Friday 23 November 2012

2013 NRL Premiership Season Draw Analysis

By W D Nicolson - November 23, 2012

The countdown to the 2013 NRL Season is now well and truly underway with the release of Season Draw for next year. has had a quick glance at the new draw and here are the main points of discussion coming out of it.

We knew certain parts of Round 1 before time (like SBW and the Roosters would play the Bunnies at the SFS), but this morning the NRL finally released the full 26 Round schedule - including the fixed kick-off times for the first 20 rounds.


After the Round 1 Draw you can read my quick hit thoughts on the Draw (including the all important Free-to-Air quota) and I will add more about each team's draw as the day unfolds.

If you have a view on the draw or noticed a quirk in the schedule please comment below or reply on Twitter @NRLTweet and I'll make sure I respond.

PS. The game also has a new CEO with fmr Lloyds Australia Bank CEO David Smith appointed.

To be played March 7-11 (Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon) 2013

Wednesday 14 November 2012

NRL 2013: Sonny Bill or Money Bill? Why it doesn't matter...

Why it doesn't matter...

2013 NRL Premiership
By W D Nicolson - November 14, 2012

'That's my team... at least for 2013'

He's back...

Well we all knew SBW was coming back to Rugby League at the very start of 2012 with the Roosters for 2013 (and in fact once his Canterbury-enforced exile from 2008-2012 ended, he had been fairly open with the idea of returning), but on Tuesday he 'officially' signed a deal with the Roosters that will tie him to the Sydney club for all of... one season.

Translation: SBW is back in Rugby League but he's not going to be tied to any NRL club for any longer than he wants to be.

That seemed to be the under-current of his decision to walk out on the Canterbury club back in 2008 - just one year into a five year contract that paid him roughly $400-450,000 per season.

And as we discussed back in January - SBW has been the big benefactor from his walk-out on the Dogs, he's made oodles of cash and traveled the world being revered in another code... #winning.

But now he is back (well once he recovers from a torn right pectoral suffered playing Japanese Rugby) - does it really matter if he's here for one year or five years?

The game benefits from his return because of his 'story' and his undeniable pure footballing ability, while the fans get to welcome or boo him back... and the only place you can do either is AT the game.

So at least for the first few weeks of the season, the Roosters should draw great crowds at the SFS and their road games should get a boost as people flock to tell SBW what they think of him (but hopefully just watch him play).

The downside for those who want to welcome him back negatively is the guy can flat out play footy, and no matter how much you might loathe his decision making - his footy will do more as a comeback than any amount of talk from him can.

"This is going to be one of the biggest challenges of my career," Williams told the press conference at Roosters HQ. "A lot of people will be writing me off. Every time I step on that field there will probably be a target on me."

Friday 9 November 2012

Summer of Cricket: Australia v South Africa 1st Test Blog

2012/13 Summer of Cricket:
Australia v South Africa Test Series 

1st Test Blog
By W D Nicolson - November 9, 2012


(Kallis 147, Amla 104, Petersen 64 | Pattinson 3/93)
(Clarke 259*, Cowan 136, Hussey 100, Morkel 3/127)
(Kallis 49 | Lyon 2/41, Pattinson 2/58)
Game Drawn... Series remains tied at 0-0 with 2 Tests to play (Adelaide and Perth).

Australia's dominance with the bat finally ended in the first session of Day 5, as Michael Clarke decided to give his bowlers a chance to inflict either some mental scars on the South Africans in the final two and a bit sessions... or maybe press for a famous victory.
Clarke's 259* was awesome and Hussey's even 100 off just 125 balls showed that he remains at the top of his game as well. The pair backed up Ed Cowan's 259 run stand with Clarke with another 228 run partnership in just 45 overs to take the game away from the visitors and give Australia the only hope of getting a result from the match.
Though Australia got Alviro Petersen early, and actually took wickets regularly as Day 5 stretched on, their 1st innings lead was (as expected) about 50 runs short of making sure that the game was interesting entering the final hour of play. In the end AB de Villiers steadied the ship and ate up over 100 deliveries as South African negotiated a draw with the final hour of play remaining.

Clarke takes top honours for his 259* in 538 minutes off 398 balls, while Cowan's 136 and Hussey's 100 set about taking down the best bowling attack in world cricket who had reduced Australia to 3/49 chasing 450.
Jacques Kallis finished with 147 and 49 in his two innings, doing it easy for the most part, while Hashim Amla put together 104 and 38 - again looking like he had all the time in the world (particularly in the first innings). That being said Graeme Smith failed in both digs and South Africa need to find a replacement for JP Duminy after his freak injury after Day 1 in the warm-downs.

Australia must decide if having the working class nature of both Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus is enough to worry the SA top order, while Mitchell Starc simply has to destroy Victoria in the Shield match to make the Australian selectors seriously considering him for Adelaide.

South Africa owned Day 1 and 3, but it was all Australia from that point on... with the Aussies taking the edge from the Test itself.

But as we expected before the series began, whoever bats the best will win this Test - so if Shane Watson is fit for Adelaide the Australian top order must stand up and keep the SA attack at bay to give them a hope in the decider in Perth - where the SA attack will have a field day on that lively deck.
Pre-Game Notes... followed by Day 1-4 recaps.

Well Richie Benaud delivered a sensational recap of Channel 9's 35 years covering Cricket prior to the start of the 1st Test between Australia and South Africa... but sadly not even his classy delivery could drown out the incessant 'buzzing' of Mark Nicholas.

But to the cricket - South Africa won the toss and batted, picking paceman Rory Kleinveldt over Imran Tahir after the spinner looked only so-so at the SCG against Australia A last week (for the record I watched him bowl 20+ overs on Day 1 - so I have some validity to the call).

