From the Blog
Jarryd Hayne has left it too late
Date: May 20, 2016 / Posted by control
Jarryd Hayne is an exceptional athlete and a driven individual, facts that are beyond dispute. He shocked sports fans when he turned his back on rugby league to pursue his dream of playing American Football. Many thought it was a dream that would never be transformed into reality. Hayne was able to stun his critics when he was first chosen by the San Francisco 49ers and then silenced them completely when he made his debut. His dalliance with the NFL lasted one season and eight games with Hayne turning his back on gridiron on the weekend by announcing his aim of being part of Fiji’s rugby sevens team when the sport makes its Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro. San Francisco coach Chip Kelly says he was taken aback by Hayne’s career choice, saying “I was surprised. I had no idea”. Many thought if Hayne was to abandon his American adventure it would be for a return to the NRL where he had starred with the Parramatta Eels from 2006 until his move over the Pacific. That is likely to come to pass after the Olympics but for now he is hell bent on walking behind the Fijian flag at the opening ceremony in Brazil. The big question is whether Hayne has left his bid for an Olympic jersey too late? The cauldron is due to be lit in Rio in 78 days however Hayne has considerably less time than that to convince Fiji’s selectors that he is worth the gamble. Coach Ben Ryan will name his 12-man Olympic squad in late-June following an intensive training camp in Fiji earlier in the month. Hayne lobbed in London on Monday hoping to be included in Fiji’s team for the tenth and final round of the World Rugby Sevens Series this weekend. The final leg of the sports globetrotting extravaganza would provide Hayne with a valuable litmus test but after going into camp with the Fijians he missed the final 12-man squad for the weekend. It would have been his first experience of the shortened form of rugby. Hayne arrived in England with the aim joining a Fijian team that is within touching distance of a second consecutive World Rugby Sevens title. Currently, Fiji sits atop the standings with 166 points – 14 clear of South Africa and 21 ahead of New Zealand. Quite clearly the Fiji sevens team is the best in the sport. That is what makes Hayne’s bid to make the grade even more remarkable. Unlike other Australian athletes like Jana Pittman, who transitioned from the 400m hurdles to the bobsleigh, and Fiona Robinson who moved from basketball at Atlanta to handball at Sydney, Hayne is looking to join a national team that dominates its sport. And he is looking to make the transition with respect to the required fitness, skill level and tactical awareness and understanding with less than three months before the biggest event in the history of sevens rugby. Kelly noted earlier in the week when talking to the media at the 49ers’ Santa Clara training facility about Hayne’s move to rugby sevens that, “He’s a sharp learner”. He will need all his smarts to make this latest dream a reality. It can be argued that his history in rugby league will greatly aid his morphing into a sevens player. Whilst that is no doubt true it certainly will not guarantee success. Even hugely accomplished fifteen-a-side rugby players have struggled with the move to the sevens format. Quade Cooper is the perfect example. The New Zealand-born fly-half who won 58 caps for the Wallabies recently failed in his bid for inclusion in the Australian sevens side for Rio. A fortnight ago, Australian coach Andy Friend cut Cooper from his pre-Olympic squad. At the time Friend said, “There’s no doubt Quade is a quality player, but put simply, we just haven’t had the opportunity to work with him as much as we would have liked over the past five months”. Hayne is looking to make the grade and convince people in virtually half that time. Friend also stated that, “Many players have found throughout this season’s World Series, it is no easy task to transition from fifteens to the sevens form of the game”. Hayne is endeavouring to make that transition coming off a brief career in American Football prefaced by nine seasons in the NRL. Whilst Hayne has to come to terms with the tactical side of sevens he also has to ensure that he has the necessary physical requirements as well. Sevens is an infinitely more aerobic based sport than American Football and as such he will need to change his basic physiology in the next few months. Karmichael Hunt spoke about the challenges he had changing body type when he made the move from the NRL to the AFL a few years back. Coming off his NFL training it is doubtful that Hayne would be close to the aerobic capacity he would need for the gut-running sevens game. Had Hayne had a longer lead-up to his Olympic dream it would not be hard to see him reaching Rio. But presently, with less than 80 days to go and with no experience in the sport whatsoever and with questions over his requisite fitness, it is hard to see Hayne being on the plane. And let’s face it, given Fiji is the favourite to take out the gold medal at Rio does it need to risk the inclusion of Hayne at the 11th hour? Whether he will look for a more conventional entrée into sevens prior to the 2020 Tokyo Games remains unknown. However, for now, it would appear that a man who has set lofty goals in sport and managed to attain them is going to fall short on this occasion. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - 19 May 2016, soliciting 111 commentsRead More →
Where to now for Collingwood?
