Shumpty’s Punt 27/7/12

Well last week was a bust and this week I have been absolutely flat out with work so I do not have time to provide much commentary on this week’s multi. Nonetheless I have think I have come up with a six legger this week that, if it gets up, will return punters $20.83 for every dollar invested.

The legs are:

1. The Crusaders to be defeat the Chiefs in the Super 15 @ $1.58

2. The Titans to cover the line against the Roosters (-2.5 points) in the NRL @ $1.87

3. Also in the NRL the Sea Eagles to defeat the NZ Warriors @ $1.48

4. In the AFL, I tip the Bombers to bounce back this week and therefore to cover the line (+33.5 points) against the Hawks @ $1.92

5. In Saturday morning’s (Aus time) MLB game from Yankee Stadium the Yankees to defeat the Red Sox @ $1.58

6. The final leg is again in the Formula 1 and I am picking Mark Webber to make the top 6 in Hungary @ $1.57

I reckon the proverbial hoof will be on the till with this one and wish you all the best of luck.

Hopefully work will roll off a bit next week and usual blogging form will resume.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Shumpty’s Punt: the weekly multi

Well last week was a bit of a disaster for multi followers: we just couldn’t catch a break with some of the upsets that arose. Following the mantra that when you fail the best thing to do is to try again and this week I am again tipping a five leg multi that I expect will lead to a good payout for followers.

It is a massive weekend in sport again and the multi starts tonight with the blockbuster at Etihad Stadium between the Geelong Cats and the Essendon Bombers. The Cats come into this fixture after being belted last week by Collingwood and their key forward is struggling with the kicking yips at the moment. They are also missing Jimmy Bartel through suspension. The Bombers have been one of the form teams in the competition so far and seem to have had the tactical measure of the Cats in recent seasons that lead to a four point victory in the corresponding game last season. To me the Bombers are a young team on the rise while the Cats are coming to the end of a period of dominance (if they lose this game this will represent the first time they have lost 6 games in a season since 2006). I am tipping the Bombers to win this one in the close one and cover the very short line of -3.5 points.

Leg 1: Bombers to cover the line (-3.5 points) against Geelong at $1.92

Our second leg comes from across the Tasman on Saturday afternoon where the New Zealand Warriors host the Newcastle Knights. The Warriors close loss last week to the Broncos saw them drop out of the top 8. They won all of the key statistical categories in that game however so they ought take some confidence out of that. Konrad Hurrell returns to the Warriors lineup for this fixture. The Knights have been in moderately poor form this year but have won three of the past four days and welcome back Neville Costigan this week. One of the highlights of this match will be the battle of the wingers in Manu Vatuvei and Akuila Uate and, frankly, the team with the winger that makes the least mistakes may will win this game. The Warriors have made Mt Smart Stadium a fortress in recent times winning ten of their last twelve fixtures and I think this will be a difficult one of the Knights to win despite their recent excellent form. That being the case I am tipping the Warrior to win this game and cover the line.

Leg 2: Warriors to cover the line (-10.0 points) against the Knights at $1.90

The third leg of this weekend’s multi comes from the South Island of New Zealand and more particularly the city of Christchurch where the Crusaders host the Bulls in the first of two Super 15 Qualifying Finals. In my preview of the weekend’s Super 15 action on the excellent I tipped the Crusaders to win by 11 and I am sticking to this tip for the multi. That means that I expect the Crusaders to cover the line of -9.5 here.

Leg 3: Crusaders to cover the line (-9.5 points) against the Bulls at $1.92

Super 15 rugby is also the focus of the 4th leg of the multi. We return back to the other side of the ditch for the second qualifying final at Lang Park between the Reds and the Sharks. Again, I refer follows to my preview of this fixture at where I tipped the Reds to win by 9 points and I am sticking to this tip in the multi. The line here is -5.5 points and I think the Reds will cover this here.

