh 104/6 (22/22 ov); Australia 106/0 (13.5/22 ov)

    35th Match, Super Eights: Australia v England at North Sound – Apr 8, 2007
    Australia won by 7 wickets (with 16 balls remaining). England 247 (49.5 ov); Australia 248/3 (47.2 ov)

    40th Match, Super Eights: Australia v Ireland at Bridgetown – Apr 13, 2007
    Australia won by 9 wickets (with 226 balls remaining). Ireland 91 (30 ov); Australia 92/1 (12.2 ov)

    43rd Match, Super Eights: Australia v Sri Lanka at St George’s – Apr 16, 2007
    Australia won by 7 wickets (with 44 balls remaining). Sri Lanka 226 (49.4 ov); Australia 232/3 (42.4 ov)

    47th Match, Super Eights: Australia v New Zealand at St George’s – Apr 20, 2007
    Australia won by 215 runs. Australia 348/6 (50 ov); New Zealand 133 (25.5 ov)

    2nd Semi-Final: Australia v South Africa at Gros Islet – Apr 25, 2007
    Australia won by 7 wickets (with 111 balls remaining). South Africa 149 (43.5 ov); Australia 153/3 (31.3 ov)

    Final: Australia v Sri Lanka at Bridgetown – Apr 28, 2007
    Australia won by 53 runs (D/L method). Australia 281/4 (38/38 ov); Sri Lanka 215/8 (36/36 ov)

    As you can see, not only have Australia won every encounter–in each match they have either beaten their opponents comprehensively, or thrashed them soundly. Along the way, Glenn McGrath has broken the record for most wickets taken during a World Cup with his 25, with next-generation player Shaun Tait close behind him on 23 (equal with Muttiah Muralitharan’s haul). New-guard batsmen Shane Watson, Michael Clarke and Brad Hodge all finished with higher averages than players like Ponting and Hayden and Gilchrist, though each of the latter scored more runs. And all of this has been achieved with a key player, the once-seemingly untouchable Hussey, woefully out of form. (Though to be fair to Hussey, those higher up the order didn’t give him a lot of time at the crease.)

    So there it is: an embarrassingly easy tournament for Australia, a fairytale ending to McGrath’s career, and egg well-and-truly on my face.

    STATISTICS

    Man of the match (final): Adam Gilchrist
    Player of the series: Glenn McGrath
    Best bowling averages: Glenn McGrath (13.04; 25 wickets), Muttiah Muralitharan (13.34; 23 wickets)
    Best batting strike rates: Mark Boucher (137.20; 177 runs), Brad Hodge (129.91; 152 runs)
    Best bowling in an innings: Andrew Hall, South Africa (5/18 vs. England); Charl Langeveldt, South Africa (5/39 vs. Sri Lanka)
    Highest score (batting): Imran Nazir, Pakistan (160 vs. Zimbabwe); Matthew Hayden, Australia (158 vs. West Indies)





    Australia at the World Cup: did I speak too soon?

    25 03 2007


    Did I speak too soon? About a month ago I pooh-poohed the Aussies’ chances of securing a third consecutive cricket World Cup, after a dismal session at the crease in the first match of the Chappell-Hadlee series against New Zealand–a series they went on to lose 3-zip. (Making it a five-match losing streak for Australia, who lost the Commonwealth Bank tournament 2-0 to England in early February.)

    Since then, Australia has won five consecutive encounters–three of them, admittedly, against minnows such as Zimbabwe, Scotland and The Netherlands, but they also defeated England by 5 wickets in a World Cup practice match. And Australia’s return to form has this morning culminated in a win over world No. 1 South Africa by 83 runs. That means that Australia will finish undefeated on top of Group A, and will meet Group D runners-up Ireland next Tuesday. (Yes, you read that correctly.) (According to the ABC, they face the Windies on Tuesday. According to Cricinfo, the top-ranked team in Group A plays the runner-up in Group D. Go figure.)

