Shumpty’s Punt: 23/6/12

Another beautiful day beckons in Brisbane and it is the last Group 1 of the season at Eagle Farm in the Tatts Tiara.

I think there is some good value throughout the field today and like the following for those of you having a punt.

Race 1 Number 1 – Thefifthhole

Whilst drawn wide, I expect this horse to get across and lead.  It is a good front runner and I am concerned that the others in the field might have a bit too much to do towards the end of this race to catch it.  Raise Up is the obvious threat with the form out of its last race now looking pretty good.  Ultimately though I will stick with the frontrunner to get the cash in this.

Race 3 Number 1 – Skating on Ice

Simply, this horse is the class runner in the race.  Much like race one I think this horse will lead and win.  The main threat is Bianca Jewel.  That said, Skating on Ice is off a short back up and looks primed for this one.

Race 4 Number 8 Hoss Amor

This horse will start favourite and has had a change of jockey albeit I am not sure putting Chris Munce onto a horse could ever be considered a bad thing.  It has a bad gate as well.  I am on it this week have dropped of it for its last run and being punished in the hip pocket.  Probably a stupid reason I know, but I just have a feeling today could be another of those days one would be well advised to get on.

Race 7 Number 15 Shopaholic

This horse returns after a valiant effort in the Stradbroke that was crushed by the bad gate.  Gets a good barrier here and has Dwayne Dunn aboard.  Off that back of its impressive last start effort I can’t see anything else in this field beating it.

I hope you find some winners out of the foregoing today and have a great day whatever it is you are doing.


Cricket Australia announces 2012/13 contract list: an emphasis on test cricket apparently

Today Cricket Australia announced the list of centrally contracted players for the coming summber (2012/13).  The following are those who received contracts:

Michael Clarke, Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson.

The move to reduce the contracted player numbers to 17 players and to, based on the Argus Report, focus on test cricket is something I wholeheartedly support.  I am not sure however that the new contract list does that though.

The glaring inclusion in the list is that of Mitchell Johnson.  Based on form over at least the last 12 months of test cricket he has played and in his return to first class cricket after his toe injury he surely can not be Australia’s top 17 players available for test match selection.  On the assumption that our test team will only ever include 3 fast bowlers, I can not imagine that he is ahead of any of Cummins, Harris, Hilfenhaus, Pattinson, Siddle or Starc on form and, indeed, recent reputation.

I am also surprised that Doherty has received a contract.  Based on recent selections he is behind both Lyon and Beer in the spin bowling pecking order.  Indeed he has a bowler ahead of him based on test squad selections, in the form of Beer, who bowls in precisely the same fashion as he does.  This is a strange inclusion if test cricket is your focus.

I have made much on twitter about Cowan’s exclusion however I confess that I can see the logic in not including him based on his form to date.  Equally, I would have though that if Cricket Australia considers him important enough to the Australian set up to make him captain of the Australian A team touring England this winter, they really should have thought him within the core of Australian players who received a contract.   Could it be that the plan is for Watson to open with Warner in the Ashes?

I will be interested to see if David Hussey’s inclusion in the contract list means he is the next in line for a test match spot.  I would find it surprising if that is the case with calibre of young batsmen waiting in the wings.  Shaun Marsh seems to have done himself out of the running after his troubles in the Border-Gavasker Trophy.  That said, Peter Forrest has done everything asked of him and was in the squad for the Frank Worrell Trophy whilst Liam Davis, Tom Cooper and Bob Quiney set the Sheffield Shield alight last summer.  If our next test batsmen is supposed to come from the contract list then the selectors have missed the mark.

I should say here that I do not dispute that players in other forms of the game ought also be recognised and receive recompense for their services.  In the context however of an alleged focus on test cricket from Cricket Australia in these contracts then players who are specialist short form players seem out of place.