Leg 4: Reds to cover the line (-5.5 points) against the Sharks at $1.92

The anchor leg of this week’s multi again comes from the world of Formula 1. This weekend Formula 1 action comes from Germany and I think the best bet in the race is to pick the form driver in the championship, Fernando Alonso, to finish on the podium. Alonso is at the top of the championship and appears to have the car under him to go all the way this season. He is also keeping his car on the track more than in recent seasons and expect with his speed for him to be up the front at the end of this one. I am not sure though that he will defeat one or both of the Red Bulls and thus am only prepared to tip him for the podium here.

Leg 5: Fernando Alonso to finish in the top 3 in the German F1 Grand Prix at $1.72

This multi will return a healthy $23.13 per dollar invested for punters. Good luck and good punting for the weekend.


Shumpty’s Favourite Places: a cricket field … any cricket field

I know I committed a while ago to writing about my favourite places on this blog and it has been remiss of me to keep up this part of the blog.

I was asked today by one of my friends to name the places where I am most at ease.  Bizarrely, my immediate thought was that I was most at ease on the cricket field when I was playing.  That got me thinking about some of the places I had played the game and it made me realise that a cricket field, any cricket field, is one of my favourite places.

Cricket is a game that I revere: I have played it, coached it, umpired it, watched it, studied it and written at about and a cricket ground is the church as which I worship the game that I love.

When I was playing the game the first thing I did every time I got to a ground was take a walk around the boundary and take in the surrounds, then I would walk out to the pitch and get a sighter of the conditions.  The smells of a cricket field were a comfort for me and relaxed me before crossing the boundary rope to play: the freshly cut grass, the white paint used to mark the creases and the mixed aroma of suncream, “deep heat” and Juicy Fruit all combined to make me feel like I was at home.

One of the best places on earth: a cricket field (Allan Border Field)

I was fortunate enough as a player to have the opportunity to travel up and down the coast of Queensland, through New South Wales and to New Zealand to play cricket and all of those aromas and sites were essentially the same.  It would be fair to say that one of the great allures of cricket grounds for me and one of the reasons I was always at ease was that consistency.

I associate some of my fondest memories of childhood with time spent on cricket grounds. I remember fondly (among other memories):

  1. My first six at Ivor Marsden 2 in Ipswich off an off spin bowler called Doyle in Under 16’s (I was a late bloomer) and my dad yelling from the side line to “get my head down” … I got out next ball.
  2. Captaining the Booval Cricket Club Under 14s to victory in a final against the North’s team led by one of my best mates John Ruscoe on the old concrete pitch at Timothy Maloney Park in Ipswich.
  3.  Taking 5 for 5 in a game in Toowoomba at the Downlands School as part of the Ipswich Grammar School under 16Bs and then spending two hours waiting for the bus to take us home to Ipswich because the game was over within the first hour.
  4. The first time I ever cramped up after playing a game of cricket in Cairns after opening the bowling for South East Queensland in an under 14 state title and having a laugh with my team mates when I had to be carried back to the team bus.

My favourite field to play on was the old Ipswich Grammar School No 1 Oval.  I did not get to play there much as the season I was in grade 12; the confluence of a wet Queensland summer and a 1st XI coach who did not think I was any good (he may or may not have been correct) meant that I can only recall playing there twice but to this day I don’t believe I have played anywhere better.  Surrounded by a white picket fence with turf nets and gardens at one end and over looked by one of the school’s two boarding towers and the music school with an amphitheatre of stairs on which viewers could sit I remember it being just the best place to play cricket I could think of.  The grass was like carpet, the pitch was always true and you could sit right being the bowler’s arm and watch the play.  I loved the joint and wish I had have played there more.  I also loved sitting around and talking to the other guys in the team.  It will not surprise that I was far from the most popular guy at school and it was only during those times watching, training and playing cricket on No 1 Oval that I felt like I was “part of the gang”.

Aside from the odd comeback here and there to play with mates, I have not played competitive organised cricket since I hurt my back as a 19 year old.  I have compensated for that by becoming a vociferous watcher of the game.  Be it an international game, a state game or a local club game I try to sit myself behind the bowlers arm and watch the play.

