Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Only in Whangamata, New Zealand... Kiwi cyclists risk head & groin injuries in the name of freedom.

Kiwi cyclists risk head & groin injuries in the name of freedom.

Two men, wearing nothing but their birthday suits have been issued with a warning for riding without protective head gear on a jaunt around a sleepy New Zealand seaside town. One of the men, a recent migrant from Australia, said he expected the police officer to have first asked 'if it was cold out?' before issuing the citation to acquire headgear.

Ok so I added the last sentence of that paragraph to suggest a mate of mine who recently moved to NZ for work was involved (then plunked that on his FB page) but the story is a gift of comedic goodness that keeps on giving.

And at Christmas time - this is a great present.

There is so much spun gold to work with in this article, which I first saw on

For a start...

Senior Constable Cathy Duder was patrolling Whangamata...

Do I need to write that again? Her name is DUDER - which is kind of funny... but the place she was patrolling!

Already I'm on the floor.

Then we get the conversation verbatim...

"They were more shocked than I was, trying to cover up their bits and pieces with their hands," Duder told AAP.

When asked for an explanation, the pair replied that "they wanted to experience total freedom".

"And I said to them `the way you're heading, you're going to experience total confinement'," the officer said, laughing.


She's just booked her place on the next series of Police Ten 7 with material like that.

Then the writer of the article, Tamara McLean has a bit of fun...

Duder issued them with a stern warning for not wearing helmets and then sent them directly home.

Are we still talking about what we were at the start of the article?

This is EXACTLY the kind of news item that the Get This boys would've dined out on... Tony Martin would've read the article perfectly and the follow up stories from Ed Kavalee & Richard Marsland were sure to be spun gold.

Now THIS is journalism, kudos to you Tamara McLean.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Man Who Conquers World Of Warcraft Highlights The Week That Was: 3-13/12/2009

Welcome to a new feature here on (Edition 01|02) where we take a look at the last week in news, sport and weather and repackage it in a moderately entertaining way.

The Week That Was: 3rd to 13th December 2009.

King of the Nerds crowned.
A Taiwanese man has conquered the 'World of Warcraft' online role playing game and now will turn his attention to getting some sun for the first time in 400 days.
Statistically his report card reads as follows:
390,895 kills from 5,906 quests completed and he's only died 8,543 times in the process. (is that good?)
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of his success is the following forum post by a user named 'Psychi' - a forum newbie with only 39 posts who stated:
"I want to be that guy."

But do you... do you really?
Twitter Crashes and I blame Stephen Fry.

Fry (the British Actor/Presenter with the rapidly diminishing waistline) has been with Twitter since the dark ages and regularly tweets his heart out.

How do I know this?

Read on for more...

Pick a number and wait in line.
News from India (well not technically from this past week, but this is the first time we've heard about it) is that the population of 1.2 million will be tagged, weighed and released with the
Unique ID's project under consideration.
Once you have read this line from the article...
India is to issue each of its 1.2 billion citizens, millions of whom live in remote villages and possess no documentary proof of existence, with cyber-age biometric identity cards.
... you can't help but think they might be turning every Indian into 
Universal Soldiers with the cyber-age biometric reference.

The head of the project,
Nandan Nilekani, then added... "It is a humongous, mind-boggling challenge,” he told The Times. “But we have the opportunity to give every Indian citizen, for the first time, a unique identity. We can transform the country."
Could be the cynic in me, but aren't the 1.2 billion Indians already unique individuals?

Still on India - Sehwag Slays Sri Lanka
Virender Sehwag scores 284 in one day… yes ONE DAY.
He failed to go on with the job, falling for 293 early on Day 3 of the Third Test Match - but still the numbers tell an amazing story of incredible batting and freeway like pitch conditions.
He hit 40 fours and 7 sixes (or 182 runs without having to run).
He had 284 from 239 balls (293 from 254 in the end).
Batted for 366 minutes (a tick over 6 hours).
Had partnerships of 221 with M. Vijay for 1st wicket, and 237 with R. Dravid for 2nd.
He scored 293 of the 458 runs scored while he was at the crease.

But the most important stat from the game was that India WON the Test Match. Individual stats are nice and all, but you play to win and his performance was the catalyst for the team's victory.


Anything the Liberals can do… Labor can do three days later.
One up-man-ship went to another level in Australian politics last week, when Kristina Keneally became the first female premier of NSW after ambush on former leader Nathan Rees in a sensational backroom coup d'état.

