The problem with 400m runner John Steffensen is that he’s modelled himself on Anthony Mundine. He’d be better off acting like a man instead of “The Man”, and copping his selection omission on the chin.
When Mundine switched from rugby league to boxing, he claimed league selectors wouldn’t pick him in representative teams because of the colour of his skin. That line was always ridiculous given the numerous dark-skinned players in rep teams at the time.
John Steffensen peddled a similar load of garbage this weekend, accusing Athletics Australia of racism after their failure to pick him for the individual 400m event in London, even though he’s still in the relay. It was a rant as hollow and unbalanced as anything Mundine ever delivered.
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Two major events loom large on the rugby league horizon. On May 23, the first Origin match of 2012 will be played in Melbourne. But before that, and just as keenly anticipated, comes the NSW team selection.
It’s a game unto itself. A week from now, Bob Fulton, Bob McCarthy and Geoff Gerard will sit down and no doubt do the dumb thing they always do, which is picking guys they believe to be “Origin style players”.
Talk about an urban myth. I have watched every Origin match since 1980 through goggles tinted deep blue, and here’s what I’ve seen. Queensland players who star in the NRL also excel at Origin. There really is no magic success formula beyond that.
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In legendary English cricketer, Freddie Trueman’s biography, You Nearly Had Me that Time, Alan Wharton notes: “It’s a well-known fact that when I’m on 99, I’m the best judge of a run in all the bloody world.” The same could be said for Ricky Ponting’s long awaited century.
I suspect I was not alone with my heart in my mouth yesterday when Ponting set off for a chancy run that gave him his ton. He would have been out by a metre if the ball had hit the stumps, but as the fates would have it, he made his ground. In doing so, Ponting not only answered his critics but settled a few yips.
But beyond the broad smile, triumphant wave of a bat and a very dirty shirt from his desperate slide, this was a ton with more than a little meaning. It showed Ponting made good his declaration that he believes he has still got what it takes to be a world class cricketer. That much is settled. So what else? Plenty.
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That raging red top, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, has promoted and demoted with ruthlessness in the last two days. Cricket selectors, after Australia’s unacceptable defeat on the raging green top in Hobart, must do likewise.
Really, no one gives a stuff about the reshuffled deckchairs on the rapidly-sinking Titanic that is this Federal Government. But cricket selection matters. Unlike Federal Labor, there is actually some fresh talent out there.
So here goes. Here’s what should happen after Hobart. It’s ruthless, it’s uncomplicated, and unlike Gillard’s re-shuffle, it might actually make a difference.
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Kiwi captain Ross Taylor gave Australian selectors a choice piece of advice over the weekend, urging them to continue to select stuttering opener Phil Hughes.
It was an admirable bit of cheek, but Taylor can hardly talk. His side’s entire batting lineup, himself included, knows more about who’s bonking who on Days of our Lives than they do about the action in the middle of a cricket ground. Just one of the Kiwi top six passed 50 in the Brisbane Test.
As tempting as it must have been for Clarke to counter with a quip to the effect that he hopes New Zealand pick the entire New Zealand team again, Taylor actually had a point. Hughes is snicko’s best friend. He is a one man fielding drill for the entire Kiwi cordon. And he has dished up a doozy of a dilemma for his friend and skipper Michael Clarke.
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They’re calling it treason. Because it is.
Legendary Australian cricketer and beer drinker David Boon, who reportedly sank 52 cans en route to England in 1989, is now a whisky drinker. That’s like the Marlboro Man switching to Alpine Lights.
News of Boon’s starring role in a Canadian Club whisky ad broke yesterday amid much hullabaloo and flannelette shirt-rending, which is pretty much exactly the reaction Canadian Club would have been hoping for.
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You come home after a media-free long weekend away, you plough through the papers piled on your doorstep and a theme emerges: unanimous outrage over the axing of Australian opening batsman Simon Katich, beginning with Katich’s own hissy fit. Well, maybe his dumping was an injustice. All the same, it doesn’t give Katich the excuse to yowl like a kitten whose tail has just been stepped on.
These are seriously weird times. Only last weekend, Australians marched in the streets to demand the right to be taxed. Then this weekend, a senior federal minister and a lawyer spoke out in defence of a cricketer whose contract was not renewed. Who knows what surprise is in store for next weekend? Perhaps someone on Australia’s Got Talent will actually have, you know, talent.
Katich, of course, does have talent. You don’t score 4,188 runs in 56 Tests at an average of 45.03 by getting lucky. But by no stretch of the imagination was he one of the greats of Australia’s dominant era, or what might politely be termed the transitional era thereafter.
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When Ricky Ponting returned from the disastrous tour of India in October, a small scrum of media cornered him outside the international airport, asked a brace of tough questions, recorded a brace of defiant answers, then scurried off to file for deadline.
Hanging back behind it all was Ponting’s wife Rianna and his two year old daughter Emmy, who must have been busting to hug her Dad. When the last reporter disappeared, Ponting picked up Emmy in one hand, and manfully pushed his overburdened trolley through the car park with the other. He then packed his large, shiny SUV and drove off to his spacious, waterfront home in the Sutherland Shire.
In those brief, private moments, the Pontings looked like any other happily reunited family at the airport. Ricky was a dad and husband, not a cricketer and captain. It kind of made you feel all warm and gooey inside. But there’s nothing warm and gooey about the way this summer of cricket is panning out. And that same media scrum, quite rightly, is interrogating Ponting with increasing ferocity.
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Any captain wants one of two things out of his pace spearhead, and ideally he’d like both.
Firstly, he wants strike power in the mould of Jeff Thomson, whose famous sandshoe crusher broke both Tony Greig’s foot and England’s resolve in the corresponding match at the Gabba way back in 1974.
Secondly, he wants unerring accuracy. He wants to be able to throw the ball to his main man and say “hey if you can’t get rid of them, at least dry the runs up and build a bit of pressure”.
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What do employers really want?
After interviewing 25 hiring managers I am still slightly confused.
We asked all the questions anyone applying for a job should ask a prospective employer, hoping we’d find some simple – even sexily digestible– answers.
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