Date: May 13, 2016 / Posted by control
Collingwood fans do not suffer a lack of success well, the president even less so. No club has won more games in the history of the VFL/AFL – it currently sits three shy of its 1500th victory. Unfortunately for Pies fans and everyone associated with the club 2016 is rapidly descending into an annus horribilis. The season started with an 80-point thumping at the hands of the Swans in Sydney. Since then the club has beaten the hapless Richmond by one point and the beleaguered Bombers by 69. Around those wins there have been losses to St Kilda, Melbourne, Carlton and West Coast in Perth. On paper, the Magpies would have pencilled in the first three of those as wins at the start of the year. Not only did they lose those games against recent strugglers they did so without much sign of a coherent game plan. Yes, the side has been hit hard by injury. The likes of Dane Swan, Tyson Goldsack, Travis Varcoe, Alan Toovey, Marley Williams and Jamie Elliott have all missed matches. But West Coast was also ravaged by injuries last season with key tall defenders Eric McKenzie and Mitch Brown not completing a game; Jack Darling missing the first ten weeks; Sam Butler and Matt Rosa missing eight weeks each; and Jeremy McGovern, Will Schofield and Chris Masten all missing three to four matches. The loss of McKenzie – the 2014 best and fairest – and Brown forced coach Adam Simpson to remodel his team’s style of play, hence the emergence of the ‘Eagles Web’. The altered game plan – forced upon the club one week into the season – proved a success with West Coast surprise grand finalists. Presently it is difficult to get a handle on just what Collingwood’s game plan is. The back half is leaking goals and the ball is being constantly rebounded from the side’s attacking 50 with little pressure being applied by the forwards. Last season the club ranked third in the league for turnovers in the forward half. This season they are ranked 15th while also being smashed in the clearance count. Too many times opponents have gone pretty much coast to coast as a result of turnovers with the Magpies incapable of stymying the opposition on transition. Worse still, given the injury toll, several senior players over the past month have been badly out of form and running around in the VFL. Heading that list is Travis Cloke. A former best-and-fairest and dual All-Australian, Cloke has spent the past three weeks in the VFL and by all reports while he has been solid his performances have not demanded a recall. He was one goal away last year from claiming the club’s leading goal kicker award for the fifth consecutive season. For much of that period Cloke has been a barometer with respect to his club’s performances. When on-song he straightens the Pies up and gives them a genuine focal point up forward. In 2011 he led the competition in marks and the club played in a grand final. In 2013 he booted 68 goals. This season his first four games before being dropped netted five majors. In his absence the principal target inside 50 has been American recruit Mason Cox, who was only elevated from the rookie list as a result of Swan’s season ending foot injury after round one. Whilst Cox has already become a favourite of the fans they cannot expect him to be a leading player within the club in his debut season. A return to form by Cloke is a must for the Magpies. Still only 29, he should be in the prime of his career as a big man. Currently sitting in in 14th spot with a win-loss of 2-5 and a percentage of 79.5, Collingwood is effectively three matches out of the eight. This week it plays 16th-placed Brisbane at the Gabba followed by games against current top-four sides Geelong and the Bulldogs. If the season is not already a write-off it soon will be. The last two seasons have seen 11th and 12th-place finishes. The club will need a quantum lift in performance for it not to head further north this year. Replenishing the side’s stocks will not be easy. The trade that brought Adam Treloar south from GWS – and he has been arguably the Pies best player this year – cost them their first round draft pick later this year. The loss of that first round pick is going to the see the club take its first player well down the pecking order if it cannot improve its position during trade week. The other decision that will face McGuire and his board come season’s end is what to do about the coach. Buckley’s contract was extended by a year just prior to the season. McGuire said recently that he would have no compunction in sacking one of the club’s favourite sons if he believed it would be for the betterment of the football club. A bottom-four result – which is not out of the question – would place enormous pressure on the coach. McGuire himself admitted he considered steeping down from his 18-year presidency in the wake of Saturday’s loss to recent cellar dweller and arch-rival Carlton. If the Pies go down at the Gabba on Saturday night he is likely to become apoplectic, as will the fans. Collingwood continues to search for that 16th flag that will see it join the Blues and the Bombers at the top of the competition tree. For now, premierships are not a concern however. What matters at present is merely finding a way to become a competitive outfit once again. Currently the players lack spark and across the board the intensity needed to compete successfully at AFL level. The Magpie Army will only tolerate so much. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 12 May 2016, soliciting 33 commentsRead More →
Matthew Pavlich has been a giant of the game
Date: May 06, 2016 / Posted by control