A final comment: the Sheffield Shield champions from last year have only managed to have one player considered in the top 17 players in the country.  If nothing else that much show that the days of the Sheffield Shield and form shown in domestic cricket being the principal basis for selection in Australia’s national squad are fast disappearing.

Shumpty Punts: the weekend sport’s multi

Another exciting weekend of sport awaits us and for something different this week I am going to try and pick for readers a multi bet that should lead to a handsome return.  Earlier editions of Shumpty’s Punt have been met with some comment about the inappropriateness of glorifying gambling.  I do not write this blog to specifically offend people and I apologise if I do.  Equally if you not a punting fan, I suggest you exercise your right to choose and decline to read any further into this post.

That now said, onto this weekends action and the weekend multi.  All prices quoted are from

We will start with tonight’s AFL fixture between the Swans and Cats at the SCG.  This game is the match of the round for mine and features two sides coming off a bye.  The Swans have the best percentage in the AFL whilst the Cats have struggled for peak form all year.  I am leaning towards the Swans in this one in front of their home fans in what presents as a tight tussle.

Swans by 1-39 ($2.25)

Later on Friday evening England host the West Indies in the third one day match of their ongoing series.  Whilst I am often loath to bet on the shorter forms of cricket for obvious reasons, I like England here to continue their domination of the West Indies despite the return of that man Gayle.

England to win ($1.70)

For the third leg of the multi attention turns to the Australia v Wales Rugby Union clash at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday afternoon.  So far this series has involved some excellent and tight rugby from both sides with the Wallabies stealing a victory in Melbourne last week.  With the Welsh coming to the end of a longish tour and the Wallabies injecting new blood in the form of Kurtley Beale I expect the Wallabies to prevail again here in what again could end up a close score line.

Australia by 1-12 ($2.60)

In the interests of not getting too greedy I will limit the multi this week to four legs and for this the fourth and last leg I have found a little bit of value in the Formula 1 race from Valencia.  This F1 year has been a nightmare for tipsters with seven different winners from seven races.  That being the case I am going to avoid tipping a winner and tip Sergio Perez from the Sauber team to finish in the points (Top 10).  Aside from one DNF in Spain Perez has been one of the most consistent drivers in the paddock and I expect him to again pilot his Sauber machine into the points.

Perez in the Top 10 ($1.72)

All up this multi if it gets up will pay $17.11 for each dollar you place on it.  I have gone with $25 for my investment.

Outside of the multi, I have decided to round out my bets this weekend with a bet on the Sonoma Toyota/Save Mart 350 (NASCAR).  This is a road circuit and Australian Marcus Ambrose is the raging favourite to win his first race of the year in this race.  Anything can happen in these races but at $4.50 I consider Ambrose excellent value and will be placing some of my hard earned on him.

Good luck for anyone having a punt this weekend and as always if you don’t have the cash to spare don’t bet: it is simple really.

What to do with players accused of criminal conduct: to play or not play … is that the question?

Jesse Stringer’s assault charge and subsequent suspension from all Senior AFL activities for the remainder of the year has pushed the Australian Rugby Union’s decision to select Kurtley Beale for this weekend’s test match against Wales to the forefront of the minds of most sports followers this week.

The conundrum of allowing a player of any code accused, but not convicted, of a crime to play at the highest level of their code is not a new one albeit it is one that in the digital age in which we live more focus than ever before is placed on.

This is not a problem that is going to go away: simply put the sportstars of today are becoming younger and, whilst all conduct can not be talked away as juvenile hijinks or just “boys being boys”, young men (and women) are the demographic most likely to end up in some form of trouble with the law when alcohol is involved. 