Now the political coup is no big shock, but the fact the Labor Party couldn't let the dust settle on the Federal Liberal Party's own leadership coup (when Tony Abbott ousted Malcolm Turnbull) for more than a couple of days is astounding.
Having followed politics moderately for most of my life, I know that one of the golden rules in the profession is to seize on any sign of weakness by your opposition and show how strong you are in comparison. Yet here, the Labor Party in NSW has decided that instead of taking the political high road (is there such a thing?) and rub the Abbott-Turnbull situation in the Liberal's faces... they've conducted their own display of poor party harmony at state level.
Just once - I'd like to see a political party have the interests of the public at the forefront of their minds... instead of what seat they are warming in their respective parliamentary benches.

PS. Searching for a photo of Rees and Keneally resulted in t
his superb example of how much value you can put in the word of a politician... From
And his Planning Minister Kristina Keneally today ruled out "ever" challenging him for premier and denied having been approached by right-wing powerbrokers Joe Tripodi or Eddie Obeid about such an opportunity.
If a child of mine ever decides that politics is something they want to pursue as a career, I'll be sending them off to a re-screening of
'The Invention of Lying' for a refresher course on how to lie and act poorly at the same time.

The 2010 World Cup Draw puts Australia alongside Germany, Serbia & Ghana.
It seems like months since Australia qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (turns out it has) but last weekend saw the
Socceroos placed in a group of death alongside Germany, Serbia & Ghana. Basically we're aiming for the 2nd place in the group - which means we'll need to beat both Serbia & Ghana, as you'd expect the Germans to go through as the 1st placed team. If Australia can get to the Round of 16 - England could await us in a game that would hand Australia bragging rights of monumental proportions over the English - if we won.
But we have to get past Serbia & Ghana first and that is far from easy.

In fact, my immediate reaction to the World Cup draw was... we're stuffed. 

Double Standards are fine for Channel Nine.
The world isn't perfect but when it comes to double standards - TV stations are fantastic at avoiding them. Take the situation involving Tiger Woods (it pains me to be back on this for the second straight week) - they are happy to lead their news bulletins with judgemental scoops on his mistress scorecard, yet the alleged adulterous nature of his actions then become the selling point for the station's screening of
Mr. & Mrs. Smith starring Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt.

Word for word, this was the voice over for the movie preview screened over the week leading up to the Tuesday timeslot.
"The movie that brought them together..."

So we'll judge Tiger for alleged adultery then turn around and congratulate Pitt for finding Jolie through adultery to promote a movie.

Bit of Cricket Housekeeping...
This part of 'The Week That Was' is sport, sport, sport, so suck it up for the non-sport parts at the end! 

He's old, so let's get rid of him!
This article on why Michael Hussey should be dropped is doing a wonderful impression of a siv – it’s got that many holes in it.
Take the assertion that:
While Hussey has not looked anywhere near his best in this series, his figures have not been disgraceful.

And Hughes is now so deep in a form rut that it looks as if it will be a while before he is back.

Then look at the pair's recent form...

Michael Hussey’s last four 1st class innings 29, 41, 66, 121. * As of 09.12.2009
Phillip Hughes’ last four 1st class innings: 0, 58, 79, 12. * As of 09.12.2009
Yes Phillip Hughes has a golden duck last start, but he’s also had two good scores in his last four so isn’t in the worst form of his career. Plus Hussey hasn’t failed yet – but we want him out of the Test Team, because - and I QUOTE - "He's not going to be any better next summer when the heat cranks up in the kitchen against England again."

Well Mr. Dorries - for the sake of all your readers, I hope your own form can be better when the heat cranks up in the kitchen next summer. Because you've got Hussey covered for 'painful performance' with this piece for the Courier Mail.

Note: I also saw somewhere a quote from a former Australian selector saying that Hussey should be dropped because he hasn't maintained his standards (ie. average)... the guy plays out of his skin for the first couple of years as a Test regular and now he's no longer averaging 80-odd every time he goes out (36.16 since start of 2008) - you say punt him.

Please Peter Siddle care to back it up?
My favourite Australian cricketer is certainly not one Peter Siddle. In fact I can't think of the last Australian cricketer I disliked as much as the 'aggressive Victorian'. There's another piece on explaining why I don't rate the 'enforcer of the Australian attack' but for the time being
his comments to the press (fresh off a 1 wicket haul in the Adelaide Test Match!) were perplexing...