Australia - quite rightly - went with Nathan Lyon over Mitchell Starc and although they will field first, Lyon's biggest role may come in dealing with the pure bowler heavy South African tail.

Plus - Lyon will definitely play in Adelaide for the 2nd Test, so not playing him now would have been a huge mistake. Had the 2nd Test been at the WACA (it is the 3rd and I think it will be the deciding Test) - then yeah, maybe you play Starc instead of Lyon.

Rob Quiney debuts for Australia and will bat at #3 - and having watched his innings against South Africa for Australia A in Sydney - I'm stoked with the decision. He's got something about him, a real presence at the crease. Forget if he's 30 - that's prime real estate for a batsman.

As the Test progresses, I'll be posting my thoughts on this Blog - feel free to post your own or any questions you might have.

Grab me via Twitter during play 

 #Cricket Today's batting clinic at the Gabba is brought to you by @MClarke23 @eddiecowan & MEK Hussey. AUS 1/376 #ausvsa #enjoyeditthroughly

(Kallis 147, Amla 104, Petersen 64 | Pattinson 3/93)
(Cowan 136, Clarke 218*, Hussey 86*, Morkel 2/109)

Australia lead by 37 runs with one day remaining.
  • 2:23pm: AUS 3/246 after 69 overs.
    Cowan (109*) brought up a fine maiden Test century with a pull shot after having to endure the lunch break on 98*, while Clarke has looked just as good on his way to 97* in the 2nd session.
    The South African's haven't bowled badly, but like Australia on Day 1 - the batsmen look settled and the pitch is only offering assistance every so often.
    Channel 9's Ian Healy would like to see Clarke declare around 100-150 runs behind and offer South Africa a chance to make a game of it... Ian Chappell counters with the steady as she goes way South Africa batted on much of Day 3 after losing all of Day 2 to rain.
    My gut feel is Australia shouldn't ignore the chance to turn this game into a result but like I wrote this morning, still believe South Africa are the only team that can win it - sporting declaration or not.
    • 3:02pm: AUS 3/280 after 78 overs.
    Clarke (110*) joins Cowan (127*) in the hundred club after enduring a number of minutes on 98 and 99. He takes a single behind point and makes his 20th Test 100. It is his 6th Test century since September 2011...
    Kallis and Smith are currently bowling... waiting for the 2nd new ball. Australia trail by 170 runs with 4 and a bit sessions left in the match.
    • 6:12pm: AUS 4/458 after 116.1 overs
    Clarke (200*) brings up his 200 with a straight drive and Australia now have the lead... wow. Cowan departed for a superb 136, and Hussey just kept the foot down - racing to 75* - meaning Australia backed a 259 run partnership between Clarke and Cowan with a 150+ effort with Hussey.
    The game will be a drawer but what a fight back from Australia on Day 4... and to think I wrote 4 hours ago that only South Africa could win the Test...

    #Cricket: Clarke is a genius but Bradman was a magician - The Don scored 254 334 232 223 across 8 innings, Clarke 329* 210 200* thru 11 digs. And The Don sandwiched those huge scores with 131 and 152... from June 1930-Feb 1931. But Clarke is imperious right now. #ausvsa


    (Kallis 147, Amla 104, Petersen 64 | Pattinson 3/93)

    AUSTRALIA 3/111
    (Cowan 49*, Clarke 34*, Morkel 2/25)

    Australia got Amla early but then watched Kallis and de Villiers take the game away from them... until Pattinson removed both in quick succession and Australia had a sniff at holding SA to a score around 400... well the tail had other ideas and managed to get a bonus 50 runs and send Australia in...

    And carnage ensued.

    First Warner, then an unlucky Quiney (caught on the boundary in freakish fashion by Steyn) and then duck-boy Ponting came and went, leaving Australia reeling at 3/40 after only 10 overs.
    But Cowan and Clarke have steadied the ship... thing is, the way Australia started their run chase - this game only has two possible results: A South African victory or a draw.

    Australia cannot win entering Day 4 as they trail by 339 and only 6 sessions remain in the game.
    JP Duminy out for the summer or not... South Africa's batting lineup toyed with Australia's bowling attack.

    And judging by yesterday... their bowling attack did the same with our top order... over to you Captain Clarke, Hurricane Hussey and Canny Cowan.



    Monday 5 November 2012

    2012 Melbourne Cup Bluffer's Guide

    The Bluffer's Guide to the 2012 Melbourne Cup
    By W D Nicolson - November 5, 2012
    Welcome to the 5th Annual 'Bluffer's Guide to the Melbourne Cup'.

    It has become a bit of a novelty here at every November, as we take a quick look at the huge field for the 3,200m race at Flemington and judge the horses in the race based on the quality of their name as much as anything.

    This is our track record over the last four Melbourne Cups:
    In 2008 - Bauer was picked to run 2nd and did.
    In 2009 - Shocking was picked to run 4th and won.
    In 2010 - Maluckyday was picked to run 2nd and did, So You Think was picked to run 1st and was 3rd, Americain was picked to run 5th and won and Harris Tweed was picked to run 3rd and finished 5th).
    Dunaden beats Red Cadeaux at the line in 2011
    And last year, in 2012 - American was picked to repeat and finished 4th, Dunaden was picked to run 4th and won, and Lucas Cranach was picked to run 5th and was 3rd.
    So while the notes about the horses are what drives this piece, our track record picking runners to feature at the pointy end of the field isn't bad at all.

    But you aren't here for the punting tips, you're here to see if for the 5th straight year I can come up with some moderately interesting lines pertaining to the competing horses in the 2012 Melbourne Cup field.