Cricket Australia: anyone will do, as long as we stem the losses

Ever since the Australian cricket team lost its captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and opener Cameron Bancroft to suspension for ball-tampering, the organisation running the game, Cricket Australia, has been fighting to make the spectre of losses disappear.

The three players were found to have been the prime movers behind the use of sandpaper to change the surface of the ball during a series in South Africa in March 2018; Bancroft, the actual person caught on TV while stuffing a piece of sandpaper down the front of his pants, was suspended for nine months, while Smith and Warner were banned for a year. Warner, in addition, will never be able to hold a leadership position in the team.

After these shocks to the system, Australia has been losing one series after the other, no matter whether it be Tests or the shorter forms of the game. Thus the arrival of the Sri Lankan team to play two Tests has come as a great relief. Sri Lanka is without its skipper Angelo Matthews, a talented all-rounder, who often rescues the team when it is in trouble.
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How long has Australia been cheating to obtain reverse swing?

Australia’s Test series against India has ended in a 1-2 series defeat thanks to rain — else the Sydney Test may also have ended in defeat, making it 1-3 — but though many questions have been asked about the home team, the elephant in the room still remains.

Nobody has told the public how a team which managed to extract prodigious reverse swing during the 2017-18 Ashes series against England — played in the Australian summer — was unable to get even a fraction of that kind of swing in the series against India.
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Australians will whinge, but the Boxing Day pitch was just fine

A great deal has been said and written about the pitch prepared for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India – but in the end the game only lasted 27 balls into the fifth day, with India winning by 137 runs. Is that a result-oriented pitch or what? Or is it as it was painted, unsuitable for a Test? I think not.

The Australian complaints were (and always are) that the pitch did not afford the faster bowlers any assistance. But then as former Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee pointed out during a lunch-time interview on day two, the MCG has always been a dead wicket. Who is expected to take wickets – the bowler or the pitch?
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The ABC is a good example of inefficiency in Australia

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a government-funded news organisation that is quite wrapped up in itself. It has radio, online and television news services and a lot of it is about the ABC itself.

TV outlets tend to promote their wares during breaks between programs; the ABC goes one better and treats many of its own programs as being worthy of being news items.

If these were major investigations or ground-breaking programs, then it would be fine. That is not the case; the most trivial program often merits a slot on the ABC News channel that runs around the clock.
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Australia: 24m people, but not one decent rugby commentator

Australia is one of the better rugby nations on the face of the earth, with two World Cup wins to show for its efforts in the game, the same as South Africa and just one behind New Zealand.

But despite its producing a number of truly great players – Nick Farr-Jones, David Campese and Mark Ella are three who come to mind – the country still lacks a decent rugby commentator and has made do with Gordon Bray for a long, long time.

Surprisingly, Bray has been commentating for more than 40 years, despite the fact that there are obvious deficiencies in his performance. His commentary sounds more like a coaching class for Australia, and a list of instances where he feels the rub of the green has gone against the Australians. Whinging is the word they use in Australia to describe his complaining.
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All Blacks win because they have developed a winning culture

For the last 16 years, New Zealand has been winning the annual Bledisloe Cup rugby union competition against Australia, with 2002 being the last time they lost. It is a symbol of rugby supremacy, and for the two countries involved the next best after the World Cup itself.

Over the last few years, every time the games approach, the Australian media hype up the chances of their national team and for the uninitiated, it would appear to be some kind of equal contest. But in the end, New Zealand always runs away with the trophy, though some games can indeed be close.

Last year, for example, New Zealand came to Sydney for the first game as usual. By half-time, despite predictions of a close game being in the offing, New Zealand was ahead 40-6. The game ended in a 54-34 win to the All Blacks.
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Lions fail again, Crusaders romp home

That the Lions lost their third successive super rugby final — to the Crusaders for a second successive time — came as no surprise, for nobody really gave them much of a chance to take the trophy home. The bookies, always the best informed, had the Crusaders at a dollar and the Lions at eight dollars. The final score was 37-18.

But there were some indications that once again — as in 2016 and 2017 — coaching decisions had played a part in the defeat. One amazing stat that emerged during the final was that Lions fly-half Elton Jantjies had played every game of the season in its entirety. (He also played the entire 82 minutes of the final).

One has to wonder why coach Sys de Bruin put such a strain on the man. The super rugby season is always arduous and in recent years it has become even more of a strain as there is a break in June for international games to take place. This was devised as a way to give teams the chance to recover from injuries, but in reality a broken season like this is more of a strain than one that runs unbroken from start to finish. Much in the same way that it is easier to run an 800 metres race rather than two 400 metres races with a short break in-between.
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Will the Lions be third-time lucky? And will the ref learn to hold his peace?

For a third successive year, South African super rugby side the Lions have made it to the final where they will, for a second year running, lock horns with the Canterbury Crusaders, the most successful team in the 23-year history of the competition.

Last year, the Lions took on the Crusaders at home but were beaten 17-25, with their coach, Johan Ackermann, to blame. Ackermann let the side down in 2016 too, when the Lions were beaten by the Hurricanes.

This year, the task will be harder as the final is being played at the Crusaders’ home ground.
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Recycling Trump: Old news passed off as investigative reporting

Over the last three weeks, viewers of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners program have been treated to what is the ultimate waste of time: a recapping of all that has gone on in the United States during the investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential campaign.

There was nothing new in the nearly three hours of programming on what is the ABC’s prime investigative program. It only served as a vanity outlet for Sarah Ferguson, rated as one of the network’s better reporters, but after this, and her unnecessary Hillary Clinton interview, she appears to be someone who is interested in big-noting herself.

Exactly why Ferguson and a crew spent what must be between four to six weeks in the US, London and Moscow to put to air material that has been beaten to death by the US and other Western media is a mystery. Had Ferguson managed to unearth one nugget of information that has gone unnoticed so far, one would not be inclined to complain.
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The worst airport in the world? Easy, it’s Los Angeles

The worst airport in the world is in Los Angeles. This is the opinion of one who has passed through airports in Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Dallas, Orlando, Singapore, Bangkok, Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Cancun, Colombo, Dubai and London (Heathrow and Gatwick).

I have passed through LA in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Why does LA qualify as the worst? The buildings and facilities are alright but the staff are both incredibly inefficient and rude. They do not seem to give a damn about doing their jobs – which is to ensure that passengers get through the airport as fast as possible and catch their connecting flights or leave for their homes.

It is common to find airport staff — and there are legions of them — lounging around while crowds of passengers try desperately to get through the maze-like rigmarole that passes for immigration. There is no thought given to the fact that there may be passengers who have little time to catch a connection – anyone who wants to seek assistance has to go searching for some majordomo who is in charge, some tinpot dictator who is located at a considerable distance away from the milling crowd.
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