Meanwhile, Siddle, who has played 14 Tests since making his debut 14 months ago, said it was a steep learning curve being part of an inexperienced attack.
It does make it a bit of a challenge, but on the other hand individually it has made us progress our improvement in the game a lot quicker than we might have," he said.
“If you had a superstar there like a Glenn McGrath, you can get on the back of his coat tails and just be dragged along with him.
"It's just made us all work that little bit harder I think."

What I can't help but think that this is possibly a subtle, yet misinformed dig at Stuart Clark - the man who Siddle ousted from the Test Team in the past year. While Clark made his mark in his very first Test Series in South Africa without Glenn McGrath in the lineup and took 20 wickets as Australia won the Series, Siddle didn't exactly set the world on fire in his first full series against the same opposition in Australia...
Or was he having a go at Brett Lee or Jason Gillespie instead?
It's not like any of these guys have actually done anything at International Level right?
But Siddle obviously has if he's going to express that view...

Quick Singles...
Great look at why India’s TV money is ruining the sanctity of Test Cricket despite climbing to the #1 spot in the ICC Test Ratings, by Jamie Pandaram from the SMH.
> Test Panel
Umpire throws tanty, retires.
> A young
South African fast bowler called Pumelela Matshikwe, who I played with at Grade level years ago has made the big time - turning out for the Lions in the South African Domestic SuperSport First Class Competition. He has taken 12 wickets in 3 matches and what a buzz it would be if he could knock on the door for the national team.
Congratulations Pumelela!
> By the way, in the last week Chris Gayle batted forever in the 2nd Innings of the
Second Test as the West Indies and Australia played out a draw at the Adelaide Oval.
Who I started following this week on Twitter:
Karmichael Hunt - he of former Brisbane Broncos, Queensland & Australian Rugby League fame is on Twitter and produced this pearl of professional athlete insight:
2 large big mac meals, chicken nuggets, wedges = bloated belly
about 14 hours ago from web
After reading that I felt compelled to suggest he order the 'Bigger Mac' next time he visited McDonalds... don't know what that is? Ask me on Twitter and I'll fill you in.
NRL Tweet Highlights 3-13/12/2009
| #NRL #Sharks: Huge signing news from Cronulla! Apparently Matt Gafa will trial with the Sharks for a contract in 2010. 12:23 PM Dec 4th
| #NRL #Dragons: News trickling through that Mark Gasnier wants to come back to the NRL... I'm not convinced it'll be with the Dragons though. 6:12 PM Dec 6th
| #NRL #Titans: How's the move north working out for you now William Zillman? Titans sign Greg Bird for 2010, will play five-eighth. 3:49 PM Dec 7th
| #NRL #Roosters: Someone spotted a new Rooster up to old tricks on Saturday night... man I hope they saw wrong. 3:56 PM Dec 7th
| #NRL #Titans: Why do clubs bother trying to sell the 'deserves a 2nd chance' angle when 2nd chances are directly related to playing ability. 5:45 PM Dec 7th
| #NRL Round 1 2010: Fri: PAR v STG, BRI v NQL. Sat: BUL v NEW, CRO v MEL, PEN v CAN. Sun: GLD v WAR, SOU v SYD. Mon: WTG v MAN. 5:15 PM Dec 9th
| #NRL #wwos #Roosters #Ch9: Apparently when it comes to Free to Air Games - finishing last guarantees you five straight games to open 2010. 5:24 PM Dec 9th
| #NRL #wwos: 5 Rounds into 2010 & not a single sighting of the Warriors or Sharks & even more surprisingly the Sea Eagles or Knights on Nine. 5:31 PM Dec 9th
| #NRL #RugbyLeague #SuperLeague: I'm sorry did I hear correctly? ANOTHER breakaway competition? - yawn. 8:27 AM Dec 12th

For the best NRL information service on the net, follow
The NRL Tweet via Twitter or the main page of
Tiger Woods - playing golf... slightly well @ 2005 US Masters.

Quote we would've loved to have heard last week...

"We Made It All Up."
That's the headline/quote we'd love to see New Idea run with on a future issue and it could happen after a
judge ordered the magazine to reveal its sources for an article that suggested Bec Hewitt was cheating on Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt is the closest thing Australia has to a Tennis Star (he was World Number One earlier this decade remember?) and his wife - a former Australian Soap star (that is TV Serial actress... not the covergirl for Palmolive toiletries) - has been the target of sensationalistic press ever since they got married.