Matthew Pavlich has been a true champion of the AFL. If anyone deserves a premiership it his him but alas that will never happen. This season is Pavlich’s last and after six weeks Fremantle is the only winless club. He has been showered with personal glory during his stellar 17-year career but it is team success that players crave most dearly. He got close to the holy grail in 2013 when he led Fremantle into the grand final only to fall short against Hawthorn on the day. Over the 22-year history of the Dockers, Pavlich has been a near constant. This Saturday’s clash with GWS will be the club’s 468th since entering the AFL while for Pavlich it will be his 342nd match. The next most capped player in Fremantle’s history is retired full-back, Luke McPharlin who hung up the boots last season after 244 appearances in the purple. Pavlich’s resilience has been extraordinary, averaging over 20 appearances each season. He debuted in round five in 2000 and in the period between 2001 and 2008 he played a club record 160 consecutive games. Much has been written in recent years about the effect that travel has on players from Western Australia. Many believe it results in players ending their careers prematurely. That makes Pavlich’s performance even more staggering as only 14 men have played more career games in the competitions 120-year history. The next highest games tally for a WA-based player is held by former Eagles’ ruckman, Dean Cox who left the game at the end of 2014 having tallied 290 appearances. If Pavlich plays the full 22 home-and-away games this season he will bow out with a total of 357 matches placing him at number 12 all-time. He grew up in a football mad family in Adelaide – his father Steve, along with two uncles – played for the West Torrens Football Club in the SANFL. The younger Pavlich also turned out for the club however by then it had morphed into the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles. He nominated for the National Draft in 1998 but was overlooked by all clubs. The following year Fremantle utilised the fourth pick to snare his services. During the early stages of his career the Dockers were the competition’s easy beats. The club won just 19 games in Pavlich’s first three years including an annus horribilis in 2001 when it managed just two wins. Throughout the first decade of Pavlich’s career, whenever he came out of contract, rumours abounded that Adelaide and Port Adelaide were circling and willing to part with considerable riches to lure him back home. He was never swayed and remained committed to Fremantle despite the fact that team success seemed a considerable way off. When Chris Connolly became Dockers coach in 2002 he pulled a surprise by throwing Pavlich down back. Despite being just 20 years of age he more often than not won his personal duels with the best power forwards of the day. At season’s end he was named at full-back in the All-Australian team. He won a further five All-Australian jumpers – half-forward flank (2003), centre-half forward (2005), interchange (2006), full-forward (2007), and interchange (2008). Along with his six All-Australian selections there were six club champion awards, winning the Doig Medal in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011. When Peter Bell stood down from the captaincy at the end of the 2006 season, Pavlich was the natural successor. By the time he handed the reigns to David Mundy at the start of this season – his 189 games as skipper had been bettered by only five other club captains. He is Fremantle’s all-time leading goal-kicker (678) – he sits at number 23 all-time in the competition’s history – and has topped the club tally on eight occasions – not other Docket has done it more than twice. Pavlich has been a leader by example rather than rhetoric. A thoughtful and measured individual, he recently completed an MBA, and has served as the President of the AFL Players Association for the past two years. Throughout his career he has been renowned for his work ethic on the training track. There were long periods where he was the club’s only bona fide star. Despite being the public face of the club for well over a decade not once did he allow the burden of responsibility to dent his passion or love for the game nor did he ever put a foot wrong off the field. For many a year Pavlich was the Fremantle Dockers. Whilst his star has shone brightly for nearly two decades one wonders whether his standing in the game would be even greater had he played for one of the powerhouse Melbourne clubs that occupy the sport’s centre stage. Pavlich took a considerable period after last season to weigh up his playing future. In the end, having led the club to the minor premiership last year, he no doubt felt the window was still ajar with respect to a premiership. That window has slammed shut. Once Matthew Pavlich has served the necessary time requirements he will be immediately ushered into the AFL Hall of Fame. He will deserve that accolade wholeheartedly for both on and off the field he has been an ornament to the sport of Australian Football. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 5 May 2016, soliciting 66 commentsRead More →
The AFL must adopt a send-off rule
Date: April 29, 2016 / Posted by control
Every level of Australian Football has a send-off rule bar one – the AFL. The question is why? It makes no sense at all that the peak league in the sport is the only one that does not allow umpires the option to send players from the field for blatant and wilful acts of violence. Surely, if any umpires are sufficiently equipped to make the correct call with regard to send-offs it is those in the AFL. Last week Gold Coast’s Steven May was suspended for five weeks for a sickening charge on Brisbane’s Stefan Martin late in the second quarter at the Gabba. Rather than determining a sanction, the Match Review Panel sent May directly to the AFL tribunal for its consideration. At the hearing May pleaded guilty. The incident itself was ugly – May ran the past the ball, left the ground and hit Martin in the head with his shoulder with force that was adjudged severe by the tribunal. The Lions’ ruckman was immediately rendered unconscious and taken from the field on a stretcher, unable to return to the field after half-time. The match day officials reported May at the time of the incident. It was all the umpires