I have not missed the first day of the Brisbane test match since 1999 and if I have my way I will never miss one till I die.  I often try to go to Queensland Bulls Sheffield Shield games on a Sunday and just watch the play for hours and if the stars align and I am in Ipswich on a Saturday I try to find out where my old club is playing and go along for a look.

To this day, the ‘Gabba is my favourite ground to watch cricket.  It was my favourite ground back when the dog track still ran around it and it is my favourite ground now.  I remember being on the hill when Carl Rackemann took the catch that won Queensland its first Sheffield Shield in 1995 (to this day my parents think I was at Uni) and I was there for Steve Harmison’s first ball to second slip in the 2006.  There is no better place to watch cricket in my view that high in the stand at either end of the ground behind the bowler’s arm.  I could, and have, sat there for hours just watching the game.

A cricket field, any cricket field, is one of my favourite places, not just because I love cricket but because at a cricket ground I feel completely at home.  Now all I have to do is bide my time until September, for cricket season to start so I can get back to one of my favourite places.

One punch can kill: Will we ever learn?

Yet again the airwaves and newspapers are dominated with stories of pub fights, king hits and tragic loss.  The loss suffered by the victims of such violence is incomprehensible to me: I have not in my life experienced such violence albeit I have felt the pain that a sudden loss of life does cause with the loss of the my grandfather Allan.   Equally as incomprehensible to me is what makes one think it is alright to king hit someone.

Let’s be clear here: I do not know the facts of either case that are presently in the media. I suspect that both such cases will be played out for some time to come in both the Courts and the media.  It is also important to be clear that I write this blog from the perspective of someone who no longer drinks but until 16 months ago drank to excess regularly and who has often found himself in situations in pubs or clubs where an undercurrent of violence, actual or threatened, has been obvious. 

Whilst it may seem both glib and harsh I think it is important to separate two “one punch” scenarios here:

  1. The “king hit”: this is where an innocent bystander is struck by another person unprovoked or with limited provocation often without the victim knowing their assailant or even why they have been hit; and
  2. The “pub fight”: this is where the combatants have squared off, often in an inebriated state, verbally and then physically and a punch has been thrown.

I have separated these scenarios not because I think the outcome of them have any less effect on the victim or the victim’s family nor because I think in one case a party is blameless whilst in the other blame can be apportioned but because I wonder if there is more that can be done to try to lessen the likelihood of the second scenario.

The first scenario is simply abhorrent and totally inexplicable.  If caught, the perpetrator of the king hit, in any outcome scenario, ought be sent to prison for a long time. There can be no cogent excuse for wantonly hitting someone without warning in any scenario: alcohol or drug fueled or not.  Equally, as a society it seems to me that there is little that can be done to stop such conduct occurring.  I know of no magic formula or education program that is going to stop the perpetrator of such conduct.  Put differently: if the perpetrator is evil enough or mad enough to conduct himself in such a fashion, I don’t know how we stop it.

The second scenario is one that I have been tossing around in my head for some time, in part because I feel lucky that in the 18 years I have attended public drinking establishments in various states of inebriation I have been fortunate to have not been involved in a physical altercation save for breaking up fights on occasion.  When I have thought about it I have always considered that bar fights are just part of life and have explained them away as simply what happens when men get drunk.  That is simply not a good enough response however for the families of those lost to such one punch violence.

A number of solutions have rolled around my mind in the vain hope of coming up with something, indeed anything, that might lower the incidences of alcohol fuelled violence and ultimately deaths and none of them are entirely sustainable or possible.  Prohibition did not work in the United States in the 1920s: if anything there was more violence rather than less.  Curfews and mandatory closing times have led to groups of people roaming the streets in the early hours drunk and seemingly, on occasion, looking for trouble.  Education programs do not seem to work.

