Category Archives: Sport

The new stars of Australian Cricket

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For immediate release

19th November 2016 – 8am

Debutantes receive Baggy Green Caps in preparation for 3rd Test

The 3rd test team to play South Africa starting on 24th November in Adelaide has been named with some surprises signaling a change in direction for Australian cricket.

The team is Steve Smith (C), David Warner (VC) Usman Khawaja, Buddy Franklin (WK), Tim Cahill,  Mitchell Starc, Israel Filou, Steven Bradbury, Nathan Lyon, Black Caviar, Cooper Cronk and Digger the Staffy x Cattle dog (12th man).brad-with-cap-2

With two non-humans in the squad Cricket Australia expects some raised eyebrows from traditionalists but Chairman James Sutherland states the selection is entirely within the rules.

"I'll be fielding close in at short leg. They won't get past me." said Black Caviar
“I’ll be fielding close in at short leg. They won’t get past me.” said Black Caviar

“There is absolutely nothing in the rules that forbids including non-humans in the squad. There are rules about gender but no mention of species. Both Cavo and Digger are males and are fitting in well with the others. We’re expecting big things from both of them.

“Black Caviar is extremely intimidating in the field – especially when fielding at short leg. Digger is very fast in the outfield and returns the ball with tremendous enthusiasm.” Sutherland said.

The squad will commence training at Rosehill Racecourse before flying out in two shipping containers on Wednesday.

Perhaps Steven Bradbury, the Gold Medal winning Aussie Speed skater from the  2002 Winter Olympics was the biggest surprise of all. He has been chosen for his ability to come back from last to win at all costs.

I know I'm in for my fielding but I plan to score runs too." said Digger
I know I’m in for my fielding but I plan to score runs too.” said Digger

“I’m delighted to be chosen and am going out today to buy a bat. I’m taking big Davey Warner with me to help choose and we’re looking forward to shopping together.” Bradbury said.

Other newcomers like Cahill, Cronk, Folau and Franklin have been watching footage of games from the 1970’s involving stars like Doug Walters, Max Walker and Greg Chappell in order to learn the game quickly and properly. Israel Folau has been particularly taken with the skills and demeanor of Doug Walters who he is trying to emulate in every way.c14c0533d3153f19e8a071cae91067c7-2

“I never thought I’d take up smoking and drinking but I’ll do anything for Australian Cricket. Dougy was doing 40 cigs a day when he scored a century in both innings against the Windies. If that’s what it takes I’ll do it.” Folau said.

Tickets to the game go on sale on Monday wth CA adding a new ‘pet friendly’ seating zone for fans of Digger and Caviar to watch their debut.

ENDS

Media Contact: Phil Dye 0412 678 179

 

 

Advertising placement: No longer an even bet

Television began just under 57 years ago in Australia. During those years, what we see on the small (ish) screen had changed dramatically. From the content made especially for TV to the presenting style of personalities to the actual quality of the image, what we see on our TV screens has largely kept up with our changing expectations and standards. bob hope

Except for one very important area, and if the TV networks don’t take note, they’ll soon be without advertisers. We all know what that means.

Since television began, the buying and placement of advertising has been based on various criteria. The demographics and psycho-graphics of the viewer are of prime importance. It would be stupid to advertise the Holden Ute in a daytime chat-show for women. It would be wise to advertise consumer products targeting the family shopper. A no-brainer.

Geographic targeting is also obvious. Why advertise membership to the Sydney Swans in Perth?

A large criterion for advertisers is price. I single spot (30 second ad) in the State of Origin or AFL Final will clearly be beyond the budget of most small advertisers. Large viewer numbers + correct target = high price. It’s the way it’s always been and the single reason the NRL and the AFL achieved the billion dollars plus figure in their most recent TV broadcast contracts.

Yet advertisers are now considering one extra criterion, and this is a biggy! While advertisers in the past were content to place their ad anywhere in the program that matched their target and price, the new breed of marketing executive is beginning to look at what products are also being advertised within the same advertising break.

Put simply, it’s not just the program association that’s important, but the advertising association that can colour a viewer’s perception of the product. If a ‘family based product or service is placed beside a ‘non-family’ based product or service, there is a certain ‘guilt by association’ or conflict of interest. Perhaps there’s even implied consent.