could do with the exception of issuing a free-kick and a 50-metre penalty. Had there been a send-off rule in place, May could well have been given his marching orders. I doubt had such an option been available and invoked many would have complained. Nowadays we hear ad nauseum about teams being under the pump due to a reduced interchange bench which affects rotations and the ability of a team to properly rest its players. Injury is part and parcel of the sport of Australian Football given its sheer physical nature. The vast majority occur as a result of incidental contact within the natural playing of the game. There are others that do not as they are the result of acts that are committed outside the both the laws and spirit of the game. However, no matter the level of intent and damage rendered to an opponent the match day punishment can never exceed a free-kick and 50-metre penalty. In some circumstances – and they are thankfully remote in nature – such a scant penalty is in no way commensurate with the crime. What if May’s actions were to occur in the opening minutes of a grand final, or worse still, another player was similarly ruled out of the game as a result of a similar incident? One of the more blatant acts of disrepute in recent times on an AFL field was the felling of West Coast’s Brent Staker by Sydney’s Barry Hall at the SCG in 2008. Many metres off the ball, Hall simply punched Staker in the jaw. Staker’s eyes rolled back in his head and he was out cold before he even hit the ground. Hall was suspended for seven weeks as a result of his blatant strike on an unwitting opponent. Bizarrely, the suspension mattered little to Hall and Sydney for later in the same game the full-forward broke his wrist on a metal railing on the fence behind a soft advertising board. Incidents like Hall’s result in no significant penalty on the day while the team on which it is perpetrated loses a player for the remainder of the match as the result of a calculated act. Many will argue that the introduction of a send-off rule in the AFL would result in mass ejections. Anecdotal evidence would show that to be a totally erroneous theory. I have commentated WAFL games weekly since the league adopted the send-off rule in 1993. I have witnessed firsthand it being invoked twice in that entire period, the last time being over 18 years ago. So, in the past 450-odd WAFL games I have commentated I have not seen the send-off rule used at all. Its introduction into the WAFL has hardly resulted in a flurry of send-offs. But, importantly, the rule is there and available to the umpires should they deem a malicious act warrants it application. The rugby codes and soccer, along with many other team sports, have a send-off rule enshrined through all levels of their sport. It is time the AFL did likewise. I am not aware of any other code that allows for a send-off rule in all levels other than the highest in its sport. Being sent from the ground and barred from returning for malicious acts at least provides some offset to the team that has lost a player as a result of a violent act. Whilst it would seldom be applied it should nonetheless be part of an AFL umpire’s options when dealing with untoward violence on the field. When all said and done, AFL umpires are more highly trained than their counterparts in lower grades. Surely, they can be entrusted with the responsibility of applying a send-off rule. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 28 April 2016, soliciting 147 commentsRead More →
What does the future hold for Fremantle?
Date: April 22, 2016 / Posted by control
The Fremantle Football Club has gone from minor premiers last season to 17th this season with a win-loss record of 0-4. Sunday’s last quarter capitulation at the hands of North Melbourne means the Dockers will have to buck history if they are to contest this season’s finals series. Since the introduction of the top-eight in 1994 no team has qualified for September action off the back of four successive losses to start the season. Whilst a finals berth is a significant stretch at this stage – the club’s last five opponents of the home and away season will be Sydney, West Coast, Adelaide, GWS and the Bulldogs – that elusive maiden premiership seems completely out of reach. That would leave the Dockers without a flag after 22 years in the competition. By comparison the Eagles won a flag six years after they joined the then VFL. Brisbane tasted premiership success in its 15th season; Adelaide in its seventh; and Port Adelaide in its eighth. The big worry for those who both represent and follow Fremantle is that the flag drought may well last for quite a while yet. Shortly after Fremantle finished the 2011 season in 11th spot, the club announced that Mark Harvey had been axed with a year remaining on his contract. His replacement, Ross Lyon, exercised an out clause in his contract with St Kilda and arrived in WA with his signature inked on a four-year deal. The marriage seemed a win-win for both parties. The Dockers believed they had a squad that was primed for a tilt at the flag and they saw in Lyon a coach who had the credentials to get the job done. As for Lyon, he had taken the Saints to the season decider in 2009 and 2010 for two defeats plus the 2010 drawn grand final. Lyon arrived at Fremantle with a 65 per cent win ratio from 71 home-and-away games. His finals record however was 50 per cent. Lyon could no doubt see the writing on the wall at the Saints and believed his best opportunity to win a flag as coach lay out west. His assessment of St Kilda’s list proved accurate with the four seasons since his departure from Moorabbin resulting in 9th, 16th, 18th and 14th placed finishes. Lyon brought his defensive-oriented game plan to the west. Under his command the Dockers became renowned for their strangulation defence. In his four seasons heading into 2016, Lyon took Fremantle to the finals each year – 6th in 2012; runners-up in 2013; 6th in 2014; and the minor premiership last