In recent times we have seen a variety of approaches from clubs and the administrators of those clubs to allegations of inappropriate conduct.   Variously across the codes and in no particular order, some examples are:

  • Neville Costigan being dismissed by the Brisbane Broncos after he was charged with drink driving (but before he was convicted).
  • Todd Carney having his contract terminated and being deregistered from the NRL (by the Canberra Raiders) for urinating on a patron at a Canberra nightclub amidst allegations of drunk and reckless driving (among other things).
  • St Kilda player Andrew Lovett having his contract terminated after being charged with rape, a charge he was ultimately acquitted of.
  • Brett Stewart being removed as the “face of rugby league” and stood down for a period following allegations (ultimately found to be fabricated) of sexual assault.
  • Robert Lui being released from his contract with the West Tigers after being charged with various counts of assault against his partner.
  • Robert Lui, again, being suspended from playing rugby league for a year after being found guilty of assault against his partner.
  • Isaac Gordan being suspended by the NRL for 9 matches as a result of being charged over a domestic violence incident.
  • Nick D’arcy being removed from the 2008 Olympic team after being charged (and before his guilty plea) with assault having being involved a brawl with a former male team-mate.
  • Jake Friend having his contract terminated after falling asleep whilst drunk in the back of a cab and failing to pay the fare (for which he was charged).
  • Brett Seymour being sacked by two separate clubs over uncharged alcohol fuelled misconduct.

This is a small sampler of the punishment meted out by clubs and administrators across a number of sports in recent years for questionable player behaviour.  I make no comment on the strength or weakness of the punishments given out above.  They are what they are.

In addition to the examples above, and I note that I do not purport to know all of the facts of either case, now Messrs Stringer and Beale find themselves before the Courts on assault charges.  In both cases alcohol was involved.  Indeed in the case of Stringer the drinking before the incident has consistently been described as a “marathon”.

When one traverses all of the cases noted above, the common element appears to be the involvement of alcohol.  Equally, it also must be noted that some of the “offenders” noted above are repeat “offenders”.  The travails of the likes of Messrs Carney, Friend, Seymour and Lui are not isolated incidents or one offs: the matters noted above are portions of ongoing conduct which, again, has been consistently alcohol fuelled.

Whilst sports fans lament the lack of a “punishment” for Beale’s alleged conduct, there seems to me to be two far greater concerns arising out of the Beale and Stringer cases.  They are:

  1. Why are the punishments previously meted out to players who have been charged with assault NOT (in addition to the usual deterrents) having a deterring effect?
  2. Is there an alcohol problem in sport?

For the latter question, the usual glib responses are “they are just young men having fun” and “the problem is not alcohol, it is people pestering the stars when they are just trying to have a quiet drink”.  I can not accept either premise: if you are not a sportstar you are not absolved from punishment if you are an idiot or abusive when you are drunk.  The alternate glib response is “but that is the way it has always been” also does not fly with me because community standards have changed since the days of listening to your sport of choice on the transistor radio.

My personal view (and I admit I have had my own problems with alcohol in the past) is that there is a problem with alcohol in sport.  Part of the problem is obvious and is that, unlike most 18-25 year olds going out for a night on the town who have to pull up when their funds run out, sportstars have an unlimited available spend when they go out.  Of course they, the sportstars, are going to get drunk: presented with an bottomless wallet wouldn’t you? 

The former question is one to which there is no answer other than the punishments being meted out are not having a deterrent effect.  Equally, even if they were, I wonder if a player full of their chosen liquid refreshment would even think of the consequences before they step over the line like the players in the examples set out above.    

That being the case, I do not think the question of whether a player charged with a crime should play for their team after being so charged is the right question.  As fans we need to be asking of the sportstars and the people who coach and administer the games we all love whether enough is being done at all levels to seek to stop the cycle of alcohol fuelled violence that continues to pervade our daily sports fixes.  I, for one, do not think enough is being done: the evidence that this is the case is available for all to see above and in the sports pages every day.

In the end of course, after all of the hypothesising above, we are still left with the scenario where two elite sportsmen have been charged with assault and one is playing for his country on the weekend while the other is sitting on the sidelines.  I am left to wonder: how many more assault charges there needs to be before the question I raise in the preceding paragraph is seriously considered?

Once was a lawyer, always a law nerd … or am I?