In news circles, Julia Gillard does not want her photo taken when she’s standing alongside Chopper Reed. Tony Abbott does not want a happy snap taken when Kim Jong-un leaps up from backstage and pats him on the back.

In the advertising past, most ad associations were either positive or neutral. A negative association was unusual as products or services rarely attracted large consumer anger. That however has changed.

The rise of sports betting and the 2011 law change relating to the broadcast of live odds during sporting events has changed the way viewers perceive a block of TV commercials. Advertisers can no longer assume that every ad will be promoting a product that is either positive or neutral. A very large slice of the Australian population has a negative view of live-odds sports betting. To sit beside the face of Tom Waterhouse in an advertising block colours your brand in a particular way, and to most viewers, that colour is very dark indeed. No advertiser paying thousands of dollars for air-time wants that. A6-LW8GCEAAhPGn

The Australian viewing public is no longer the public of 1956. They are more educated, more selective and more closely linked through social media. An annoyed individual can become an annoyed and active group in a matter of hours. An active group can achieve wonderful things. They can also severely damage a brand and bring it to its knees.

The Facebook page ‘Ban Sports TV Betting’ with over 500 followers recently undertook a campaign against Bunnings Warehouse for placing their advertisement adjacent to a live-odds sports betting ad. The Bunnings defense according to their Marketing Director James Todd was that they had no choice as to who their ad was placed next to. They were correct, yet that is exactly the problem and the problem is growing. Society has changed, yet the TV network’s approach to advertising placement has not.

For TV networks to offer honest advertising value, the concept of ‘guilt by association’ must be recognised. Advertisers must be told who their co-advertisers are before any contact is signed so that marketing executives know their products won’t be sullied by other products, services or personalities bringing a negative perception to the space. It’s a concept the TV networks, already struggling in a highly developed and competitive advertising landscape, cannot and should not ignore.

Tiger and infidelity? Just blame Darwin!

This piece first appeared in the Courier Mail on December 10, 2009

The public tisk-tisking over Tiger Woods’ seemingly endless affairs needs to be examined outside the context of tabloid sensationalism. Is the public discussion because Tiger has failed as a moral role model in breaching his marriage contract? Is it that the attention he’s given to his affairs may have detracted from or (heaven forbid) assisted his golf game? Is it because the regular ‘Men’s golf weekends’ arranged by thousands of men each week risks being squashed by wives everywhere?

According to the US based ‘Marriage Education Fund’, the unpalatable truth is that 44% of married men and 25% of married women ‘cheat’ on their partners. A study by the University of Chicago found that of the thousands of married men and women who stated they had a ‘happy’ marriage, 27% had experienced an affair. You’re not alone Tiger!

Recent socio-biological thought also indicates that infidelity may be an evolutionary trait; that the concept of everlasting, monogamous marriage is an evolutionary anachronism ripe for dumping. Far from enhancing our gene pool, the institution of monogamous marriage may well be limiting genetic diversity to the detriment of western society.

In centuries past, when humans had a lifespan of barely 40 years, monogamous marriage helped guarantee the survival of offspring by maintaining a functional environment for children to grow to maturity. Couples were married at 17 and had as many children as possible by age 30 due to the high infant mortality rate.  Mum and dad, exhausted, poor and taxed-out, died at 40 yet they survived and reproduced. Evolutionary work done!

While we have children later than our ancestors, we can still live a good 20-30 years after our children grow to adulthood and reproduce. For some men and women, those later years may involve caring for grandchildren while parents work; yet another evolutionary development ensuring the comfortable survival of the children. Survive and reproduce. Evolutionary work very well done!

For some men, those post-children years can also be used to begin other relationships in order to reproduce yet again. Their genetic inheritance is doubly guaranteed and the gene pool is further diversified. For those with bucket-loads of money to ensure the survival of their first brood, or those who are attractive, fit stock to women of childbearing age, beginning the new family (or having affairs) can begin early. Survive and reproduce two or three within a life span and your evolutionary work is extremely well done!