year before bowing out at the preliminary final stage. Once again, Lyon proved to be a master in home-and-away ranks with a four season winning ratio of 69 per cent. But again, he failed to fulfil his dream come finals time with a 44 per cent success rate. The big criticism of Lyon coached teams come finals time has been the inability to kick a winning score. Across four grand final appearances at both the Saints and Dockers his teams managed totals of just 9, 10, 7 and 8 goals. Following Fremantle’s 2013, 15-point grand final loss to Hawthorn Lyon spoke publicly about the fact that his team needed to find greater goal-front productivity. The tinkering to the game plan unfortunately failed to produce the desired results. After scoring an aggregate 2035 points in 2013 home and away season, the Dockers managed 2029 points in 2014 and 1857 last year. Ahead of this season it was felt the reduction in the rotation cap from 120 to 90 per game would result in more offensive oriented football. While many encounters in the opening four weeks have seen attractive free-scoring games, the Dockers have managed an aggregate of just 41 goals in that time. Allied to the inability to hit the scoreboard has been an unacceptable skill level with missed targets by hand and foot producing myriad turnovers. The dilution in the side’s ball efficiency has been hard to fathom. Like many clubs who see their premiership window ajar the focus has been very much on the now seemingly at the expense of the future. Recruiting wise there are certainly questions over succession planning. All-Australian full-back and 256-game veteran Luke McPharlin was for so long both the general and lynchpin of the team’s defence. He bowed out at the end of last year with no standout replacement waiting in the wings. Former skipper Matthew Pavlich has announced his 17th season will be his last. The heart and soul of the club for so long, he has played exclusively in the forward half in the back half of his career, finishing as the club’s leading goal scorer on seven occasions. Whilst Fremantle has made plays for some power forwards coming out of contract at other clubs the current cupboard does not instil confidence in the short term with the likes of Matt Taberner, Michael Apeness and Tanner Smith a long way from regular selection. Dual best and fairest and four-time All-Australian ruckman Aaron Sandilands is not likely to go beyond 2017. Of the likely successors to the number one mantle, Zac Clarke has 89 games behind him but his impact has been inconsistent while Jonathon Griffin has played just 79 games across ten seasons at both Adelaide and Fremantle. Jack Hannath to date has managed to play 18 games in three seasons as an understudy to Sandilands. The Dockers must find a ruckman of note prior to Sandilands retirement. The Fremantle list is currently the oldest in the league yet premiership success seems a good while off. Ross Lyon is in his tenth season as a senior coach. In the previous nine years he has failed to make the finals just once, his first year at the Saints in 2007 when the club finished ninth, just two points shy of a finals berth. Lyon has always been seen as a finisher rather than a developer. If the current trend at Fremantle is any indication he will have to do more of the latter in the coming years. Whether he can successfully rebuild a team is currently an unknown. The Fremantle hierarchy showed great faith in him prior to the season by extending his contract through until 2020. Chances are much of that decision was predicated on the expectation of considerable success this season. At present, Fremantle’s 2016 looks anything but a bumper year, leaving the timing of that elusive first flag one of the AFL’s great imponderables. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 21 April 2016, soliciting 104 commentsRead More →
Favourites? There are no favourites in Twenty20 cricket
Date: March 18, 2016 / Posted by control
Ahead of the T20 World Cup India was installed as favourite and for good reason. It holds the world number one ranking; it would be playing on home soil; it entered the tournament on the back of a seven-match winning streak and it had lost just once in its previous ten T20 internationals. M S Dhoni’s team looked destined to repeat its heroics from the 2011 50-over World Cup where it won the final over Sri Lanka in Mumbai. It all looked great on paper … and then India played its first match of the tournament. On a dusty strip at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur it restricted New Zealand to just 126. On television during the innings break, former Indian star V V S Laxman was waxing lyrical about the host’s performance in the field and how it would have little trouble in attaining the victory target. A little over an hour later, with 18.1 overs having been sent down, India lay in a crumpled heap having been blown away for a mere 79 to hand the Black Caps a stunning 47-run victory. For Indian fans it was not at all what they expected. Yet history shows they should not have been all that surprised. Twenty20 cricket, by its very nature, is the most wildly fluctuating form of the game and picking winners is often fraught with danger. The inaugural World T20 was held in South Africa in 2007. This edition is the sixth and as yet no nation has won the title twice – India (2007), Pakistan (2009), England (2010), West Indies (2012) and Sri Lanka (2014). That is a lot of flux in the space of just eight years. Compare that with the 50-over World Cup – West Indies won the first two tournaments in 1975 and 1979 while Australia has been crowned champions five times, including a hat-trick in 1999, 2003 and 2007. The T20 world number one ranking has rotated wildly since the inaugural World Cup. It has been held at various times by Sri Lanka, West Indies, India, Pakistan, England and South Africa. Much of this tumult is due to the lack of T20 internationals. Twenty20 cricket remains very much a domestic staple with the likes of