    It has been an interesting World Cup: Pakistan have already been eliminated, and India look to be heading the same way (unless Bermuda defeats Bangladesh tomorrow). Most of the other top nations will still, as expected, be there for the Super-Eights, and I think New Zealand remains Australia’s biggest hurdle, given their psychological edge.

    The other worrying factor has been Mike Hussey’s form slump. Apart from the 15 he scored against Zimbabwe in the practice games, his most recent figures have been 0, 4, 2 and 5.

    After their performances in the Group A matches, can Australia win the World Cup?
    Yea
    Nay
    pollcode.com free polls




    Does Australia still have what it takes to win a third successive World Cup?

    16 02 2007

    After being sent into bat, Australia have posted a paltry total, 148 off 49.3 overs, in the first of three Chappell-Hadlee limited overs matches in Wellington. Captain Mike Hussey top-scored with 42, while the Black Caps’ Shane Bond finished with a sensational 5/23, wrapping up the Australian tail with the wicket of Brad Hogg (20).

    Now, as I post this the Kiwis have yet to commence their innings, and I have been known to err somewhat on the side of pessimism. Rain prior to the match generally favours the bowling side, and maybe in such conditions 148 is a defendable total (chortle). And to be fair to the Aussies, they have been depleted by injuries to Lee and Clarke, and Ponting, Gilchrist and Symonds are sitting out the New Zealand tour.

    (BTW: please don’t be fooled into thinking I have the faintest clue what I’m talking about.)

    Nevertheless–and unless the Aussies are able to pull a rabbit out of a hat in the New Zealand innings–their performance today and in the past few matches is . . . well . . . worrying. In stark contrast to their Ashes campaign, the Australian team of late February 2007 looks brittle and easily-rattled. After the third Chappell-Hadlee encounter the Aussies have about three weeks before their first World Cup encounter, and a week-and-a-half on top of that before they face their first real test of the tournament in the guise of South Africa.

    What do you think? Can they pull off a third successive World Cup win?

    Can Australia win a third successive World Cup?
    Yea
    Nay
    pollcode.com free polls

    UPDATEPathetic, boys. Pathetic.





    Snickers, the SuperBowl and TEH GAY

    11 02 2007

    Since I’m banned from commenting further on this post at Joe the Troll‘s (which I pretty much consider a permanent ban–I don’t have a lot of time for censorious bloggers), I’ll share my thoughts here on his post concerning a Snickers commercial that was pulled from its scheduled broadcast during the SuperBowl.

    Since the Ridley Scott-directed Apple Macintosh ad premiered during the 1984 SuperBowl, the NFL championship has been a showcase for creative and/or expensive advertising campaigns. This year’s broadcast was to feature a Snickers ad, in which two mechanics, sharing a Snickers bar by consuming it from each end, accidentally “kiss” when their lips meet at the middle. They’re both taken aback, and one of them cries: “Quick, let’s do something manly!”–whereupon they proceed to rip out clumps of their own chest hair. Several versions of the ad were in fact produced with “alternate endings:” one in which another man enters the garage and enquires “Is there room for three on this Love Boat?;” a second in which the mechanics drink motor oil and anti-freeze; and a third in which one of the mechanics swings an over-sized wrench into the stomach of his colleague, who reciprocates by slamming his head with the car hood.

    The four different versions were posted on the Snickers website, asking visitors to vote on their favourite, with the winning version to air during the Daytona 500 (how apt 🙂 ). (The ads have since vanished from the site.) Snickers also featured the reactions of some of the players who squared off in the recent SuperBowl (these too have vanished–though you can still see some of them on YouTube here and here), ranging from amusement to obvious discomfort and disgust.

    The Snickers campaign was immediately condemned by several gay rights organisations, including GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign, for sending “a dangerous message to the public condoning violence against gay Americans.” Another group expressing outrage at the ads is the Matthew Shepard Foundation, named after a Wyoming student victim of a brutal gay bashing which saw him robbed, beaten, tied to a fence and left to die. The Foundation’s executive director Judy Shepard (Matthew’s mother) declared: “This campaign encourages the same type of hate that led to the death of my son Matthew. It essentially gives ‘permission’ to our society to verbally or physically harass individuals who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.” According to Masterfoods (the Mars subsidiary that made the decision to pull the ad), market research had revealed that the ad’s target audience was not responding well either–though they did not specify whether this was because the audience shared the position of GLAAD, et al., or because it disapproved of the suggestive depiction of male homoeroticism on a TV commercial.