Enter The Tiger. He, like 44% of married men and 25% of married women, elected to stretch the boundaries of monogamous marriage to include this evolutionary imperative. Thousands do it every day, and if you’re an elite athlete with money, brains, a good body and an obvious ability to master the sporting world, you will attract women who may well want a piece of that DNA. This indeed, is a woman’s evolutionary drive and Tiger would be a prime target.

By demonstrating the uncertainty of marriage and the often impossible concept of monogamy, he’s reminded us of a truth we’ve known for a very long time. Yet while monogamous marriage may be an uncertain institution, the Men’s golf weekend, an institution that’s been in Australian society for a long time, and one usually sanctioned by women as a ‘harmless blokey’ adventure’,  is most certainly now a thing of the past. Thanks Tiger

The Rugby League fiasco: Who’s really to blame?

This article first appeared on ABC Online on 15/5/09. Click here for the original. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/05/15/2571082.htm

As Matthew Johns faces the music for his role in one of the many group sex scandals that has rocked rugby league, and Channel 9 stands him down as a network personality, it’s time to look at who should really take ultimate responsibility for the fast disintegrating code of rugby league.


As revealed by the Four Corners report, and as admitted by Johns himself, he was only one of the many individuals involved in the group sex episode where up to 12 players and staff witnessed the act. Why then, has only one of these men publically apologised to the woman? Why, in the face of public disgust and a diminishing faith in the Rugby League code is the silence as deafening as it was in 2002?

Possibly because many of those involved in this and other group sex scandals over the past decade still believe they did nothing wrong as according to the law, they didn’t. As Johns has repeatedly stated, the woman at the centre of the scandal was “a willing participant”. What those involved fail to realise (although Johns clearly understands now), is that consent and willing participation does not always equal lifelong happiness. Most of us remember consenting to something that caused us grief or shame. We all, at sometime in our lives, have regretted participating in an act because our involvement left us emotionally raw or compromised. Its life and that’s how we learn.

Most of us get over it quickly due to the trivial nature of the episode and the absence of psychological damage. The incidents described both by Johns and the woman however, involved youth, inexperience, celebrity and sexual extremism facilitating the potential for psychological damage … not only for the woman, but for all parties involved.


The sexual experience as a ‘rite of passage’ is one given much weight in our society, and rightly so. Our early sexual encounters, based as they are around our often fragile sense of self, can be life affirming or life destroying and create a template for intimacy that extends throughout our lives. They can indeed, form who we are, and a sense of responsibility for both ourselves and others is important during early adult sexual adventure.

The extreme nature of the NRL’s group sex ‘bonding’ incidents has clearly impacted greatly on the lives of many. The naïve young woman involved in the Johns’ incident, a woman described as ‘unworldly’ by the investigating police officer, has been damaged for life. Numerous other unnamed women…women unworldly yet curious, have been equally damaged through their naïve, yet legal willing participation.

Yet what of the young men? What of the players, many also in their teens, who have had their lives defined by a culture that clearly sanctions this style of behaviour? While our immediate gut reaction is to seek out and humiliate the players involved, the full force of our wrath must go to the parents of the Rugby League family – the coaches, managers, trainers, administrators and media who have tolerated and possibly facilitated this ‘culture of ‘irresponsibility’ for decades.


The coaches, trainers and administrators of the game have known about this type of ‘bonding’ behaviour for decades. These parents of the Rugby League family, while not breaking the law, have shown immense disrespect towards their players and the women these players meet. Legal issues aside, it’s the impact these encounters have on the young men in their care – men who should be mentored into positions of social responsibility, that is the important issue.


A $100,000 fine imposed on the Manly club for their alcohol-fueled season launch won’t stop it happening again. Excluding the team from the competition for a year however, and sacking the officials who created the event, may help change the culture.


Fining any club for the extreme pack mentality of their players won’t suddenly make for sexually responsible young men. Mass sacking of the coaches and administrators who allowed this behaviour to occur may help build lasting change.


Even the players, those like Hasim El Masri who espouse a socially responsible position for players and fans, could stage their own ‘action’ to rid the game of the leaders who allow pack-mentality behavior to occur.


To renew our faith in Rugby League, change needs to be swift and brutal. It needs to target the leaders who have built the culture and who profit from it, not the players who are themselves the victims of it. . Above all, it needs to implant new parents to the Rugby League family, parents who hold strong their responsibility to build outstanding men who can hold their heads up as players and role models.