For nearly two decades of my life I have been caught in the web that is the law.  For over a decade (if you include my articles of clerkship) I was a practitioner of the law and whilst I no longer am a practitioner to this day I love the law, or at least I think I do. 

My love of the law sees me continue to this day to read the transcripts of hearings in the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of the United States; it see me read every judgement word for word that these Courts hand down; and it sees me read everything I can about the history of these establishments and the Justices who grace their benches.  My love of the law has seen me, unilateral of my former work responsibilities as a litigator, visit the Supreme Court of the United States and the High Court of Australia just for the purposes of visiting and taking in the aura of each place.  

I have spent a long period of time reflecting on my time as a lawyer and my continued love of the law pondering why I still love something that, it could be said, has caused me no small amount of mental anguish.

Initially I thought that my love for the law had its nexus in the fact that I love an argument.  I recall my parents coming home from a Grade 11 parent teaching night to pose to me “what have you been doing to Ms Goldsworthy?”  Apparently my English teacher had exclaimed that she was frustrated with me because “every time I say something Stephen argues the opposite; sometimes I think he could argue that the sky is green and win”.  Equally I am prepared to declare that my happiest times in the practice of the law were when I was preparing for and arguing about issues at Court.  For me there was no greater experience than standing up in open court to argue my client’s case.  The fact is though, my love of arguing can not be at the root of my love the law because I loved arguing about anything and everything long before I discovered the law.

My thoughts then moved to whether I was in love with the traditions of the law.  By this I mean the history of the law combined with the conventions they create.  Such as calling the presiding judge “your honour” or “your worship”, bowing anytime you enter or leave a court room, the annual opening of the Court Year ecumenical service and the procedures around becoming admitted to practice.  However, as I pondered the law and its traditions it became abundantly obvious to me that over my time in practice the traditionalist nature of the law has dissipated over time.  No longer to Counsel where wigs (in most jurisdictions), disclosure and hearings can now be done electronically and training times for lawyers are becoming progressively shorter. As a traditionalist in most senses I can not confess to be enamoured with changes to the traditions of the law and thus conclude that it cannot be those traditions that keep my love strong.

Today, however, I had an epiphany.  As I sat over my lunchtime lasagna in the office reading the latest offering from the High Court of Australia, it struck that the basis of my ongoing obsession with the law rests not in being a pugnacious litigator or a staunch traditionalist but from the joy that reading the spoken word used to explain, and more particularly, craft that the laws that affect everyone on a daily basis has given, and continues to give, me. 

It struck me that my opening introduction to the law was in reading the judgements made by long gone judges in some of the seminal cases that structured our laws as we know them today.  Stories of snails in the bottom of bottles of ginger beer (Donoghue v Stevenson), a spectator being struck in the head while watching a cricket game (Bolton v Stone) and writing on the back of a train ticket leading to a contract (Parker v South Eastern Railway) entranced me as I hid away in the law section of Griffith University Library waiting for my next class or for the time to tick over for me to head home for a shift at Bundamba Tenpin Bowl.

The judges in those cases, beset with some fairly unique facts, where making the law as they wrote their judgements and wrote their judgments in such a way that they have stood the test of time.  Throughout my time as a student, I always enjoyed reading the cases of the Courts of England and Australia.  Often I was awestruck with how smart the judges must have been to be able to come up with the judgment they had and to be able to write in the way they did.   

As I became a practitioner of the law, I still found the judgments of the Courts entrancing now that I was reading them to try to find results for my clients and to have points to argue when I did appear as an advocate.  Equally I was still in awe of the writing of the judges: both in the cases I was reading and cases I was involved in in which judgments were written. 

These days I don’t read the judgments of the courts for meaning or to try to find an advantage for a client.  I simply have no reason to and yet I am still drawn to read them.  Reading a case from the Supreme Court of the United States about the status of the employees of a pharmaceutical company in the US (Christopher v SmithKline Beecham) or about a constitutional challenge to chaplaincy programs in Australian schools (Williams v Commonwealth of Australia) has nothing to do with what I am engaged with in my current career. 