The only solution I came up with that might have some possibility of success was making the penalties for the various categories of assault (right through to murder) that might arise harsher.  Additionally, it seemed to me that removing the dual defences of provocation and diminished capacity (on account of being inebriated) might also act as a further deterrent.  I for one do not believe that being a drunken lout should entitle an offender to a lesser sentence or the reduction of a charge from murder to manslaughter.  Harsher penalties may well have a deterrent effect but whether two inebriated individuals in the midst of a verbal confrontation are going to think about the consequences of throwing a punch in the heat of the moment is something that I think is highly questionable in theory.

So where does that leave us? Previously in this blog I have gotten up on the pulpit to preach the virtues of individuals taking personal responsibility for their conduct and living their lives in a fashion that corresponds with their values.  Again, it seems to me that a solution to the problem of alcoholic fuelled violence lies in the hands of the individuals themselves.  Each individual needs to consider, or at least be given the tools to consider, the option of walking from a confrontation and ACTUALLY walking away.   

I question though whether the values that I believe society ascribes to (being that it is better to walk away from a fight than to partake in one) are actually the values that a significant portion of the population of those most likely (being males between the ages of 15 and 40) ascribe to.  Only yesterday, I saw first hand an example of individual who ascribed to the antithesis of those values.  I was mortified to overhear the conversation of a young man (he would have been no more than 20) on the train yesterday evening that can be summarised as follows:

  1. He was just out of jail having been sentenced to a short stint on an assault charge arising from a fight in a pub car park.
  2. He had been to the Broncos v Warriors game on the preceding Friday night and had “belted” a patron sitting behind him because he thought he had heard him say something sarcastic about his girlfriend.
  3. His mother, who was sitting next to him, was proud of him.
  4. He was going out that night with the mates he was conversing with and was wistfully hoping that they would find someone to “fuck up”.

So this guy, if what he said was to be believed, has already been to jail on an assault charge, got into a fight in the week he got out of jail and was looking for another fight.  AND his mother was proud of him.

Whilst I would love to believe that this young man is the exception rather than the rule, and I really hope that he is, whether he is in the minority or not, whilst there are individuals whose values approve of randomly violent conduct incidences of such conduct will not stop and that leaves me to lamentably answer the question posed in the title to this blog in the resounding negative.

Cricket Australia’s National Selection Panel: what are they thinking?

Today Cricket Australia announced the one day international and twenty 20 squads to play Afghanistan and Pakistan in the UAE in August and September.

The squads are:

ODI Squad

Michael Clarke, David Warner, George Bailey, Daniel Christian, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade

T20 Squad

George Bailey, Shane Watson, Daniel Christian, Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hogg, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Cameron White.

Anyone following me on twitter (@shumpty77), will have seen my concerns (or maybe rants) about some of the selections made today.  Those concerns have only grown stronger throughout the day.

That said, first it must be noted that there are some obvious positives to arise in the selections made today including:

  1. The inclusion of Callum Ferguson in the ODI squad is a reward for form in domestic cricket, particularly in the last series of the Ryobi Cup.  To come back from the injuries that he has had is a credit to him.
  2. The return of Cameron White to the Twenty20 squad is a reward for his excellent form in IPL and in the Friends Lift T20 in England
  3. Daniel Christian’s elevation to the ODI squad gives the line up flexibility from one of the form players of the Australian domestic summer.  Frankly, his inclusion is righting the selection wrong that was his non-inclusion in the squad to tour England in June.

The positives out of the way, I again find myself perplexed about some of the selections made and, possibly more to the point, not made. I will deal with each in turn.

Glenn Who?

The big news story surrounding the announcement of the squads is the inclusion of Glenn Maxwell in both.  That is a good enough place to start with my concerns.  I am absolutely prepared to concede that Maxwell has been in good form with the willow in the English T20 competition and there can be no doubt that he hits a long ball.  That having been said I am not convinced there is any need for the inclusion of another offspin bowling allrounder in the squad for either form of the game.  Both squads include the name D Hussey who projects as the off spinning allrounder that makes the side.  That being the case why do we need to blood Maxwell given that he is unlikely to play either in this series or in the World T20 Championship that follows the tour.