Their theory is she must be bored being married to a professional athlete that spends so much time away... and given she's a household name thanks to her days on Home & Away, has become allegedly 'fair game'.
As a result we've got sources ranging from onlookers, pals, friends, observers, friends of friends and people who are listed in the census with the Hewitt's - telling us the most intimate secrets of the 'Australian power couple'.

The Judge in the case - Robert Lunn - has the final word, which could spell the end of the lucrative career of such sources:
“It is unknown whether there were such sources or whether the defendant has made up the contents of the article,” he has said.

If you've got stories you'd like to see featured in next week's 'The Week That Was' please email me at, tweet me at The NRL Tweet or comment here on the article at

Monday, 7 December 2009

Twitter Overload! Site crashes Monday 7th December 2009

Well it had to happen.

Normally I would've
Tweeted this moment in IT history but...

When Twitter crashed this morning (approx 10am, Australian Eastern Daylight Time, Monday 7th December 2009) and promptly displayed this screen shot, there was no chance of tweeting it.

I blame Stephen Fry, noted Twitter tragic.

Fry (the British Actor/Presenter with the rapidly diminishing waistline) has been with Twitter since the dark ages and regularly tweets his heart out.

How do I know this?

Well because I like (I would have normally put his total number of followers in this line but with Twitter down - alas that information is not available to me) followers get his tweets daily. Admittedly they don't change my life but they are invariably interesting.

Which is pretty much why people use Twitter. They want to know interesting things that other people can bring to their attention.

But back to the Twitter crash being Fry's fault.

I have noticed that when he directs people to a website or blog via Twitter - the lifespan of that link's bandwidth is not long for this world.

So I've come to the conclusion that he's gone and linked his legion of followers to another Twitter page and the end result is this:

So General Melchett - you have a lot of explaining to do...

Just don't do it on Twitter.

Note: By the time this article was finished... Twitter was back up and underloaded at 10:33am. For the record Stephen Fry has 1,088,963 followers and has tweeted 5,014 times.
He also describes himself in his bio as: British Actor, Writer, Lord of Dance, Prince of Swimwear & Blogger and his website is:

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Tiger's Wayward Drive Highlights The Week That Was: 26/11-3/12/2009

Welcome to a new feature here on where we take a look at the last week in news, sport and weather and repackage it in a moderately entertaining way.

The Week That Was: 26 November to 3 December 2009.


Tiger's wayward drive threatens reputation.

I hate to open up the first edition of 'The Week That Was' with a sensationalistic story but the news that Tiger Woods - the greatest golfer on the planet - crashed his car has taken a dramatic twist in the past few days.

Initially the fears were only for Tiger's safety. Was he seriously injured? Is his career over?

Those questions now give way to scandal. Is Tiger Woods having an affair? Who is the mistress? Are his sponsorship deals under threat?

If you're anything like me - you really don't care about everything that the media wants you to care about when it comes to Tiger Woods post-accident.

If his 'transgression' has been in the form of adultery so be it, I don't like that but I care little for his actions and rather feel for his wife and family.

And that's what bugs me the most about sensationalistic journalism.

The victims in this prying are Tiger's family - not Tiger himself. Sure he's feeling like the world might be coming crashing down but his family may have had no knowledge of these possible actions - and now learn about it all via a story hungry media who feel it is their right to act as the judge and jury.

It sickens me.

Especially when you have to consider how many glass houses the media driving the story live in.

By the way - Tiger is fine, he suffered some scratches to his face.

But that's no longer the 'real' story is it...


West Indies collapse at the Gabba.

The 2009/2010 Australian Summer of Cricket began with a whimper at the Gabba in Brisbane, as the hosts roasted the West Indian visitors by an innings and 82 runs in the First Test (Scorecard).

Ben Hilfenhaus took man of the match honours for his haul of 5/70 from 23 overs and displayed once more that he's the best Australian swing bowler since Damien Fleming.

The Australian top order (bar Shane Watson who made a 7 ball duck) all contributed to Australia's imposing and well timed declaration of 8/480 (Katich 92, Ponting 55, Hussey 66, Clarke 41, North 79, Haddin 38 & Hauritz 50*) and the bowlers did the rest, knocking the West Indies over for 228 & 187. Only young opening batsman Adrian Barath who made 104 in the 2nd innings and thus a hundred on debut stood out, as the Australian's wrapped the game up inside three days.

