Another day, another Canberra Raiders player saga: the Milford imbroglio

It has been a while since I wrote about anything to do with rugby league. I am only a fan of the game whilst the Canberra Raiders are playing it and given that they have been out of play since the end of the August there has been little for me to comment on (I have grown weary of the ongoing playing behavior imbroglios that engulf the game and choose to not comment on them).

The news yesterday and today about Anthony Milford and his relationship with the Canberra Raiders has in equal parts infuriate me and disillusioned me. For those who have missed it, it was announced yesterday that Milford has signed a contract to play with the Brisbane Broncos in from 2015. It was then announced that Milford will see out his contract with the Raiders in 2014. Milford has refuted this this morning and stated that he will not be returning on 16 December for pre-season training.

Now let me be clear: I have nothing but sympathy for Milford’s situation. He has an ill father and wants to be close to him and look after him. As a son of a father that I am very close to I understand that completely.

What infuriates me is the fact that his contract for 2015 has already been announced despite him being contracted to another club through 2014. How is it fair to the fans of the Raiders and the other players in the Raiders squad to have the teams most valuable player already in the exit lounge for a season if he actually deigns to honour his contract with the club next year. The situation with player contracts in the NRL is becoming farcical and there needs to be changes made, within the bounds of the competition laws of this country, so that situations like this cease to recur. Fans of the game hate these contractual shenanigans and it is time that the NRL listen to the fans.

My disillusionment this morning stems from I know will happen now that Milford has expressed his vehement position that he will not be returning to the Raiders in 2014. Despite the backlash from Canberra Raider’s fans to the return of Josh Dugan to NRL play some 4 weeks after he was removed from the club due to a phalanx of behavioural issues, I am prepared to bet that the NRL will show its usual lack of steel when it comes to player issues and allow Milford to break his Raiders contract and play for the Broncos in 2014. He is simply too marketable and the Raiders have, as is obvious from their treatment at TV schedule time, simply no power within the construct of the NRL.

During the Super League saga I was lost to the game however I came back when it reformed. The various player behaviour issues over recent years and the treatment of the Canberra Raiders by Channel 9 have had me on the precipice of being lost to the game again. I have to say: if Milford plays in the NRL for any other club other than Raiders I may well be gone for good. I hope that does not happen but I reckon it is odds on that it will.

I repeat that I am sympathetic to Milford’s situation. Equally, he needs to learn the consequences of breaching a contract. The question is whether the NRL will teach him that lesson.

Shumpty’s Punt: Friday Fancy

After missing a $50 (per dollar) payout on Wednesday by 4 points, a day of reflection was needed yesterday. Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US but that does not stop the sport across all codes and I have a five leg multi that I think will line out pockets for the weekend ahead.

Leg 1: Texas to cover the line (-4.0 points) against Texas Tech in NCAA Football.

Leg 2: Nevada to cover the line (+12.5 points) against UCLA in NCAA Basketball.

Leg 3: Ottawa Senators to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL.

Leg 4: Total game score between the Edmonton Oilers and the Nashville Predators to be less than 6 goals in the NHL.

Leg 5: Baltimore Ravens to cover the line (-3.0 points) against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL.

This multi will return just over $25 for every dollar invested.

As always: please gamble responsibly.

Cricket: time to ban the drinks waiters!

I wrote during the Ashes in England earlier this year of some changes I would like to see made to the laws of the game of cricket at the top level of the game. One of the areas in which I was proposing change was in the area of the running onto the field of drinks by 12th, 13th and 14th men.

I was astonished to see live just the number of interruptions to the flow of the game by such “drinks waiters” during the first three days of cricket at the Gabba during the first test match. The accountant in me decided to tally up the number of interruptions during one hour of play, specifically the third hour of play on day 3.

During the hour in question, in which the only wicket to fall was one in the final over of the hour, there were no less than eight incursions onto the field by drinks waiters to provide members of both teams with a drink and, in the case of the batters, a change of gloves. Most astonishingly was the call onto the field by the Australian captain, Michael Clarke, for a change of gloves and a drink exactly four minutes or one over before 1:40pm, being the time an actual drinks break would have taken place.

Now I concede that it was a warm and steamy day in Brisbane on the third day of the test match when I undertook this exercise of counting the number incursions by drinks waiters on the field but in an hour when 14 overs were bowled can it really be justified by either side that greater than half of the breaks between overs in the hour in question were punctuated by a break for a drink? Put differentialy, was it really necessary for the drinks to be on the field every 7.5 minutes during the hour of play?

I understand that the ICC has directed its umpires to stamp out this practice in the interests of speeding up play, however, if Messrs Dar and Dharmasena received that message from their pay masters they obviously decided to ignore it because, aside from the occasion I complain of immediately before drinks when Mr Dar did approach Clarke, ostensibly I assume to speed things along, they did nothing to stop the drinks waiters entering the field of play seemingly at the whim of the players.

Of course, every incursion onto the field creates a delay and every delay means that play has to go into overtime to allow for all of the overs required (90 in a day) to be bowled. I just don’t understand why these constant incursions into the field of play are continued to be allowed. At the top level of the game, cricketers are professional athletes and surely they have the necessary level of fitness to continue in the middle without the need to have a drink every 10 minutes (or more to the point every 7 minutes). Club cricketers the world over are called on every weekend to wait for the full hour between drinks so why do the “professionals” get special treatment?

It is a black mark on the game of cricket and I again maintain that it is time for a change in the laws to be made because that is the only way the practice is going to be stamped out. I concede that there are bigger issues in the game that require amendment to the laws but having seen the delays caused by these ongoing disruptions it is the one that is at the forefront of my mind at present.

Shumpty’s Punt: Wednesday Wager

Have been away from the sports multi’s and the break has been as good as holiday. After an extensive review of the form for games in American sport today I have come up with a 5 leg multi that will reap considerable returns for punters.

Leg 1: Northern Illinois to cover the line (-35.0 points) against Western Michigan in NCAA Football.

Leg 2: Orlando Magic to cover the line (+8.0 points) against Atlanta Hawks in the NBA.

Leg 3: Dallas Stars to cover the line (-1.5 goals) against the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL.

Leg 4: New Orleans Pelicans to cover the line (+3.0 points) against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA.

Leg 5: Wisconsin to cover the line (-1.50 points) against St Louis in NCAA Basketball.

This multi should return $50 for each dollar invested. As always: good luck, good punting and gamble responsibly.