Why Ponting must be sacked

While Ricky Ponting has seen Australia through some lush times as cricket captain, his time is most certainly at an end. His performance during the fourth test in India has been unconvincing, and his willingness to throw away what could have been a glorious win in order to maintain his captaincy during the first test against New Zealand in 10 days time is little less than deluded.


There was a time during India’s second innings of the fourth test that Australia, ebullient after the run-out of Tendulkar, should have pressed home their advantage with the quicker swing bowling of Lee and Watson.

Yet to the dismay of commentators and fans alike, Ponting fell into the hands of the Indian batsmen by bowling first Cameron White (who took a thumping), then Michaela Hussey (who didn’t boost the score, yet didn’t bother the batsmen) and then Michael Clarke (who seems to be losing 1kg in weight every time he bowls a ball).


The reason for this bizarre selection of bowlers was solely due to Australia’s dismally slow over rate. While the entire team risked a fine for slow over completion, Ponting risked suspension for the next match, which just happens to be against New Zealand in 10 days time. While I’m quite sure the team would have copped a fine simply to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Ponting let Harbhajan Singh and Mahendra Dhoni belt a partnership of over 100, setting Australia 382 to secure a win…a big ask in any country, let alone India. A big ask so Ponting could avoid suspension.


When Watson was finally invited to bowl well after the damage was done, he not only stopped the avalanche of runs, but almost immediately secured the valuable wicket of Harbhajan Singh. Had this occurred 90 minutes prior straight after the tea break, Australia could have been chasing a total of less than 300 with a day to spare.

Yet this has happened before. In January 2008, Ponting was forced to use similar tactics to avoid suspension and a team fine in the 3rd Test against India in Perth.


Australia lost the test and still copped a fine. Perhaps the fine would have been worth a win. Ponting’s perspective – that being captain in an upcoming test is more important than chasing victory in the here and now is questionable. His inability to monitor the over rate should have selectors searching for a math’s coach quick-smart, while his insistence on part-timers, and his confounding reluctance to bowl the unpredictable Katich, or even the quicks off a short run, should leave the Australian Cricket Board asking some serious questions.


As Australia enters its hot and lazy summer of cricket, change is most certainly nigh.

The voice of sport?

This piece first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald in July 2005

Attention professional sportsmen everywhere. Now listen up lads. I understand that after a few beers post-game you may get a bit testy and feel like a rumble with someone who’s given you some lip. I can understand you getting hot under the collar during a game and having a wild swing at someone just to relieve the tension. I’m even beginning to understand that as 21st century men you find it tempting to send smutty text messages to women you’ve just met or may not have met at all.

The thing that sticks in my craw is something that no one’s mentioned over the past few months, yet is irritating to me and my family. It concerns language, and I know you’ve had enough of academics telling you how to speak and what to say, but this is pretty important.

My 10-year-old daughter and I like to watch the footy on TV occasionally.

Now while she can’t spell “league” or “union” and would probably spell the “Aussie” in Australian Rules Football with an “O”, she can understand when someone mouths the “F”-word clearly on the television.

She won’t ask anything about the umpire’s rulings or the crazy mixed metaphors of the commentators, yet when it comes to that “F”-word, she knows every time one of you screams it out. “Dad, he said that word again!” she says – often. As a matter of fact, we’ve started to keep score to see which team says it most in each game. Sometimes there are more “F”-words than actual points (but that’s usually only in Carlton or Newcastle games).

Now if you were Lleyton Hewitt yelling the same word at the Davis Cup you’d be fined a few thousand dollars, lose a point, be reported to the match referee and even be disqualified if you kept it up. If you were the member of any Olympic team you’d be sent home on the first available plane.

So why do we accept it from you? What gives you the right to openly use the “F”-word in a family viewing timeslot and when there hasn’t been a network warning about “mature, adult content” or “occasional coarse language”?

One reason may be that no one has said anything. Perhaps by being silent we’ve all given our consent for players to swear their heads off. Yet perhaps all that should change.

If we have put the off-field behaviour of players under the microscope over the past year, it’s time to do the same to their on-field behaviour.