the IPL, BBL and the leagues in Bangladesh, the Caribbean and now Pakistan the main focus throughout the year. Despite many seeing the 50-over game as having a shaky international it is still very much a staple on the ICC’s international schedule. Last year there were a total of 167 ODIs and just 61 T20Is. Last year New Zealand played 32 ODIs and a mere four T20s, while India played 23 one-dayers and four T20s. No matter the sport, when it is reduced in duration, the likelihood of an unusual outcome becomes greater. Pit the world number 100 tennis player against number one Novak Djokovic over three sets and it is unlikely you will see the outsider win. However, if you were to reduce that contest to a single set there is a far greater prospect of an upset. Twenty20’s brevity lends itself to more surprise results and, by extension, lessens the ability of one particular team dominating the rankings. One player – with either bat or ball – can have a massive impact on the outcome over a mere 120-ball innings, far more so than in an ODI and infinitely more than a Test match. A T20 can often be determined by an individual innings of just a dozen deliveries. And, as was witnessed at Nagpur in the first major game of the T20 Worlds, it can often be the lesser quality players who are the catalyst. On a pitch that was destined to spin appreciably, New Zealand took the unusual ploy of leaving out pace spearheads Tim Southee and Trent Boult in favour of a three-prong spin attack. In the end it was the unlikely trio of Nathan McCullum, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi, claiming a staggering 9-44 between them off 11 overs, who reduced the world’s best players of spin to rabble. That one defeat has the world number one on a potential knife’s edge. The top two teams in the two five-nation groups will progress to the semi-finals. India still has to play Pakistan, Australia and Bangladesh. A slip-up by India in any of those matches, allied to its horrendous net run rate of -2.35 after its first match, would almost guarantee it to miss out on the last four. That would be a bitter pill for the host nation’s fans. Regardless of India’s future in this tournament there are likely to be considerably more ‘upsets’ before the final is decided at Kolkata on 3 April. It is simply the nature of the beast. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 17 March 2016, soliciting 10 commentsRead More →
Sharapova should be banned for four years
Date: March 11, 2016 / Posted by control
Maria Sharapova did what few athletes accused of doping do – she admitted guilt. In a well-crafted media conference on Monday she made all the right utterances. She was sorry, profoundly so, with her apology directed to the fans and the sport itself. Such was her contrition she informed the anti-doping authorities there was no need to undertake the normal follow-up test on her B-sample – put simply she was guilty of ingesting a banned substance. She received brownie points from many for getting on the front foot. The reaction from players, both past and present, however ran the entire spectrum. World number one Serena Williams, who is neither a fan nor friend of Sharapova, praised the Russian, saying she “showed a lot of courage to admit what she had done and what she had neglected to look at”. No thoughts were proffered by Williams on what sanctions Sharapova should be dealt. Fellow American and dual Australian Open winner, Jennifer Capriati left nobody in any doubt as to what should happen to the former world number one. She took to social media to lambast Sharapova and she did not hold back. She demanded she be stripped of her 35 professional career titles which includes two French Opens and wins at each of the other grand slams. Capriati’s reaction was predicated on the fact that Sharapova admitted to having used the banned substance, meldonium, for ten years. Capriati’s desire simply cannot happen. Up until 1 January this year Sharapova, and any other athlete, was free to use meldonium as it was not on the WADA banned list. The authorities cannot touch her career record and prizemoney earned prior to 1 January. Rightly, she has been stripped of her $400,000 cheque for progressing to the quarter-final stage of this year’s Australian Open, the event at which she returned the positive test. As of this weekend she will be under a provisional one-year ban from the sport whilst the relevant authorities determine just how long her final ban from the sport should be. As of 1 January 2015, WADA doubled the penalty for a first doping offence to a minimum four years. While deliberate cheating leads to the four-year ban, athletes guilty of "inadvertent doping" receive a two-year ban - although they can get a further reduction if they have "substantial proof that they were not at fault or intending to cheat". It is these clauses that will be taken into account in imposing the final ban of Sharapova. Since her media mea culpa on Monday there has been growing evidence that would support the world’s highest-earning sportswoman receiving the maximum four-year suspension, or at least, close to it. She admitted on Monday to not having read the email from WADA which outlined that meldonium would be added to the prohibited list on 1 January. Since then it has come to light that players had been advised repeatedly prior to the drug’s inclusion on the banned list that it was on the WADA watch list. Alerts were issued to every player on the circuit – male and female – three times by the sport’s overarching peak body, the International Tennis Federation while the Women’s Tennis Association sent out two warnings. These were an automatic heads-up to any players who were taking the drug that they needed to quit doing so. Hence Sharapova, on six separate occasions, was supplied with information about the pending addition of meldonium to the banned list and the fact that it had indeed become a banned substance. At her media conference she only alluded to the fact that she had