Further, I can not understand Maxwell’s inclusion in the ODI squad on form.  In last season’s Ryobi Cup Maxwell scored some 74 runs at an average of 15 runs per innings and took 6 wickets at an average of 42 per wicket.  That can hardly be considered the form of a player pressing for selection in his national team.

The Johnson Imposition: what does a young bowler have to do?  

The selection of Mitchell Johnson continues to cause heads to shake among the cricket fans of this country.  He was taken to England and could not fight his way into the ODI team despite P Cummins returning home injured.  In his one game he bowled 7 overs, gave up 43 runs and bowled 4 wides and 2 no balls.  He is not the force that he was even two years ago and it appears that the problems he is having remain mostly between his ears.  I would have thought he would be a player that would benefit from a full season in domestic cricket in Australia to see if he gets his form back before sending him back on tour with the national team.

The corallory of this is that there are plenty of high class bowlers who performed in the 2011/12 Ryobi Cup.  A McDermott was one of the revelations of the tournament taking 16 wickets at 18.87 in seven games.  J Faulkner took 14 wickets at 29.71 as well as scoring runs.  J Haberfield took 14 wickets at 18.50.  If the one days series’ that Australia are playing between now and the Champions Trophy in June 2013 are designed to build a team for that tournament and towards the next World Cup then surely Johnson must have been left out and one of these three young bowlers given an opportunity to perform at the top level. 

The Smith conundrum: bad for balance

The batting scapegoat for the failure of the Australian team in the series in England appears to have been Peter Forrest whilst Steve Smith inexplicably survives again.  I appreciate that Forrest had an ordinary tour but so did Smith and when it became necessary to try and fix the balance of the team it was Smith that found himself on the outer.  Additionally, I just can not see him playing in any of the ODIs because a team picked from the squad as announced presents as best balanced when Smith along with Maxwell, Johnson and Ferguson are mixing the cordials. 

If a reserve batsman needed to be picked in addition to Ferguson it is obvious that Rob Quiney should have been selected in the ODI squad in the place of Smith.  He has been the form batsman in all forms of the game in Australia and could open the batting if the selectors are looking for an alternative to the Wade / Warner combination.  Opposers of this will say that Smith’s bowling is an added string to his bow that places him ahead of Quiney but both from the perspective that the balance of side is better if Quiney is included and because Smith’s bowling has been mediocre at best that argument is without substance.  

What ever happened to T Birt?

Travis Birt was the form batsman of the KFC Big Bash last summer scoring 345 runs at an average of 43.12 and a strike rate of 168.29.  He also hit some of the biggest sixes one anyone is ever likely to see.  His batting presents as the blue print of the belligerent batsman Australia has been sorely lacking in the middle order in T20 matches.  Despite being picked up by the Dehli Daredevils for IPL5 he was not selected to play a game.  The only basis I can think of for his non-selection must be that he has not recently played the short form of the day.  That or he is injured and I have not seen a report about it.  Otherwise his non-selection seems to be inexplicable.

The selection of injured players: when will we learn?

Yet again the National Selection Panel have deigned to select players who are injured in Cummins and Watson without first testing them in domestic cricket.  I am on the record as being vehemently against this and again I can not agree with the logic of selecting, particular Cummins, for these games.  They were injured badly enough to come home from England and seem to be regularly injured.  That fact seems to me to be enough to warrant easing them back into the international game through domestic cricket in Australia.

Surely it must be better for Australian cricket noting the coming test series against the South Africans and the Ashes for Cummins and Watson to be given time to heal and to get match hardened in the longer form of the game rather than participating in the T20 hit and giggle fest to come in Sri Lanka.  It would seem to me that there is everything to lose and nothing to gain by both player’s participation in this series.

Ultimately, it is apt to note that selectors have a tough job and no doubt they consider that they have got the selection of these squads correct.  I respectfully disagree.

What do you think?