29 December 2006

Thanks Shane Warne, you have a good 'un too.

Shane Warne, considered to be one of cricket's greatest leg spin bowler, captured his 700th wicket in the Fourth Test against England at Melbourne's MCG this week, and became the highest wicket taker in Test Cricket.

Prior to this, he announced his intention to retire after the Fifth Test in Sydney in January, having represented Australia for more than a decade. And what can be more fitting for a farewell present by taking his 700th wicket in front of his home crowd at the MCG and have Australia win the Fourth Test by an innings?

Cricket. Strange and boring game, some may say. I thought so too, when I first arrived in Melbourne in 1982. Thirteen men playing an extremely boring version of baseball on an grass oval. Probably more exciting to watch the grass grow, I thought.

But as I learn the game, and follow the matches, my appreciation of cricket grew, and realise it is not an easy game. I even played it in the suburbrs' ovals among friends (I batted at number 10, and I can't even bowl a decent staright ball).

During the 80s, the West Indies was THE team to watch. Vivian Richards and company strike fear into all the other teams when ever they play. Hardly a match they cannot win.

During this time, the Australians were in decline. Great bowlers such as Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson from the 70s are retiring. Batsmen such as Greg Chappel are in the twilight of his career. Australia's performance during the 80s was like a yoyo, sometimes up and sometimes down. Despite all that, there's one batsman by the name of Allan Border who batted at number 5 or 6 who will captain the team into the 90s and revive the glory days of Australian cricket.

From the 90s to the present, Australia is THE team. I will not present the stats here but you can drag them out from Wikipedia or something. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_cricket_team)
The only down side is when they lost the Ashes back to England in 2005.

Today Australia has won back the Ashes after only 15 months by thrashing England 4-0 (so far as of 30-12-2006) and is threatening a 5-0 whitewash over England for the first time since 1921.

With the retirement of Shane Warne and Glen McGrath next month, Australia may be entering a period of uncertainty. Other players are also in the twilight of their careers e.g. Mathew Hayden and the years 2008 and 2009 will be an interesting period in Australian cricket.

So who do I consider to be the greatest cricketer of them all? The late Sir Donald Bradman. I did not have the opportunity to watch him play as he was before my time, but I have devoured books on him and his lifetime stats speak for himself.

06 December 2006

9.7, 9.6, 9.6, and 9.9 from the Portugese judge...

Diving in soccer, a disease that is reaching cancerous proportions.

For the non-football readers, Diving (or simulation - the term used by FIFA) in the context of football is an attempt by a player to gain an unfair advantage by diving to the ground and possibly simulating an injury, to appear as if a foul has been committed. (from Wikipedia).

Football matches are being tainted by this disease because a diving incident can often turn a match and yield a result to the diver's advantage.

Simply saying, to dive means to cheat.

The funny thing is some divers don't even know how to dive properly. Witness Chelsea's Shaun Wright Philips when he was caught on TV falling to the ground in a heap when the the player who is supposed to have fouled him is one feet away.

When divers are asked why they dive, often the excuse is that everybody does it, so why not he?

I do forgive the diver for not having a brain. If he has he would not be saying that.

So by his logic, the following is also possible :

A lot of people snort coke. So it is okay to snort coke?

A lot of people abuse kids. So it is okay to abuse kids?

Most brainless excuse I have ever heard.

It is darn depressing when you are enjoying a good football match and have it ruined by a diver. I don't mind my fave team loses, as long as they don't lose to result engineered by a dive. As long as they lose to a better team.

Ok, you may ask what if my team wins because one of my team's player dived? If you know me and which team I support in football, my team's players seldom dive (hardly) and even if one did, I don't brag about the result because I know he cheated and the result means zilch to me.

In a more innocent age, cricket batsman automatically walks off the pitch without a second thought before the umpire pronounce him "out" as long as he felt that he has nicked a ball that resulted in a catch by the wicketkeeper and thus is "out".

Golf player who accidentally touches a ball before a stroke will automatically admit the fact and take a penalty even though no one saw him do it.

Today? Batsmen who argue with umpires over disputed calls, bowlers who tamper with the cricket ball, golfers who lie without blinking. Doping. Diving. You name it.

The sad excuse that the consideration of fame and money does not justify one to cheat in sports, or else it will render the concept of sport meaningless.

The reason is simple :

Pele : One of the greatest, if not the greatest footballer ever lived.

Maradona : One of the greatest, if not the greatest footballer ever lived, but he once admited to cheating in a World Cup football match by using his hand to score a goal against England.

Which one do you want inscribed on your tombstone?