    What do I think of the Snickers campaign? Well, I agree with Joe that the reactions of GLAAD et. al and of those members of the public surveyed by Masterfoods were a tad over-the-top. I think the ad is laughing at the insecurities of the mechanics more than it is inciting violence and harrassment against GLBTIs–if they were truly comfortable with their sexual identity, they wouldn’t need to “prove” themselves via cartoonish and excessive displays of manliness. I don’t see it as an anti-gay ad necessarily, although I can see where those who do have objections to it are coming from, and I guess this is where Joe and I part ways.

    Joe’s position, essentially, is that organisations such as GLAAD undermine the whole enterprise of gay and lesbian equality by giving attention to what he sees is a trivial issue such as an ad for Snickers at the Superbowl:

    Is not wanting to be gay when you’re not gay suddenly an act of prejudicial hatred? Is it “anti-gay” of me, as a straight man, to not want to kiss another man? And exactly how does this commercial foster violence against gays? The only “violence” in the commercial was self-inflicted.

    This passage highlights a couple of problems I have with Joe’s position. First, leaving aside the question of how it is possible to “be gay when you’re not gay,” it isn’t simply the fact that the men depicted in the ad might not want to kiss other men; rather it is the fact that they react so violently (whether towards themselves or towards each other), and that they see male intimacy as something so beyond the pale of “normal” masculinity that they must engage in cartoonishly hypermasculine behaviour in order to reassure each other of their “manliness,” that GLAAD & co. object to. Second, in remarking that “the only violence in the commercial was self-inflicted,” Joe demonstrates an unwillingness to read the ad on anything more than a superficial, literal level. (Not that I think the ad actually promotes violence, but that’s beside the point here.) Either the ad wears it’s anti-gay sentiments on its sleeve–flashing GOD HATES FAGS!! across the screen in neon–or no such anti-gay messages exist. That’s a false dichotomy.

    Other differences with Joe stem from his view that organisations such as GLAAD have to choose their battles, and in this case, “picking the wrong battles can be a great loss to your cause.” That may be so, but why would combating what they perceive to be negative representations of homosexuality–or even incitements to homophobia– in the mass-media be the wrong battle for gay rights organisations to fight? This whole line of argument reminds me of the famous “NABA defence:” for every wrong for which someone is seeking redress, there is always a more egregious wrong transpiring somewhere else which that person could be paying more attention to instead of focusing on the present wrong. The assumption is that the gay rights movement is only capable of fighting one battle at a time, which is patently ridiculous.

    Finally, Joe declares that he fully opposes “ANY organization in their quest to take away anyone’s right of free speech to assuage their tender feelings,” and emphasises that “The US Constitution does not guarantee the right to go through life unoffended to ANYONE.” Again, I think he’s talking nonsense. The only entity that could conceivably take away the right to free speech is the government, and nobody’s right to free speech is diminished just because some groups and individuals complain about an ad. Masterfoods made a corporate decision in pulling the Snickers ads–there were no lawyers or police involved–and were probably influenced by more than one demographic (i.e. concerned Christian consumers as well as concerned homosexual consumers of their product–as the reactions of the NFL players suggest). And while it is certainly the case that nobody has the right not to be offended, this does not mean that nobody has the right to be offended and to say so when they are (a point which Joe later conceded). This simply isn’t a freedom of speech issue.

    I’ll leave the last word to Nicklas Johnson from Morons.org:

    Picture this: you’re watching the Superbowl and an ad comes on. Two redneck men are going through a buffet line. One of them loads up his plate with fried chicken. The other looks at him, then the plate, and they both jump back. The other exclaims, “quick, do something white!” and they don KKK outfits and set a cross on fire. Horrific and racist, right? Even if the guys were meant to be dumb?