Shumpty’s Punt: a bit of sport and Group 1 Racing

A few bets for this weekend:

Sports

A small multi for this weekend that I think is on the money:

Leg 1: England to defeat New Zealand in Twenty 20 International paying $1.65.

Leg 2: Melbourne Rebels to cover the line (-7.5 points) against the Western Force in the Super 15 at AAMI Park paying $1.85.

Leg 3: Wales to cover the line (-7.0 points) against Italy in the Six Nations paying $1.90.

Leg 4: Australia to win the 2013 Womens Cricket World Cup paying $1.36.

This multi will return $7.98 for investers. Please note that Leg 1 starts at 3:30pm so get in quickly!

Horse Racing

A couple of bets this weekend:

Brisbane Race 5: Number 5 Peron

Sydney Race 7: Number 1 Fibrillation (each way)

Melbourne Race 6: Number 4 Royal Haunt

Good luck and good punting!

The Australian Crime Commission and Sport: why issuing the report now was a mistake

Much has been made of the announcement by the Australian Crime Commission and the Ministers of the Crown for Sport and Justice about the findings of the recent ACC report into links between sport and the criminal underworld. Much has also been written about the report including the expected whispers about who is guilty and who is not guilty of the use of performance enhancers.

The press conference upon the issuing of the report and the portion of the report that has been made public (which, for the record, I have read cover to cover) were, with respect to all involved, replete with allegation and innuendo but lacking in hard evidence and, most importantly for the fans, the names of those “guilty” of using performance enhancing drugs in sport and, more worrying, the fixing of matches.

Now I agree with the legal position taken by the ACC: until the allegations are investigated and charges, be they internal within the sport in question or external before a court of proper jurisdiction, the naming of those alleged to be involved is absolutely wrong and likely to be prejudicial to any prosecution. The problem is though that in my view releasing the report without the same investigations being completed had the potential to, and indeed has, had the same effect.

What we have now is a whispering campaign of whodunit coupled with the codes focused on passing the buck between the themselves without really resolving who actually has contravened the laws of each such code or, more seriously, the relevant Crimes Act of each state. It beggars belief that the ACC and those same ministers of the crown did not think that this would happen. Australian’s love their sport and this was the only possible outcome to the release of a report which is, as I have noted above, scant on real detail and heavy on redacted summation.

I understand that the ACC was hoping that some offenders would come forward and admit their culpability in return for a lighter sentence. Frankly though that just smacks of an investigative body that does not actually have enough evidence now to take steps against the alleged offenders. If they did then the whispers would surely have not been needed to character assassinate whole clubs and codes: they simply could have said “this investigation is complete and here are the results” rather than “we have investigated but there is more investigation needed and we need help”.

For all of the powers of the ACC the impression that one is left with is that it is either a “toothless tiger” incapable of investigating what would seem to be a fairly simple series of allegations OR they were rushed to push out the report. Surely, as I have commented above, it was better to wait until there was something more concrete to actually report.

All in all my summation of things is that this has been handled in a poor fashion and the report was certainly released too soon. The impact of this is that the very risk that the ACC and the ministers sought to avoid, the inability to get a fair trial, is probably already upon us.

One final thought: upon my reading of all of the newspaper reports on this issue it reads like there are players from 7 clubs alleged to have taken PEDs or been involved in the conduct the subject of the investigation. For all of the hand wringing at the press conference, all of the “death of Australian sport” headlines and for of the press does that number seem strikingly low to you? On my count there are 50 professional sports teams across the winter codes and cricket in this country could it be that the bulk of that reporting has been beset with hyperbole? Has the ACC cried wolf and this is not as big a problem as the report would have one believe?

I for one will be watching with interest at the developments in the coming weeks.

When did saying “thank you” become such a difficult thing?

It seems like many of my blogs of recent times have been a bit ranty, indeed I have been on such a rant recently about various things that I should change my name to “Ranty McRant”. Unfortunately (and I know there are eyes rolling and mouses hovering over the backspace button as I write this) this is another of those blogs.

One of the things that has been bugging me a lot recently is the loss of the ability of people to simply say “thank you” for a job well done. I am not talking about in my day to day job: I work in a great job for a great firm for some great clients. What I am talking about is what I perceive as a loss of the ability of people to actually thank each other and be thankful for the things that others do for them.

In restaurants it bugs me to my core when people I am eating with or people at the tables close to me fail to recognise the work that their waiter or waitress does FOR THEM in the filling their glass and bringing their food. How hard is it to say “thank you” when you receive a bread roll or when your chair is pushed in for you? Simply, it is not hard! More to the point it is bad manners of the worst order.

However it is not just in restaurants where I have noticed this issue though: even today I have seen people let other people of the train first, someone open a door for another person and someone ask another person if they needed assistance and at no time did the person / people receiving the benefit of such conduct say a simple “thank you”.

It is just me? Am I surrounded by the rudest people on the face of the planet 24/7? I know that the resounding answer to that question is no. I work with and associate with some of the kindest people in the world and my observations save in one example noted above relate to the conduct of complete strangers. More to the point though these examples of conduct I have seen today are not the only examples I have. I could write a treatise on the examples of this sort of conduct I have seen in the last few years that have formed part of the rant that is the basis of this blog.

What strikes me in my daily interactions with people and my observations of the interactions of strangers is, in the most part, that those interactions are shorter, less cordial and not replete with statements of thanks than they used to be. I think there is a strong argument that the introduction of email and other electronic means as the most regular method of communication between people in place of the phone or face to face interaction has lead to the interactions of people when they are forced to interact face to face becoming less courteous than they used to be.