The Second Test is at the Adelaide Oval from 4-8 December, 2009.


Gold goes up to over $1300 Australian per ounce... wow.

Not that I have millions of dollars invested in the yellow stuff but still - that's a nice price.
And that's your business & finance news covered. Next week a special report from New Zealand on Dairy Futures...


Scrubs is back for Season 9!

While it may not be 'classic' Scrubs but the new season is funny enough to make its return worthwhile.

A solid 7/10 rating for Episodes 1 & 2.

There'll be a stand alone feature on the return of Scrubs for a Ninth Season on soon, but for the time being here is a bit of trivia that may or may not interest you.

One of the interns in Season 8 - Howie - is the same actor who appeared in an episode of Seinfeld as a 9 year old boy who was part of the Karate Dojo Kramer 'Dominated'. His name is Todd Bosley and he played Joey Zanfino in Seinfeld's eighth season in 1996.
IMDB me if you doubt it.


The Two Tones:
Tony Martin & Tony Wilson are back on air.

If you're like me and a long time fan of the work of Tony Martin (no not Reverend Bob from E-Street) and the team from the ABC's early 1990s 'The Late Show'  - you'd know the quality of radio and television those alumni have created ever since.

Well they had a bunch of material floating around before then, but my connection with the group started with the Late Show and has continued to this day. Tony Martin - the Kiwi who adopted an Australian radio dj voice to 'make it here' - has been part of the two greatest radio shows I've ever heard with Martin/Molloy (with Mick Molloy) and Get This (with Richard Marsland and Ed Kavalis... err Kavalee). From 1995-1998 the Martin/Molloy Show was king of the drive shift and Get This (while never reaching the same level ratings wise) was arguably an even better show. But since Triple M decided to punt Get This to 'divert resources to an all new breakfast program' - Martin has been writing a second book (A Nest Of Occasionals - already requested for my Christmas stocking) and doing freelance media work.

Most of that freelance radio has been with children's author Tony Wilson - and gradually the two have built up a decent resume together. They worked a two week shift doing nights for ABC Melbourne - and made it work, although Martin in particular felt uncomfortable with the 'no opinions for announcers' policy.

For the next few weeks they will be doing Tuesday shows on RRR in Melbourne. Thanks to this
fine forum dedicated to the work of the Late Show alumni - you can hear their work, even if you don't have access to the station.


Twenty Years Ago...
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was released.

That's right on December 1st 1989, Chevy Chase was back for a third installment of the National Lampoon's Vacation Series.

For a full recount of why this and other things should make you feel old check out the following article.
Rumours about Chevy Chase being in a 3rd Fletch movie also available in the article.

Tony Abbott takes charge of the liberal party.
One thing that you're going to get from the new Australian opposition leader is plenty of specificity in his vocabulary. Yes - he used the word specificity in a press conference and didn't bat an eyelid.
One thing people should know about Abbott - he's a good politician. If that's not an oxymoron.

Who I started following this week on Twitter:

Jim Carrey is now on Twitter
The comedic actor has taken to Twitter like a duck to water... and he's so enamoured with his beard he now signs off all his tweets with a :)}} - signifying his beard I guess. Still he was responsible for the following Tiger Woods joke:
His advice to Tiger... "next time use a driver!"


NRL Tweet Highlights

| #NRL #SMH: Thanks again @JessicaHalloran league coverage will be different next season with Jacquelin Magnay off to the UK - 10:27 AM Nov 26th
| #NRL: Gee gotta love this juicy rumour: once Willie Mason leaves, the Roosters 'may' announce the signing of former international Matt King. - 4:02 PM Nov 26th
| #NRL #Broncos: Brisbane coach Ivan Henjak hasn't ruled out Lockyer or Hodges at Fullback to replace Hunt in 2010. Who would you pick? - 7:39 PM Nov 30th
| #NRL #Roosters: They may always be Easts to me, but changing from the Sydney Roosters to Bondi Roosters isn't a bad idea. Your thoughts? - 8:31 PM Nov 30th
| #NRL #ARL #NewsLimited: So far everything I've read about the proposed restructure of League comes across as 'work in progress'. Am I wrong? - 8:38 PM Nov 30th
| #NRL #Titans: No real surprise to learn that Greg Bird could sign on the dotted line of a Gold Coast Titans contract today. Thoughts? - 11:25 AM Dec 3rd