So why do I read these judgments: it all comes back to the writing.  I do not agree with their views often but the judgements of Justice Antonin Scalia (Supreme Court of the United States) and Justice Dyson Heydon (High Court of Australia) are just so well crafted that they are a pleasure to read.  Often in dissent, both of these two judges have a writing style that means that you find yourself convinced that they just must be correct despite, often, no one agreeing with them.  Both judges also pull no punches when it comes to writing about the work of their colleagues which also makes their judgments enjoyable to read.

To quote Justice Scalia in Wabaunsee County v Umbehr:

The Court must be living in another world. Day by day, case by case, it is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize”

That is a fair statement of ones disdain for his colleagues if ever I saw one.

Reading Justice Heydon’s dissent today in Williams v Commonwealth of Australia it struck me that it is actually not really the law anymore that keeps me coming back to reading judgements.  It is in fact the use of the written word by the judges that does.  I know this tags me as a nerd (like you did not know that I was already) but I love reading good writing and judgments from the highest Courts in the land are some of the best writing around.

Does this mean I am not a law nerd anymore though? I am not reading the judgments for any other reason than I enjoy the writing.  On reflection though, the judgments of yesteryear and today still have as their nexus the laws that the judges are being asked to interpret, and sometimes create, on a daily basis.  So with that in mind I will continue to be self-proclaimed law nerd and state openly that I still love the law.

Wallabies side to play Wales named: I am scratching my head

Here is the Wallabies side named to play Wales this Saturday in an afternoon fixture at the Sydney Football Stadium:

15. Kurtley Beale
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper
13. Rob Horne
12. Pat McCabe
11. Digby Ioane
10. Berrick Barnes
9. Will Genia
8. Wycliff Palu
7. David Pocock
6. Scott Higginbotham
5. Nathan Sharpe
4. Sitaleki Timani
3. Sekope Kepu
2. Tatafu Polota Nau
1. Benn Robinson


16. Stephen Moore
17. Ben Alexander
18. Dave Dennis
19. Michael Hooper
20. Rob Simmons
21. Nic White
22. Anthony Faingaa

The return of Kurtley Beale is a welcome one.  That said I am scratching my head at two other changes to the team and one of the continued selections:

  1. In moving Rob Simmons to the bench, the Wallabies have demoted one of the most consistent performers in their forward pack from the last two test matches.  I do not know what is gained by demoting the guy for a replacement who does not bring anything additional to the table in terms of skills or presence around the field.  Equally, keeping Simmons on the bench is a bit perplexing when Dave Dennis can play both at lock and in the back row.  This move makes the team look a bit “forward heavy” on the reserves bench for mine.
  2. I can not understand why you would drop Mike Harris off the bench for an afternoon game when your first choice fly half has already been struggling with cramp? As simplistic at this sounds, if Barnes were to be incapacitated again I would have thought the security of having Harris on the bench would be comforting.  I concede that if Barnes goes off the obvious move is Beale to fly half, Ashley-Cooper to full back and Faingaa onto the wing however I am not sure I would keen to put Beale under that sort of pressure in his first game back after injury.
  3. Palu has been more of a liability than a positive in this test series and looks seriously short of a gallop for mine.  I can not understand why the Wallabies brains trust would not switch Higginbotham to number 8 and give Michael Hooper a start at number 6 and send Palu off for some fitness work before the Super 15 season restarts.  

Finally, to state the obvious the Waratahs are disproportionately represented in the team with 8 representatives which continues to show that Super 15 form seems to count for nothing.  Equally I am not all that displeased that the two contending teams in the Australian Super 15 conference (Reds and Brumbies) are not as at risk as they might have been to injury for the final 3 rounds of that competition as they would have been if form was a selection criteria.

Selection imbroglios aside, it will be a fascinating third test on Saturday.