I am more than happy to be proved wrong on this but I can remember a time before email and other electronic forms of communication when it would be the overwhelming exception rather than the rule when someone would not thank another person for doing something for them however innocuous. Electronic means of communication have to have played a part in the changing demographic I have noted above in my view. It is impersonal for a start and in the most part the messages are short and the messages sent are not ones that give rise to acclamation or thanks. SMS, email, tweets and other forms of electronic messaging are all designed to make the conversation you are having with someone quicker and simpler and shorter.

Now I concede that the pace with which we all live our everyday lives has swiftened to a point that sometimes it is difficult to know what relaxing actually feels like. However is that a reason to be discourteous to each other? I certainly am of the view that it is not. The conundrum is that I am sure that the persons I have adverted to in the examples above are not rude people necessarily rather they have been so ingrained with the habits that electronic forms of communication create that the courtesy that would be considered normal to show has been lost by them.

That being the case and noting the obvious that electronic communication is here to stay, I have no simple solution to this problem. I sincerely hope we do not get to a point in society where saying thank you to people becomes a quaint after thought of a bygone era like, for example, standing when a lady joined a table of diners. Then again I wonder if we are not already there?

All I know is that I am going to continue to say thank you to everyone who assists me throughout a day and continue to be as courteous as I can be. I just hope I am not already being a quaint relic in doing so.

The Warne Manifesto: the end of an inglorious summer for Shane or a new beginning?

The publication by Shane Warne of his widely circulated “manifesto” has led to much social media comment and both support and derision from current and former players, commentators and fans alike.  Shane Warne is a legend of the game and is entitled to his opinion about the state of Australian cricket.  He is entitled, as a public citizen, to give his opinion about everything from poker to potato chips if he so wishes.  I make no comment (save for what follows), affirmative or otherwise, about the strategies Warne suggests: plenty of others have already done so.

The question that I have been turning over in my mind though since the publication of the “manifesto” is whether its publication represents a new beginning for Shane Warne as a statesman of the game or it is simply a footnote of an inglorious summer for a fading champion.  Before answering that conundrum, it is important to consider the summer it has been for Warne.

Shane Warne’s summer of cricket started  with an attempt to lift the profile of the Big Bash League via making himself available for the Ashes and then immediately withdrawing his availability again after ticket sales went through the roof for the first Melbourne Stars fixture of the summer.  Such a transparent attempt at self promotion was followed by two overs of long hops and full tosses that lead to 40 runs being taking off his bowling in a game he so disingenuously sought to promote.

This extravaganza of self interest was followed by a mid-season break to return “home” to England to celebrate the festive season with Ms Hurley which left man pundits and fans alike scratching their heads and questioning his committment to the game.  This was particularly so given that the “other” great spinner in the competition, a bloke from Sri Lanka who holds the record for most wickets in history, didn’t see the need to return home to his family and stayed in Melbourne to play for his franchise during the same period.

Then of course we move to the “battle of Melbourne” between Warne and Marlon Samuels. Regardless of who was the instigator of this most unseemly of incidents, for Warne, in his capacity as an “elder” of the game, it could not have been a worse moment to abuse a fellow player and to act in a fashion unbecoming of a sportsman at any level.  It ought not be forgotten that in the aftermath of the “battle” Warne also displayed a lack of contrition that was as overt as it was unsurprising.  It should also be remembered that his paramour Ms Hurley saw fit to weigh in on the debate via twitter.

The penultimate act of the summer from Shane Warne came in the semi-final of the BBL: setting aside Mr Warne’s failure to read the rules of the competition this was a game in which the greatest leg spinner bowler of all time took the field and did not bowl.  A man with greater than 700 wickets in test match cricket chose not to bowl himself in a sudden death match when his team needed him the most. 

All of these factors combined leads one to the conclusion that it has been a season to forget for Shane Warne.  It should also not be forgotten that before the “Warne manifesto” was published followers of @warne888 were submitted to reading the various complaints of Warne about the state of the Australian cricket team (amongst the spruiking of his poker tournament and declaring his love for Ms Hurley) ending with the declaration that the powers that be in the game are “muppets”. 

With that statement made, the manifesto was born and that leads us back to the current day and the publication of the “Warne manifesto”.  It goes without saying that he makes some valid points.  It also goes without saying that some of his suggests are so impossible in reality as to border on lunacy.  That said, regardless of where you stand on the validity or otherwise of the statements made by Warne, the unmistakable truth is that until Shane Warne decides to stop his international globetrotting with his partner, Ms Hurley, his poker playing and appearances at celebrity golf tournaments and return to Australia and make himself available to be a selector or a coach his manifesto will be considered nothing more than the hot air it actually is.  This is because, no matter who you look at it,the “Warne Manifesto” has the look of the work of someone content to sit on the sidelines and throw stones rather than roll up his sleeves and offer real assistance.

If the “Warne manifesto” was an attempt by its author to push himself forward as a statesman of the game, the failure of the author to actually take action rather than snipe condemns it to be nothing more than a footnote of an inglorious summer for an obviously fading star of the game.  It is that inglorious summer that has the potential to tarnish Warne’s reputation for a long time to come.

I have the same fears for cricket in Australia as Shane Warne does but unlike him I am not in a position to do anything about it. The time for talk is over and the time for action is now.  Shane Warne should be given kudos for trying but he is not the emissary of change cricket in this country needs.  I hope such an emissary appears from the slipstream of Shane Warne’s attempt but I have to concede I am not hopeful.