For the best NRL information service on the net follow
The NRL Tweet via Twitter or the main page of


YouTube Highlights
Best NHL Goals from last week Uploaded 01/12/2009


Finally, the quote we'd love to have heard last week.
Danny Green beat the legendary Roy Jones Jr last night at Sydney's Acer Arena in a first round technical knock out. After the fight Green had this to say (edited):
"I almost feel bad doing that, that almost hurt me to do that to someone whom I aspire to look up to as a professional fighter inside and outside the ring. 'Everyone who doubted me, shove it up your bottoms, you don't know (anything) … to all the critics that bagged me, you don't know jack (daniels)."

We wish he'd thrown in one of these at the end...
"And I lovse youse all! Every ones of singles youse!"


If you've got stories you'd like to see featured in next week's 'The Week That Was' please email me at, tweet me at The NRL Tweet or comment here on the article at


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Wanna Feel Old? ... plus National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 20 Years On!

Stumbled upon this fine website on the weekend and feel compelled to direct you there as a result.

It's called
'Wanna Feel Old?' and if you are a product of the 1980s like I am... it is a genius way to waste an hour.

So go there, enjoy that.

Direct link:

My contribution to the walk down a well forgotten memory lane is this...

On this day, December 1st 1989, the classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was released in cinemas. Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold did his thing for a third time alongside Beverly D'Angelo in the seasonal installment of the franchise and having Julia Louis-Dreyfus (if I have to tell you who she is and why she's a significant to the casting - you should be shot) and Doris Roberts (again... even if you weren't a fan of the sitcom she was part of - you know who she is) as part of the supporting cast, makes the movie seem that little bit better in retrospect.

We follow Clark Griswold over the Christmas season, dealing with the issues of family, friends, neighbours and the very real possibility of missing out on a work bonus at Christmas time. Plot wise it has enough to keep the movie breathing, but you're watching for the gags and the presence of Chase - hoping he can recreate the magic of the Wally World expedition and his work in the 'Fletch' series.

It is probably the second best of the series behind the original in my mind.

The movie went on to make a tick over $71 million and inspire the producers to go to well at least one more time, eight years later with the pathetic Las Vegas installment.

During its key run at the cinemas it debuted at #2 behind Michael J. Fox's Back to the Future Part II and held top spot at the box office in the two weeks before Christmas 1989.

Interesting box office facts: Christmas Vacation made the most overall dollars at the box office of the four movies, but only had the third highest opening week. Vegas Vacation took the most money in the opening week but significantly the least overall.

What was your favourite National Lampoon's movie from the Chevy Chase days?

PS. Whispers are getting louder that he will return for a third installment of the Fletch Series in 2011... with Ryan Reynolds tipped as a potential 'young Fletch' in the prequel type story.

Come to think of it, all this talk of the movie has me now wanting to find and watch it this evening.

Hey... it's Christmas!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

2009/2010 Summer of Cricket: The Great Peter Siddle Myth...

The Great Peter Siddle Myth...
(as of November 2009)

In typical cricket karma style... a year to almost the day since this article was penned - Peter Siddle took 6/54 including a Hat-Trick to skittle England on Day One of the 1st Ashes Test of 2010/2011 at the Gabba.
Siddle is given his due credit in this article on the Winners & Losers of Day One... but what was written below was pretty much spot on until today... unless of course Australia don't win the Test Match after Siddle's greatest contribution to Australia so far.
Get more on the current Ashes Series here.

Back to the Original November 2009 Article...

You've heard the scouting report. Hits the pitch hard, tough, aggressive and relentless.

Even Cricinfo gets in on the love fest: With a charging run-up, powerful delivery, worrying bounce and elongated appeal, Peter Siddle made a lasting mark in 2008-09 as he stepped up from promising domestic bowler to a speedster who could be part of Australia's attack for years.

Now for the reality.

Peter Siddle is the most over-rated Australian bowler since the days of Brendon Julian*.

You can't include the likes of Scott 'Can't bowl, can't throw' Muller, Paul 'Blocker' Wilson, Shaun 'A Test is how many days in a row?' Tait and Simon 'Do you even remember me I played two Tests' Cook because they never received the same kind of deliriously delusional hype that Siddle has had in the past year. They may have been members of the Australian team at one point but they were warming the chairs of established players and none of them were given the 'You've arrived' acceptance that Siddle has in 2009.

