The Ashes: Australian Squad

Cricket Australian named its squad for the Ashes yesterday. Much has been made in the media, both traditional and social, about the make up of the squad. Pundits seem to be screaming that CA has performed a roundabout on its “Future Planning” policy. These are the same pundits who screamed when the touring party to India was named “what ever happened to winning?”. Sadly, those pundits have missed the point of this squad which will discuss below.

Let’s be clear here: I have been a strident cricket of the policy of selection of Cricket Australia over the last 12 months. I have been extremely negative about the “Future Planning” policy and even at one point declared “the day the cricket died”.

This is an Ashes squad though that I have limited negative statements to make: why? Because I think Cricket Australia have, finally, picked a team that can win!

Why do I think Australia can win? Because the squad selected is, finally, replete with players with significant experience batting in English conditions. Cowan, Rogers, Hughes and Khawaja all have experience at the top of the order in “Blighty” and, particularly in the case of Rogers and Hughes have scored mountains of runs in the conditions that Australia will face.

The sanity that has finally prevailed and seen Cummins and Maxwell NOT selected also adds to my confidence and shows me that Cricket Australia has learned from the experience of the Indian fiasco by selecting for the here and now and not the times to come.

As a side bar I find myself feeling a little bit sorry for the position that “Big Show” Maxwell finds him in: unmentioned by Inverarity in the interview as even being close to selection (cf. Henriques and Smith), not selected in the “A” squad and in India on a $1M deal but yet to play a game. If he is a “future project” player Cricket Australia needs to ensure that it circles the wagons around him to ensure he get the support he needs as he returns to state game. If you need an example of where this has not been done and the result: I present to you D Christian.

There are other things that need to fall into line for the Australian’s to win the Ashes: R Harris needs to be fit for more than 50% of the tests, J Pattinson similarly needs to stay fit and N Lyon needs to get his mojo back as he had no support.

All things considered though, I sit here feeling more confident about Australia’s chances than I have in the preceding 12 months.

It is our urn and we want it back!

Anzac Day: For the Fallen

They shall go not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

These words are from the 4th stanza of Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen” which was first published in The Times in September 1914. Traditionally the words “Lest we forget” are added at the end of the stanza.

The importance of these words of remembrance is obvious. In theatres of war throughout the world young Australian and New Zealand men have perished protecting their country, their dominion and our way of life. The poignancy of words spoken in remembrance of those that have fallen lose no meaning and depth as the years pass.

Australians, New Zealanders and soldiers from countries around the world continue to be engaged in conflict around the world and continue to fall. Their sacrifice and that of those who have preceded them will never be forgotten.

It is also important on this day, and every day for that matter, to remember those who return from war but are unable to return to their life before they left due to injury and illness including mental illness. We must not forget them either.

On this most solemn of days of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand I finish by repeating the last stanza of “For the Fallen”:

They shall go not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Ulysses by Lord Tennyson

I have been reading a lot of poetry recently and am drawn regularly back to the works of Tennyson. Ulysses is easily my favourite so I thought why not transpose it here:

It little profits that an idle king,

By this still hearth, among these barren crags,

Matched with an agèd wife, I mete and dole

Unequal laws unto a savage race,

That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink

Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed

Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those

That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when

Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades

Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;

For always roaming with a hungry heart

Much have I seen and known; cities of men

And manners, climates, councils, governments,

Myself not least, but honoured of them all;

And drunk delight of battle with my peers,

Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

I am a part of all that I have met;

Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough

Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades

For ever and for ever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,

To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!

As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life

Were all too little, and of one to me

Little remains: but every hour is saved

From that eternal silence, something more,

A bringer of new things; and vile it were

For some three suns to store and hoard myself,

And this grey spirit yearning in desire

To follow knowledge like a sinking star,

Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This my son, mine own Telemachus,

To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle—

Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil

This labour, by slow prudence to make mild

A rugged people, and through soft degrees

Subdue them to the useful and the good.

Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere

Of common duties, decent not to fail

In offices of tenderness, and pay

Meet adoration to my household gods,

When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:

There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,

Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought

with me—

That ever with a frolic welcome took

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;

Death closes all: but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,

‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew

Though much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Any time in the last month I have felt down or like things are getting on top of me I remind myself of this poem and reiterate to myself that though I am often crippled by my weaknesses I am strong in will and I will not yield to the forces of darkness in both my brain and around me.

Super Rugby: Reds v Brumbies, Round 10 … What did we learn?

I write this as I make my way home from Lang Park after watching the two best franchises in Australian domestic rugby duke it out on the way to a 19-19 draw before 38,500 fans.

Here are the 5 keys points I think followers of the great game learned from tonight’s fixture:

1. Jake White is a bullshit artist: The coach of the Brumbies made the claim earlier in the week that the Reds were the “dirtiest” team in Super 15. Hyperbole or not, tonight’s display from the Brumbies, including two yellow cards, certainly rests that crown from the Reds, if indeed they actually ever held it! On this point: did the referee in the second half forget the laws regarding the penalty try? Surely one must have been in the offing after the second yellow card?

2. The Reds came to win but their positivity cost them: I love attacking rugby and I love teams prepared to go for the try instead of taking the 3 points on offer. I salute the Reds for pushing for the attacking option for the totality of this game but think they over did it at least twice maybe four times. I suspect the lesson the coach will be preaching next week might be “attack with a line out but if you get another penalty take the 3”.

3. TMO … Hero or villain? I have not seen a replay yet so can not argue about whether the TMO was right or wrong in his decisions but has there been a game in recent memory where the TMO has had a more important roll? 4 disallowed tries to the Reds certainly had a game changing feel about them and 2 at least looked marginal. I certainly hope he got them all right.

4. The Brumbies will win the competition because: they won the game with defence and made a negligible number of errors like a winning team does. Forget the professional fouls for the current discussion and focus on the defence: a Herculean effort!

5. Smith v Gill: I am calling this one am honourable draw. Both had moments of excellence and frankly both also had moments that they would wish they could have again. The race for Pocock’s replacement is no clearer after tonight.

It was a stunning exhibition of rugby and I head home now to rest my sore throat. I may have been shouting a bit at the end.

Bring on next week!

Shumpty’s Punt: the weekend multi

Another weekend and another multi gone on the first leg last week: yes I did start my multi blog last week with the same sentiment. However, I will not be put off in my quest to find a winning weekend multi. After much consideration and study: here is this weeks offering.

Leg 1: Chiefs to cover the line (-4.5 points) against the Waratahs in the Super 15 at $1.92.

Leg 2: Sunrisers Hyderabad to defeat Kings XI Punjab in the IPL at $1.74.

Leg 3: West Coast Eagles to defeat Carlton Blues with the margin being between 1-39 points at $2.15.

Leg 4: Bulls to cover the line (-11.0 points) against the Southern Kings in the Super 15 at $1.92.

Leg 5: LA Clippers to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA finals at $1.48.

Payout: $20.41 for every dollar invested. My investment this week is $50.

Warning: Obviously please gamble responsibly and only bet with money you can afford to loose.

All prices are sourced from sportsbet.com.au.