not opened nor read the email that stated that the drug had been placed on the banned list, the last of the six alerts she received. To fail to read that communique was a major error by Sharapova. To seemingly not have read the preceding five warnings smacks of an athlete who holds anti-doping in her sport in scant regard. Former WADA president, Canadian lawyer Dick Pound, labeled Sharapova’s actions as “reckless beyond belief”. As for the drug itself, the sole manufacturer is based in Riga, the capital of Latvia. Interestingly the United States, where Sharapova has been based for 15 years, has not approved the drug for human use with the Food and Drug Administration yet to give it the tick of approval despite the fact that is has been in production since the early-1970s. Sharapova stated on Monday that she has used the drug for the past decade as a result of suffering from a magnesium deficiency and a family history of diabetes. At no point during the process during which meldonium moved from the watched list to the banned list did Sharapova seemingly push to receive a medical exemption for its use. In early-2015 studies were conducted worldwide to ascertain the prevalence of meldonium use among elite athletes as there were growing concerns that it was being ingested in order to improve oxygen uptake. The results, taken from 8300 random samples had alarm bells ringing at WADA, as researchers found that 182 samples showed traces of the drug. That figure represented more than twice the rate of any single drug on WADA’s banned list. It seemed clear to the authorities that meldonium was being used on a widespread basis to boost athletic performance. Since it was banned on 1 January, a further eight athletes have returned positive tests – five Russians, two Ukrainians and a Swede. Questions have been raised in the medical community about the likely benefits that Sharapova would have received with respect to the two reasons she gave for her use of the drug. Some have said that meldonium would do little, if anything, to impact on the conditions Sharapova admitted to. Additionally, other medicos have stated that meldonium would never be prescribed to a healthy, young athlete for more than a 4-6 week treatment cycle which flies in the face of Sharapova’s admission of having used the drug for a decade. In the end, the key error Sharapova made was the fact that despite receiving five written warnings that a drug she had freely used for a decade was on WADA’s watch list and a subsequent email stating it had been banned, she flagrantly disregarded all six pieces of correspondence. As impressive as her media conference was it seems fanciful that she will escape a lengthy ban. It could well be argued that given the myriad warnings she received about meldonium and her refusal to cease using it she is in fact guilty of deliberate and calculated doping. Such a finding would see her outed for four years. On the face of the evidence put forward to date that may not be an unreasonable result. At 28, a woman who should have been remembered for her tennis and the image she carefully constructed on the way to becoming women’s sports biggest earner, may well go down in the annals of sport with the most unwanted of reputations – that of a flagrant drug cheat. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 10 March 2016, soliciting 168 commentsRead More →
It’s getting hard to follow our Test team
Date: March 04, 2016 / Posted by control
If you are a fan of the Australian cricket team life is about to get tough. As highlighted on The Roar yesterday at this point of time no contract has been inked to telecast in Australia the upcoming T20 World Cup out of India. Neither a commercial free-to-air network nor Foxtel have agreed to the rights fee being charged by Star Sports, the media outlet that controls the rights for the event. Hopefully a deal can be reached before the tournament starts next week although time is running out. TV coverage or not, one thing is guaranteed, there will be no radio coverage of the event broadcast into Australia. Alas for cricket fans, this will likely be the future with respect to radio coverage of overseas Australian tours. Sadly given the ABC's ongoing budget battles it appears that in all likelihood it will only cover ball-by-ball overseas Ashes series in the future. With all overseas tours now - with the exception of the Ashes – being televised on Foxtel, the lack of ball-by-ball coverage from the ABC means that for all those who do not have pay-TV there is no free-to-air electronic broadcast coverage available to Australian cricket fans. Last month’s Test tour of New Zealand was the first in decades not to be broadcast on ABC Radio. CA streamed Radio Sport New Zealand's commentary on its website which was not ideal given the heavy, and understandable, NZL bias The ABC broadcast ball-by-ball the 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2008 tours of India but it has not provided commentary of any Indian series in the past eight years. Having broadcast every Test tour of the West Indies from 1983-84, the ABC has chosen not to cover the last two series. The ABC covered the 2009 and 2011 Test tours of South Africa but not last year's. I was lucky enough to be part of the ABC-BBC broadcast team that commentated the 2009 T20 World Cup from England. The ABC has not covered the past three tournaments, and as mentioned, will not broadcast this one either. In light of the ongoing budgetary tightness at the national broadcaster I would think it highly unlikely that any of the tours that have gone by the wayside of late will ever be reinstated. With that in mind, it is a concern that our highest profile national sporting team will, at best, be largely available only to those with the necessary income to pay for it through subscription television. Cricket on the radio has long been synonymous with the sport. I know especially from covering three Test tours for the ABC to India that the audience was enamoured with the