This reputation he has built as the 'strong man' of Australian cricket bemuses me.
In the three Test Match Series Australia have contested with Siddle as a permanent fixture in the side, we have lost a home series to South Africa, won a series in South Africa and lost the Ashes in England.

Hardly a sign he's been a revelation in the Australian team.

Peter Siddle's statistics from 12 Test Matches (2008-2009):

12 Tests
49 Wickets @ 28.93
2.99 Economy Rate
57.8 Strike Rate
4 Wickets in an Innings: 2
5 Wickets in an Innings: 2

Stuart Clark, the bowler Siddle has been holding out of the Test Team for most of 2009, has these statistics in Test Cricket (2006-2009):

24 Tests
94 Wickets @ 23.86
2.61 Economy Rate
54.7 Strike Rate
4 Wickets in an Innings: 6
5 Wickets in an Innings: 2

Now statistically you might think - not a great deal of difference. Clark is obviously a tighter bowler but as for wickets and strike rate - fairly even.

But when you look at each bowler's impact on the first three series they have played in - there's little doubt which bowler looks the goods.

And no it isn't the guy with the Southern Cross tatt...

Peter Siddle has played in three full series (3 Test Series or more) - Series A: South Africa in Australia, Series B: Australia in South Africa and Series C: Australian in England.

Series A: 3 Test Matches v South Africa. South African won 2-0. Siddle took 13 wickets but 8 of them came in the dead rubber at Sydney and included just 2 top order (1-6) wickets. For all his pace and bounce he produced just 1/128 at the WACA when Australia could not defend 414 and despite taking 4/81 in the South African's first innings in the 2nd Test at the MCG - South Africa's 459 set up the game for their Series clinching win.
13 Wickets @ 27.38 including 1 Test Win, 2 Losses and 4 Top Order Wickets (1-6).

Series B: 3 Test Matches v South Africa. Australia won 2-1. Siddle made his best contribution to a victory in Test cricket to date in the opening Test, taking 6 wickets (4 of which were top order wickets) in Australia's 162 run win. In the 2nd Test, despite barely featuring in the first innings he took 3 top order wickets in the second dig to help Australia to a series winning lead. But in the 3rd Test he failed to make any inroads with just one early wicket in a South African total of 651 - an Australian loss.
12 wickets @ 22.50 including 2 Test Wins, 1 Loss and 8 Top Order Wickets (1-6).

Series C: 5 Test Matches v England. England won 2-1. Siddle's contributions in England were few and far between. The standout moment of the series for Siddle wasn't his lower order demolition of England at Leeds but his inability to get Graeme Swann out after peppering him with bouncers during the final day of the 1st Test. If Siddle gets Swann out there the English resistance would have faltered, instead Swann went on to 31 and bat for over an hour which was critical in the context of the match. Siddle may have returned 20 wickets in the series but he was largely all huff and puff rather than results and Australia's lone victory in the series is evidence of that fact. If Siddle carries his weight in that series (Mitchell Johnson was just as poor) like Ben Hilfenhaus did - Australia win the 2009 Ashes.
Perhaps the most significant stat was that England passed 300 six times in ten innings (including 400 twice) with Siddle 'leading' the attack.
20 wickets @ 30.80 including 1 Test Win, 2 Losses and 11 Top Order Wickets (1-6).

Conversely, here are Stuart Clark's first three full series (3 Test Series or more) - Series A: Australia in South Africa 2006, Series B: England in Australia 2006/07 and Series C: India in Australia 2007/08.

Series A: 3 Test Matches v South Africa. Australia won 3-0. Stormed onto the international Test scene with a Player of the Series award and 9 wickets in his first test. You can argue having Brett Lee and Shane Warne alongside him was a giant boost but still 14 top order wickets out of 20 is a superb stat considering the talent he was bowling with.

20 wickets @ 15.85 including 3 Test Wins and 14 Top Order Wickets (1-6).

Series B: 5 Test Matches v England.
Australia won 5-0. Australia's clean sweep of the 2006/2007 Ashes Series was the swansong of Langer, McGrath and Warne but it was Stuart Clark's series. He took more wickets than Warne, McGrath and Lee as the Australians sent the English packing in a dominant summer. Clark's 17 top order wickets and the fact England only scored above 300 three times in ten innings is a glowing endorsement of his impact on the series.
26 wickets @ 17.03 including 5 Test Wins and 17 Top Order Wickets (1-6).