Players’ language during a game can be just as detrimental to their code and just as influential on the thousands of youngsters who hang on their every word. As the football finals approach, it may pay our sporting heroes to realise that someone is keeping tabs on more than just the game score.

Why we love Monty!

This piece first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald in January 2007 during the Ashes Test between Australia and England.

It is no coincidence that the release of the new film version of ‘Charlotte’s Web’ last month coincided with the exact day that English spinner Monty Panesar bowling his first test delivery on Australian soil. OK, OK, that’s drawing a long bow and the two events clearly aren’t linked, but there’s something very similar in the lovable character of Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web and the man we’d really like to call our own but can’t.

There’s obviously something special about Monty Panesar. Not special in the same way as Shane Warne or Glenn McGrath, but special all the same. The chap in my bottle shop reckons he’s the ‘next big thing’ and a Google search shows 1.7 million pages mentioning the bloke. Day one of the 5th test in Sydney showed parts of the crowd sporting beards and headwear just like Monty. Youtube even contains a song about him. It must be serious.

But what is it about this man that makes even non-cricket followers admire him? Like the character of Wilbur is Charlotte’s Web, Mr Panesar seems the epitome of enthusiastic naivety. Just as Wilbur the pig was left out of the barnyard family for being a ‘runt’, Monty was left out of the first two tests for reasons only the English cricket administration understand. When Wilbur is finally embraced into the barnyard family, all he wants to do is play, and Monty is seemingly the same now he’s been given his chance in the English test team.

Commentators during the third test in Perth were giggling about the fact that he wanted the ball even though it wasn’t his turn to bowl; that even after he’d been hit for 19 runs in the previous over, he was putting his hand up for more. He’d bowl every over in the Sydney test if we’d let him and maybe he should. Bugger the strategy, it’s the passion we love, and Monty is showing a passion and unbridled joy of the game we haven’t seen in a long time.

But what really makes Monty Panesar so popular? A far cry from those fashionable, clean-shaven, sports superstars we see so much of these days, Monty seems the antithesis of fashion. Perhaps it’s the fact he seems oblivious to all the latest trends that make him ‘cool’. He’s clearly his own man. A devout Sikh, Panesar wears the patka (a mini-turban) with a dignity that makes the coiffured hairstyles of millionaire sportsmen like Matt Giteau or David Beckham look silly. Maybe I’m getting old, but I just don’t get this current fixation millionaire sportsmen have with their hair. Give me Monty and his patka anytime.

Yet there’s more to it than his passion, his patka and his facial hair. We live in a world of comparisons, and perhaps it’s the natural comparison we make with our own king of spin that makes him so popular.

Now as cricketers go, Warnie is a genius; there’s no doubting that. Yet in the numerous retirement accolades Warnie has received from the world’s batsmen, it’s his label as the ‘king of sledge’ that’s the biggest worry. As the volume on the Channel Nine stump mike is turned up (not in the live broadcast mind you, but in the pre-recorded, swear-checked ‘G’ rated version), we hear Warnie gabbling in a non-stop sledge to English batsmen. His verbal diarrhoea ranges from their ‘hopeless’ batting style to the size of their bottoms to their hairstyles. It’s amazing his team-mates can focus on the game let alone the batsmen! Like the gabbling of the geese in Charlotte’s Web, it portrays a tiresome arrogance; an arrogance that’s slowly wearing thin with Australian cricket supporters. Sure, it’s great to win; yet to win with integrity and grace is even better. As demonstrated in the Champion’s trophy last year when the head of Indian Cricket was jostled off the winner’s dais by the Australian team, Aussie cricketing grace is sadly lacking.

In Charlotte’s Web, Charlotte the spider tries to save Wilbur from being Christmas ham by writing certain words in her web. It’s not that Wilbur is ‘Terrific’ or ‘Some Pig’ that saves his life. Ultimately it’s the word ‘Humble’ that saves him from the smokehouse.

Here lies the secret of Monty’s popularity. Even in our brash and stylised world of cult celebrity, marketing hype and strategic media-managed sound bites, we still have some innate eye for legitimacy. ‘Humble’ would be too simple a word for a 21st century, university educated, representative cricketer like Mr Panesar, yet in the amazing support he’s generated from the Australian public, there’s clearly some lessons for our own cricketing heroes. A touch of humility could well be one of them.