sounds that came through the wireless – often produced via a mobile phone when the broadcast lines fell over! The likes of White Line Radio – which has a strong affiliation with The Roar and with whom I have waxed lyrical on occasions – has called several overseas tours utilising the TV coverage and it is growing an audience (it had over 30,000 listeners during the recent NZL tour). That alone shows the fact the cricket audience is crying out for some form of free-to-air coverage as the WLR broadcasts carry no sound effects from the ground and are broadcast from the lounge room of one of the participants by a group of volunteer amateur broadcasters doing it largely for fun. With the ABC now principally out of the equation for overseas series CA needs to consider launching its own dedicated audio coverage for overseas tours, especially the Test component, to allow those that do not have pay-TV to follow the matches. Like Fairfax’s radio coverage during the Australian summer such a coverage could easily carry advertising and a naming rights sponsor thus greatly reducing the costs to CA, if not in fact, returning a profit. CA could additionally make it a subscription service with a modest fee vastly less than what it would be to subscribe to Foxtel on a yearly basis. Given the ABC and Fairfax both cover the domestic summer I would not see it necessarily a need for CA to enter the market there. With smartphones and tablets the way of the future for a lot of audio content CA could command a significant audience. For those who wish to follow the game audio streaming is ideal. I fear that without the ABC's coverage of key overseas tours, Test cricket and its following in this country will be for many fans, simply a summer event which would be a great shame. Our highest profile national sporting team deserves to be accessible to the public for all its major series worldwide. Having had discussions with CA about the future broadcasting of free-to-air Australian tours I am aware it is considering it. For the good of all us cricket fans it needs to quickly become a reality. First published on The Roar - theroar.com.au - on 3 March 2016, soliciting 35 commentsRead More →
In the media
Reliving Eden Gardens 2001 through the voice of Australian radio
By Sandeep Dwivedi, ‘The Indian Express’, 14 March 2015 – Sitting on a wooden bench at King’s Park at Perth, you are at a height, the vantage point providing an enchanting view of the serene city and the sparkling river Swan. Sitting on that same wooden chair, facing Glenn Mitchell, sipping coffee and feeding on […]read more →
FIFO induction must contain mental health advice: Mitchell
By Michael Washbourne, December 2014 edition of Australia’s Paydirt – Renowned broadcaster and mental health advocate Glenn Mitchell has called for a greater emphasis on suicide prevention and mental wellbeing during the induction process for FIFO workers. Mitchell’s plea comes in the wake of a parliamentary inquiry into the mental health impacts of FIFO work […]read more →
Back from the brink
As part of Mental Health Week in 2014 I did a video interview with Marnie McKimmie from ‘The West Australian’. In the interview, I discussed the journey that I have been on and what I have learned as a result of being sufferer of mental illness. Click on the link below to view it. http://bcove.me/acr130arread more →
"Glenn spoke superbly about the relationship between Australian society and cricket. The audience was hugely impressed by his knowledge and humor"
Cricket Club of India
"Glenn is a thoroughly entertaining speaker who can highlight the serious side of sport whilst simultaneously having the audience in stitches. A most enjoyable speaker who can clearly tailor a speech to suit a variety of audiences. Excellent presentation."
Ben Williams. Ravensdown 2009 Agents Conference
"Glenn's presentation was great using his experience and knowledge of sport mixed with humour. Importantly he was able to engage the whole audience from all parts of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Rating: Excellent"
Lisa Lynch. Capricorn Society Limited.
"Glenn had our audience captivated. His presentation 'What We Can All Learn from Sport' was excellent."
Stacey Martin, 2006 Ausnet Real Estate Services Conference
"Glenn Mitchell is a man with a powerful personal story to tell. He is an accomplished sports broadcaster who has walked the path from despair and illness to hopefulness and well-being.
As a story-teller, Glenn's ability to openly "speak his truth" is inspiring many people who are in a dark place to reach out to find and accept the support they need and deserve.
As a host and presenter, Glenn's professional approach and capacity to engage an audience with his unique blend of humour and whit, are exceptional.
Amanda Wheeler. CEO Lifeline WA
"Excellent speaker. Glenn was exactly what we wanted and participated really well."
Clare Thompson, IWIRC Network (W.A.Branch)
"Many thanks for the fantastic job you did as MC for our Jumper Presentation Evening. The success of the night can be largely attributed to the insightful and informative style of your presentation, and we thank you for making our event a night to remember for all involved."
Scott Ballem, W.A. Football Development Trust.
"Glenn was the perfect guest speaker for our Sports Star of the Year Awards. His speech was engaging and most appropriate for the intergenerational audience in attendance. Overall excellent presentation."
Chris Thompson, Manager Great Southern, Department of Sport & Recreation. Albany
"We appreciated Glenn's professional approach as MC for our Emerging Leaders Program Launch, and his prior preparation. We were very pleased with the outcome of the launch. Excellent MC".
Kim Ellwood, Department of Sport & Recreation
"Excellent presentation which provided our audience with an entertaining and informative insight into the world of elite sport. We've had much positive comment and feedback from our members and guests."
CPA Australia State Congress