Series C: 4 Test Matches v India. Australia won 2-1. Significantly Clark's first long series without Warne or McGrath in the lineup (Australia had swept a 2 Test Series with Sri Lanka earlier in the 2007/08 Summer) but the first with Mitchell Johnson as a fixture in the team. Clark wasn't dominant against India but with the series won 2-1 in a tight affair - he was Australia's best bowler (despite Lee taking more wickets). Australia romped home in the 1st Test by 337 runs with Clark the destroyer in the Indian first innings with 4/28 dismissing Dravid, Tendulkar, Singh and Dhoni. Australia won the 2nd Test, lost the 3rd and drew the 4th to win the series and although Clark was ineffective wickets wise in the last match - Australia still won the series.
14 wickets @ 28.21 including 2 Test Wins, 1 loss, 1 draw and 9 Top Order Wickets (1-6).

Now you can argue that Clark's last couple of years in Test cricket have been poor, but remember an elbow injury plagued this period and the selectors seemed to ignore his past record when finally fit - instead sticking with Siddle.

One only has to look at Clark's performance in the first innings of the 4th Ashes Test in 2009 to see what he has to offer.

Perhaps the most significant statistic that seems to escape consideration at the Australian selection table is the Australian Team Record when Stuart Clark plays a full Test Match Series.

Australia have won ALL SIX Test Series that Stuart Clark has played a full part in.

Yet we keep picking Peter Siddle ahead of him.

The most ironic part of the Siddle love comes with the desire of the Australian selectors to find a replacement for the leadership of the attack that Glenn McGrath took into retirement with him. They'll ignore some mediocre performances from the Victorian in the hope he'll eventually step up. But those same selectors failed to back the genuine wicket taking ability of Jason Krejza as they searched for a replacement for Shane Warne.

That's not to say Nathan Hauritz won't do a good job this summer but if Krejza was given the same treatment that Siddle has received - Australia might have the kind of wicket taking weapon an attack featuring the likes of Johnson and Siddle need to get better.

But they cast Krejza off after apparently he alone was the reason South Africa chased over 400 to win a Test Match... at the WACA.

As an Australian, I hope Siddle is going to have a big summer in 2009/2010 - beginning with the 3 Test Match Series with the West Indies at the Gabba on Thursday. However I am still yet to see what all the fuss surrounding Peter Siddle is about when there is a guy like Stuart Clark being wasted at Sheffield Shield level - despite the fact he has at least a couple of quality summers of cricket left in him.
*As for Brendon Julian, the next great left arm bowling hope for Australia entering the 1993 Ashes... 7 Test Matches, 15 wickets @ 39.93, 3.27 economy rate, 73.2 strike rate, one 4 wicket haul in innings and his Test career was over by 1995.

But Julian was part of the 1995 Frank Worrell Trophy win in the West Indies and at the end of the day winning is all that matters... although evidently not for selectors when it comes to picking between Peter Siddle and Stuart Clark.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

2009/2010 Summer of Cricket: Australian Team for First Test with West Indies at Gabba.

Australian selectors have picked the following 12 man squad for the First Test of the 2009/2010 Summer of Cricket against the West Indies at the Gabba starting November 26.

Stuart Clark is the big omission - being left out despite his success on Australian soil - with NSW teammate Doug Bollinger preferred for the Gabba Test Squad.

The Likely Test Lineup from the 12 man squad is:
Shane Watson
Simon Katich
Ricky Ponting (c)
Michael Clarke
Michael Hussey
Marcus North
Brad Haddin
Mitchell Johnson
Nathan Hauritz
Peter Siddle
Ben Hilfenhaus
Doug Bollinger (Likely 12th Man)

When the Australian selectors pick a side do they actually consider the value of a bowler who can bowl line and length?

One of the big reasons we didn't struggle mightily post-McGrath was the Stuart Clark factor... but how quickly the selectors forget what is vital to the makeup of a bowling attack.

Clark may win a reprieve if Peter Siddle fails to recover from a side strain but his Test Career now looks in serious doubt.

Which is a shame because he remains Australia's best Test Match bowler... who can't get a start in a Test Match.